A lot of people seem to ignore Google Tag Manager but for me, it’s one of my all time favourite tools. I use Google Tag Manager, or GTM for short, with all clients. It makes life so much easier and allows you to really get the most from your Ad campaigns.

What Is Google Tag Manager

If you hadn’t guessed it’s a tool built by the all powerful Google. In a nutshell it allows you to add all the important elements in to one piece of code that you can easily add to your site. There are a couple of major benefits to this. On the technical side, one piece of code that adds multiple pieces of functionality to your site is a much more lightweight approach.

From a practical standpoint, it allows you to have one piece of code on your site with a central dashboard (in Google) to access things and make changes.

Example: if you want to add a new Facebook Event for a new Ad campaign, rather than have to login to your site and start amending plug-ins, or if you have a custom built site, then you have to start accessing files via FTP and worrying about making an error to your HTML code.

None of that here.

Instead all we need to do is login to Tag Manager with your Google account that you already use for Google Analytics and Search Console (you are using those tools right?) then you simply go through the steps to add a new Tag. So easy and nothing can really go wrong.

What Does It Do

So here’s why you’d use Tag Manager rather than add multiple codes to your site. Again, it’s lightweight and keeps your site in optimal performance. That’s great news. More than that you can add multiple tools that will make your marketing and advertising way more efficient. Here’s what I mean.

If you’re running Ads, you absolutely need to know every time someone “converts” whatever that means to you (it could be sales, enquiries, installs or sign ups). You also need to be building re-marketing/retargeting lists so that you can effectively reach your audience and ensure that you are optimising sales (I’ll talk about this more in an upcoming article and video on getting more from your Ad budget).

You can have multiple conversion triggers for different products, apps or “thank-you” pages. What is a trigger? I’ll get to that in the next section.

How Does It Work

When you login for the first time you’ll have three main options, Tags, Triggers and Variables. Let’s look at what each one does.

TAGS

Tags are the core of this whole thing obviously but they are only one step of the process. The Tag holds the code that you’d otherwise have to add to the website page that you are trying to work with. With GTM you simply build a Tag and add the code and choose which page you want it to be relevant to by using a Trigger.

Here are the Tags you can create:

Google Analytics:

Old Faithful. You’ll want Google Analytics on your website and yes, you can just add the tracking code separately but this way you’re keeping all your code contained in these tags and making life easier and removing the likelihood of errors occurring.

Google Ads Re-Marketing:

If you want to run Ads across any of Google’s Network, now or in the future implement this piece of code and make sure that you’re capturing all that data. A lot of talk out there about the Facebook Pixel but this is equally important in getting results across Google (and of course YouTube).

Google Ads Conversion Tracking:

You want to run ads to a new product, app or offer? Then of course you want to track conversions and make sure you have a good ROI from Google Ads. you add this to a Thank You page or even on a specific Button Click and you’ll know when and how someone converts. Without this you’ll see a big ZERO under conversions in your Google Ads dashboard.

Google Ads Call Tracking:

Same as above in many ways but simply tracks calls made from the Ad. Again, without this you can expect to see zeroes in the dashboard without this.

Custom HTML:

This allows you to add Tags with code that isn’t in the standard Tag Library, so effectively nothing is off limits, if you have a favourite tool, you should be able to use this to add it to the site.

Facebook Pixel:

I use Custom HTML (the above Tag) when adding the Facebook Pixel rather than using the setup wizard in Facebook. I can’t even remember why I started doing that but it’s my best practice and it’s how I train others to do it as it gives you a little more control rather than trying to automate it with the Facebook Ads Manager setup.

Facebook Event:

When you set up a Conversion Ad you’ll have a metric that you want to track (sign-ups, Leads, Enquiries, App Installs and so on and so on), you take the little bit of code and add it to it’s own Tag, that then has a Trigger to a specific page, more on that below.

LinkedIn Insights:

Still largely under utilised by so many due to the cost of LinkedIn ads but if you do tap in to this ad platform (and many more could be) this is how you’ll need to track any conversions that occur in that campaign.

TRIGGERS

So a Trigger, what’s that, I hear you ask? Whenever you want a piece of code to do something it will need to be triggered by something. Most likely it’ll be a page visit or install.

In most cases you’ll want to keep things site wide or on the “All Pages” option. For tools like Google Analytics and the Facebook Pixel you’d want it to be a site wide Tag as you want to track how many users are visiting the site or build a retargeting audience regardless of what page they’ve visited.

When you are setting up Paid Ads and want to track a Lead with the Facebook Events or want to track Google Ads Conversions from a specific landing page, then you’d opt for a specific page to test the “Ad” to “Landing Page” to “Conversion” process and make sure things are working properly. So in this case the Trigger would likely be a “Thank You” page or “Order confirmation” page or even a specific button being clicked on an install.

If I click on your Ad on Facebook for a free Kettlebell Video Training course and look at the page I’ll trigger any code that is covering “All Pages”, if I opt in for the course, then I’ll trigger the Lead Event on the “Thank You” page and within your Facebook Ads dashboard you’ll see there’s now a conversion.

BONUS POINTS:

If you want to get clever you can add a Facebook Event to the landing page called “Page Views” so if I don’t convert and opt in for the course and instead head back to the Facebook news feed , you can now set up a retargeting audience that targets a custom audience of people that triggered the page views and exclude anyone that DID convert. That’s how you get more out of your ad budget and increase conversions – more on this later.

VARIABLES

So the other option that you’ll see within the main dashboard is Variables. This allows you to turn on and turn off certain options as and when you need them. So if you wanted to track the click of a certain button with specific text (like “INSTALL”) then you’d want to go in to Variables and click this option.

Without getting too much more technical if you setup the FB pixel with the custom HTML like I do then you’ll need a specific piece of code and when you add that into the Pixel snippet you’ll need to make one change in the variable. DM me if this is something you want to know more about and I’ll talk you through it otherwise it’s probably overkill here.

All in all, variables are fairly straight forward and you probably won’t need to go in here too much unless your getting really fancy!

This is what you’ll see when you go to install the code on your website.

Why You Should Use It

Okay, I hope that you see the benefit of this but I realise I’ve probably overwhelmed many with too much information. Sorry! But this tool is just so good for anyone taking their marketing and advertising seriously and ignoring Google Tag Manager because it seems like extra work is missing the point.

This tool is a massive time saver and when you work with someone that sets you up with GTM you know you’re working with someone that really cares about you getting a positive return on investment.

Benefits

Here are some of the key benefits as I see it when it comes to Google Tag Manager:

It makes (or keeps) your website and landing pages Lightweight and doesn’t bog your site down with tons of JavaScript code.
It easily allows you to update, rebrand and re-design the website without having to panic and track down all the separate codes you need across your digital marketing and advertising. It’s just a case of adding the GTM snippet into the new site and their should be no interruptions at all.

GTM Safeguards against errors with developers (or more likely non-developers) accidentally deleting code and losing days of data (or worse, weeks) The Google Tag Manager snippet sits in the head and body of the page and is easy to add with a plug-in like Insert Headers and Footers for WordPress.

Safeguards against plugins not being updated or clashing with other plugin updates.
Being a Google tool, it’s easy to share access with others in your team and handover to new team members or stakeholders when people leave or join etc.

I’m probably missing loads of other benefits but they are the ones that come to mind right now. I love it. It’s part of my best practice when getting someone setup across the digital landscape and make sure that they have everything that they need to track conversions, retarget audiences and securely store their important marketing codes.

Note: google Tag Manager is just a container you cannot see the conversion or tracking data within the Tag Manager dashboard.

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