Google Tag Manager helps you to track, monitor, and evaluate your website visitor data and behavior that are coming from different sources.

In today’s data-driven marketing world, understanding user behavior on your website or app is crucial. This information helps you optimize campaigns, personalize experiences, and ultimately drive conversions. 

However, managing the code snippets (tags) needed to collect this data can become a tedious and error-prone task. This is where Google Tag Manager (GTM) comes in.

What is Google Tag Manager?

GTM is a free tag management system (TMS) by Google. It acts as a central hub for managing all your website and app tags from various sources, including Google products (Analytics, Ads) and third-party vendors.

Instead of manually adding and editing tags directly on your website code, GTM provides a user-friendly interface to deploy and manage them efficiently.

Why is Google Tag Manager Important?

There are several compelling reasons to use GTM:

Getting Started with Google Tag Manager

Using GTM involves a few key steps:

  1. Create a Google Tag Manager Account: Visit https://tagmanager.google.com/ and sign in with your Google account. Create a new account and container (essentially a collection of tags specific to your website or app).
  2. Install the GTM Container Snippet: Add a small snippet of code provided by GTM to the <head> section of all your website pages. This code establishes communication between your website and the GTM servers.
  3. Configure Tags: Within the GTM interface, you’ll define various tags for your tracking needs. GTM offers pre-built tags for popular services like Google Analytics, Google Ads, and remarketing platforms. You can also create custom tags for specific tracking requirements.
  4. Set Up Triggers: Triggers determine when a tag fires or activates. GTM provides various trigger types, such as page views, button clicks, form submissions, or specific URL visits. You can configure triggers to fire tags based on user actions or website events.
  5. Define Variables: Variables allow you to store and reuse dynamic information within your tags and triggers. This can be anything from user IDs, page URLs, or form submissions. Variables simplify tag configuration and ensure consistency across your tracking setup.
  6. Preview and Publish: GTM offers a preview mode to test your tag configurations before making them live on your website. Once satisfied, you can publish your container, making the changes visible to your website visitors.

Key Concepts in Google Tag Manager

Tags

Tags are code snippets from different marketing, analytics, and advertising networks (including Facebook Pixel, Google Analytics, and conversion tracking codes). 

Understanding these tags and their features is essential to using Google Tag Manager efficiently. You can add new tags to your website without having to manually alter the code because GTM serves as a central repository for tag management.

Tags are segments of JavaScript code that are executed. Without the need for programming, you may track the events you want to be tracked by using prebuilt tags that Google Tag Manager offers for tracking different data through platforms like Google Analytics, Google Ads, Meta Pixel, etc.

You can track anything, even if a prebuilt tag doesn’t present, thanks to its more sophisticated custom JavaScript or custom image feature (some pixels track by loading an invisible image with URL parameters to monitor purchases and other things).

Triggers

These control when a particular tag on your website activates. Triggers can be set up to react to certain user activities, like as scrolling to a specific area of the page, hitting a button, or completing a form.

Consider them as the “go signal” that instructs your tags to return data to the appropriate platforms. You could also utilise custom-defined events, which would require some additional JavaScript created in the code, if you have any experience with development.

With the “DataLayer” variable, you will have more control and be able to trigger events more precisely as a result.

Variables

These provide an additional level of customisation by functioning as dynamic placeholders inside tags and triggers. Think of them as variables that vary according on the situation.

For instance, you could make a variable to store the product ID for an online transaction or the URL of the current page. This enables you to gather more precise information and customise the message that is sent along with every tag.

Advanced Features of Google Tag Manager

GTM offers advanced features for experienced users:

Beyond the Basics: Resources for Learning More About Google Tag Manager

Google offers a wealth of resources to help you master GTM:

How To Setup Tags, Triggers, and Variables?

