Using Google Tag Manager to Fuel Your Marketing Strategy

Written by Caleb Knight

In digital marketing, we often operate with a campaign lens. We build graphics, landing pages, forms, goals, and more all for a campaign. While the goals are great in helping you measure success, are you painting a full picture of the campaign performance? Another key question you must ask yourself in campaign development is how can this fail?  To properly evaluate a digital marketing campaign answering these questions, you want to be able to track the actions of users from start to finish. This is where Google Tag Manager comes in as the brush to paint that picture.

What are tags and why does Google need a manager for them?

In short, tags are pieces of code embedded into your website that track certain interactions and information. In the past, for marketers, there have been multiple platforms for tags making it hard to concisely measure your success (or failure). However, Google Tag Manager allows for the implementation and management of all of these tags all under one piece of code to rule them all. Not only will this save marketers time, but it saves your web developer’s time too by not requiring their help in implementing or altering a tag every time. This is not to say you can be technically useless either as some general understanding of code is still required for best results. 

To best understand Google Tag Manager, it’s important to understand the ecosystem you’re working with. Google Tag Manager is simply the vehicle that moves data from one source (your website) to another data source such as Google Analytics, Google Ads, Facebook, and more. There is no reporting directly in Google Tag Manager.

The Anatomy of a Tag

Once you’re in Google Tag Manager, there are three main components that make up a tag.

  1. Variables – The internal data that the tag manager needs to know to properly fire. Google Tag Manager comes with many of the variables you will want or need pre-built in. However, you can also create your own variables as needed.
  2. Triggers – The details of when, where, and how the tag should fire. Triggers take the desired variable and set it to fire when a condition built up of an operator (“contains” for example) matches a value (“Contact” for example).
  3. Tags – The final product of custom code set to track the desired action or item sent to Google Analytics or other platforms.

In short, you can think of a full tag with a simple equation: Variable + Trigger = Tag.

Endless Tracking Options

There are endless tracking capabilities for Google Tag Manager. Tag complexity can come with varying degrees of difficulty and it’s recommended to walk before you run. Google Tag Manager provides a preview mode that you can think of like a playground. Always use preview mode to troubleshoot your tags so that you know exactly how all tags are behaving. 

Some basic tags that you can implement to help drive your marketing track a page view, a button click, a phone call, and website element visibility. As you advance, you can start tracking complex items like video plays, file downloads, and more.

How can tags fuel your marketing?

Before you dive into adding a tracking tag for every single action on your website, step back to evaluate your greater business goals. If you are implementing tags for a campaign, you want to make sure you are tracking key actions that display the success (or failure) of a campaign. For instance, if your campaign’s end goal is to have a customer click to call or submit a form on a specific landing page, you should create two separate tags. 

First, you should create a Google Analytics Event tag that fires when a website user clicks the phone number on the landing page to call the business. Second, you will need to create another Event tag to fire when a user clicks the submission button of the form. When developing your marketing strategy, carefully evaluate and decide whether or not user actions are must-haves or nice-to-haves. Your must-haves are your marketing strategy’s tags.

When it comes to tags, less is more. Remember that every tag is another demand of code on your website. Naturally, with more code comes a greater load time. Implementing too many tags can do more harm than good by decreasing the user experience with a slower website. This is why it’s important to keep your tags to the must-haves of your marketing strategy.

At the end of your campaign or down the road in the implementation of a marketing strategy, Google Tag Manager gives you the tangible numbers to show what works. Used in tandem with Google Analytics, and you drive a marketing program that is rich in data and tells a story like never before.

Fuel Your Digital Marketing Fire

Digital marketing is a “day to learn and a lifetime to master” kind of field. There are always new developments that you can use to push your brand and message forward. If you need help developing your digital marketing strategy, check out our blog

Our team of digital marketers here at PHOS Creative live and breathe these types of strategies every day. If you and your organization need help standing out in a saturated digital space, get in touch with us

Caleb Knight

Caleb focuses on providing clients with exceptional results through strategy, content, and data.