With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility: Google Tag Manager Planning

April 23, 2013

In the not-so-distant past, Google got into the tag management game with the aptly named Google Tag Manager (aka GTM). What Google has done with GTM is create an easy-to-use management platform for measurement and conversion tags based on a user-friendly web-based interface (get our initial take on GTM here). Now that we’ve had the opportunity to step through a few Google Tag Manager implementations we wanted to share some thoughts on what the best path to realizing the benefits of GTM looks like.

Plan Now, Celebrate Later

Google Tag Manager is an incredibly easy tool to set up. Create an account, create a container, copy and paste the snippet on your website and you are ready to go. However, don’t be fooled by how easy it is to get to the promised land, where new tracking pixels go to live in 5 minutes. With Google Tag Manager, you get out of it what you put into it. As a wise man once said, with great power comes great responsibility.  Some tips for a successful implementation:

  1. Take the time to think through the role Google Tag Manager will play in your overall analytics strategy.  If you don’t have an overall analytics strategy, slowly back away and find a whiteboard.  We have encountered far too many users that jumped into measuring without drawing up a plan.  The results is often a slew of data that does nothing to answer your actual questions.

  2. Make a list or two.  What tags are running on your site and on which pages? Which tags do you want to serve through GTM. Will all of your Google Analytics tracking be run through Google Tag Manager (if so, is this the right time to also convert to using Universal Analytics)?

  3. Use your plan and lists as a guide.  If you have planned properly, the process of configuring your tags, rules and macros will be much easier.  Proceed carefully and make sure to continually review your data.  If it isn’t working as expected, don’t be afraid to ask for help.  Just because it seems simple at first doesn’t mean that you won’t need advice along the way.

We will be discussing the strategic use of GTM and other new analytics tools at our BEST Practices for Google Analytics conference.  Join us in San Francisco next week, or Boston and Seattle in the Fall to learn both strategic planning and practical implementation from the experts.