Prerequisites

Creating a Tag

  1. Navigate to Tags: In your GTM workspace, click on “Tags” in the left sidebar.
  2. Click “New”: Select the “+” button to create a new tag.
  3. Choose Tag Type: GTM offers pre-built tags for various services like Google Analytics, Google Ads, and remarketing platforms. You can also create custom HTML tags for specific tracking needs.
  1. Configure Tag Settings: Each tag type has specific configuration options. Here’s what you need to set for your Google Analytics tag:
    • Tracking ID: Enter your unique Google Analytics Tracking ID (found in your GA settings).
    • Track Type: Select “Page View” as we want to track every time a user loads a new page.
  2. Triggering: This section defines when the tag should fire. You can choose from various built-in triggers or create custom ones.
    • For now, leave the triggering set to “All Pages” to track all page views. We’ll explore triggers in more detail later.
  3. Save the Tag: Once you’ve completed the configuration, click “Save” to create the tag.

Creating a Trigger

  1. Navigate to Triggers: In the left sidebar, click on “Triggers.”
  2. Click “New”: Select the “+” button to create a new trigger.
  3. Choose Trigger Type: GTM offers various trigger types based on user actions or website events. Here are some common examples:
    • Page View: Fires when a user loads a new page.
    • Click: Fires when a user clicks on a specific element.
    • Form Submission: Fires when a user submits a form.
    • Window Loaded: Fires when the entire webpage finishes loading.
  4. Configure Trigger Conditions: Some triggers allow you to set specific conditions for when they fire.
    • For example, if you want to track clicks only on buttons with a specific class name, you can set a condition within a “Click” trigger.
  5. Save the Trigger: Once configured, click “Save” to create the trigger.

Creating a Variable

  1. Navigate to Variables: In the left sidebar, click on “Variables.”
  2. Click “New”: Select the “+” button to create a new variable.
  3. Choose Variable Type: GTM offers various variable types to capture and store data:
    • Constant: Stores a fixed value (e.g., website domain name).
    • Lookup Table: Maps specific values to different outputs.
    • Click URL: Captures the URL of a clicked link.
    • Custom Javascript: Creates variables using Javascript code.
  4. Configure Variable Settings: The configuration options will vary depending on the chosen variable type.
    • For example, if you create a “Constant” variable to store your Google Analytics Tracking ID, enter the ID in the “Value” field.
  5. Save the Variable: Once configured, click “Save” to create the variable.

Connecting Triggers and Variables to Tags

  1. Edit the Tag: Navigate back to the tag you created earlier (e.g., Google Analytics tag). Click on the tag name to edit its settings.
  2. Set the Trigger: Under the “Triggering” section, click the dropdown menu and select the trigger you want to fire this tag (e.g., “All Pages”). This ensures the tag fires based on the defined trigger conditions.
  3. Use Variables (Optional): If your tag requires dynamic data (e.g., page URL, user ID), you can utilize variables you created earlier. Click the “+” icon next to the relevant field within the tag configuration and select the desired variable.
  4. Save Changes: Once you’ve linked the trigger and configured any variables, click “Save” to finalize the tag configuration.

Testing and Previewing

  1. Use Preview and Debug Mode: GTM offers a preview and debug mode to test your tag configurations before publishing changes on your live website. Click the “Preview” button within your workspace.
  2. Open Your Website in Preview Mode: A new browser tab will open your website in preview mode. GTM will simulate user interactions and track tag firing based on your configurations.
  3. Simulate User Actions: Navigate through your website pages, click on elements, or submit forms as you would normally do.
  4. Check the Debug Panel: GTM’s debug panel displays information about fired tags and any errors encountered. This helps you identify and fix any issues before publishing.
  5. Publish Changes: Once you’re confident that your tags, triggers, and variables work as intended, click the “Publish” button in your GTM workspace to make the changes live on your website.

Final Thoughts

Google Tag Manager is a powerful tool that simplifies website and app tag management. By leveraging GTM, you can streamline your marketing analytics setup, improve data collection accuracy, and gain valuable insights into user behavior. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned marketer, GTM’s user-friendly interface and extensive resources make it an essential tool for optimizing your digital marketing efforts.