What is Google Tag Manager & How can it help your Business?

In this article we explore what Google Tag Manager is, how it functions, & discuss some of the benefits it will bring to your digital marketing activities.

February 4, 2021
Web Design
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Nathan Watkins

The industry of digital marketing is one that is built upon a foundation of data. Whether your business is small or large, when it has an online presence there will be digital marketing decisions to be made, and these decisions should always be made with the backing of concrete information and research. To not do so would be handing the initiative and the advantage to all of your competitors- which is where Google Tag Manager comes in. In this article we will explore what Google Tag Manager is, how it functions, and discuss some of the many, many benefits it will bring to your digital marketing activities.  

What is Google Tag Manager?

Google Tag Manager is a free tool created by Google that allows the user to easily manage and deploy marketing tags on your website or application: without having to actually modify the code. When we say marketing tag, we are referring to snippets of code or tracking pixels that are added to a site to collect information and send it to third parties. 

You can use these tags for a wide variety of different purposes, such as monitoring form submissions, conducting surveys, remarketing, tracking the ways that users arrive at your site and more. As well as this, these tags can be used to monitor specific events, goals and conversions; from link clicks and file downloads, to items being removed from shopping carts.

How Google Tag Manager Works

To begin using Google Tag Manager, you must first place some JavaScript code called a container snippet on every single page of your website. Then, whenever a user visits any of these pages, the container snippet will trigger tags- based on the instructions that have been set up within Tag Manager, depending on what kinds of data you want insights on. These tags will then communicate the selected data back to the other systems you’re using, commonly something like Google Analytics.

That’s the surface level explanation of what happens when tag manager has been set up, but you might not be familiar with some of these terms and what they mean, so we’ll go into further detail below:

How Tag Manager is Structured 

Google Tag Manager is managed at the account level, and allows you to manage tags for one or multiple websites. Depending on the type of work you do, you will most likely only need one Google Tag Manager account, especially if you are a part of an in-house marketing team. However, for agencies like us at Digital Mast who manage many clients, you can connect multiple Tag Manager accounts to a single user’s Google account. This means that you can give different levels of access and permission to members of your team that are focused on different clients. As well as this, you can maintain privacy by separating clients from each other by these levels of access; so your clients will never be able to see each other's data.


We mentioned before that Google Tag Manager utilises containers and triggers to track the data you’re looking for. Each Google Tag Manager account will have at least one “container”; as indicated by the name, a container will contain all the tags and triggers that determine when data will be collected. Typically, each website domain will have one container each, though you do also have the option to use a single container for cross-domain tracking if that’s what you want to do. 


The triggers that sit inside of the containers are made up of three different items: variables, operators and values


Variables are placeholders for values that you define, and come in two formats: built-in variables and user-defined variables. Built-in variables already exist in tag manager, and simply need to be selected to activate them; whereas user-defined variables are just that, custom tags that you can create for purposes like capturing when a transaction has been made.


Operators define the relationship between the variables and values that must be true for a trigger to fire. For example, if you only wanted a tag to fire when a user completed a transaction, your tag trigger would fire when the variable equals the value of your checkout page. Operators essentially join the variables and values together in a way that makes the triggers fire.


The value is simply the text field that needs to be filled out to complete the trigger’s filter. For example, if you wanted to create a tag with a pageview event-based trigger, you would use the following: PageURL contains /products/; the value here being the text field “products”. 

Why Use Google Tag Manager?

This is all well and good, but you might be wondering “isn’t this what I have Google Analytics for?”. While it’s true that Google Analytics can provide a lot of valuable data, it does have it’s limitations. 

Gain More Insights

By using Google Tag Manager to tag up your website or app, alongside the insights provided by Google Analytics, you will have much more valuable data at your fingertips. When it comes to gathering insights on your website, the saying less is more doesn’t apply- more is more! The more information you have readily available on the performance of your website, the clearer a picture you will have on what’s working and what isn’t; which means you can better optimise what you’re doing and boost the performance of your website and your marketing campaigns. 

Organise Tags Efficiently

As well as providing you with better quality insights, Google Tag Manager is also incredibly valuable as a means of organising and managing all these tags. Websites will commonly use a wide range of different tags, and the amount of code needed to implement these can be very overwhelming- especially if you’re something of a novice when it comes to dealing with code. Google Tag Manager strips away many of the difficulties of working with this amount of code, giving you an incredibly user-friendly interface that simplifies the whole process. With Google Tag Manager, you’re able to create, edit, and disable your tags without needing to deal with any of the source code.

Works Well with Most Tags

Even though Google Tag Manager is a Google product, the service does not limit you to only being able to work with other licensed Google products, such as AdWords or Analytics. With Tag Manager you can manage a wide variety of third-party tags, from Facebook and Twitter, to Crazy Egg and Hotjar. What’s more, you can even create custom code for any tags you find that don’t have a template in GTM, meaning the options are near limitless. 

Preview & Debug 

When using Google Tag Manager, you will have access to incredibly useful features, known as Preview and Debug, that make checking your work easy and intuitive. Preview Mode allows you to browse a site on which your container code is implemented as if deployed, so that you can test a container configuration before it is published for any bugs or errors. This allows you to easily check what’s working and what isn’t before you put anything live.

Users & Permissions Management

As we have previously alluded to, Google Tag Manager is an excellent solution for digital marketing agencies, who require the ability to manage the tracking of multiple different websites for clients. With the different workspace options and granular access controls at your disposal, Google Tag Manager makes it easy to set permissions for groups, teams and individuals, so that you can internally control who has the ability to make changes to the website, as well as delegate who has access to different websites. 

This means that Google Tag Manager can easily cater to agencies who might have teams of people working on different clients, as well as manage permissions in a way that clients won’t have access to each other's websites.

Google Tag Manager is a must-have tool for anyone looking to gain a greater depth of insight into the performance of their website, especially if you’re already using tools such as Google Analytics. By gaining a greater understanding of what you’re doing well and what you’re not, you can optimise your marketing approach and affect the performance of your website in a number of positive ways. If you are interested in perhaps working with a performance focused agency on your next digital marketing project, you can always get in touch with us here, and you can learn more information about the different services we offer for website design and digital marketing here.

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