How Google Tag Manager Can Help Your Business

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Craig Smith  |  Founder & CEO

To prepare their websites for the holiday rush, most companies put a “freeze” on their website code sometime in the fall. The freeze ensures that, from that point on, no new features will appear on the site, and the only changes made will be bug fixes. This gives them plenty of time to fix bugs before the surge of shoppers push servers to the limit. As you plan your IT projects for the remainder of 2016, one way you can make their jobs easier during your busiest season is by implementing Google’s Tag Manager.

Google Tag Manager (GTM) is an update to the company’s popular Universal Analytics platform that hopes to solve some of the common headaches detailed tracking can cause. In the past, adding new triggers to your analytics meant updating the code on every page. For large sites, this is time-consuming and potentially costly.

With GTM, once you add the code, known as a Container, to your website, you can add and remove analytic parameters without backend access. Instead, the container automatically loads your GTM profile from google itself, which means it’s always up to date.

Google Tag Manager reduces the amount of JavaScript firing on your site, streamlines testing, and allows your marketing team to make changes to their tracking analytics without opening a trouble ticket. While the initial migration might be stressful, moving to Google Tag Manager will save your IT team headaches in the future.

Whether you’re experienced with web development or just want to know how your site is performing, keep reading to learn the benefits of a tag management system.

GTM Reduces IT Trouble Tickets

Most eCommerce companies have a long honey-do list for the IT department. From feed upgrades to algorithm builds, they often have a list of requests they’re working on at any given time. While updating analytics code isn’t a difficult technical problem, it takes valuable time away from other projects.

This is why it’s not unusual for IT teams to give code update requests a low priority, getting to them only when they have the time. For marketing departments, this can be incredibly frustrating because, to them, the update shouldn’t take four to six weeks.

GTM lets marketers make changes to their tags without affecting the other code on the site. Since all updates are made on code within the GTM container, the marketers are often able to make updates in a few minutes, not weeks. Having technical supervision is still ideal, but it’s not required. Since the code isn’t hosted on the site, if it does negatively impact performance, marketers can remove it with just a few clicks.

Run Low-Cost A/B Tests

Almost any marketer will highlight the importance of A/B Testing as a way to determine different site layouts, headline styles, and cart options. Unfortunately, few actually have the time and budget to continually brainstorm new ways to do things.

The Next Web faced the same predicament. They wanted to run A/B tests but couldn’t justify the cost of $5,000 per month software because they couldn’t prove the tool would provide enough incremental revenue to cover — if not exceed — the actual cost.

They tried creating tests through the standard Google Analytics experiment features, but the platform only allowed for a limited number of tests and made it difficult to tease out useful data. Instead, they added A/B testing code to their tag manager, allowing them to update and modify experiments on the fly.

Easily Set Up Auto Event Tracking

Google Tag Manager is all about ease of use. With traditional analytics coding, marketing and IT department had to create rules for tracking events like form submissions and views. With GTM, marketers harness auto-event tracking to create a set of attributes to look for and record on the page.

This tool, called Click Listener, captures the activity of your users and sends it to Google Analytics so you can track the effectiveness of various pages and calls to action. For people unfamiliar with event tracking, the interface may appear overwhelming at first, but it’s far simpler than tracking events manually.

Email sign ups, contact forms, and video engagement can have a large effect on your business and point to larger problems within your website. You can also use these soft events to determine what customers look at before they buy, and what questions they have that you’re struggling to answer. General eCommerce tracking only shows you what pages gave you the sale, it doesn’t tell you how the customer got there.

If you’re not utilizing event tracking within your eCommerce site, Click Listener in GTM will allow you to gather this useful information, without costly code updates.

Tag Managers and the Future of Analytics

Analytics reporting has advanced in leaps and bounds in the past ten years, along with most other forms of technology. Universal Analytics tracks users across multiple devices so eCommerce sites can better understand the customer process while Google is constantly evaluating the site to store metrics and offline data. The future of data is predictive and then proactive analytics, and GTM is working to get us there.

Historically, analytics tools collected everything and the kitchen sink. It didn’t matter whether or not the information was relevant, the data was collected and reported, leaving it to your team to make any useful insights. Now, Google and its competitors filter out the unnecessary information and only present data that’s relevant to users. From a tag management perspective, this means firing certain tags and collecting information when users exhibit certain behavior coming to the site, or take specific steps when they’re on the page or leaving it.

The next great frontier in analytics is predictive analysis, where tools will study behaviors and analyze what should happen next based on trends. Eventually, this will lead to suggestions for businesses or changes made automatically by the algorithm.

In the same way that tag managers eliminate the need for IT backgrounds for marketers to hard code the site, predictive analytics will reduce the time it takes to perform a statistical analysis and make decisions moving forward. All of these pieces work together to free up the time of eCommerce divisions to actually improve the customer experience, instead of analyzing what they should do and why.

If your business is looking for consultation and support in constructing tag management or the data layer to support desired personalization initiatives, please contact us for an initial strategy discussion.

Image Credits

List Image By Chris Lott

AB Testing Image By Alexander Baxevanis based on a talk by @lucyjspence.

Train Track Image By fdecomite.

Data Visualization Image By Carsten

All Images Licensed Using CC2.0

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