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Understanding Google Tag Manager: The Ultimate Guide

April 6, 2023By Kyle Steinberg

Topics: Website Design & Development, Marketing Strategy, Blogging

What is Google Tag Manager?

When it comes to analytics and event/conversion tracking, Google Tag Manager (GTM) stands out as an essential tool for webmasters/app builders, marketers and analysts. It's a free and easy-to-use platform that helps you streamline the process of adding tracking tags to your website or app. In this blog, we will break down what is Google Tag Manager and how it works, so that you can fully leverage the power of this tool to track and improve your website's or app's performance.

What is Google Tag Manager, and why do you need it?

Google Tag Manager is a tag management system that simplifies the process of managing different kinds of tracking, event, and conversion tags on your website/app, including Google Analytics 4, Facebook Pixel, Firebase, and many more. The benefits of using GTM are numerous, including faster load times, cleaner code and efficient tag management. This gives you the ability to easily add, change, and disable tags without the need for coding. 

How does Google Tag Manager Work?

GTM works by placing a container tag on your website or app. This container tag is a small piece of JavaScript code that loads into your website. Most CMS's or app builders have built in solutions to automatically paste the container on all pages for you or at the least free plugins.

Once the container code is in place, you can add other tags (for example, Google Analytics 4 Configuration) using the GTM interface. When a user visits your website, GTM sends out all the necessary tags to track and capture data. This process is seamless and doesn't slow down website load time.

Adding and Managing Tags to your Container

Next, it's time to add tags to your container. GTM has a vast library of pre-built tags that you can use to track specific actions, such as pageviews, click events, and e-commerce transactions. You can also create custom tags to track specific events or actions unique to your website. For apps you can include the same event tracking tags or things like Level Ups, Milestones, etc. GTM utilizes a special tag which is placed on your web pages or app code.

Be creative with the tag building feature. Don't limit the events to simple end point action like purchases or form submissions. Build more in-depth tags to really understand actions and journey visitors go through. Add/Remove from carts for value tracking or potential up-sales. The more actions you track the more audiences you can custom build inside GA4. 

One of the biggest advantages of GTM is the ability to manage and update tags easily, without editing your website's code. Even when you change/update your website you can make simple edits to the tags to keep them firing if things changed. You can turn tags on and off, create rules for when tags should fire, and test your tags to make sure they are working as intended. 

Troubleshooting with Google Tag Manager

Like any tool, GTM can sometimes have its issues. Fortunately, GTM offers its own debugging tool to help you pinpoint problems with your tags. This tool offers a detailed look at each event and tag that is firing and notifies you of any issues that need to be resolved. The debugging tool also will bring things up like data layers and their variables.

These tabs are an essential way to help correct issues you may have with tags. The most common issue I see is when a site has multiple forms that fire off the same endpoint (Thank You) page but come from 2 separate forms. Using the data layer tab it can help identify how to specify each form so you can alter tags to match the corresponding form.

Summing it All Up

GTM offers a streamlined approach to managing tags, making it a must-have tool for anyone who wants to improve their website's performance. By following the steps outlined in this blog, you can easily set up GTM and begin tracking your website's performance and user actions in no time. Whether you are a webmaster, marketer, or analyst, GTM is a versatile tool that can help you streamline the process of managing website tags and ultimately improve your website's or apps bottom line.

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