Google Tag Manager | How do Triggers & Variables work?

In this guide, I will help you on how to use Google Tag Manager as guided by the Analytics Academy! Whereby, you’ll learn strategies and techniques to help you with the basics of Tag Manager. While you maximize the benefit of your tag implementations with the Google Tag Manager Fundamentals course.

Above all, you can migrate to the Tag Manager in simple steps. And when you upgrade your site or app to Tag Manager, the best practice is to migrate all your tags at once. However, this is not a mandatory requirement. For one thing, the Tag Manager will fire migrated tags alongside tags that are administered outside of Tag Manager.

Google Tag Manager 

Important to realize, there is a limit for one account per organization. Whereas, your Tag Manager account allows you to administer the tags for one or more websites or mobile apps.

Although you can set up multiple Tag Manager accounts from a single Google account. Meaning, you’ll typically only need one Google Tag Manager account per company or organization.

Bearing in mind, for many websites, a #1 ranking is the best thing that’s ever happened to them. But, the big question is; what is a Tag Manager?

What is Google Tag Manager?

Google Tag Manager (in short GTM) is a Tag Management System (in short TMS) that allows you to quickly and easily update measurement codes and related code fragments collectively known as tags on your website or mobile app.

Once the small segment of the Tag Manager code has been added to your project, you can safely and easily deploy analytics and measurement. As well as, tag configurations from a web-based user interface.

When Tag Manager is installed, your website or app will be able to communicate with the Tag Manager servers. Whereby, you can then use the Tag Manager web-based user interface to set up tags. As well as, establish triggers that cause your tag to fire when certain events occur. And also create variables that can be used to simplify and automate your tag configurations.

A Tag Manager container can replace all other manually-coded tags on a site or app. Including tags from Google AdsGoogle AnalyticsFloodlight, and 3rd party tags.

How does Google Tag Manager work?

A Tag Management System (in short TMS) is software that can be used to manage tracking tags used in digital marketing. A tag is a short snippet of code that is added to a URL to collect data for analytics and digital marketing tools.

Tags are the special headers on websites, tracking pixels used in advertisements and content that enables web analytics. TMSs are used by marketers to manage digital marketing tags from various advertising services. They serve to make changes to existing advertising services and between services easier and more agile.

Google Tag Manager

The systems manage tags for web pages, videos, and apps. Enabling faster page loading performance and less complicated changes with less possible site outages.

They also allow changes to be made to tags such as trying a new service by simply adding the code snippet to the manager. While at the same time, setting rules and going live with the changes in as little as ten minutes without IT involvement.

How does the Tracking Management Systems work?

Normally, changing from one ad tracking system to another or removing one of a number of used systems takes coordinated teams. And the server updates can take weeks to complete.

A tag management system replaces the tags used on a page with a container. So, organizations looking into tag management should apply tag governance best practices together with a TMS.

The main components used include;
  • Tag: A tag is a code that sends data to a system such as Google Analytics.
  • Trigger: A trigger listens for certain events, such as clicks, form submissions, or page loads.
  • Variable: A variable is a named placeholder for a value that will change, such as a product name, a price value, or a date.
  • Data Layer: A Tag Manager implements a data layer to temporarily hold values in the client so that they can be used by tags, triggers, and variables.

Therefore, Website audits, specifically tag audits, are an important part of an effective tag governance strategy. Not forgetting, some of the Topmost Tracking Management Systems (TMS) vendors include Google Tag Manager, Tealium, Launch by Adobe, Qubit, Signal, etc.

1. What is Google Tag?

A Google Tag is a snippet of code that executes on a page or mobile app. Examples include the Google Analytics Tag and the Google Ads Conversion Tag.

And if you don’t use a tag management solution, the code for each tag is added directly to the source code. With Tag Manager, you instead control all of your tags from a web user interface.

Google Analytics

Tags execute, or fire, in response to events. Events could be page loads, button clicks, page scrolls, etc. In Tag Manager, you define triggers to listen for those events and specify when tags should fire.

To simply put, a tag management system makes it possible for marketers and analysts to deploy and manage the tags on their site without relying wholly on IT.

