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Google Tag Manager Course Summary

Are you a marketer that runs away whenever someone mentions coding (specifically JavaScript)? Don’t worry you’re not alone! Few comprehend the bottlenecks that could be avoided with minuscule knowledge of programming. I personally took the Google Tag Manager course for a more in depth understanding of eCommerce analytics, event tracking, and a holistic digital marketing approach. Not to mention, finally being able to more effectively communicate with my technology team. In this post I will discuss my experience with the course and why you should run toward, not away from coding!

Starting Out With Google Tag Manager

Course Introduction:

Straight from the horses mouth(a.k.a Google) ‘Google Tag Manager is a tag management system (TMS) that allows you to quickly and easily update tracking codes and related code fragments collectively known as tags on your website or mobile app. Once the small segment of Tag Manager code has been added to your project, you can safely and easily deploy analytics and measurement tag configurations from a web-based user interface.’ So in non- technical terms, this software bridges the gap between marketers and programmers. Allowing the everyday marketer to start tracking what matters to their business without having to wait for your development team!

Kristen Seiden former Analytics Advocate at Google spearheaded this course. She gave an excellent introduction to the course overview for the product that is Google Tag Manager (GTM). If you weren’t completely sold:

Benefits of implement Google Tag Manager

  • Free To Implement
  • Coding unnecessary to integrate tags
  • GTM doesn’t stagnate websites as synchronous JavaScript tags would
  • No hard coding to avoid errors that could crash your site

Certainly, this is a great high level way to view this product, if you want to pitch this to your boss to integrate. GTM is a gate way to unique ways to track behavior, remarketing and eCommerce data.

Start With A Measurement Plan

Google Tag Manager Key Performance Indicators
  • Business application of this tool not just technical jargon
  • Unique metrics and dimensions not found in standard Google Analytics

One of the terrific aspects about Google courses is they don’t keep you bogged down in theory and technical aspects. You have a measurement plan and specific key performance indicators(KPIs) you are pulling with this tool. Surely, not just learning to brag at the water cooler about how you can program now! The dimensions and metrics you are pulling in this case are not standard in Google Analytics(GA). They will require you to set up specific tags on buttons on certain page and pass this back to GA, fun!

Develop A Tag Implementation Strategy

  • Migrate appropriate tags over to Google Tag Manager
  • Decide what static and/or dynamic values that you want to pass
  • Figure out which data supports the metrics and dimensions in your measurement plan

When transitioning over to using GTM you may have tags that are already set up on your website. This may be as simple as Google Ads conversion tracking or as complicated as a dynamically changing video duration tracking tag. In a perfect world you would migrate all tags over to this product. Whereas that depends on how much tracking you will be doing or have set up already. If you have invested considerably into several tags there are techniques to reallocate this data into GTM without having to rewrite it all!

Tag Manager Overview

Google Tag Manager Triggers Infographic
  • GTM container JavaScript code is placed on every page of your site
  • Tags and triggers determine what data is passed by to GA for your to analyze
  • Triggers are made up of variables, operators and values

So now that you can see the forest for trees, I will sum up this section concisely. In this segment you are manipulating JavaScript code for tracking site wide. Here you begin to perceive the capability of not only GTM but all tag management software. This being that you won’t have to manually alter every tag. Namely the container, which houses all of your various tags for later use and improvement (think of this similar to a container for your food). The ‘food’ in the container are your tags. As an illustration, your Google Analytics tracking code or that tag on the big red button of your home page.

Certainly, you wouldn’t want your tags firing randomly into your analytics data. Thus, you must create ‘trigger’ or times that you want to eat your food. These triggers are made up variables, operators and values. Understanding these tools is crucial to leveraging coding logic and implementing that to your business goals.

Assessment 1

Exam time! The first assessment I would rate as having easy to moderate difficulty depending on your experience with GTM. There is a mix of high level questions and more difficult multiple choice ones.

Setting Up Google Tag Manager

Install The Google Analytics Tag

In this portion of the course you are taken through the process of actually setting of GTM if you have never done so before. I truly admire the interactive demonstrative application that you can follow. One of the most important tags, Google Analytics All pages tag is shown here, without having to know any coding! The preview feature is featured, which I really consistently use. It allows you debug code before you publish the live version to your users!

