What is Google Tag Manager (GTM)?

28 April 2019

Tag Manager allows you to manage and deploy marketing tags (snippets of code or tracking pixels) on your website without having to modify the code.

Here’s a very simple example of how GTM code works. Information from one data source, your website, is shared with another data source i.e. Analytics through Google Tag Manager. GTM is the best option when you have lots of tags to manage because all of the code is stored in one place.

Huge benefit of Tag Manager is that the marketer can manage the code on his own. “No more developers needed. Whoo hoo!”
Sounds easy right? Unfortunately, it’s not that easy.

learn google tag manager
Is Google Tag Manager easy to use?

According to Google,

GTM helps in making tag management simple and reliable by allowing marketers to deploy all website tags in one place.

They say it’s an “Easy to implement” tool that any marketer can use without needing a web developer.

I Still not agree with it fully. GTM is not “easy” to use without some technical knowledge or training (courses or self-taught).

You need to have some technical knowledge to understand how to set up tags, triggers, and variables. If you’re using Facebook pixels, you’ll need some understanding of how Facebook tracking pixels work.

If you want to set up an event tracking in GTM, you’ll need some knowledge about what “events” are, how Google Analytics works, what data you can track with events, what the reports look like in Google Analytics and naming your categories, actions, and labels.

Although multiple tags can be easily managed in GTM, there is a learning curve. Once you’re over the hump, GTM is pretty slick about what you can track and what not.

Let’s go through how Google Tag Manager works…

There are three main parts

  • Tags: Snippets of Javascript or tracking pixels
  • Triggers: This tells GTM when and how to fire a tag
  • Variables: Additional info GTM may need for the tag and trigger to work
What are tags?

Tags are tracking pixels from third-party tools. These tags tell Google Tag Manager what is to be done.
Examples of common tags within GTM are:

  • Google Analytics Universal tracking code
  • Adwords Remarketing code
  • Adwords Conversion Tracking code
  • Heatmap tracking code (Hotjar, CrazyEgg, etc…)
  • Facebook pixels
What are triggers?

Triggers are a way to fire the tag that you set up on your website. They tell Tag Manager when to do and what you want it to do. You can customize and fire tags according to you

What are the variables?

Variables are additional information that GTM need for your tag and trigger to work. Here are some examples of different variables. Those are the very basic elements of GTM that you need to know to start managing tags on your own.

google tag manager tutorial
What can you track in GTM?
  • Events (link clicks, PDF downloads, add to cart click, remove from cart click or any end action)
  • Scroll tracking
  • Form abandonment
  • Shopping cart abandonment
  • Video tracking

GTM can definitely make your life easier if you are willing to learn how it works. Make sure that you are actually using the data that you are setting up in GTM platform. Otherwise, what’s the point of using it?