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by Anna Lewis on 3rd July 2013
Hello. I’m Anna, and today I’m going to show you how you can use tag management systems to improve the tracking capabilities of your website.
This video is for the general Joe public who has a website, whether a small business or large business, this is the introduction to Tag Manager. I’m not going to get all technical on how to do it, because that’s what developers are for. This system, though, does bridge the gap between needing developers to build tracking systems and you to be able to do it yourself.
So hopefully this will inspire you to go and have a look at tag management options for your website, have a play around, see if you can set something up yourself, and then see what else you can use the developers for in order to really take tag management and your analytics tracking to the next level to get a lot more from the data from your website.
So, what is tag management? There are a number of different ways in which you can track your website’s activity, from the traffic sources, to where they go on the site, to whether users spend any money on the site or complete any goals. That’s what we are looking to get from our analytics is the information about what people do on the site.
You can set this up through several different platforms, the biggest of which is Google Analytics and several others include things like Omniture or Clicky I believe is a free one that’s also available. So using these, in order to track the activity, they need a bit of code on every page of your website. This code is often something that you might need to amend over time, or it’s something that you could add to, or it might have updates that you would then need to implement in order to keep up with the functionality.
These changes that you would need to put in require you to go into the code of your website and make changes. This is where the difficulty comes in and where tag management can make things better for you in that any changes that you might need to make to your code or the majority of them can be done through a back end system without having to actually go to some developers and get new code added and make live edits to your live website.
Tag management allows you to actually have a play around in the back end, and then when you are happy with all of your new tracking, your updates, or anything like then, you can then post it once you’ve de-bugged it and everything. So you check it’s working, you do everything in the back end, then you post it to your website and it goes live.
The way that it works is here’s a page of your website. Normally, you would have analytics code on here, and you might have some other bits. You might track this bit, you might track this bit, you might track this bit, and you would need code around all of those bits. Now, tag management is similar to that. It would just use a different tag, and then you could add additional tags to this. So within your one tag, instead of one tag for each different tracking piece of software or tracking functionality that you have, you could just pass it all through one.
So we put in one piece, and this is often called a container, and then within the container, we can put additional items. Some examples are standard Google Analytics. We could also have Universal Analytics. So this is the new functionality that Google have released which allows you to track across devices based on users logging into the site, and that’s really a good piece of functionality. Nice and simple to implement. If you are using AdWords Conversion tracking through static code, you can use that, so AdWords conversions. We’ve also got incidentally things that are not just Google platforms. You could be using something like comScore for your site. So you can pop all of those in and send all of them through one piece of code. Then, when somebody comes to your site and this container fires, it would then be able to pass through all the bits that you sent.
Now, the way that you would do this is that each bit that you add to the container, you can then write a rule to tell it when to fire. So you write a rule to say, “On my order completion page, fire the AdWords conversion tracking code,” and that would mean that that piece of code was only fired when somebody was on a certain URL.
The same with these. You could fire your standard tracking on every page of the site. Also, if you have multiple websites, you could use just one container across them or across subdomains, and you could use the same container to say “fire this UA code”. e.g. Use this individual piece of tracking code from Google Analytics on this site, but this UA code, so your other account, on this website or on this subdomain. So it makes it easier to manipulate multiple Google Analytics accounts and also multiple other external tracking pieces of software into one place so all of them can be set up with rules.
Then on top of that there’s also the functionality to write little scripts in the background of Tag Manager, which just set bits of information so that you can pull in dynamic information, things that might change on the page, and then put those into your information so that you can then send tracking code based on those. You can get really in-depth with it, but at a basic level, it’s a case of putting a container on your site, selecting which code to use, and then setting a rule to tell it when to fire. There is a lot of functionality past that, but obviously if you are interested in that, it’s good to actually have a look at some of the more technical videos and blog posts about this.
I have written up this guide and a guide to doing Google Analytics and Universal Analytics within the same tag management implementation. I’ve written a guide to that on the Koozai site. So using all of this together you really make your analytics so much easier to get what you want out of it such as tweaks over time, I mean we’re looking forward to not having to edit plug-ins to manipulate our Google Analytics tracking code for a client’s websites. We’re looking forward to just putting one piece of code on the site, coming back as and when we need to, to add an additional account, add conversion tracking, add event tracking, add all sorts of things, set up tracking for subdomains, all without the need for developers.
So it really speeds things up, makes things a lot easier for us, and saves the client time. It saves anyone with a website development time. The important thing is when you’re thinking about doing this is to plan everything that you might want to track and think about the eventualities that might happen in the future, what you might need to track in the future. Once you’ve got a good plan set up, you will be able to use that to identify all the initial bits to track, all of these little bits, all of the different types of tracking that you want, and put a full plan together, work out who needs to do it, whether you need a developer, whether you can set the majority of it up yourself. Then, once you’ve got that plan, you can start implementing it.
One important thing about this is that tag management software enables you to preview and debug any issues with the code before you put it live on the site. So rather than making an edit to a piece of code, putting it on the site or on a staging site and hoping for the best, you can actually make the changes to your container, test that new version of the container, and once you’re happy with it and it’s working fine, you then publish that container. So not until you’ve debugged it completely and you’re happy with what’s working and what’s not do you need to publish that. So that also makes it a lot more safe for actually updating the tracking code on the site.
So that’s actually quite a lot of benefits for just having a tag management implementation. There are several guides out there. So I definitely recommend you have a look at those, and Google have also filmed quite a few helpful videos about Tag Manager, how to set it up, best practices, and there’s also some development guides which you can enjoy when you want the techie stuff.
So hopefully this has been helpful in giving you an introduction to Tag Manager. Please have a look at the links that will follow this video, and enjoy getting the most out of your analytics for your website.