Communication and tracking between web properties and advertising platforms have grown increasingly important as businesses and website owners seek to learn everything they can about user behavior in order to improve customer experience and conversion rates. This cross-website communication between platforms like Facebook, Pinterest, and Google is done through tags.
Tags are essentially scripts or snippets of code that enable websites to track user behavior, such as clicks, bounces, and conversions. As Google has positioned itself as the hub of communication and user behavior for most websites, and as the number of these tags has burgeoned considerably, Google Tag Manager was introduced in order to provide agencies and webmasters with a way to seamlessly integrate these tags all in one place.
If you operate an eCommerce store and want to better understand your users, remarket to them properly, or simplify your social media ad campaigns, this guide will help you. Below we will dive into just what the Tag Manager can do for you, how to set up your account in only a few simple steps, and why it’s so important to track everything your users are doing if you want to properly optimize your website and maximize your advertising budget.
What is Google Tag Manager?
Like other Google tools such as Google Analytics and Google Search Console, the Tag Manager is a browser-based dashboard that is connected with your Google account and which is linked to various web properties for the purpose of tracking and communicating between platforms.
The genius behind Google Tag Manager is that it provides a simple interface compared to Google Analytics and some of these other tools, making it far more approachable for the everyday user. You do not have to be all that tech-savvy or knowledgeable when it comes to digital marketing or web design to make use of the Tag Manager, although like any of these kinds of tools there is still somewhat of a learning curve.
The benefit that this service provides is twofold. One, it allows you to manage your tags all in one place, which is a lifesaver if you are dealing with more than a few tags. Once you start trying to keep track of half a dozen social media integrations, Google Analytics, Google Ads, Bing, Yandex, and a bunch of other third-party services, it can become a nightmare just to keep track of it all. The other benefit is that the Tag Manager will actually help you install these codes properly, so it’s not simply about keeping everything tidy, there is clear functionality here as well.
Google Tag Manager is important for other reasons as well because depending on the kind of tag you are dealing with, you can use this service to set up a variety of different tracking for specific events. This way you can keep track not only of traffic coming into your website or online store, but you can tell if this traffic is clicking on certain buttons, triggering certain events, or purchasing your products.
Why Tracking is so Important in eCommerce
For eCommerce store owners, this is huge. You may already be familiar with event tracking to a certain extent, but Google Tag Manager completely changes the game and allows you to easily see where traffic is coming from and how this traffic behaves, all in one easy to use interface.
The Tag Manager does a great job of simplifying this information and cutting out a lot of the “fluff” metrics that can be gathered in tools like Google Analytics. Sure, the reporting in Google Analytics is great, but sometimes you don’t need to know every last tiny detail about an audience, you just want to know where traffic is coming from and what it is doing. That’s where the Tag Manager shines.
While you might be inclined to not even bother with tracking traffic and events, the usefulness of doing so can’t be underestimated if you want to improve your eCommerce store. Not only is the data you can collect through Tag Manager crucial for running ads, but it also has a wide variety of other applications as well. Even something as simple as making sure traffic from your Pinterest pins or Linkedin posts are making it to the desired pages and what the traffic does once it reaches those pages can help you refine your marketing strategy, save money, or reinvest your time where it is needed.
Here are some of the most important benefits of using Google Tag Manager in eCommerce:
- Prevents the need to jump from platform to platform to read vital information or track conversions.
- Inserting the actual tags (or removing them) can all be handled and managed in one place without having to jump into code editors or backends just to take care of these seemingly simple tasks.
- Easier event tracking in general. Probably the easiest way out right now for tracking form submissions and conversions while keeping track of where this traffic is coming from.
- Like Google Analytics, you can easily provide access to an agency or developer into your Google Tag Manager account and they will immediately be able to troubleshoot all of your tags in one place or take over and manage them for you without needing to provide them access to a bunch of different accounts.
