The Quick & Practical Guide To Google Tag Manager (With 10 Videos!)

The Quick & Practical Guide To Google Tag Manager

Analytics and tagging aren’t the sexiest topics to entrepreneurs and marketers because they want to be working on things that have the highest impact on driving the needle.

But not implementing the proper tagging and tracking solutions leads to an overall slowdown in your marketing operations.

Not implementing a tool like Google Tag Manager is like letting debt snowball. In the technology world, people like to use the word technical debt. In this case, we can call it analytics debt.

First, we need to define what Google Tag Manger is. At a very high level, it helps marketers decrease the need to reach out to your engineers or IT team to add/remove/modify tracking codes on your website.

This means there’s no need to ask for:

  • adding Facebook or AdWords pixels
  • adding javascript snippets from miscellaneous tools (like e-mail service providers)
  • help with adding event tags
  • and much more

Basically, you’re no longer at the mercy of your developers/IT team and they’ll be a lot happier knowing that everything is safe in one place. As marketers, speed is everything—this means testing new tools and vendors in days rather than weeks.

For those visual learners like myself, here’s a quick introductory video:

Other key benefits:

  • Since Google Tag Manager is one line of code, it means it’ll help decrease load times.
  • Coding errors are minimized. Manual tagging causes more room for human error (and it’s tedious). GTM makes this all manageable. And if you have issues with the tags? Just deactivate them.

Here’s how to get started with Google Tag Manager:

  • Go to the GTM website and sign in.
  • Hit the ‘Create Account’ link in the dashboard:

Google Tag Manager

  • Once you have created an account, you’ll be presented with the account dashboard.
  • Whenever you want to pull up your Google Tag Manager code, click on the link next to the name of the account (this is the code you will deploy across your site):

Google Tag Manager

  • After that, you’re free to start creating tags and triggers for your website.

What Are Tags?

Google Tags make it easy to add conversion tracking, analytics, remarketing tags, and more. These are small snippets of code that can be Google Analytics/AdWords tags or non-Google tags (such as Facebook pixels).

Here’s an example of a tag we use to track who is clicking on our ‘Services’ page for our digital marketing agency:

Google Tag Manager

A few key points on what’s happening here.

The naming convention:

  • Drip = Our e-mail service provider.
  • Event = An event we’re tracking in Google Analytics.
  • Custom HTML Tag = This is a snippet of code we’ve taken from our e-mail service provider.
  • Fire On = We’re only looking for people who click on specific links on our site. In this case, we’re only interested in the people who are clicking on marketing service page links.

How To Set Up A Tag

  • To set up a tag, click on ‘Tags’:

Google Tag Manager

  • Then click the red ‘New’ button.
  • Then select a tag that you’d like to add. If you don’t see your product here, just choose ‘Custom HTML Tag’. For example, Facebook pixels would go under ‘Custom HTML Tag’:

Google Tag Manager

  • For the sake of simplicity, we’re going to go with a Google Analytics Tag. And this will be the tag that is typically used across a website to track user behavior:

Google Tag Manager

  • For ‘Tracking ID’, you’d put in your Google Analytics Tracking ID.
  • After that, hit ‘Continue’.
  • Where it says ‘Fire On’, select ‘All Pages’.
  • Viola! You’ve just set up your first tag!

This is a very simple implementation of a tag. You can certainly add complexities down the line for whatever you are trying to do.

Watch this video to get started with tags:

What Are Triggers?

Triggers will determine whether a tag is fired or not fired. More simply put, these are ‘rules’. Here’s what one of our triggers looks like:

Google Tag Manager

For Triggers, there’s the option of selecting different events. In our case, we chose to look for people who are clicking on specific text (‘Content Marketing‘).

How To Set Up A Trigger

  • On the left sidebar, click on ‘Triggers’.
  • For this example, we’re going to track someone who clicked on a specific link, so select ‘Click’:

Google Tag Manager

  • Select ‘Just Links’ under ‘Targets’, deselect ‘Wait for Tags’ and ‘Check Validation’, and then hit ‘Continue’:

Google Tag Manager

  • In the ‘Fire On’ section, select ‘Some Clicks’ and select ‘Click Text’:

Google Tag Manager

  • Enter in dummy text for now and save the Trigger. We’ll come back to it in a second.
  • Now it’s time to find what ‘Click Text’ actually looks like. First, we need to hit the carrot button right next to ‘Publish’ near the top right corner of the screen. Then we’ll hit the ‘Preview and Debug’ mode:

Google Tag Manager

  • Here’s how to use the Debug Console:

What Are Events?

An event is an action. For example, if someone clicks on your phone number, you can tag that as an event and have it fire in Google Analytics. By doing this, you’ll be able to consistently measure actions that you deem important.

How To Set Up An Event:

  • Go to ‘Triggers’ on the left side.
  • Click on the red ‘new’ button.
  • Choose ‘Custom Event’:

Google Tag Manager

  • For this event, we’re trying to track all people who ended up on our ‘Thank You Page’. We used the ‘Preview & Debug’ console to find a specific event to track and ended up with the following result:

Google Tag Manager

  • After saving this Trigger, I’ll go into ‘Tags’ and make a tag specifically for tracking a Facebook conversion on this page:

Google Tag Manager

  • Watch this video for more on how to set up event tracking:

What Are Macros?

As you continue to add to GTM, you’ll be adding repetitive tasks. What if you had the ability to create shortcuts for these tasks? That’s what macros are.

Here’s a video explanation:

What Are Some Practical Use Cases for GTM?

Where To Go From Here?

For more in-depth training on setting up Google Tag Manager, I highly recommend watching videos from GTM Training on YouTube.

In terms of practical use cases, here are some:

  • Consolidating all your web tags (such as analytics and conversion tracking)
  • Tracking events on specific sections of your website (such as phone numbers or filling out a lead form)
  • Tracking multi-channel dimension tracking (multiple sources from where a user came from)
  • Lead Source Form Tracking
  • Filtering Internal Traffic with Google Tag Manager
  • Removing referral spam
  • Tracking YouTube videos

Here are some of my favorite videos from GTM Training:

  • Track YouTube Videos with GTM

  • Phone Number Tracking with GTM

  • Track downloads (pdf, mp3 or mp4) with GTM

  • Multi-channel Dimension Tracking with GTM

  • E-mail Input Form Variable for GTM

Bonus: Google Tag Assistant

Google has a browser extension called Google Tag Assistant that allows users to see specific tags that are on each page. This helps with testing/implementation.

Bonus: iPullRank’s Complete Guide to Google Tag Manager


At the end of the day, Google Tag Manager is not only helpful for organizing all your tags; it opens up the possibilities for doing more with your web applications and speeds up your site by consolidating all the snippets that you had lying around before.

Give it a shot and let us know in the comments below what you think!


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