Google Tag Manager: The understated hero of Marketing?

Google claims it’s Tag Manager will make your life infinitely easier, but users report complex dashboards and an impact on page load times. So who’s right? Is the juice worth the squeeze?

Technophobes and marketers who don’t control their site can have a hard time integrating any kind of web service.

Often it means waiting weeks whilst the experts implement and test your suggestions, leaving you frustrated and behind the pack.

8 years ago today, Google revealed a brand new (simple-ish!) web app that can circumvent the nerds and give the control back to marketing team, so they can do what they do best: test & optimise quickly.

Today we take an in-depth look at the Tag Manager, and ask ourselves, “Is it any good?”

So, what is the Google Tag Manager (GTM)?

Google Tag Manager (GTM) is a user-friendly a way to add ‘tags’ to your website.

Tags are tiny bits of code that can integrate third party apps and platforms into your website.

For example, the code from Google Analytics, or Facebook Pixel is classed as a ‘tag’

You only need to add GTM’s own tag to your website once – GTM then manages the implementation of any other tags via an online dashboard.

So forget having to manually copy and paste each of these tags into the underlying code on your website (and risk breaking something each time!)… you now just paste them into GTM’s dashboard, and Google does all the hard work for you.

Why bother? Surely this is just another layer of complexity?

It’s a fair question.

And if all Google Tag Manager did was insert your tags into your website, then it would be pretty pointless.

However, GTM has a huge array of options for each tag, allowing you to do things like:

1. Selective Triggering

Set the tag to only run on certain page. Turn it off on pages that match certain URL rules (e.g. turn off the tracking script on the ‘update credit card’ pages)

2. Set timers

You can set a tag to only fire after a visitor’s been on the site for a certain amount of time. This is especially helpful to remove those annoying 1 second bounces from your Google Analytics reports. Simply set the Google Analytics tag to only fire after 20 seconds and you’ll start tracking genuine bounces, not spambots and mis-clicks

3. Trigger on visitor’s actions

You can fire a tag based on any action on your site. For example, you could ask Facebook to build a retargeting audience of anyone who presses the ‘See Pricing’ button.You could set your Chatbot to fire only when someone scrolls half way down your page.

The options are almost infinite!

Why are marketers excited?

The three main reasons marketers are turning to GTM instead of manual placement are:

  • Speed: Multiple tags on your site can slow down page load times. GTM will manage the deployment asynchronously, meaning your page loads faster
  • Consolidation: When you know that all your tags are in one place, editing and management becomes easy – especially with the user permission function
  • Workflow: Implement a chatbot in 5 minutes using GTM, without requiring lengthy approval and complex testing procedures

In short, it gives marketers complete control over what, when and where each tag fires. And the versioning function allows us to turn these tags on and off at the click of a mouse.

And what that really means it that you can add new apps, test new ideas and completely control how all tags are fired… all without having to bother your web team.

Scott Herman, the genius behind the Tag Manager at Google, sums it up perfectly in his introductory video, when he says, “Google tag manager acts as the bridge between marketers and developers”.

You can watch his video here: