If you haven’t heard,  Google Tag Manager’s popularity is soaring. The free service allows you to easily and efficiently collect data from your website and mobile app through the use of tags – a process that (except for a single snippet of code immediately after the <body> tag of your website) requires adjusting minimal code.

Digital Marketers, and the like, can rejoice! There’s no need to bug the IT department! As Google says:

“It gives marketers greater flexibility, and lets webmasters relax and focus on other important tasks.”

We couldn’t agree more. Google Tag Manager has some fantastic features to bring your data collection from something that leaves you constantly scratching your head to one that’s intuitive and friendly to use.

Making the Tag Manager Transition

So I have you convinced now, right? Tag Manager is the way to go. Luckily, getting started is easy. Google has released a Google Tag Manager Fundamentals Course allowing you to follow along on a series of lessons guiding you through the ins and outs of the tool.

The lessons are divided into four units. Now, unlike the Google Analytics Exam (if you’ve taken it), there is no cumulative exam at the end. Instead, your score for each of the assessments following each unit (a total of four) is averaged together at the end to give you a final grade. If this cumulative grade is above 80%, you’ve passed the assessment and receive a certification.

Throughout the course, it never mentions the cumulative nature of the assessments. It actually was a bit of a surprise to me! I had assumed, while following through the lessons, that the unit assessments were simply practice questions. I was gearing myself up for a final exam – a final exam that never happened. Nevertheless, these assessments should be taken very seriously, as they determine your final score.

Note: the certificate is only available to those that complete the entire course and pass it prior to July 24, 2015. However, within the FAQs, Google alluded to the certification opening up again in the future. Keep your eye out for the announcement on the Google Analytics blog.

Table of Contents

The Course

Unit 1: Starting out with Google Tag Manager

Unit 2: Setting up Google Tag Manager

Unit 3: Collecting data using the Data Layer, Variables, and Events

Unit 4: Using additional Tags for Marketing & Remarketing

The Assessments

Final Thoughts

The Course

I, myself, am a proud recipient of Google’s Tag Manager Certification, and I wanted to share my experience (and notes!) from the course. In the sections that follow, I’ll go through the four lessons.

Unit 1: Starting out with Google Tag Manager

  • With Tag Manager, you no longer have to manually add tags to a website. You can use Tag Manager to add tags for the following and more:
    1. Google Analytics
    2. AdWords
    3. 3rd Party
  • This leads to easier implementation, streamlined tag loading (for faster websites), and also helps you manage different versions of your tags.
  • When getting started with Tag Manager, it’s imperative that you create a tag implementation strategy. However, first, create a measurement plan. This plan should include your business objectives and tactics, as well as the metrics and dimensions you’ll utilize to measure success.
  • Once your measurement plan is squared away, the tag implementation strategy can be completed with these three steps:
    1. Decide which of your existing site tags can be better managed in Tag Manager. Or, better yet, move them all!
    2. Determine what statics and dynamic values you want to pass from your website. For example: user data and revenue. Think of these in terms of events you want to capture.
    3. Determine which tags will provide you with the data you need.
  • The basics:
    • variables – placeholders for the values you define.
      • There are two types of variables:
        • Built-in Variables – already configured in tag manager.
        • User-Defined Variables – custom configurations you create.
    • operators – define the relationship between the variables and the values that must be true for the trigger to fire. For example, equals, contains, or doesn’t contain.
    • values – for example, a thank you page.
    1. Add Javascript code (container snippet) to each page of your website.
    2. Add, delete, and change tags using tag manager to publish them. When the site is used, tags will fire based on firing instructions.
    3. Each tag manager account has at least one container with tags and triggers that determine when the tags should trigger and collect data.
    4. Triggers are made up of: Variables, Operators, & Values
    5. Each tag must have one trigger in order to fire and all triggers are initiated by website events.

Unit 2: Setting up Google Tag Manager

  • In these fundamental lessons, Google has introduced a nifty demo for you to follow along to. Listen as the moderator guides you through the various steps – and follow the instructions provided to you. The demo is interactive and you must click through the various requests. The first demo is on installing the Google Analytics code.
  • To install a Google Analytics code, complete the following steps:

A screenshot showing how to add a new account in Google Tag Manager

A screenshot showing the Google Tag Manager set-up container

A screenshot showing how to install Google Tag Manager

  • Set up a Reusable GA Property Variable.
    • The first thing that you need to do is create a variable titled gaProperty. This links your Google Analytics account to Tag Manager.

A screenshot showing the Google Tag Manager GAProperty set-up

  • From there, you can create your first tag. Title your tag (Google recommends following the format Tag Type – Website Name – Tag Location). This tag connects the gaProperty variable that we created above to all pages on the site.

A screenshot showing the Google Tag Manager GA pageview set-up

  • From there, the lesson quickly jumps to a much more advanced topic – cross-domain tracking.
    • Cross-domain tracking allows you to collect traffic across two different domains into one Google Analytics account.
      • The process involves the creation of two variables:
        • {{gaDomain}}: writes cookies to the highest-level domain to ensure data is maintained across subdomains.
        • {{gaCrossDomains}}: variable that lists domains to be used in cross-domain tracking.
  • Once created, the GA Pageview tag created earlier must be updated to the following:

A screenshot showing setting up Google Tag Manager cross-domain tracking

    • Understanding the data layer
      • Data layers allow you to capture data using Tag Manager. A data layer allows you to contain all the information you want to pass to Tag Manager instead of relying on information scattered throughout the source code from being pulled. Adding Data Layers requires the addition of additional code.
      • The additional code will look something like this and must be located above the container snippet:

    A screenshot showing a code snippet for Google Tag Manager data layer

      • Data Layers are structured into key value pairs which can passed to third party applications such as Google Analytics.

    Unit 3: Collecting data using the Data Layer, Variables, and Events

    • Pass Static Value into Custom Dimensions
      • This section explains how to define variables that will collect data that is hard-coded on your webpage (static values).
      • To do this, you need to create custom variables with the type: Data Layer Variable.

    A screenshot showing the Google Tag Manager trip category set-up

    • A data layer value must then be added to your source code. The data layer will be empty, since no direct hard-coding is being done. <script> dataLayer = []; </script>
    • A data layer push method must be set up by hardcoding variables on each relevant page using key value pairs.
    • This requires additional customizations within Google Analytics. Custom definitions must be created that match the data layer variables created in Tag Manager.
    • Lastly, the Tag must then be updated to including the newly created custom dimensions.

    A screenshot showing the Google Tag Manager custom dimensions set-up

    • Pass dynamic values into Custom Metrics.
      • In addition to capturing static content, Tag Manager allows you to capture dynamic values in a similar fashion.
      • Similar to static values, dynamic values require additional code to collect the data you are looking for.
      • This method requires Google Analytics customization in the form of creating Custom Metrics within the Admin Panel.
      • Lastly, the tag must be updated to include the custom metric.

    A screenshot showing the Google Tag Manager custom metrics set-up

    • Track Events with Variables: Using Event Trigger to Track Actions on your Site
      • To create an event to record button clicks, complete the following steps:
      • First, create a URL variable titled “URL Destination”.

    A screenshot showing Google Tag Manager URL destination set-up

    • Next, create an event trigger. In this example, determine the class for the button in question. Under variables, select “click classes”.

    A screenshot showing Google Tag Manager click options

    • Create an event trigger with the following fields customized to your class:

    A screenshot showing the Google Tag Manager trigger set-up

    • Lastly, create a duplicate of the pageview tag titled ‘GA Event.’ Configure this tag to an event:

    A screenshot showing Google Tag Manager configure tag set-up

    Unit 4: Using Additional Tags for Marketing & Remarketing

    • Tag Manager allows for additional tags to be added to better track conversions. One of these tags is AdWords.
    • To do so create a Google Adwords tag within Tag Manager. You’ll need the Conversion ID and Conversion Label from your AdWords account.

    A screenshot showing the Google Tag Manager adwords set-up

    • Lastly, the unit dives into the many benefits and features obtained from dynamic remarketing.
    • Dynamic Remarketing allows you to tailor ad content to those that have already visited your website.  
    • Dynamic Remarketing also allows you to create custom audiences to further tailor your remarketing content for past user interactions. This involves the creation of custom dimensions.

    The Assessments

    Drumroll, please. It’s assessment time! Since I had gone through each lesson and did my due diligence in taking notes, at each assessment I was feeling pretty confident I was not going to have one of these situations on my hands:

    A cat meme about studying for a test

    And, I didn’t. The assessments were as I expected. You get unlimited time and only ten questions per unit. The questions are all multiple choice with a few “select all that apply” style. Once you’ve answered each question, simply select “submit.” The following page will give you your overall score, an overview of which questions you got right, which questions you go wrong, and the reason why. You are even given the opportunity to retake the exams (with the same ten questions) if you wish.

    After all is said and done, you should walk away with a handy certificate.

    A Google Tag Manager certification for course completion

    Final Thoughts

    Overall, the course was not what I had expected. In fact, I thought the exam (dare I say) was too easy. While the units dive into a number of in-depth concepts, the questions pertaining to these areas were fairly basic. In addition, the fact that there was no true final exam added to this feeling.

    Furthermore, I felt the units glazed over the basics. I felt myself continually second guessing when to use a tag vs. trigger vs. variable. My recommendation is this: in addition to the demos Google provides, set up a Tag Manager account of your own to run side by side. This allowed me to better grasp the concepts and see them in action, using the preview mode provided.

    I’ve learned some valuable insights and will continue to dive into Tag Manager further. Good luck to all those that take the course! Any additional questions? Add them to the comments, and I’ll be happy to help.

    This entry was posted on Friday, August 14, 2015 and is filed under Integrated Marketing.

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