Better Analytics with Google Tag Manager

August 27, 2014 Mike Weisert

Have you ever wanted to know more about how your visitors are interacting with your website? How many people actually click to “Read More” or select various tabs within a mega menu? In-page events such as these offer the greatest insight into how people are consuming web content and what they find most desirable in a webpage. They help us determine how we can improve our sites by connecting visitors with content that is more useful and/or actionable. Tracking page loads alone – something we’ve always been able to do – doesn’t tell the whole story.

Up until now, gaining this level of detail required a developer placing specific code in your site to track each action. This has all changed with the introduction of Google Tag Manager.

WHAT IS GOOGLE TAG MANAGER? 5 THINGS TO KNOW.

Google says:

Google Tag Manager is free and easy, leaving more time and money to spend on your marketing campaigns. You manage your tags and configure your mobile applications yourself, with an easy-to-use web interface, rather than forcing you or your IT departments to write or rewrite code.

Google Tag Manager is not a replacement for Google Analytics; rather, it helps you enhance the data you retrieve in Analytics. It works in a similar way to posting a YouTube video on your website. The video technically lives at YouTube.com, but you’re adding it to your page through an embed code.

A key element of Google Tag Manager is the ability to listen for events. Events are actions that a visitor performs on a page. These may be pressing a button, submitting a form, playing a video or numerous other things.

Here are 5 things you need to know to get started:

    1. Getting set up will require a 1-time code change.
      During this change, you’ll want to remove your current tracking code(s), as they’ll be recreated in Tag Manager. After this is done, you can modify the tracking parameters without any need for a developer.
    2. All tags live within a 'container.'
      Think of it as an empty box that lives on your website. You'll pick what items go in the container through Tag Manager.
    3. Tag Manager has three main components with somewhat confusing labels.
      Here is a general description of what each does:
      • Tags: Tags are essentially actions that occur once a set of criteria have been met. A common use of a tag is to include your Google Analytics tracking code. Your tag would be a "Universal Analytics" type and would store your unique ID.
      • Rules: Rules are the criteria you apply to tags that determine if a tag will execute. In the tracking code example, a rule may be “include only on pages with the domain ‘blog.onenorth.com.’”
      • Macros: Macros are stored conditions you can apply to tags. They also allow you to pass information between tags. In our example, we could store the tracking code as a macro. This would allow us to easily reuse it in multiple places without needing to remember the code.
    4. You need to 'publish' tags before they live on your website.
      Selecting publish in the upper right will create a new version of your tags, and the changes are immediately live.

      google tag 1 image 2

    5. Test your Tags!
      The last thing you want is to lose days or weeks of data due to an improperly configured tag. Google includes an excellent testing tool, which allows you to open any page on your site to see what is included and excluded (shown below). To open this tool, select ‘Preview’ next to ‘Publish’ and it will give you an option to open ‘Debug’ mode.

      google tag 1 image 3

Hopefully, with these tips, you can go forward and use Google Tag Manager to enhance your website’s readership and functionality.

Interested in learning about more ways to get the most out of your marketing content? Check out the benefits of taking your strategy multi-channel in one of our latest blog posts by One North Strategist Alex Krysiak.

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Mike Weisert

At the time of publishing, Mike was a Senior Strategist at One North.

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