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It might be the most valuable tool most marketers don’t know about: Google Tag Manager (GTM).

GTM is a simple, elegant way for marketers to add, change and update tags and tracking code without touching the source code of a website. Here are some of its best qualities for marketers and brands:

One of its best features is that it’s user friendly: You don’t need to involve developers outside of the initial deployment. If you want to add a code to track submit button clicks, or to see how many people are interacting with your call-to-action, you can just do it yourself. Historically, these tasks would need to be submitted to the development team and queued up behind other tasks, often being deprioritized or skipped entirely.

Obviously that saves time, which is in limited supply, but it also opens up a lot of flexibility for digital analytics. It makes it easier and more likely that you can pivot on a decision, such as adding a CTA that will be more meaningful to your clients.

One of the most frequent use cases for GTM is in tracking goals in Google Analytics which do not have a destination URL. For example, a contact form that displays a “Thank You” message upon completion on the same screen where the form was filled out without changing URLs. In this situation, we set up custom events tied to certain actions on the website called “triggers.” Once these triggers are activated, the “tag” in GTM fires a custom event off to Google Analytics. Then, from within Google Analytics, we create a goal based off of the custom event attributes sent from GTM. With forms that behave this way becoming the norm, this type of tracking is an absolute must.

GTM lets you get into blind spots on your content, which provides improved, robust digital analytics.

By blind spots, I mean things that might be important to customers, but not traditionally tracked like landing page activity or form submissions.

Another common use case for GTM is monitoring ungated PDF downloads. Before GTM, it wasn’t easy for marketers to tell how many people were clicking on PDFs on their website. Now, you can set up a single tag in under five minutes that will send information on all PDF downloads into Google Analytics. Also, email addresses or phone numbers: You can now measure and track how many people click-to-call a phone number (on mobile) or click on a contact email address.

Two Ways to Explore GTM Right Now

  • There are some resources on GTM that provide more insight for users, whether they are just starting out or more advanced. Simo Ahava’s blog has followed the developments since the beginning, and he regularly updates it with pertinent information, and links to other experts.
  • Best of all: It’s free and user friendly. So anyone can get on there and play around with it to see how it can help with their strategies and analytics on the content they’re creating or sharing. The applications of GTM can be surprisingly simple to very sophisticated — the best way to see how it might work with your content is to explore it.
Scott Shelton

Scott Shelton

Scott is a Senior Search Strategist with over ten years of experience in SEO and paid media. He specializes in eCommerce and lead generation accounts and also brings marketing automation strategy to Room 214's Search and Media team.