Preview Mode in Google Tag Manager

How to create an Analytics Property variable

Working on creating constant variables that will make your workflow more efficient is extremely valuable. This will show you how to make ‘user defined variables‘. These tools assist a lot when you need to create more complex tags for you business needs.

Set up cross-domain tracking

Cross-domain tracking is one of the most unique value propositions of using Google Tag Manager. It is especially useful for enterprise type of solutions that have multiple websites in a sales funnel. Without it as your customers navigate between your sites during a real time session they will be tracked as two separate users. You need to create a variable called {{gaDomain}}. The purpose of this is to set cookies to your highest level domain. Then, you will need to create a variable with all your sub-sites together. After this you will need to update your Universal Analytics tracking code to reflect these changes.

Understanding the data layer

  • Pre-populate data with page views
  • Push data from interactions into data layer
  • Need custom code to track across pages

Data layers are JavaScript objects where you can track events and other valuable variables in GTM. There are 2 ways to get data into these objects. First, is through pre-populating data when a certain page loads. This would be useful for remarketing when users don’t interact with the page. The next way to would be to push the data from interactions with events and variables on the page. This can be useful for button clicks, page scroll depth etc.

Assessment 2

Quick recap of the fundamentals of setting up a GTM account, data layers, variables and container placement. Definitely can’t rush through this section without starting to get a better grasp of JavaScript fundamentals.

Collecting data using the Data Layer, variables, and events

Pass static values into Custom Dimensions

  1. Create a user defined variable
  2. Hard code the empty data layer on event page
  3. You or developer create data layer push for the event variables
  4. Create custom dimension in GA to analyze the data with the unique index
  5. Update The GA tag in GTM

Getting the data into the data layer and into GA to finally analyze is fundamental to creating business value. The first step is to create a user defined variable for whatever page you are analyzing, in the course it is trip categories. This will be a data layer variable so choose that option when configuring your tag. You will be inserting a empty data layer onto the page that you are setting up that has the static values. Then, have your developer create the push statements to get the key value variables data during the event. After all this you need to create a custom dimension that you will be able to recognize in your data and be able to keep consistent as a naming convention. Finally, quality assure the tag with the preview feature in GTM!

Dynamic Data Layer Variable

Pass dynamic values into Custom Metrics

You will need to create a variable on the checkout success page that pulls the final conversion value number. Then use a push method that moves the data to the key point variable ‘conversion value’ or whatever custom dimension you created. Similarly to the static value you need to create a custom metric in GA and update the tag in GTM. If you can do this properly and you have an eCommerce business you will benefit greatly!

Track events with variables

  1. Set up a user defined URL variable
  2. Set up an event trigger
  3. Create an event tag with Google Analytics

Tracking important events for you business such as button clicks on sales pages or newsletter subscriptions is covered in this section. Comparatively, to what you have learned so far you will be setting up a user defined variable. However, this time it will be specifically for your sales page. I appreciate this section because you have to start to investigate different elements on a web page. You can an improved understanding of what makes tracking environment on web pages. As always this section is wrapped up with getting your data into GA so you can actually create insights with the new data.

Assessment 3

Another great assessment by this course drills down on custom dimensions, JavaScript functions, event tracking constraints and user defined variables.

Using additional tags for marketing and remarketing

Set up Google Ads conversion tracking

  • Get conversion data for your Google Ads Account
  • You pre-built product to insert your data
  • Preview Tag To make sure its working

In my opinion Google Ads tracking is the 2nd most important tag that you could learn to configure for analytics. This guide makes a very simple process even easy with GTM.

Google Ads Segments to Google Ads

Set Up Dynamic Remarketing

  • Target specific segments of users using cookies
  • Create preset custom metrics to capture the

Dynamic Remarketing is one of the most power tools for eCommerce that marketers have in their belt. You can create specific ads for different segments of website or app visitors based your business goals. If you have Google Ads enabled you can then target advertisements in the search, display or video network. This is taken a step further by showing past visitors the exact items that they have viewed!

Assessment 4

Last but not least this assessment reviews your knowledge of setting up tracking, cookies, dynamic metrics and data layer variables! In my opinion this is one of the more challenging assessments without practical application.


As marketers our jobs are shifting more and more to digital everyday. It is important to be at least conversational in the web environment. Tag management systems make our jobs easier by softening the learning curve. I hope this article gave you some perspective on GTM and inspiration to try out this course as well.

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