May 30th, 2020

Introducing Google Tag Manager: Detailed Data Analysis

How do you make sure your website performs to its maximum potential?

 

By analysing as much data as you can collect so that you can make your online offering as appealing as possible.

 

Unfortunately, when it comes to explanations on data analysis, many business owners simply switch off. After all, you need to be a modern tech guru to make sense of data, don’t you?

Thanks to Google Tag Manager, not necessarily.

For a long time, webmasters, business owners and marketers have used Google Analytics for data insights regarding the performance of a website.

Google Analytics is useful for monitoring how much traffic you receive, where your customers are located and how they found your website.

But used as a standalone solution, Google Analytics has its limitations.

If you want to get the maximum benefit from Google Analytics, you need to start using Google Tag Manager, a simple free tool that allows you to capture vast amounts of data relating to your website and visitor activity.

Using the insights given to you by Google Tag Manager, which you can view on your Google Analytics platform, you can track file downloads, source of traffic, visitor behaviour (how long they spend on a page, which elements they interact with, etc.) and much more.

Can you imagine how much you could improve your online offering with such in-depth data?

One of the best things about Google Tag Manager is that it’s powerful yet relatively simple-to-use, even if you’re not an experienced coder, developer or marketer.

You may need a bit of training to be able to take advantage of all the features available with Google Tag Manager, but it won’t take you long to get started.

So, what exactly is Google Tag Manager? Why do you need to use it? And what are the pros and cons? Keep reading for the answers to those questions and more.

What Is Google Tag Manager?

Google Tag Manager is a free online tool developed by Google. It allows you to manage and integrate marketing tags into your website without having to write snippets of code. Once installed, you can use Google Tag Manager to collect data and send it to your Google Analytics platform.

There are a range of built-in tags for you to start using right away. For example, you can implement a tag to measure how many times a PDF file is downloaded. When somebody clicks ‘Download’, the event triggers a snippet of automatically generated JavaScript code to send the information to a third-party solution, usually Google Analytics.

In addition to Google Tag Manager’s built-in tags, you can create your own custom ones, though you might require help from a web developer when it comes to such technical tasks.

You can use tags for all sorts of purposes, including:

  • Scroll tracking
  • Generating heat maps
  • File download tracking
  • Number of clicks per inbound and outbound link
  • Items removed from shopping carts
  • Conducting surveys
  • Monitoring form submissions
  • Track how people found your website
  • Remarketing
  • Promotion tracking
  • Ecommerce product tracking

Essentially, you can use Google Tag Manager to find out what interests your customers, where improvements could be made to your website to boost your conversion rate, and gather data to help you optimise your marketing campaigns.

Remember – you can’t use Google Tag Manager itself to analyse data. Google Tag Manager is simply used to deploy tags on your website. All data is automatically transferred to your Google Analytics account, where you can view it in a range of formats.

An Introduction to How Google Tag Manager Works

Now that you know what Google Tag Manager can do, it’s time to learn how to use it. First, you need to get your head around a few technical terms, which we’ll explain in more detail a little further on.

  • Tags: Tracking pixels or snippets of JavaScript code
  • Triggers: Triggers tell Google Tag Manager how to deploy a tag
  • Variables: Any additional info Google Tag Manager requires for the trigger and tag to function

We know those terms sound like they came straight from a coder’s handbook. However, they’re more straightforward than they sound.

Tags Explained

Essentially, tags are snippets of code from third-party tools that tell Google Tag Manager what to do when an event is triggered. Some common examples of tags include:

  • AdWords Remarketing code
  • Google Analytics Universal tracking
  • Heatmap tracking code
  • AdWords Conversion tracking
  • Facebook pixels

What Are Triggers?

You need to set up triggers to let Google Tag Manager know when to take an action. For example, you might set up a tag that measures how many times website visitors click on a certain inbound link. In that case, the event of somebody clicking the link would trigger the tag.

You can choose from a range of built-in triggers to keep things simple. But if you want to exploit Google Tag Manager to its full potential, you may need to create custom triggers and tags. It’s probably best to leave such technical tasks to a professional.

A Guide to Google Tag Variables

Variables are additional pieces of information that your tags might need to do their job. For example, if you’re collecting data from form submissions, each field in your form may represent a variable.

How Google Tag Manager Works in Conjunction with Google Analytics

As mentioned in the previous section – Google Tag Manager doesn’t provide you with detailed analysis reports. It’s simply a tool you can use to store and manage third-party code and send data to your Google Analytics platform. The primary purpose of Google Tag Manager is to make setting up, managing and editing tags straightforward.

Before Google Tag Manager, web developers would have to manually write code to create marketing tags, integrate the code into several webpages and then capture data from a variety of third-party sources. With Google Tag Manager, you can set up tags without any prior coding experience and manage them all in the same place.

You’ll use Google Analytics to actually make sense of the data captured by Google Tag Manager. All filters plus conversion tracking goals are managed using Google Analytics. Fortunately, provided you set up your tags correctly, Google Tag Manager will send all the data it captures to your Google Analytics account automatically.

