Tracking Your Website Traffic With Google Tag Manager

Just over 4 years ago, Google announced a new product with the introduction: “Digital marketing made (much) easier”. This was the launch of Google Tag Manager ("GTM"), a free tool designed to manage marketing and tracking tags across a website.

Here we highlight the main features of GTM, and why you should ensure your website has it in place.

Tracking Tags?

A tag is a snippet of code that sits on one, some or all pages of a website, which allows us to track, analyse and report on the traffic to that website, and its behaviour. Those tags typically include platforms such as Google Analytics, and can also include other user tracking areas such as Google AdWords, affiliate referrals, conversion tracking, remarketing, and more.

Why Track Web Traffic?

In order to truly be able to identify audiences and user groups, we need to know firstly, who they are, secondly, how they behave and interact with digital content. Once we know this, we can start to determine what it is these different sets of users actually want from a website - not only that but we can start to see what products they want, on which device, via which channels, and at what time of the day they want them. We can even identify which options someone selects when completing a form. This all means that we can start delivering exactly what customers want, and anyone in their right mind can see how this is a powerful position to be in.

How Do We Track Tags Now?

Typically, we can track all of the above examples without too much of an issue. We simply need to create a piece of code (i.e. a tag) for each, and add it to relevant page(s) of the website. Sounds simple, right? It is! The problem is that to do that takes time, and typically involves at least 2 people to implement (a marketer to create the tags and a developer to add them to the website). Once tags have been implemented, those changes to the website then need to be made live before they actually start tracking anything.

Again, this sounds simple enough, but let’s consider the reality. Take the typical scenario where you need the following areas to be tracked on your website:

  • Google Analytics on every page
  • PPC campaigns running via Google AdWords
  • 3 display campaigns with 6 different landing pages
  • Facebook ads
  • LinkedIn recruitment campaign
  • Event tracking on every clickable button, link and image across the website

All of a sudden that’s a lot of tracking required! That’s 2 people creating dozens and dozens of tags, then implementing them, then putting them live, then testing them to ensure they’re reporting correctly. Not only that but creating and adding all this additional code increases the margin for error (we’re only human after all), and also increases the file size of your pages, which in turn slows them down.

Google Tag Manager
Why Google Tag Manager?

Google Tag Manager works by consolidating all of your website tags into one single snippet of tracking code, which you then manage (create / add / edit / remove) from a web interface. In other words, the lines of tracking code are reduced to just a few, making the code cleaner and faster loading.

And because everything is managed remotely in the GTM interface, we only need to employ a developer once - to add the GTM tag across every page of the website. After that, we just add and update tags for everything we want to track within Google Tag Manager itself. No more creating tracking snippets, no more sending them to a developer, no more adding them to the website, no more testing and debugging, no more waiting for everything to go live - the code is already live, you just need to tell it what it’s meant to be tracking.

Imagine the situation where a new product or offer page is added to your website, and you want to know how many people visit the page. You also want to know how many people land on that page from one of your various marketing campaigns (Facebook, AdWords, affiliate, display). More important still, you of course need to know how many people buy something, how many they buy, what size, what colour, and so on. Under ‘normal’ practices setting all this tracking up could take a day, maybe more. With Google Tag Manager you can get all of your tracking in place in around 10 minutes I reckon, without touching the website once.

Do You Need Google Tag Manager?

YES! Think about it, why would you want to use the most laborious and risky way of managing your tracking, when such a simple, robust, and flexible solution exists? Not only that but Google will undoubtedly discontinue the more traditional way of doing things in a bid to boost the quality and reliability of websites on a global scale.

At Webfactory we’re in a programme of migrating all of our clients to GTM, and all new websites we design and develop have this included as standard. We can even manage the migration from traditional solutions to tracking via Google Tag Manager for non-clients. Either way our advice is clear: Make the move to Google Tag Manager as soon as possible!

What Next?

If you’d like us to evaluate your current tracking setup and help you make the move to Google Tag Manager, drop us a line at hello@webfactory.ie.

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Rich Dales

Head of Search & Analytics

The author

Rich has over 14 years’ experience dealing with web marketing, 8 of which almost exclusively with search­ based marketing including Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), paid search (PPC), and web analytics.

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