What is Google Tag Manager?
Before we jump into Google Tag Manager (GTM), let's just explain what a “tag” is in the context of your digital marketing: it's a code snippet used by social media platforms, search engines, and other channels to better track activity on your website. GTM makes it easier for you, as a digital marketer, to work with these snippets of code without actually getting your hands dirty in the code!
GTM is a tag management system that allows you to easily add tags to your website in order to track user activity across your site and apps. It can also be connected to multiple platforms like Google Analytics, Google Ads, WordPress, Shopify, and more to track exactly where your site users are coming from. Essentially, it’s a middleman between your website and your marketing and analytics tools.
Prior to the creation of GTM, marketers had to rely on their webmasters to implement individual codes on their website for each and every tracking and advertising service they wanted to use. If a tag needed to be added, removed, or altered, a developer (or someone with a similar level of knowledge) was needed in order to make these updates. Now, Google Tag Manager allows non-developers (aka “mere mortals”) to quickly add and adjust the tags on their site, all in one convenient location.
Below we’ll map out how to set up Google Tag Manager, and install it on your website.
***Before creating an account, make sure you are signed into the email address you plan to use for accessing Google Tag Manager.***
Google Tag Manager Setup: Step by Step Directions
- Navigate to google.com/tagmanager and click “Start for free”
- Click “Create Account”
- Add your company name and country (we already have a GTM account, but for the purposes of this blog we’ll still use flyte new media as our business name).
- Scroll down and enter your website name or URL as your “Container name”. If you’re an agency or your business has multiple websites, individual containers will need to be set up in your account for each client/website. Then choose “Web” as your target platform.
- Accept Google Tag Manager’s Terms of Service Agreement
- Accept the Data Processing Terms
- Select “Yes” in the upper right hand corner to continue.
An “Install Google Tag Manager” box will appear after accepting their Terms of Service that features the code to add to your website. You can exit out of this if you’re not ready to add the code just yet, as you’ll be able to access it again using the steps below.
Installing the Container
If you aren’t experienced with code or don’t have access to the code on your website, you will likely need to ask a developer to assist you with this step.
- In Tag Manager, navigate to the “Workspace” tab.
- Click on your container ID (formatted as “GTM-XXXXXX“) located near the top of the window.
- The “Install Google Tag Manager” box with your website codes will appear again with instructions on where to add them on your website. Copy each code by clicking the icons on the right side of the code box (you’ll need to copy each code individually).
- Send these codes and their instructions to your developer to add to every page of your website. (For websites built on CMS platforms like WordPress, this likely just needs to be added once and the CMS will take care of the rest.)
Note that the first code block is best placed immediately after the web page's opening <head> tag, or as high in the <head> as possible. This helps ensure that your Tag Manager configuration is available and ready when the rest of the page loads.
- You can also have your developer add an optional data layer object to your site, this allows for more robust measurement of your tag configurations. At flyte, we recommend adding this to get the most out of your data collection. You can find instructions on how to add that code here.
Congratulations, you’ve officially set up your Tag Manager account!
But did you think we were going to end this blog without showing you how to connect your Google Analytics? Think again! Below we’ll show you how to connect your Google Analytics 4 account to your Google Tag Manager account––this allows all the data you collect through GTM to be funneled into your GA4 account, where you can view it all in one place. Just note that in order to follow these steps you’ll need to have your GA4 account already set up.
How to connect your GA4 and Google Tag Manager Accounts
- Sign into your GA4 account and navigate to the Admin wheel in the bottom left corner.
- Under your property, click on “Data Streams”, then click on the data stream for your website.
- If you set up your website’s data stream previously or recently upgraded from Universal Analytics to GA4, click into that data stream. If none are listed, take a minute to add it before moving on to the next step.
- Once you’ve clicked into your data stream, a tab will open that houses information and options for that stream. Navigate to the upper right corner of the page to your GA4 Measurement ID, and click the “copy” icon to copy that ID to your clipboard.
- Next, go back to the homepage of your new Tag Manager account, and click “Tags” in the left hand navigation.
- Click the “New” button to create a new tag.
- In the new tag window, click anywhere in the “Tag Configuration” box.
- Select “Google Analytics: GA4 Configuration”
- Paste the GA4 Measurement ID you copied to your clipboard in step 4, you can ignore the other settings listed for now as we’re just covering basic tag setup. Once you’ve pasted that ID, click anywhere in the “Triggering” box.
- In the trigger tab, select “All Pages”. This means that your GA4 tag will fire on every page of your website, allowing you to track user behavior across your site.
- Enter a descriptive name for your tag, and click “Save”.
- Click “Submit” in the upper right corner. Note that all tags must be submitted in order for them to be added to your website.
- Add a “Version Name” for the new tag data being submitted. This is optional, but we highly recommend it so that it’s easy to go back through your version history and identify when changes were made. You can add a description as well if you’d like to add more detailed information. Then, click “Submit”.
You’ve officially connected your Google Analytics 4 and Tag Manager accounts! Now you’re ready to start adding tags for your other marketing platforms and tracking that valuable data.
Here are a few more important details to keep in mind:
- If you’re an agency or managing accounts for multiple clients, make sure to ask them for publishing permissions in their GTM account so that you can create and publish new tags.
- If you use any third party landing pages on your site, you’ll need to add this code there as well so you can track its traffic with the rest of your site.
- Remove tags from any channels you had previously installed manually, this will prevent tags from firing multiple times or causing any other issues once you’ve set up GTM.
If you want to find more information on Google Analytics 4, check out our blog The Universal Analytics to GA4 Transition Guide You Didn’t Know You Needed. And if you have questions about your GTM conversion tracking or still need assistance placing the code on your website, or talking through your tracking strategy, don’t hesitate to reach out to us!
Rachel was born and raised in southern NH, and became an official Mainer in 2016. With an academic background in psychology, she brings to flyte a passion for people and a fascination with what motivates them. This, combined with her artistic skillset, made the decision to pursue a career in marketing a no-brainer.
With a big sense of humor and sentimental nature, she becomes the “morale booster” of whatever group she’s in.
Outside flyte Rachel can usually be found doodling in her sketchbook, doing spot-on impressions (if she does say so herself), or binging the latest Netflix competition show.