Google Tag Manager is a free tag management platform. A “tag” is a small piece of code that is inserted into a website and communicates with a remote server. There are hundreds of third-party applications that use tags. These include:
- Google Analytics;
- Google AdWords;
- Crazy Egg;
- Ve Interactive.
Some applications, such as AdWords, require tags only on a site’s order confirmation page. Others, such as Google Analytics, require tags on all pages.
Once installed, tags transmit information back to third-party applications, which record the information and, depending on the application, send back responses that are then displayed on a site’s web pages. Even small websites, with just a few transactions a day, likely use applications that require tags.
Tags should be managed. Sometimes the tags need to be executed or “fired” only for a short period. In other cases, the tags need a specific piece of information from the page, such as the order value.
Tags can become cumbersome when there are many of them on a website, with different pages to place them on, differing types of information to be passed to them, and the need to turn them on and off. Making updates to the tags can become expensive if you outsource web development tasks.
Understanding Google Tag Manager
Google Tag Manager facilitates the management of tags. It provides a point-and-click interface to select from popular tags and include them without having to write code.
In other words, Google Tag Manager makes tag management easier. It provides a single interface to turn tags on and off. It can save you money by doing it yourself without having to hire a developer. And, best of all, it’s free.
Here are my other pros and cons to using Google Tag Manager.
Google Tag Manager: Pros
- Powerful. Google Tag Manager is powerful. Using it makes complicated analytics platforms and features easy to implement. For example, if you wanted to extract all product names and append them to SKUs before pushing into Google Analytics, it can be done with Google Tag Manager.
- Override a website’s features. Say you are running a coupon for a limited time and want to show the coupon on the checkout pages of the site. You can do that using a custom tag on Google Tag Manager. (If you want to do this for Black Friday, I’ll send you instructions.)
- Speed up tag implementations. You won’t have to go back and forth with a development team to test changes. You can use Google Tag Manager’s preview feature to quickly check if your tags will work.
- Reuse code and information. With Google Tag Manager, you can send the same revenue information to AdWords that you would to Google Analytics without having to recode anything.
Google Tag Manager: Cons
- Documentation is written for developers. Google Tag Manager’s documentation is comprehensive. But it is not written for most business owners and marketing personnel. It requires technical expertise to make sense of it.
Google Tag Manager’s benefits significantly outweigh its drawbacks. Whether you use a development team to implement and manage or whether you do it yourself, Google Tag Manager will make tag management much easier.