If you’re struggling to integrate Google Tag Manager with Google Analytics, give our experts a call, who will gladly lend a helping hand.

The Pros and Cons of Google Tag Manager

There may be a bit of a learning curve when it comes to mastering Google Tag Manager. However, after a few weeks or months, you’ll see the benefits of being able to dig deeper into your data as well as customise how its collected and displayed on Google Analytics. You’ll find ways to optimise your site, maximise your conversion rates, refine your content, and boost your bottom line.

But all those benefits are associated with tags themselves rather than Google Tag Manager. Tracking tags are nothing new in the world of digital marketing. So, what benefits does Google Tag Manager deliver to marketers and businesses?

The Benefits of Google Tag Manager

The advantages of Google Tag Manager include:

  • Become less reliant on coders and web developers

The primary benefit of Google Tag Manager is that it gives marketers the ability to implement tags without having to rely on web developers each time. Often, developers are busy doing other high-priority tasks, meaning the creation of tags often gets left until the last minute or neglected entirely.

  • Google Tag Manager is great for small businesses

Because you don’t always need a web developer to implement and manage your tags, you can start using them to monitor user activity and your website’s performance even if you’re a small business with limited resources. Plus, you can manage all your tags in one place without having to rely on several solutions.

  • Google Tag Manager can be used on mobiles and AMP sites

Google Tag Manager isn’t limited to desktop websites. It can also be integrated into mobile and AMP sites, in which case you’ll be given a different set of options when creating and managing your tags. Essentially, you can use Google Tag Manager to gather and transmit data to your Google Analytics platform for all your websites, regardless of their format.

The Drawbacks of Google Tag Manager

In today’s digital era – especially as consumers become increasingly reliant on online shopping – creating marketing tags to track the performance of your website is crucial. And, because Google Tag Manager makes that task simple, finding drawbacks is far from straightforward. However, if you’re not the most tech-savvy marketer, you might struggle with the following aspects of Google Tag Manager:

  • Tags can slow down your website

Page loading speed is now a crucial search engine ranking factor. Traditionally, tags that were fired synchronously could slow down a website; if one tag fails to load quickly, the entire website might lag. With Google Tag Manager, however, tags are fired asynchronously, meaning they shouldn’t hamper your website’s loading speed.

  • You may need to overcome some technical challenges

Google Tag Manager has made it simple to create tags without having to be an experienced coder or web developer. Nevertheless, you probably won’t be able to make full use of all its features without at least some technical knowledge. Things can get even more tricky if you want to migrate your existing tags into the Google Tag Manager. If you’re revamping your website, we recommend contacting a web developer for advice. Usually, it’s best to remove existing tags and replace them so that you don’t end up with duplicate data.

How to Set up Google Tag Manager

Undeniably, getting started with Google Tag Manager can be challenging, especially if you plan on creating custom tags or implementing tags from third parties, such as Facebook or Floodlight (a tag used to count how many times a user visits a particular webpage after viewing or clicking on an ad). Fortunately, creating an account is straightforward.

  1. Head to tagmanager.google.com and either create an account or use an existing one. When you create an account linked to your domain name, a container which can contain several tags will be created automatically. Most websites need just one container to store all their tags. You may need several containers if you operate from multiple locations or have numerous websites.
  2. Install the container with your tags into your website. Usually, this is done by copying and pasting a snipped of code just after the Head tag of each page on your website.
  3. Add and deploy your tags

Learn more about creating multiple containers for different website platforms (desktop, mobile and AMP pages) as well as how to integrate tags into your website.

Learn More about Google Tag Manager

Thanks to Google Tag Manager, you can collect and analyse a broad range of data points and view them on Google Analytics without having to pay a penny. Moreover, despite being a Google product, you can use Google Tag Manager to create tracking tags for a range of third parties, including ecommerce apps and social media platforms such as Facebook.

Google Tag Manager has significantly simplified the creation, deployment and monitoring of tags that can prove invaluable to your online marketing efforts. When used in conjunction with a variety of online marketing techniques, such as PPC and content marketing, Google Tag Manager can help you grow your business dramatically.

The only downfall of Google Tag Manager is that despite its ease of use, it still may seem a little alien to those with very little technical knowledge. And, you may require a coder or web developer to fix issues and handle third-party integration. Nevertheless, you can start using Google Tag Manager without help almost instantly. Moreover, it’s completely free, meaning you have no excuse to avoid such a powerful tool that really can work wonders for your business.

If you need any help with Google Tag Manager or want to let a team of digital marketing experts handle the task for you (at an unbeatable price), we hope to hear from you.

Michael Holder

About the author

Michael Holder

A specialist in Google Ads, and with a wide range of SEO skills and experience, Michael has a particular interest in Local SEO strategies for small to medium sized businesses. When Michael is not working hard increasing conversions for clients Paid Advertising campaigns he enjoys traveling, dining out and watching Formula 1 and football.

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