February 7, 2019
Best Ways to Learn Google Tag Manager
Updated: January 7, 2019. Google Tag Manager is a very handy tool which helps you manage marketing tags (a.k.a. tracking codes) in one place and deploy them (usually) without developer’s help. If you consider yourself a beginner, you’re probably wondering where to start? What’s the best way to learn Google Tag Manager? If you’re an intermediate or advanced user, you’re probably looking for new ways to improve your GTM knowledge?
In this blog post, I’ve collected a bunch of options how you can learn Google Tag Manager as fast as possible.
The Very Beginning
When I started using Google Tag Manager in early 2013 I struggled with almost everything. There was very little information on how to get started and implement something meaningful, in addition to that the user interface was clunky and difficult to understand. There were only a few actionable tutorials available for non-developers like me at that time, so all I managed to implement was only a basic Google Analytics Pageview tag. And that’s it. *sigh*
Luckily, those times are long gone thanks to these awesome ways to learn Google Tag Manager.
#1. Free Online Courses
Free online courses will give you a good basic perception of what Google Tag Manager is and what its main components are. If you’re just starting (or just considering to learn), these online courses are fairly good options.
Created by: Julius Fedorovicius, Founder of Analytics Mania
Level of difficulty: Beginner, Entry level
Back in 2015, Google launched its own GTM Fundamentals course, however, for unknown reasons they shut it down in 2018 (probably it was considered as an outdated course). Time went by and no official substitute was offered. That’s where I chimed in and created a free Google Tag Manager Fundamentals course for the latest version of GTM.
In this course, you’ll learn the basics of Google Tag Manager, how to properly install it, how to set tags, triggers, variables, how to test and publish your changes. Also, you’ll get some tips on what topics should you learn next.
Here’s what’s inside the course:
- 90+ minutes of video material
- 30-question quiz at the end of the course
- Every lesson is enriched with related useful resources
- If some questions arise during the course, you’ll find the link to our Facebook community under each video lesson.
#2. Premium Online Courses
Another alternative how to learn Google Tag Manager is paid online courses. Unlike free courses (that just scratch the surface), paid ones will give you a more personal and premium experience, will go deeper into the topic and will help you go further with your skillset.
Created by: Julius Fedorovicius (founder of Analytics Mania)
Level of difficulty: Beginner-Intermediate
This course is a complete package for beginners. While free GTM Fundamentals course explains the very essential topics, GTM For Beginners dives way deeper, explains how to track various interactions, how to track sales/conversions not only with Google Analytics but also with Facebook Pixel and Google Ads.
Additionally, this 9-hour course will explain how to comply with your tag management with GDPR, and, of course, how to apply GTM in real-life projects.
Here’s what’s inside the course:
- 9 hours of video material
- Quick quizzes after each module
- Many practical tasks and a sandbox
- Private Facebook group for students
- Downloadable resources, checklists, templates
- The final task is reviewed by the instructor + personal feedback
- Lifetime access to the course material
Of course, you can learn Google Tag Manager by yourself. But it will take you months (many months to achieve that). With this course, you’ll save a lot of time and reach your destination faster. Learn more about this course
#3. Paid Offline Courses
*Quick side note*
I have to admit, there is a pretty solid supply of offline Google Tag Manager training courses and I’m really happy for that. This means that people are getting more and more interested in learning web analytics and how to implement various tracking codes to their websites.
Well, first of all, thanks to Avinash Kaushik who made web analytics cool and trendy. But it’s also fantastic to see the growing variety of online marketing tools which make our work exciting and interesting each day.
*end of side note*
Live training sessions (a.k.a. paid offline courses) give you the most personal and premium experience. Participants work in a live Google Tag Manager account, do various exercises, take short quizzes (usually), and actively participate throughout the training sessions to reinforce the lessons.
This makes the entire learning process much faster. Once you bump into some obstacles, the instructor notices that and gives a helping hand by providing necessary answers/tips.
Usually paid offline courses take from 1 to 3 days. Since I am running such sessions myself, the optimal duration is 2 days (IMHO), because:
- It’s nearly impossible to cover all important GTM topics in one day. Well, technically speaking, it’s possible, but the amount of new information is overwhelming. People need some time to digest what they learn and one day is not enough.
- On the second day, I always like to recap what we’ve already learned.
- 3-day-sessions might be too exhausting to some participants (+ they usually have their day jobs, so taking 3 days off their regular work schedule might be too “expensive”).
Few offline courses to mention
Level of difficulty: Beginner-intermediate.
- Bounteous – Google Tag Manager Workshop (United States)
- Jellyfish – Google Tag Manager Training (United Kingdom)
- Data Runs Deep – Google Tag Manager for Marketers and Developers (Australia)
- Digital Academy – Google Tag Manager Training (Lithuania), run by me.
Don’t worry if your country is not on the list above. There are many other Google Tag Manager training sessions, just google it. Chances are there’s at least one in your country. Otherwise, choose any other alternative mentioned in this blog post.
Quick tip: always read the reviews of the course. If there are none, the course is probably is pretty new (or salespersons are pretty lazy 🙂 ). In that case, read about other courses offered by that company. Usually, the ratings of all training sessions correlate.
