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Google Tag Manager: The Essential Guide to Managing and Tracking Your Marketing Efforts

Sherry Bonelli
Google Tag Manager: The Essential Guide to Managing and Tracking Your Marketing Efforts

Websites and tracking codes are getting increasingly complex. As a digital marketer it’s important for you to measure and track your marketing efforts so you can see what campaigns are working – and which ones you may need to tweak a little bit to perform better. You might be tracking Google Analytics, AdWords ads, Facebook Retargeting Pixels, Ecommerce actions and more. All of the extra tracking codes can slow down the performance of your website – and makes it cumbersome for you to keep track of which pages have what tracking code snippets. (Which can quickly turn into a spreadsheet nightmare if you’re manually tracking your pages and code.)

Introducing Google Tag Manager! What is Google Tag Manager? Tag Manager was created to help you keep track of your various digital marketing efforts that use tracking codes. Typically, if you want to have tracking code added to a page on your site, you’d have to go to your IT department or website developers and ask them to put the tracking pixels or code on your website pages. You would then have to manually keep track of which pages have what tracking code. Tag managers help marketers better control the tags themselves so you can be nimbler and more effective with your marketing efforts.

There are different choices of tag managers on the market. Some enterprise-level tag managers are: Adobe, Signal, Tag Commander, Ensighten and others. Google’s Tag Manager has been around for about three years now and is totally free (which is a HUGE bonus).

Google Tag Manager can be a little scary at first – but once you get the general idea and principles behind it, it’s a piece of cake and will make your job as a marketer much easier. This amazing tool allows you to keep all of your tracking code and pages together in one central location making it easier for you to add and switch code around whenever you want (or need) to.

Tags and Triggers

Before we get into the details of setting things up, here are the main points to remember: There are essentially two parts that make up Google Tag Manager: Tags and Triggers.

Tags. Tags are what you want Google Tag Manager to do. (Examples: “Report a page view to Google Analytics,” “Place a Facebook retargeting pixel,” “Fire an AdWords Conversion Pixel,” “Tell Google Analytics when someone submits a form”, etc.)

Triggers. Triggers are when you want Google Tag Manager to perform that action. (Examples: “Every time a page is loaded,” “Whenever a purchase is made,” “When my cart is viewed,” “Whenever a form is completed,” etc.)


Here are some examples of Tags with Triggers:

“Report a page view to Google Analytics...whenever my home page is viewed”

“Activate my CrazyEgg tracking script...after the visitor has been on the page 3 minutes”

Get Started with Google Tag Manager

Google Tag Manager has some pretty advanced features, but in this article we’re going to cover the basics.

To access Google Tag Manager, you must first have a Google Analytics account. Next, visit to get started with Tag Manager.

To implement Google Tag Manager, you first need to Add a New Account and then set the New Account up. Give the Account Name, the container name (your website URL) and where the container will be placed (on a website, Apple or Android product):

Set Up Google Tag Manager

You’ll then have to agree to the Google Tag Manager Terms of Services Agreement:

Google TSA

Next you will see a screen with the code that you will install on every page of your website that you want to track:

Install Google Tag Manager

Simply paste this code snippet into your website template page so that it appears immediately after the opening

tag on every page you want to track.

You want to create one “container” for each website or each campaign you’re running.

Next go to the Google Tag Manager Dashboard:

Google Tag Manager Dashboard

First click New Tag:

New Tag

Google Tag Manager works with some of the top predetermined software platforms:

Google Tag Manager Platforms

Don’t fret if you’re using a different tool, like Facebook retargeting. If you want to use tags from other platforms that aren’t built in (like Facebook or other social media pixels) you can add that script through the Custom HTML Tag option where you can paste the custom script.

Google Tag Manager Custom

So choose a product iIn this example I’m going to select Google Analytics):


Next choose a Tag Type (I selected Universal Analytics)


Click Configure Tag and Create a Trigger

Create Trigger Google

Then tell Google Tag Manager when or where you want the trigger to occur by setting the Fire On (I selected All Pages)

Fire On

Finally, click the Create Tag button.

(Note: You may be asked to name the Tag, so give it a name that you will remember.)

Voila! You’re done....

Usage-ReasonsRemember the main benefit to Google Tag Manager is you can code yourself instead of going to a developer. If you need to change a tag or a trigger, you can change the code yourself. For instance, if you need to put in a new Facebook pixel on a page, you can tell Google Tag Manager to “Drop the new Facebook Retargeting Pixel....whenever my cart is viewed.” It makes it easy to switch out code snippets and pixels. You don’t need a developer for most of the setup but if you want to use advanced features you can then bring a developer in.

Oh, and I forgot one of the coolest features of Google Tag Manager! Google Tag Manager is at the account level so you can manage more than one website from one interface – this is perfect for digital marketing agencies. If you’re a digital marketing agency owner, you can add code and snippets to your client’s website pages:

  • You can place pixels on your client’s sites
  • Can add tracking scripts
  • Can setup Google Analytics events

This means that once set up you can change tracking code on a client’s website without having to actually go into their site pages or pester the client to paste in the code onto their site. Cool, huh? You can even add different users and each user can be granted different roles.

Google Tag Manager saves a lot of time: No waiting on developers. No waiting on clients. Easy to change code snippets. You don’t have to find the pixels on the page. You simply go to one spot and all of the code is in your Google Tag Manager. Want to see how your campaigns are performing? You will find all of the reporting and analytics in the individual programs or platforms, like Google Analytics, CrazyEgg, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.

As your business grows, you may want to get into more advanced coding. The good news is tag manager grows with you.

Want to learn more? I would recommend taking Google Analytics Google Tag Manager Essentials Course.

Sherry Bonelli, Digital Marketer and Presenter/Speaker, has been a digital marketing professional since 1998. After launching her first ecommerce website in the late ’90s, Sherry has been featured on the TODAY Show, ABC News, CBS News and other newspapers and radio outlets. She is currently the owner of early bird digital marketing, a full-service digital marketing agency located in Cedar Rapdis, IA. She can be reached by visiting or by calling 319.409.3287.

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Sherry Bonelli, M.A. Internet Marketing, is a nationally recognized Digital Marketer Expert and Presenter/Speaker. She has been a digital marketing professional since 1998. Sherry is a recognized national speaker at industry events, webinars and podcasts, such as Traffic & Conversion Summit, SMX, SEMrush, SCORE, MozPod, The Local Leaders Podcast, Edge of the Web and others.
As a guest columnist for some of the leading SEO and digital marketing websites, like SEMrush, Search Engine Land, Moz, GeoMarketing/Yext, BrightLocal, SCORE and others, she’s earned recognition by having some of the most shared local SEO blog posts on the internet -- one of her blog posts was recently recognized as Search Engine Land’s second most popular local SEO post in 2017. She was also the winner of Search Engine Land's 2018 SEO Contributor of the Year Award.
She is the Founder and Owner of: where she helps businesses from around the US and the world with their digital marketing efforts to help grow their businesses.
She can be reached by visiting or by calling 319.409.3287.
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