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What is Google Tag Manager and how can it benefit your business?

Published September 20th, 2017

Every business with a website or app needs to know how well that valuable asset is performing. That means adding tools like Google Analytics, HotJar, Facebook tracking, and so on, to gather information about what visitors are doing.

These tools are added using snippets of code or tags, often for every event that needs to be tracked. This usually requires a developer and some coding work (each and every time).


Google Tag Manager to the Rescue

There is an easy way to take back control of these tags, to get past the technical barriers and enable marketing folk to move fast. Google Tag Manager is a ‘tag management system’ that streamlines how data is collected from a website or app all while being fairly intuitive, even to non-technical types.

“Google Tag Manager is a ‘tag management system’ designed to enable marketers to easily gather and organise all the data they need about a website or app.”

GTM Tag to 3rd party

Google Tag Manager is designed to enable the marketing team to easily gather all the data they need, like how often a button is clicked, the conversion rate of a page, the performance of a new piece of content that’s promoted on Linkedin, etc. All without requiring development work and expense.


How Google Tag Manager Works (in plain English)

This article isn’t intended as a technical guide and won’t cover everything you need to know before getting stuck into Google Tag Manager but we should explain the basic concepts behind this wonderful system in a way normal humans can understand:


The basic premise of the system is that a ‘trigger’ detects an event on your website or app. You can tell it to look for a specific event or range of events on a single page, a section of pages or the whole website or app.

GTM Page Triggers


The trigger needs a corresponding ‘tag’. Think of a tag as the action that is performed when a trigger is set off. Typically, a tag is a snippet of code that collects and sends information to another 3rd party tool such as Google Analytics, HotJar, Full Story, etc.

There’s more to the system than this but the core concept is to track visitor behaviour using a trigger and send information about that behaviour to another marketing tool in a structured and controlled way. All without complex development work.

GTM Choosing Tags


How You Might Use Google Tag Manager – Example Use Cases

Google Tag Manager is typically used for all sorts of marketing purposes, from measuring the impact of social media activity to content marketing. Some examples of how you might use it:


7 Reasons You Should Start Using GTM


1) Future-proof your website or app

Using a single tool to manage the installation of every marketing tool you’ll ever need in the future sounds like a smart plan to us! And because installation is so simple, Google Tag Manager can be easily migrated to new versions of a website or new releases of an app.


2) Give your website a speed boost

Google Tag Manager not only speeds up the time it takes to add new tools and tracking to a website, it also enhances the performance of a website by allowing the content to load while it loads scripts in the background. A big improvement on the usual alternative of lots of individual tracking codes and scripts all trying to load at the same time.


3) Reduce website development spend

Google Tag Manager is added to a website with a single line of code, then everything is controlled from one, simple online console, that becomes second nature after a short time.

gtm add snippet


4) Empower the marketing team

Marketers can add new tracking with ease as they create their marketing campaigns or add new content. If your marketing team produce content in your business, you will surely need clear insights into what impact this has on your target audience and your profits.


5) Increase the security of your website

Google, as expected, takes security very seriously and has built-in tools to protect the businesses that rely on its tools, including this one. Access can be tightly controlled so that only certain approved people can add tracking to a website or app. No more open access to your website via FTP or another more vulnerable method.


6) Improve reliability

With built-in error checking, a very smart preview mode to check everything is working and pre-built tags to automate the addition of common tags, Google Tag Manager tries very hard to remove any risk involved in the process of adding tracking. It also creates ‘versions’ of how the tags are set up so it’s very easy to ‘roll back’ to a previous version if something does go wrong.

gtm overview screen


7) Enjoy a powerful marketing tool for free!

Google Tag Manager is a free tool yet can give you complete control of measuring and analysing everything that happens on your website or app. It does not require expensive training or subscriptions.


How to get started with Google Tag Manager

The initial setup of Google Tag Manager requires some technical know-how to get things working smoothly from the start. But for such a powerful tool, this initial configuration is very straightforward with a bit of technical know-how, with a single snippet of code required for your whole website (in place of maybe dozens of individual snippets).


Ready to roll it out?

Simply visit the Google Tag Manager website to create your account, install your code snippet for the tool and then the fun begins as you set up your triggers and tags to collect all that beautiful information!


Need to learn a bit more?

Google Tag Manager has a lot of advanced features and hidden benefits that we couldn’t possibly cover here. Check out the documentation for all the details.

You might also be interested in our upcoming guide, “How to get the most out of Google Tag Manager”. Pop your email address in the box below and you’ll be one of the first to get it:

Need a hand?

And, of course, you can get in touch with us to chat about how we can help you get the most out of Google Tag Manager.


Thanks for reading. Here’s to many years of triggering and tagging your way to amazing insights into how people are using your website or app!