Google Tag Manager

What is Google Tag Manager?

Google Tag Manager (GTM) is a free tool from Google used to add custom tracking codes to be placed on a website.

If tracking codes are “cookies”, then GTM is the “cookie jar”.

In a GTM container, a marketer can place tracking tags set to initiate (or “fire”) on specific rules and create advanced tracking of website visitor actions.

This container model allows for much quicker changes than if the tags were directly coded on each page, and it does not require a developer to be involved past the initial placement of the container on the site.

All updates to the tracking can be completed within the GTM platform.

There are three main components to GTM which include Tags, Triggers, and Variables.

Tags are “what” you want to track on your site. For example, you may want to track leads from Google Ads, visitors from Facebook video, track if a specific video was watched or a document was downloaded.

The last two tracking tags (video tracking and document downloads) are examples of information you can feed into Google Analytics that the platform does not automatically record itself.

Other instances of tracking tags include link clicks (such as your phone number or email), call-to-action button clicks, whether a user reads your entire blog post or even if a website visitor hovers over an image.

This information becomes very useful to understand the user journey and is made possible by Tag Manager.

Essentially, if there is any user action or activity you want tracked from your site, GTM is your solution.

Triggers tell the tags “when” and “where” to fire. A trigger listens to your page(s) for a specified event to occur – like a form submitted – then fires a related tag to complete the tracking process.

Variables are “how” tag information is displayed and triggers are configured.

They are changeable values – denoted by double brackets, like {{this}} – used in tags to populate information specific to the user, session, or action and in triggers as a filtering tool to further specify when to fire.

GTM has built-in variables or you can create your own for more customized tracking.

GTM Tag Configuration
GTM Trigger Configuration

Why is Google Tag Manager important?

Google Analytics, in its standard configuration, does not track things like clicks on phone numbers, emails and social links. In fact, it records those actions as exits or “bounces”.

While technically accurate in that the user is in fact leaving the site, we know those are anything but bounces. These are key engagement activities that you want the user to take. This is where Google Tag Manager enters into the tracking equation.

With GTM, we can track almost anything on a web page, including:

  • Conversion Events

- Form Submissions

- Online Store Purchases

- Phone Calls

- Emails

- Newsletter/Blog Subscriptions

  • User Engagement

- Document Downloads

- Video Views

- Add to Cart / View Cart

- Blog Post Interaction

- Social Shares

…and much, much more.

The insights obtained from this data can help you determine how each marketing tactic is working, how your website content is being consumed and if your calls-to-action are effective.

Being armed with this information, you can make precise decisions to improve your strategy or duplicate results.

Google Tag Manager is an essential tool in fully understanding the user journey and your marketing approach.

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