Why You Should Be Using Google Tag Manager

Why You Should Be Using Google Tag Manager

In September, Google Tag Manager (GTM) turned five years old. Those five years have seen a significant amount of change in what is possible from the platform, and how it can help businesses and organisations of any size achieve more from their online activity.

The original concept of GTM was met with some trepidation, as it aimed to bridge the gap between marketers and developers. Giving marketers the ability to add and alter certain elements of code on a website was initially met with serious concern and reluctance to hand over control to the ‘non-technical marketer’. However, times have changed and, with that, so has the way marketers work and how they should be perceived.

The general consensus is that a ‘non-technical marketer’ simply doesn’t exist in the current digital landscape (Simo Ahava covers this perfectly in his blog post on the subject). Granted, certain people will have more experience in each specialism but, with the reliance on 3rd party tools and software, the rise of digital activity and the importance of cross department collaboration, it is incredibly rare to find a marketer who doesn’t have any form of technical know-how.

This is not to say that all precaution should be thrown to the wind, as that’s clearly not the case. The point is that the current digital landscape is evolving and there are constant improvements in accessibility to tools that connect developers to marketers, marketers to designers and visa versa. Therefore, the role of tools like GTM play an ever-increasing role in ensuring your campaigns and website perform better.

Reducing Lead Time

We use Google Tag Manager on 95% of our websites at Extreme, as it gives us the flexibility for the marketing team to update, add and implement any necessary changes to a website without depending on the development team. For any business, time is money, and waiting for development resource to free up so a tracking pixel can be added often results in losing revenue, data, or a combination of the two.

With the use of GTM, this lead time can be reduced to minutes rather than days or hours, while still ensuring that there is minimal risk of breaking the site from lack of a developer checking things over. GTM has built in a large number of integrations with leading software and other tools, giving you the confidence that these have been thoroughly tested to ensure a process that is known to work when adding said tag.

Ensuring security

Like any good website setup, the ability to roll back and implement changes with minimal risk is paramount. GTM has version control and a pretty thorough testing process that allows you to ensure any tags, regardless of size or functionality, don’t affect other areas of the website, before you push them live. This is particularly important and one of the reasons why GTM is becoming more accepted within the development industry, as most new releases of GTM aims to minimise the risk of tags breaking websites by improving their roll out process.

As mentioned earlier, GTM is not completely risk-free, and it’s important for any marketer to know the limitations of GTM and when it should and shouldn’t be used. Adding complex Javascript tags, for example, should always be reviewed by a developer and thoroughly tested before being pushed live, as Javascript is notorious for breaking other components of a website or app.

Considering scalability

One of our most recent use cases for Google Tag Manager has been to establish a very complex tracking setup for a website that needs to send website data to 50 different Google Analytics properties, and then to the relevant individual views within those Google Analytics properties based on a series of rules that are set up within GTM.

Working closely with our development team, we’re passing information about each website hit through a series of conditions that are then assessed in GTM, and the data is directed to the relevant Google Analytics property ID based on the outcome of those rules. Due to the nature of how this business works, scalability was a core feature that had to be built into this setup. This allows the business to grow and introduce new stores to their main site, and the GTM configuration will recognise this and process the data based on the rules we’ve implemented.

All of the above was implemented with security also being a core part of the setup, ensuring that any data is viewable on staging Google Analytics accounts before being pushed live, so we can replicate the final production scenario as accurately as possible to minimise any issues or loss of data.

Below is a basic outline of how the Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager setup works for the above scenario. There are a number of other steps that sit within this configuration, but you can see how a well thought-out process can lead to a better, more reliable, and secure data collection setup.

GTM setup

Need help streamlining your tracking process?

If you need help setting up a lean, accurate data collection process or would like us to review your current one, then get in touch with our Technical Marketing team to see how we can help you.