What is Google Tag Manager and Why do I need it?
Google Tag Manager is a free tool that allows you to manage and deploy marketing tags (snippets of code or tracking pixels) on your website (or mobile app) without having to modify the code.
Sites commonly use several different tags and the amount of code needed to create them all can be overwhelming, especially if you’re trying to add or edit tags by going directly into the site’s source code. Google Tag Manager is a tool with a user-friendly, web-based interface that simplifies the process of working with tags. With GTM, you’re able to add, edit, and disable tags without having to touch the source code.
Here’s a very simple example of how GTM works. Information from one data source (your website) is shared with another data source (Analytics) through Google Tag Manager. GTM becomes very handy when you have lots of tags to manage because all the code is stored in one place.
By far, the biggest benefit to Google Tag Manager is that it makes it easier for marketers to implement tags without having to rely on web developers to do it for them. Developers are usually busy with other high-priority projects, so tagging often ends up on the back burner. But since Google Tag Manager helps you avoid touching the source code, marketers can quickly add and make changes to tags on their own. This is a big advantage if, for example, you only need to use a tag to collect data for a very brief amount of time. Without GTM, there’s a good chance that it would take longer for the tag to be added than it would actually, be live for.
What are tags?
Tags are snippets of code which are added to a site to collect information and send it to third parties. You can use tags for all sorts of purposes, including scroll tracking, monitoring form submissions, conducting surveys, generating heat maps, remarketing, or tracking how people arrive at your site. They’re also used to monitor specific events like file downloads, clicks on certain links, or items being removed from a shopping cart.
While GTM is, obviously, a Google product, it’s hardly limited to just working with tags for other Google services like AdWords or Analytics. You can use it to manage many different third-party tags, including Twitter, Bing Ads, Pinterest, and Quora, just to name a few. If there’s another tag which doesn’t have a template in GTM, you can add your own custom code.
Examples of common tags within Google Tag Manager are:
Google Analytics Universal Analytics
Google Ads Remarketing
Google Ads Conversion
What are triggers?
Triggers are a way to fire the tag that you set up. They tell Tag Manager when to do what you want it to do. All tags need to have at least one trigger assigned to it; otherwise, it’s not going to do anything.
What are variables?
Variables are additional information that GTM may need for your tag and trigger to work. The tag compares the value of the variable to the value defined in the trigger and if the variable meets the conditions of the trigger, the tag will fire.
Variables can often be reused between tags. One of the most popular tips for using GTM is to create constant variables with the ID numbers or tracking codes you’ll need to use more than once. For example, if you’ll need to use your Google Analytics property ID number in multiple tags, you could just create a constant string variable with the value being your ID number. That way, instead of repeatedly having to look up and enter your ID number, you could just select the variable name.