The (Proper) Google Tag Manager
Using third-party advertising services and web analytics systems means getting technical and adding code to your site. If you’re not a developer, the thought can be incredibly overwhelming–which is where Google Tag Manager comes into play. The tool was created especially to help webmasters manage their tags and easily implement third-party tracking codes.
SaaS brands today have stiff competition. Standing out means collecting ample data from various sources and using it to serve personalized ads and marketing, which makes Google Tag Manager an important addition to your tool arsenal.
What is Google Tag Manager?
Google Tag Manager is known as a tag management system (TMS) that allows SaaS marketers and website owners to create, update, and manage tracking codes (or related code fragments) dubbed “tags”.
You’ll probably be most interested in tags that measure:
- How long users stay on a page
- Form submissions
- How visitors arrived on your site
- The links visitors click
- What products are added and removed from a cart
Each tag tracks a different metric. For example, you can have a tag that tracks how many people visit a specific page on your site, another one that tracks who has added a product to their cart or reached the checkout, and another to track who has read your articles. The tags then send the targeted information they’ve collected to Google Analytics, AdWords, or a third-party tool that can then use the data to serve relevant ads and retargeting campaigns.
Google Tag Manager is the central dashboard from which you can set up these tags and manage them all from one place.
Why is Google Tag Manager Important?
Many SaaS business owners dabble in coding (and some are full-blown developers), but for those who aren’t, it can be tedious and frustrating learning how to manually code tags and add them to your site, not to mention incredibly time-consuming. And, when you’re writing out tickets for the IT department every day, you’re cutting into the time they could be spending doing something else.
Google Tag Manager makes the entire tagging process much easier. You can embed a single code into your site pages simultaneously without having to navigate into every URL and manually upload it. When you want to create a new tag, you can simply log in to Google Tag Manager which will code the tag and embed it for you.
The Benefits of Google Tag Manager
- Free-up developers: GTM lets your IT department focus on big-picture tasks by freeing up time they would have spent coding and embedding tags
- Reduce human error: GTM automatically codes your tags for you, which reduces the chances of potential human error that can happen when you do it manually
- Take complete control: be in total control of the tags you create and monitor. The central dashboard means your entire marketing department can access and manage tags to increase efficiency and accuracy
- Ready-made integrations: there are plenty of third-party integrations already in place for GTM–check them out here
- Improve site speed: GTM shortens codes which means your web pages will load quicker (and, when users are likely to leave a page if it doesn’t load in 1-2 seconds, this is crucial)
- Test function: you can check how your tags work before you add them to your site with GTM’s check and debug mode
- Birds-eye-view: you can access past versions of a code, which is useful if you’ve published one with errors or you need to see who made changes to a code and when
- Tiered access: give your team different levels of access depending on their needs–do you want them to create tags? Or just manage and monitor them?
- Helpful support: if you have any questions or get stuck, GTM has a huge forum community and support section packed full of advice
The Cons of Google Tag Manager
- Sensitive container code: the container code is incredibly important, and if you accidentally damage it or get it wrong, then any tag that uses it will instantly stop working. You’ll then have to trawl through the code to find and correct the error which, let’s face it, can be time-consuming and tedious
- No online support or reports: despite having an extensive forum support section, there is no instant online support available and the tool doesn’t provide reports
Understanding Proper Google Tag Manager Setup and Implementation
Google Tag Manager simplifies creating codes and installing them onto your site, but for best results and for a streamlined system, it’s important that you get the setup and implementation right. Doing this will make your life so much easier and ensure you’re getting all the benefits of using the tool.
Google Tag Manager Setup: How to Determine What To Do
1. Identify Your CMS
The code implementation process varies for different CMS systems. We run through a step-by-step guide below that works for most CMS platforms, but if you’re using a less-popular one it’s worth looking up the unique directions for that.
But firstly, you’ll need to know what CMS you’re using–Google Tag Manager for WordPress is the most common. If you don’t know yourself, your IT department and development team definitely will.
2. Figure Out Where to Deploy Coding for Optimal Performance
Secondly, you need to know where you’re going to implement the codes. This will depend on the data you want to track and collect, as well as the third-party tools you’re integrating GTM with. For example, if you want to collect information about abandoned carts, you’ll need a code installed on the cart or checkout page. If you want to serve retargeting ads to users who visited a specific page (say, your pricing page) or lookalike audiences, you’ll need a code on that page.
It’s worth noting down your goals and the information you want to track and then figuring out where the codes would be best deployed.
3. Test As You Go
Like with anything, testing is an absolute must. There’s a short guide below that shows you how to check each code when you’ve created it and embedded it, but you’ll want to closely monitor the data you’re collecting and how accurately the third-party tools you’re integrating with are using it. This is especially important if you’re using multiple tags and codes across multiple in-house departments.
The Best Google Tag Manager Setup for SaaS Brands
As a SaaS brand, you don’t have a lot of time to get things wrong. Competition is fierce and you constantly have to be on top of what users want and need from you. Here’s a guide to setting up Google Tag Manager for your website for best results.
1. Create a new account and container
You’ll need a GTM account to get started, and a new container will automatically be created when you start a new account.
When you click “create account” you’ll be prompted to choose an account name and decide whether you want to share data with Google and third-party companies.
You can then enter a container name and description before choosing the type of content you’re working with (if it’s for your website, you’ll choose Web; if you’re using it for an app, you can select Android or iOS).
2. Install the Container
Once you’ve created a new account, you can install the container on your website or mobile app. This essentially means you’re adding the framework for the codes to be entered into, which makes it easy for GTM to upload code automatically in the right place.
GTM makes it straightforward–just follow the instructions for web and AMP pages and copy-paste the code in the box or container ID. If you’re doing it for an app, you can use the Firebase SDK for Android or iOS.
3. Add and Publish Your Tags
Once the container is in place, you can start to add, edit, and publish your tags through the dashboard.
Note: make sure your tags don’t fire twice by removing any hardcoded tags that have been automatically migrated into your tag manager container.
Before you start publishing your tags, make sure GTM is working as it should be. You can do this by:
- Right-clicking on your website and selecting “View Page Source”
- Searching for the container code you’ve installed (search gtm.js to find it quickly)
- Using preview and debug mode to check that it appears where it should
- Selecting the “Preview” button in the top right corner of the GTM dashboard
- Going to your website, refreshing it, and checking to see if the Google Tag Manager preview and debug panel shows up at the bottom of the screen
Google Tag Manager Setup Goals
It might seem like a confusing process, but once you start using GTM, you’ll soon discover that it makes adding code to your site considerably easier and takes the burden off your already-busy development team.