Google Tag Manager: Why we like it (and why you might too!)
Google Tag Manager has been around since October 2012 letting you “Add or update your website tags and mobile applications, easily and for free, whenever you want, without bugging the IT folks.”
Here’s how it works: you make a container in Tag Manager to hold code snippets (like those you get for Google Analytics, Adwords Remarketing and Mailchimp Conversion). Each snippet gets its own tag(s) and each tag gets set one or more firing rules. These rules tell Tag Manager where to put the snippets on your site. Do you want your tag on all pages? Or maybe just that one page with the form? Rules are how you control and refine this. When you need to use information from the page that the tag sits on, you’ll put macros to use. Macros are a bunch of handy ways of identifying pieces of your page.
Need an example? Well, you can create a tag that sends an event to Google Analytics when someone clicks a link. You set a rule so that this only happens on your landing page and use a macro to set the label of that event to the destination url of the link.
It takes a little bit of adjusting to get used to the Tag Manager way of doing things, but you’ll soon get your head around it!
Here’s why we like Tag Manager:
Installing GTM is a very straightforward process – you stick a code snippet on your site, just like you would for regular old Analytics.
Practice makes perfect
Tag Manager comes with a debug mode that’s quite handy when you’re configuring your tags and rules.
With Tag Manager, you add snippets to your web pages without touching the site’s actual code. This often means that you can make changes yourself and not worry about bothering your developer or waiting on their schedule to get things done.
Keeping track of History
Since you have to save a version (a sort of ‘snapshot’ of any changes you’ve made) of your Tag Manager container before you can put it live, undoing changes is super easy – you just publish the last version that was doing what you wanted and presto!
We hope you have a look at Tag Manager and see its potential benefits for you.
There are lots of great articles out there that have already given detailed insight into and instructions for how to use Tag Manager in a bunch of different situations:
- Google’s instructions on how to set up and use Tag Manager
- A fairly exhaustive introduction to implementing Tag Manager with some event tracking
- Using GTM’s Auto Event Tracking
- A 3 part series about cross domain tracking with GTM
A few points to keep in mind:
If you have Google Analytics running in Tag Manager and in its regular snippet on the site, you may end up with duplicate tracking, and nobody wants that. Be sure to carry the transition through completely and remove any tags you have moved into Tag Manager from the main code of your website.
Name your tags, rules and versions clearly – this will make it easier for you and/or developers to understand what’s going on and what changes have been made in between versions.
The Importance of Testing and Debugging
When you make changes to your container (adding/tweaking tags, rules etc.), you’re working in a container draft. You should make it your habit to preview and debug your container to ensure everything is working properly before publishing your draft. In debug mode, when you open up your site you get a lovely little debug window at the bottom telling you lots of interesting stuff about your tags. Once you’re happy your tag is working properly, create a version and publish it!
Keep your developers really happy
One of the main benefits of Tag Manager is that easy access to snippet configuration keeps you from pestering your developers too much (well, at least about code snippets). It is important, however, to realise that changes you make in Tag Manager cause alterations to the code of your website. If developers are trying to maintain your site and they don’t know what changes are being made, this can lead to problems. We’d recommend that you keep your developers in the loop as to when and what changes you’re making in Tag Manager.
Not all snippets are compatible with Tag Manager
Be sure to check that the third party snippet you’re wanting on your site will work within Tag Manager – if it won’t, not to worry: you can still have them on your site as you usually would.