A Practical Intro to Google Tag Manager

July 16, 2021

What is Google Tag Manager?

Google Tag Manager (or “GTM”) helps teams streamline the deployment and organization of website tags. It allows markers and non-developers to set up custom analytics events and third-party tools such as Facebook Pixel, the LinkedIn Insights Tag, and more. For those that are more technically inclined, it becomes a powerful tool for advanced analytics implementations.

After the initial setup of a GTM, there’s generally little need for code changes related to tags in the future — it can all be managed within the Tag Manager admin. 

This guide is intended to offer some practical Google Tag Manager help for those looking to better understand how to leverage the tool. We’ll begin with how a GTM account is organized.

Account Structure

Google Tag Manager has three levels:

  • Accounts: Generally speaking there should only be one account per organization. Users can be added at the account level if they should have access to everything across the organization.
  • Containers: Accounts can have multiple containers, but only one is necessary. If an organization has multiple distinct web properties, or perhaps a separate website and native app, this is a good option.
  • Workspaces: Containers have different areas, or workspaces, within them that allow multiple users to work in GTM without overwriting each others’ updates.

Permissions

Users can be given access to an entire organization or to specific containers. If a user is given access to a full account, you have the option to set the same permissions for all containers within or select a level of access for individual containers.

There are four levels of permissions available that can be assigned for each container. As described by Google, they are:

  • No access: The user will not see the container listed in the account.
  • Read: The user will see the container listed and may browse the tags, triggers, and variables in the container, but will not have the ability to make any changes.
  • Edit: The user has rights to create workspaces and make edits but not create versions or publish.
  • Approve: The user has rights to create versions, workspaces, and make edits but not publish.
  • Publish: The user has full rights to create versions, workspaces, make edits, and publish.
Google Tag Manager
Google Tag Manager Container Permissions

When Should You Use a New GTM Container?

If you are launching a new site or application that does not have any shared elements with other sites/applications, then a new container is generally most appropriate. 

What do we mean by shared elements? Perhaps you are operating an international website where the content is localized, but the forms, navigation, and other components share the same structure. Even if these sites live on separate subdomains, a single GTM container would offer some efficiencies, especially for event tracking. Rather than re-creating events in 3 separate containers, they could live in one place (even if they ultimately are reporting in separate analytics accounts).

Workspaces and Organization

By default, GTM allows you to use up to three “workspaces” with a free account. These workspaces give multiple people or teams the ability to make edits simultaneously without stepping on each others’ toes. Someone in one department could be working on adding event tags for analytics tracking, while another might be installing a Facebook pixel.

Each workspace should have a clear name and description. These can be used for reference in the future after publishing. If you go to publish a workspace and there is another version available, you will be given the option to update the workspace or resolve conflicts. The notes within GTM will help guide you through this.

Creating a GTM Workspace
Creating a GTM Workspace

Folders and Naming

Folder Structure

GTM also offers a folder structure to better organize your tags and triggers. These should always be used to ensure that the account stays neat and tidy. These folders would ideally reflect the type of tag or trigger being used.

Social tags/triggers could live in a “social” folder while event tracking for analytics could live in a “GA Events” folder. Some organizations prefer to set up folders by department/team, but that should be determined by how your teams are structured.

GTM Naming Conventions

Tags and triggers should be given clear names. This helps you know what folder a tag/trigger belongs to and makes it easier to find them in the future. Also — inconsistent naming is just messy and can easily make your account unmanageable. There are a lot of different ways you can name things, but the most important thing is consistency!

The most common way that we tend to name things is: [Type of Tag] - [Property] - [Description]

If we are tracking a form submission, we might do something like this:
GA - sitelogicdigital.com - Contact Form Submission Event

If we are implementing Facebook and LinkedIn tracking, we might do something like this:

Social - sitelogicdigital.com - LinkedIn Insight Tag

Social - sitelogicdigital.com - Facebook Pixel

You can then imagine how these tags would be organized into folders. Anything starting with “GA” would go into a Google Analytics folder and anything starting with “Social” would go into a social folder.

Taking the Next Step

A well-organized Google Tag Manager account can make your organization more efficient and give you more flexibility for how you manage third-party tools on your website. It helps you avoid errors and makes it easy to roll back changes at any time. If you have questions, feel free to send us a note or schedule a time to meet. We love talking about this stuff.