The Google Tag Manager makes it easier to implement Google Analytics and other web analytics tools on your website. But other tools can also be integrated via the Tag Management System (TMS) and almost without involving IT. This is a great advantage for online marketing managers without programming knowledge. You can find out here how the Tag Manager works and for which areas it can be used.

What is Google Tag Manager?

With Google Tag Manager, you can install code snippets such as tracking codes or conversion pixels on your websites and mobile apps without interfering with the source code. The Google Tag Manager code only has to be integrated once. Everything else can then be controlled via a browser user interface.

In addition to the web analytics tool Google Analytics, the conversion tracking of online advertising systems such as Google AdWords and Bing Ads, testing tools such as Google Optimize and A/B testingaffiliate tagsremarketing tags and tools for user tracking ( MouseflowHotjar ) and implement much more such as structured data via the Google Tag Manager.

Many programs are already supported by default. And even if the tool of your choice is not there, you can control it, for example, in the form of pixel tracking via the Tag Manager. Also, you have the option of integrating custom JavaScripts and HTML codes via Tag Manager.

And what does that mean for you now?

You have a central place where you can play all of these tags together. You are no longer dependent on IT for changes to track, the installation of conversion pixels, or the short-term integration of advertisements. Thanks to the user-friendly user interface of the Tag Manager, you can carry out all implementations and changes yourself without programming knowledge.

For example, if you are planning a new SEA campaign via a third-party provider (not via AdWords) and want to install conversion pixels for it, you do not have to wait until IT – which is usually overloaded anyway – has time for it. You are independent of website releases and can, therefore, implement your online marketing measures much faster.

How does Google Tag Manager work?

The Tag Manager records interactions that take place on your website or in your app. He then sends these on to the connected tools. The evaluation of the data itself is not possible with the Tag Manager. This happens in the respective tool.

google tag manager
Structure of the Google Tag Manager

For this to work, the Tag Manager code must be integrated once on your website. This then acts like a container in which all other codes are created via the Tag Manager account.

Structure of the Tag Manager account

In the Tag Manager account, you have the option of creating several such containers. You only create one container per website or app, in which all tags are stored that are to be played on the website.

Each container has its own container ID. There is also a code snippet for each container, the code that you have to incorporate on your website.

Install GTM
Example: Code snippet for Google Tag Manager

Once installed, you can use the Google Tag Manager account to control which interactions are recorded on the website and which associated data should be interpreted and how.

To do this, you create certain tagstriggers, and variables within the container. These ensure that the data on the website is correctly collected, classified, and finally sent to the appropriate tool.

tag acts like a code fragment that you would normally incorporate directly into your HTML code. You determine where data is sent to, i.e., which tool. Such a tag can be used, for example, to embed the Google Analytics code or a Google AdWords conversion pixel. There are also special JavaScript tags that do not send any data but are responsible for triggering additional tags.

Many tags are already predefined and can be set up with just a few clicks – without any programming knowledge.

Tags in GTM
Select the tag type

With the trigger, you determine which requirements have to be met for a tag to be played or blocked, i.e., which interaction must take place on the website for data to be sent.

The Google Analytics Tag should, for example, be played as soon as a subpage is accessed. In this case, the trigger would be the respective pageview. As soon as a page is called up, the day is also played. Other possible triggers can be signing up for the newsletter or calling up a video.

Trigger in GTM
Triggers in GTM

You can refine tags and triggers with variables. You determine where values ​​are queried and where they are saved. Which values ​​must be available for a rule and which values ​​should be transferred.

For example, if you choose a page view as a trigger, you can use the variable to determine which subpages should trigger the tag. For example, the thank you page of the newsletter registration would be conceivable.

There are already many predefined variables. You can also create custom variables.

Variables on GTM
Variables in GTM

Debugging mode and versions

So that you do not accidentally put incorrect tags online, there is the preview and debugging mode. In this, you can ensure that the correct and, above all, complete information is recorded before you publish your tags. This makes testing a lot easier for you.

It is also practical that all versions of the container are saved in the Tag Manager account. This allows you to see when there have been changes to your tags easily. Old versions can be restored in a jiffy if an error should have crept in somewhere.

It all sounds very abstract now. But what does that look like specifically?

Take, for example, tracking with Google Analytics. Without Tag Manager, you have to insert the tracking code directly into the source code of your website. Every single action that you want to measure needs its own Google Analytics call.

This means that you have to adjust the tracking code accordingly for every action that deviates from standard tracking. And every time you want to make a change to the measurement, you have to adjust the code again.

Changes in the source code can usually only be made by the IT department or an IT service provider. Every adjustment has to be commissioned, and it often takes a certain amount of time before IT is implemented, and additional costs are incurred.

Any changes to the source code also run the risk of errors. Whether the tracking has been correctly adjusted, must then be extensively tested, and if errors have occurred, the change must be made again by IT. So the effort is very high.

When implementing the tracking code with the Tag Manager, you only have to change the source code of the website once. All other changes can be controlled via the backend and tested in debugging mode before publication. (There are exceptions to more complex tracking requirements such as e-commerce transactions.) This saves you a tremendous amount of time and costs, and you are only dependent on IT to a limited extent.

What additional features does the Google Tag Manager 360 offer?

Google Tag Manager is a free tool. But there is also a paid enterprise version, the Google Tag Manager 360. It is part of the Google Analytics 360 Suite and offers some additional features; for example, in the free version, only three people can work on a project in parallel in their workspace. There is no restriction here in the paid version. An implementation service and support is also offered. All other functions are also available in the free version.

In the free GTM version, the number of workspaces is limited to 3.

Advantages of the Google Tag Manager

Google Tag Manager is a free tool that can be integrated into websites and mobile apps with relatively little effort. It offers online marketing managers more freedom in measuring the success of marketing measures and reduces IT expenditure.

Here is an overview of all the advantages of the Tag Management System:

  • More self-determined work for online marketing managers
  • No programming knowledge required thanks to predefined tags and user-friendly interface
  • Less IT effort
  • Saving costs and time
  • Independence from release cycles
  • Changes can be made and tested immediately
  • Easy troubleshooting
  • Less prone to errors because the source code does not have to be changed
  • Central administration location for all tags from all tools

But beware: Google Tag Manager is a powerful tool. And even if it is possible to make adjustments without consulting IT, you should make sure that you are not working against each other and that the Tag Manager functions of the website are overridden.