September 12, 2018
Benefits of Google Tag Manager: 13 Reasons to Start Using GTM
Google Tag Manager is awesome and I cannot imagine a work day without it. It lets me, as a non-developer, manage tracking codes, control simple and complex rules, and much more. What if my colleague wants to start tracking a particular form? Easy! Need to implement a heat map tracking tool? No problem! And the best part, I don’t have to wait several weeks when a developer becomes available.
Want something even better? The reasons I mentioned above are not the only ones. In fact, I know at least 10 more why you should use GTM. In this blog post, I’ll show you the benefits of Google Tag Manager and you’ll find the list really useful if:
- You are new to Google Tag Manager and want to know if it’s a right fit for you.
- Or you need to convince someone else to start using GTM.
Ready? Let’s go.
#1. Fast Deployment of tracking codes
Let’s take a step back and remember the classic way of how tracking codes used to be managed:
- A marketer (analyst, or anyone else) decides to start using a new marketing platform to track user behavior.
- He/she gets a tracking code and sends it to a developer.
- The developer says he’s busy and will do that next week.
- What if you need to track additional events? In that case, you’ll need to write a detailed task, send emails back-and-forth with the developer in order to get those codes installed. This can take even more than several weeks.
What if I said that you could avoid the developer (in most cases) and implement those tracking codes by yourself? With Google Tag Manager, this dream comes true.
Every tracking code is called a tag and you can add/edit/remove them via GTM interface.
Google Tag Manager speeds up many processes. Changes and new tags can be made rapidly and a lot of them do not require code changes to the website. This is great for marketers because it can really speed up launch time by testing each change themselves and deploying when ready.
In fact, Lunametrics have published a short case study where their client experienced a 600% improvement in tag implementation time.
And that’s exactly why I put this reason as #1 item in the list of benefits of Google Tag Manager. But it’s definitely not the last. Let’s continue!
#2. All tags are controlled in one place
I’ve seen many cases when due to a human error some codes were missed, therefore this caused inaccuracy in data collection.
Thanks to GTM, this process is made easier: all tags are controlled in one place.
#3. Testing tools
Troubleshooting and correcting tag errors is simplified via Google Tag Manager’s Preview and Debug mode that shows which tags are fired on a page and which are not. It also includes information about triggers that fire tags and data contained within tracking tags.
Why is it important? With GTM debugging solutions, you’re making sure that your tags work before you publish them to the live site. Also, let’s not forget other useful browser extensions such as Tag Assistant, Data Layer Inspector, etc. I’ve listed a lot more of them in a blog post called Top Google Tag Manager Extensions for Chrome.
Still not convinced? Continue reading and I’ll show you all the benefits of Google Tag Manager.
#4. Reusable container templates (recipes)
Another awesome benefit of Google Tag Manager is a possibility to export all tags, triggers, and variables into a single file (which can be imported later). What does it mean? Well, you can create your own templates with commonly used tracking codes/settings.
This is especially useful for marketers in agencies who have to implement standard Google Analytics events: Page view tracking, outbound link clicks, etc. for every client.
In fact, this feature is so popular that my library of Free GTM Recipes (templates) is one of the most visited sections of this blog. Go ahead, click this link, download any template you like, follow instructions, and start tracking in minutes.
#5. Simple (kind of) event tracking
Once you enable certain trigger in GTM, it will start automatically listening to particular website interactions. There is still some setup required, but it is relatively straightforward to do. You can use those interactions to fire tracking codes, e.g. Google Analytics Event Tag.
Basic events that you can track (by default) in GTM are based on:
- Link clicks
- Form submissions
- Time spent on a page, etc.
But wait, there’s more! Thanks to the growing community of GTM users and enthusiasts, the number of auto-event tracking functions constantly increases. You can also add custom features that record things such as scroll depth, intentions to leave a page, new comments, video players and much more.
Why is this important? Well, it enables you to gain insight into what actions users take on your website. Are they engaging with the content? Are they filling in your forms? You can then use these events to create goals specific to your business in Google Analytics.
Just keep in mind, that more complex events might require the developer’s input. Although GTM gives you some super powers, it doesn’t make you almighty.
