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How To Get Started with Google Tag Manager

How To Get Started with Google Tag Manager

If you have been digging into Google Analytics, you would have come across the supposedly handy tool, Google Tag Manager. If you are already not using it, you better start now, as it is free and can help you deal with your marketing tags more efficiently.

So, what exactly is Google Tag Manager (GTM), and how can you use it with the new Google Analytics 4? Let’s find answers to all these questions and more.



What is Google Tag Manager?

Google Tag Manager is a free online tool that you can use to install and manage marketing tags on your websites. It allows you to update and modify your tags without necessarily modifying the website code.

Usually, when you want to attach a marketing tag, you add it as a small piece of code in the website’s script. These tags collect information like events, ad data, user interaction data, and more. The most common tags used include Google Analytics event code, Google tag that installs the Google Analytics on the site, Meta pixel code, remarketing tags, and the like.

When you manually add these tags, it might seem like an easy-to-do task, but as time goes on, every little code change and validation test that comes with it becomes more complex as you have to keep track of these tags as well.

Google Tag Manager helps you avoid this complexity by letting you take care of all your tags from one place without touching your website code. So now, you don’t have to worry about breaking your site or performing multiple complex checks every time a tag needs to be updated.


How Does It Work?

As you use the Google Tag Manager, you will come across terms like variables, tags, triggers, and similar configurable parameters. Understanding how Google Tag Manager works will help you navigate the tool better.

Installing GTM for your site establishes a connection with the site and communicates the events and data through this connection. This is accomplished by injecting a single javascript code snippet into your site. This code snippet will contain all the tags you have configured for the site. Thus, each time a tag is triggered, GTM can receive it and inject it into your website’s script or code. Once injected, the GTM will execute the tag and collect the intended events or data.

A tag could be any tool or application used to collect data from the website’s user interactions. It can be the way third-party applications gather data for further analysis or functionality integration. Here are some sample tags you could check out:

  • Google Analytics

  • Google Ads Conversion tracking

  • Salesforce

  • Custom events tracking

  • HubSpot

  • Meta pixel

  • Twitter Universal Web tag

  • LinkedIn insight

  • Pinterest Tag

  • Appcues

For GTM to be able to execute a tag, it needs to be triggered by the user. These triggers could be anything from a simple click action to a form submission. Any user activity like page view, page scrolling, button clicks, or any custom event can be configured to act as triggers that fire a tag. You will have to make these associations and configure the triggers for each tag so GTM can help you gather the data as required. When you configure triggers, remember that multiple triggers can be mapped to a single tag.

To make triggers more accurate, you can also add additional information in the form of variables. Variables can contain information like tracking id, metric ids, credentials, and more as required by the tag. You can set the values for each variable and attach them to the relevant tag. Some of the common variables used are:

  • Google Analytics Settings

  • Click URL

  • Click ID

  • Click Class

  • Page URL

  • Form ID

  • Scroll depth threshold

Why should you use Google Tag Manager?

Maybe you are wondering why you need to learn about a new tool when you could do it all manually and possibly face no issues. Well, for starters, Google Tag Manager is a free tool, and there is nothing you stand to lose by using it. Instead, you stand to gain much time and resources from using it.

Here are some of those gains:

  • Increased productivity

GTM eliminates the need to code whenever you add a tag to your website. This not only saves time but also reduces your reliance on developers. So now you can handle everything related to tags without spending more on dev resources that could be used more productively.

  • Improved testing

GTM smoothes out the testing process involved in adding tags to your website. You can preview, test, and debug the updates before it goes live, thus allowing you to minimize errors and downtime.

  • Improved Security

You can provide much more organized access control to tag management, as only authorized users can use the GTM tool.

  • Version management

With GTM, you get to keep track of all your tag updates and revert to any particular version with little effort.

  • Better collaboration

GTM provides multiple workspace features, thus allowing your team to work on the website without conflicts.

  • Tag storage and management

All your marketing tags can be consolidated and managed from a single place. This makes working with multiple tags more efficient, reduces errors, and saves time.

How to use Google Tag Manager with Google Analytics 4

If you have already used Google Tag manager with UA, the migration to GA4 is seamless. All you have to do is install an additional ‘GA4 Configuration’ tag. As GA4 works by collecting events, Google provides a separate tag for GA4 events. This update also enables you to automatically collect much event-based data compared to UA, the previous analytics platform.

If you are new to Google Tag Manager, here are the basic steps to get started. You should have already created your GA4 account and property and a web data stream for your website.

  • Sign into your Google Account and go to Tag Manager

  • Create a new account and set up a Tag Manager Container. Each website has a single container attached to it.

  • On creating the GTM account, you will have access to the tag-related script that needs to be added to your website. You can get assistance from your developers for this one-time setup.

  • Once you have ensured that your website can access the Tag Manager container, you can create tags and test them.

  • To create a new tag, login to your GTM account

  • Go to the Tags menu, click Create A New Tag, and configure your tag.

  • Make sure to configure the triggers for your tag. For instance, you can set the trigger to fire the tag on page load.

  • To verify your tag, you can go to your workspace and click on Preview. The Tag Assistant dialog will open, where you will have to enter your site’s URL. The Tag Assistant will show you whether your tag was fired properly.

  • Once you have verified and debugged the tag, click Submit to push it live.

In a Nutshell

As you can see, Google Tag Manager helps you manage marketing tags on your website effortlessly. It simplifies the process of tag implementation and offers numerous benefits such as increased productivity, improved testing, security, version management, and collaboration, thus proving to be a must-have.

Furthermore, integrating Google Tag Manager with Google Analytics 4 is a seamless transition, enabling you to harness the power of event-based data collection.

If you don’t want to miss out on the advantages of GTM and use it in association with GA4, Data Solutions Consulting Inc. is here to fill you with details and assist with the involved technicalities. Contact us today to learn more.


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