- Reliable, dummy-proof method of managing your tracking codes. While there is a bit of an adjustment and some learning involved, the Tag Manager is about as simple as it gets when it comes to working with code snippets and tag management.
- Important and export tags and all of the settings associated with those tags.
- Get to know your audience better. Everything from scroll-tracking to downloads, add to cart, video views, and more can all be monitored with this system effortlessly. This gives you unprecedented control as a website owner to make tweaks and improve your eCommerce site on the fly, based on the hard data that you receive from Google. A better user experience also means better SEO, which can help give your website a bit of a boost in the SERPs, if Google sees that more users are converting on your website or not bouncing as much.
This is just a small taste of the possibilities when it comes to what Tag Manager can do for your eCommerce business. It doesn’t matter what platform you are on either, as the major eCommerce platforms like Shopify, BigCommerce, and WooCommerce all support Google Tag Manager and can easily be integrated with it so you can track everything just as you would with basic Google Analytics tracking code.
So how do you actually get started with Google Tag Manager? Below we’ll run through the basic setup process, which is easier than you think. For more detailed information regarding specific integrations with certain platforms or for creating specific event triggers, you will want to refer to that platform or service’s documentation.
Setting Up Your Google Tag Manager Account
What you want to do first is make sure you are logged into your main Google account that you already use for Google Analytics and the other key Google services you use for your store. Then all you have to do is navigate your browser to the new Google Marketing Platform page.
Select “Sign Into Tag Manager” and you will either be redirected to the dashboard automatically or you will be prompted to sign in with the account you are logged in with.
You’re already halfway there in terms of setting up a tag for a particular property. Once you are inside the Tag Manager, you have to set up what Google calls a “container.” This is just a fancy term that refers to the specific web property you will be tracking events on. In most cases, this will be the URL of your online store, but it might be a specific subdomain. Note, you can create more than one container if you need to track separate events on multiple properties across the web.
Once you create the container and your account is all set up, creating a tag couldn’t be easier. You will see a box with a large red arrow on the dashboard of your workspace with the words “New Tag” clearly labeled. From here, you will be brought to a window with two areas, one for tag configuration and one for setting up the triggers.
The first box, or the configuration box, opens up a menu where you can select which integration or which platform you would like to set up tracking for.
You can choose from an array of popular services like Google Analytics, Twitter, Linkedin, Bing, or Pinterest. For some popular services, such as Facebook, you will simply choose custom HTML. Each choice will present you with slightly different options in terms of the actual setup process, but it mostly just involves placing an account ID or a specific tracking code into the provided box, and you’re all set.
After you select the desired service in question, you can return to the triggering section to determine which actual events you will want to track, or if you are satisfied with simply letting the code do its thing so you can monitor traffic.
Depending on what your business needs are, you can use Tag Manager to track a wide range of user actions and behaviors and apply this data throughout your marketing campaigns and website optimizations. Whether you are trying to get a better understanding as to why your landing pages aren’t converting, or if you need to track metrics like cart abandonment and form abandonment, or whether or not your social media ads are running properly, you can handle all of this seamlessly through Google Tag Manager.
Let eCommerce Marketing Professionals Manage Your Tags For You
As easy and straightforward as Tag Manager is, it’s still a lot to digest if you don’t know your way around Google’s services or if you don’t know how to best utilize the data you are collecting. Maybe you want to set up various forms of advanced tracking so you can maximize your ad spend or develop a plan that will help you know your users inside and out in order to plan for a website redesign or other kinds of store optimizations.
Rather than try and figure all of this out on your own, let us handle it. Here at 1DigitalⓇ, we know our way around Google Tag Manager and can use it to track all your users and find out what their needs are. We are eCommerce marketing experts that know just how to leverage Google’s tools in order to push online businesses to the next level. No matter what your needs are when it comes to eCommerce event tracking, marketing campaigns, social media advertising, or search engine optimization, we cover it all.
- Matt Lovett
- February 10, 2021