#6. It’s free
Nothing much to add here, actually. Just like Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager is free. Although there’s a premium version of it in Google Analytics 360 Suite, the free version is more than enough for a lot of business (small and medium).
#7. Tag templates
Item #7 in the list of benefits of Google Tag Manager is Tag Templates.
GTM comes with a number of important built-in tags for classic and Universal Analytics, Google Ads conversions, remarketing, and more. This allows a marketer with little or no coding knowledge to customize tags, without implementing a complicated code or asking for developer’s help.
Currently, there are more than 80 templates at your disposal and the number is expected to grow in the future.
Update: In 2019, Google Tag Manager dev team released a new feature: custom templates. This is an advanced feature (if you want to develop templates) but the analytics community is super friendly and willing to share resources. That’s why you can import ready-made (unofficial) community templates, e.g. for Facebook Pixel, Adform, etc.
Every time you publish a change to a container (where your tracking codes are stored), GTM creates a new version. If at any time you need to restore to a previous (or any other existing) version, you can do really easily.
Accidentally published changes to a live site although some tags were still incomplete? Not a problem. Just head over to Versions page and publish a previous version. That’s an easy way to solve all Ooops… situations.
#9. Workspaces and Environments
These two features are great for enterprises with multiple teams that can make changes to the website, companies working with outside vendors, or projects that can span weeks or months.
Environments enable you to control your tag manager installation across live/production websites or apps, and their development/staging counterparts. This tag manager feature lets you publish your tags to different environments, for example, a testing server, so you don’t affect or change your live version when publishing.
Workspaces enable several team members to work in the same Google Tag Manager container without overwriting each other’s changes. After their job is done, changes of both workspaces are merged into one essence. Without this feature, the work with GTM would look like this:
Google automatically scans all tracking scripts added with Custom HTML tags in GTM accounts and pauses if they match a known malware domain, IP address or URL. Additionally, you can control who has access to your GTM accounts and can revoke access at any time.
You can also set up Whitelists or Blacklists by adding some commands to your data layer on your website. This is controlled by the website server, so even if GTM gets compromised you’ll have final say over whether or not Custom Tracking Scripts are allowed to run on your site.
Lunametrics have published a great blog post demystifying various Google Tag Manager Security Issues. Give it a shot!
#11. User permissions
Google Tag Manager allows you to give account access to multiple people, with different levels of viewing, editing and publishing privileges. This feature provides convenience for agencies wanting to give multiple employees access or needing to share access with clients while ensuring only certain individuals have master control.
You can choose from the following permission levels.
- No Access
#12. Growing popularity
Google is known for launching and killing a lot of products, like Google Glasses, RSS Reader, etc. But it looks like Google Tag Manager’s future is bright: its popularity is growing, more and more people are using as their work tool, the number of free and paid GTM resources is also constantly increasing.
But don’t trust my word. Here’s what the data says (taken from Google Trends). Although the growth has slowed down, let’s see where this leads us in the future.
What does it mean? Well, the more people are using GTM, the more blog posts, tutorials and other types of content will be available. To name a few:
- The Ultimate list of 90+ GTM Resources
- The Library of Google Tag Manager Recipes (ready-made container templates)
- The Ultime Google Tag Manager Glossary
#13. Helpful community
Another reason why I adore using Google Tag Manager is a helpful community. If you have a specific issue and don’t find the answer, just publish a post on Facebook Community and you’ll definitely get some help.
If Facebook is not your cup of tea, you can try joining Google Tag Manager subreddit.
Benefits of Google Tag Manager: final thoughts
That’s it (at least, for now). I hope it helped you decide to join the Team-GTM or to convince someone else to do it. In my opinion, starting to use Google Tag Manager is a no-brainer. It’s an easy-to-use solution to control tracking codes in one place.
Obviously, if you want to track more complex stuff, you’ll definitely need to invest some time in order to learn. But from my experience, learning was really fun, interesting, and engaging. What’s the next step?
If you’re new to GTM, I’d recommend taking Free GTM Fundamentals Course. If you’re already familiar with it and want to dig deeper, read my GTM Tips, Simo Ahava’s blog, or keep looking for other sources of information.
Finally, I don’t think that I listed ALL the benefits of Google Tag Manager. I’m pretty sure there are still some I’ve forgotten. Did I miss anything? If yes, let me know in the comments.