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What is Google Tag Manager, and Why You Need It

Digital-age marketers are always prepared to pivot as data from all directions -- and in particular insights into how visitors interact with their website -- sparks ideas, informs strategy, and drives decisions.
Google tag manager

Digital-age marketers are always prepared to pivot as data from all directions — and in particular insights into how visitors interact with their website — sparks ideas, informs strategy, and drives decisions. So nothing frustrates a marketer more than the delay of a week or two on an action that really needs to get started by end-of-day — if not sooner.

That’s why I rank the potential for speedy implementation and ongoing flexibility as the most game-changing advantage of Google Tag Manager (GTM).

GTM is free software that vastly streamlines the set up of code snippets, also known as tags, that track visitor interactions on a site. Traditionally, the amount of effort needed to set up or revise tags on a site has been a complicated process that required tinkering with the source code on the part of a web developer.

At most companies, developers are pulled in a number of directions and are managing multiple priorities. Getting on their calendar can be a challenge, and explaining exactly what it is you are looking to accomplish can take a lot of time — possibly more time than doing it yourself, if only hard coding wasn’t involved.

Empowerment Tool

Google Tag Manager circumvents the source code, which means that creating, revising, or deleting tags for gathering high-stakes data on website activity, no longer requires hard coding and the involvement of a web developer or web master. Once GTM is set up and the ropes have been learned, marketers can easily add to or switch out tags as needed.

A source of confusion that some people have concerning Google Tag Manager is whether it replaces Google Analytics (GA), and how do GTM and GA differ? Google Tag Manager does not replace Google Analytics. The two work in conjunction with each other.

While GA is great for top-level insights, GTM allows for the collection of a far greater depth and breadth of intelligence gathering, fueled by a high level of flexibility for empowering marketers and non-tech types to set up tags and extract very specific data from activity on websites and apps. More specifically, GTM enables users to deploy tracking code on select web pages and Google analytics uses that code to track various data.

The degree to which GTM empowers marketers to manage data collection without relying on web developers is a game-changer. Below is a summary of the top reasons why Google Tag Manager needs to be a part of every digital marketer’s toolkit.


Advantages of Google Tag Manager


Google Tag Manager represents a quantum leap forward for marketers, with tools that enable them to implement tracking codes for analyzing user behavior directly within their own GTM interface, and to do so when and how they choose.

Consolidated Tag Management

Prior to Google Tag Manager, all tracking tags needed to be hard coded directly into the source code of websites or apps. As a result, code snippets were scattered across multiple files, and any changes required that a web developer first locate and then update the source code. With GTM, centralized container code encompasses the entire scope of a site’s analytics tags. Adding, removing, or editing tags can be achieved within a single, easy-to-access user interface.

Flexibility and Experimentation

When marketers are not able to act swiftly, and gather the information that they need, as they need it, experimentation and new initiatives get stalled. It might mean that new ideas never get off the ground. GTM eliminates the kinds of delays or deal-breaking roadblocks which have no place in a fast-paced digital business climate.

Advanced Tracking and Insights

Greater control and the elimination of delays means that much more can be accomplished in much less time. As such, marketers using GTM have greater options for going deeper, learning more, and building more effective marketing campaigns.

Also for Mobile

When GTM is deployed on mobile apps or accelerated mobile page (AMP) sites, tags can be added or edited without the need for issuing an updated version.

Easy Testing and Troubleshooting

Google Tag Manager allows for simplified testing and troubleshooting to make sure tags are triggered when the right page is loaded or a particular button is clicked. Marketers are also able to easily track and test information about the triggers that fire off tags and the data contained within tracking tags.

Streamlined Event Tracking

The auto-event tracking feature automatically starts tracking particular interactions on a web page once certain triggers are enabled. Basic events that GTM tracks by default include:

  • Clicks
  • Link clicks
  • Form submissions
  • Time spent on a page

Varying permission levels

Multiple users can have access to GTM with various options for viewing, editing, and publishing privileges.

Getting Started with GTM

GTM does not completely eliminate reliance on developers. Developers are often required at the initial Google Tag Manager setup to create code for the container which serves as a repository for all of a site’s tags. Good news for WordPress site owners: WordPress has a GTM plugin to help implement the container code.

Once the container code is in place, it’s important to ensure that every tag has a trigger, which refers to the required action assigned to every tag — such as sending information when a visitor registers for an event, submits a form, or clicks on a link. All tags are required to have a trigger associated with them.

At Solid Digital, we’re very excited about the new possibilities that Google Tag Manager is creating for marketers. In a business climate in which everyone is increasingly expected to do more and do it faster, Google Tag Manager exceeds expectations. The marketers with whom we work find this tool to be not just easy to use and engaging. It’s actually fun.

Anything else you’d like to know about Google Tag Manager and how it can help you increase your Digital Value? Let us know! We’d be happy to help you get started.

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