What are tags, anyway?
Tags are sometimes referred to as snippets, scripts or conversion pixels which need to be displayed on your website in order for systems to monitor behaviour of visitors to your sites. Some common examples include:
- Google Analytics tracking code
- AdWords conversion tracking code
- Mailchimp conversion code
Without a 'tag management system', you would have to include each of these on the specific pages they need to be shown on, which often results in the page loading slower (because it's having to load multiple external scripts) and higher costs of maintenance, because you have to ask your developers to change the code any time you need to make an update or add a new tracking snippet.
What can I do with Google Tag Manager?
There are many things you can do with Google Tag Manager, which fall into two categories:
- Adding tags or code snippets on your website
- Adjusting the configuration and setting for mobile applications
Google made a video which explains Tag Manager - you can watch it below.
Introduction to Google Tag Manager
Why should you use Google Tag Manager?
#1 - Easy upgrade of tags and events
At first glance, Google Tag Manager might feel a bit overwhelming - there are a lot of buttons and settings - but it is an incredibly powerful tool, which allows you to have complete control over your marketing code snippets. No more having to edit code on your website to change from regular to universal analytics - just an option change in your Analytics tag, save a new version, publish, and it's live. The same is true for any changes to any of the snippets you have running on your website. This can result in a huge reduction in both time and money, and puts the technology in the hands of those who know how to use it!
#2 - Improve the load time of your website
If you're heavily into marketing you will have multiple snippets, conversion pixels and tracking scripts running on your site, each of which is usually loading an external file. This takes time, and can slow down your website significantly enough to affect performance and potentially conversion rate. That's bad! Google Tag Manager allows you to load one single external file, which is then responsible for loading the appropriate tags, scripts and other bits and bobs within itself.
#3 - Pre-flight tests
There are in-built options to make sure that your tags work before you publish them to your live site, using the debug features of Google Tag Manager. This allow you to personally test and check your tags in your browser, before breaking the world! No more excuses! (Sorry about that!)
#4 - Version control
In my opinion this is the number one reason why we use and recommend Google Tag Manager - the ability to version control every single change that is made to your code snippets, and roll back to previous versions if you make a mistake. Tried to update a snippet before your morning coffee? No problem, just revert back to the previous settings, and all is well with the world (except the caffeine deficiency, which you now have time to fix!).
#5 - Access control levels
Probably a close second to version control is being able to delegate the appropriate level of permissions to different users. You can now allow clients or other team members to view but not edit, or to view and edit, but not publish. Ideal for the people who like to tinker, but often break your hours of work (see #4 for rolling back their breakages!).
#6 - Pre-defined tags for common uses
There are some tags that are used on the majority of sites, and Google Tag Manager makes it a whole lot easier to create them. There are pre-built templates for a number of products including Google Analytics, Adwords, Conversion Tracking, Remarketing, Clicktale, and many other common marketing systems. This allows you to quickly get started without any code knowledge at all, providing just a couple of pieces of information and allowing Tag Manager to do the rest.
#7 - Event listeners
A relatively new feature to web design is the ability to 'listen' for events and track them in your analytics software. Events in this case might be clicking on a link, playing a video, downloading a file - all kinds of things that you might be interested in happening on your website. Google Tag Manager allows you to automatically pick up on certain events by using a standardised naming structure, removing the need to manually tag every single item you're interested in knowing about.