Tag, you’re it! DIY tagging is what the new Google Tag Manager is all about. It empowers marketers (even those with no technical background) to add or update website tags (site analytics, conversion tracking, remarketing, etc.) themselves rather than rely exclusively on IT folks or web administrators. The free tool switches the tagging environment from site code access to a Google web interface. For businesses using RLM Web Design & Marketing, the Google Tag Manager goes hand-in-hand with our content management system by giving you the ability to make website updates yourself, if you prefer, without having to go through a web developer.
So Many Tags, So Little Time
During an introductory webinar, Google Product Manager Laura Holmes provided some interesting background as to why Google developed Google Tag Manager, or GTM as it’s being called. The purpose of the tool addresses three main issues that Google extracted from comments regularly received from marketers and IT professionals:
- Long delays in getting tags live on a site because of differences in priorities between marketing (who are defining marketing campaigns around data collection tags) and IT (who has to deploy the tags but priorities are site enhancements and keeping the site running properly). The delays result in loss data and missed opportunities in translating the data into sales.
- Too many tags on a website slowing it down. It’s not uncommon for websites to have as many as 20 different tracking tags at one time. If tags start loading slowly, they can prevent other tags from firing, thus skewing the amount of data being collected.
- Inaccurate data collection. Tags are technical in nature and often times it’s challenging for marketers to properly explain in IT language how the tag should work. As a result, tracking tags might not be properly implemented or could be collecting the wrong data.
Enter the Google Tag Manager. The tag management solution switches tags to a hosted service that keeps track of the tags and tag-firing rules.
Is GTM Right for Your Business
If you run a wide range of digital media campaigns to drive visits to your site(s), if you want to run marketing campaigns that are beyond the scope of the basic Google Analytics tag, or if you invest in display advertising or affiliate marketing, then the Google Tag Manager is useful for your business.
Google Tag Manager has a lot of good features and its usefulness is apparent almost immediately. Probably its biggest benefit is taking all the various tags for different web pages and consolidating them into a single tag called a container snippet. This container snippet basically replaces the tags for Google Analytics, AdWords, Floodlight, etc., without interfering with your site’s HTML coding. The container snippet you embed on applicable web pages connects each page to Google. When someone visits your website, Google sends the necessary tags and firing information to that person’s browser.
Here’s an example of a container snippet (the GTM-XXX coding is replaced with your container snippet ID).
So with Google Tag Manager, you are working with one snippet of code deployed across the whole website instead of editing site codes. Not only does this make tags easier to install, but it also enables anyone with authorized user access to the GTM interface to add, update and administer tags instantaneously from the Google Tag Manager rather than wait for the next IT update.
Another useful function caters to those who want to go beyond basic code implementation. Google Tag Manager accommodates customizations by using a data layer that gets added above your container snippet. It gives GTM variables for when to fire a certain tag. For instance, here’s an example of a data layer where the variable is set on the signup page to identify a high-value customer:
You can set up data layers for when a visitor clicks on a particular button, link, or Flash component, makes a certain dollar purchase, uses a site widget, or leaves a particular page without taking the action you desire. With GTM, marketers are able to better manage digital marketing efforts because they have direct control over traffic tracking and website usage codes.
Some Other Pluses:
This Google-powered process lends itself to some nice benefits:
- There’s automated error checking.
- Pages load faster and tags fire correctly.
- GTM works on mobile websites.
- There’s a Debug Console and Preview Mode so you can check that any new tags you add are working properly before you publish them.
- Error recovery features are built in so if a tag crashes the site, a previous version can be deployed immediately.
- There are workflow tools so you know immediately whether the tags are providing the type of information you want and if they’re not, revise them accordingly.
- It forces you to think about the overall goals for your website in terms of what data you want to collect and what events you want to track.
Getting Started with Google’s Tag Manager
To use Google Tag Manager, you need to open a Google account. You can have multiple websites under one Google Tag Manager account. After establishing an account, you can then create a container snippet, select the types of tags you want to add from the drop-down menu and establish rules for when each should fire. Once completed, remove your site’s existing hard coded tags. Press the GTM publish button and you can now manage all your tags from the GTM interface.
Google is promising the unveiling of additional features to GTM in coming months. They include reporting on tag firing, support for AB testing tags and more templates for non-Google tags.
With the Google Tag Manager, it is Google’s intent to make a better tagging world. So far, it appears they’re off to a good start.