Google Tag Manager for Beginners
Created by: Matteo Zambon (Tag Manager Italia)
Level of difficulty: From Beginner to Intermediate
This book is for those who are starting with Google Tag Manager and want to understand the logic behind it, what are tags, triggers, variables, data layer, and so much more. Even though the book’s title includes the word “beginners”, there are also some intermediate (and a pinch of advanced) topics that you will find useful.
Fun fact. I had a chance to get into the creative process of this book and suggested some improvements that were later implemented by Matteo. So you could say that this book is 0.01% mine 🙂
Jokes aside, Google Tag Manager for Beginners book is a good trophy that should be in a bookshelf of every aspiring GTM user.
Practical Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager For Developers
Created by: Jonathan Weber and the Team at Bounteous (ex Lunametrics)
Level of difficulty: From Beginner to Advanced
If you’re more of a book person, I highly recommend Practical Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager for Developers. Don’t be intimidated by its title. Although it covers various technical topics, you’ll understand them even if you’re not a developer. It starts from basic concepts and then gradually increases the level of difficulty.
It explains a concept and then takes you step-by-step on how to implement that concept. You should do the exercises if you want to get anything out of this book. This book consists of 50% Google Tag Manager and 50% Google Analytics tutorials.
I have it on my shelf, you should too.
#5. Comprehensive Guides/Resources
Level of difficulty: From Beginner to Advanced
Let’s go back to free Google Tag Manager resources. After you’ve completed Google Analytics Fundamentals free online course (which I always recommend as the first step of this GTM-learning journey), go ahead and try these guides/resources:
- The Ultimate List of 90+ Google Tag Manager Resources, which are split into categories. If you’re thriving for even more resources, download the list of 120+ GTM Resources (Analytics Mania subscribers can download the list from every newsletter I send).
- Google Tag Manager Glossary (160+ terms). To make your life a little easier, I’ve assembled a huge list of Google Tag Manager (GTM) terms to help you avoid confusion in the future. Whether you’re looking to understand the language of GTM or help train someone else, this Google Tag Manager Dictionary should be your best companion.
- E-book: Google Tag Manager for Beginners. A proper introduction to GTM beginners.
- The Library of Google Tag Manager Recipes. An ever-growing list of ready-made GTM container templates with most common solutions. Download them, import to Google Tag Manager and you’re good to go! Expand your web analytics with ease!
- 100+ Google Tag Manager Learnings by Simo Ahava. This list contains a whole bunch of random (but very interesting) GTM-related tips.
#6. Practice practice practice
All these courses and resources would be useless without practice, so make sure to always keep GTM running in one of your browser tabs. Playing around with my personal projects’ GTM containers + working with personal clients is the main cause of my GTM breakthrough and growing skills.
Although there are still a lot of lessons to be learned, I feel that I’ve come a moderately long way. Here are my tips for you to get more practical knowledge:
- Do you have your own website/blog? Start tracking it with GTM.
- Do you work in an agency? Start implementing GTM in new projects. Real-life situations are what drives knowledge. Are you working with a team? If there’s someone who knows GTM pretty well, learn from them. Ask questions.
- Challenge yourself. Use Tag Manager Injector, inject your code to other websites (this happens only within boundaries of your browser. No, you’re not hacking anything) and try to track various elements: forms, clicks, page views, etc.
- Join forums, groups, and communities. If someone asks for help, try solving their problem. Don’t promise anything up front, because you’ll probably fail at first (due to lack of experience), but eventually, you’ll get better at this. Trial and error is the way to go.
Be up-to-date. Follow Others
Join these communities if you want to be the first to hear the GTM news, solve your problems, learn Google Tag Manager tricks, and get some new ideas.
- GTM Community on Facebook (recommended)
- GTM Subreddit
- Official Google Tag Manager Forum
- Stack Overflow – Google Tag Manager
As for blogs, there is a bunch of noteworthy ones which you should subscribe to:
- Analytics Mania (which you are currently reading) #shamelessplug
- Simo Ahava’s Blog.
- And others.
Pro tip: I prefer getting updates/new blog posts straight to my email inbox. Unfortunately not all GTM influencers send newsletters. My solution to that is Blogtrottr – a free service which regularly checks RSS feeds and sends me an email when a new post is published. I do this with Simo Ahava’s or Krista Seiden’s blogs, for instance.
The majority of blogs have RSS feed, even though they do not display it publicly. Just add /rss to the end of website’s address, e.g. analyticsmania.com/rss. If you see some plain-text context, BINGO.
Conclusion: How To Learn Google Tag Manager
There are multiple ways to master GTM, both free and paid. My recommendation is to start with a free GTM Fundamentals course (created by me). In less than a day you’ll get the basics necessary for further growth.
Then, think of how much spare time do you have. Choose paid online or offline courses if time is very precious for you. Otherwise, try learning on your own: follow blogs, watch video tutorials, etc. Learning on your own is definitely possible but will require much more time.
But most importantly, keep practicing. You might keep reading all you want, but without actual battlefield experience, the theory is pretty much useless.
So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and learn Google Tag Manager!