2. What are the GTM Triggers?

In any Google Tag Manager, a trigger is a condition that must evaluate to either true or false statements at a run time.

In GTM, triggers are an integral part of the tag creation process. So you can not create a tag without first creating a corresponding trigger.

Basically, there are two methods for creating a trigger in GTM.

  1. First, while you are creating a new stand,
  2. Secondly, through the triggers menu.

And by the same token, there are two categories of triggers in GTM:

  1. Firing Triggers (commonly known as triggers),
  2. Blocking Triggers.

2. 1. What is a Firing Trigger?

A firing trigger (or firing rule) is a condition that must be met (must evaluate to true) at run time, for a tag to fire or execute. In short, a firing trigger tells GTM when the tag should fire. On the other hand, there are also built-in and user-defined firing triggers.

To enumerate, built-in triggers are predefined firing triggers and are also ready to use triggers. While user-defined triggers are the ones defined by people like me and you. There are two methods to see the list of built-in and user-defined triggers. One is while you’re creating/editing a tag and the other one is through the triggers menu.

Tag Manager has many built-in variables to choose from, and you may configure additional custom variables. For example, the predefined variable “URL” contains the address of the currently loaded page. If you want a tag to fire only on the page example.com/purchase/receipt.html, define a trigger with the following settings.

Settings to consider include;
  • Event: Page View
  • Trigger Type: Page View
  • Fire On: Some Page Views
    • Fire the tag when these conditions are true:
      URL contains example.com/purchase/receipt.html

Configure built-in variables or custom variables to make information available to your application when you need it.

Use these variables in trigger conditions or to pass information to tags.

2.2. What are Blocking Triggers?

Blocking triggers are conditions that must be met (must evaluate to true) for a tag to not to fire or not to execute.

Furthermore, a blocking trigger tells the Google Tag Manager when the tag should not fire. You can create a blocking trigger (or blocking rule) by clicking on the ‘ add exception‘ link while creating or editing your tag.

The rest of the process of creating a blocking trigger is similar to the process of creating a firing trigger. You can read and learn more about triggers.

3. What are the GTM Variables?

A GTM Variable is a storage location in the computer memory and has got ‘name‘ and ‘value.’ Whereby, a variable is referenced by its name.

As for the value, it’s that expression that can not be solved any further. For example, the expression ‘ 2+3‘ is not a value because it can be solved further into ‘5.’

However, the expression ‘5’ can not be solved further, and so it can be used as a value. In the context of the Google Tag Manager, a variable is a function that can be called withing a tag, trigger or another variable. In short, a variable tells the Google Tag Manager where it should fire a tag.

3.1. What are the Built-in Variables?

Built-in variables are simply the predefined variables that can not be customized. So, in order to see the list of built-in variables available to you, click on the ‘variables menu.’

Configuring a built-in variable means activating or deactivating the variable from within the Google Tag Manager interface. Only a particular set of built-in variables are activated by default.

Once a built-in variable is activated, it can be used just like any user-defined variable. Therefore, activate all of the built-in variables so that they are available to be used anytime.

3.2. What are the User-defined Variables?

User-defined variables are the variables defined by people like me and you. And if you have created user-defined variables then you can see them by clicking on the ‘variables’ menu.

All in all, the power of GTM lies heavily in the usage of variables. You can read and learn more about the Components of Google Tag Manager.

What are the Benefits of Using Tag Managers?

By utilizing TMS, standout experiences whenever you start with unified data and integrated tools. Ultimately, great customer experiences require you to bring data and systems together.

For instance, with Adobe Experience Platform Launch, you can connect multiple technologies and turn data into action. In the end, delivering powerful and memorable experiences.

1. Unified tech delivers better experiences:

Technologies built on one platform mean products are built to work together to deliver great experiences.

Use CNAME to collect first-party data while also respecting consumer rights.

2. Deploy faster & automatically:

Use powerful open APIs to write scripts to programmatically deploy your technologies.

With Adobe Experience Platform SDK, you can capture and send native mobile app data to Adobe and to third parties.

3. Collect your data,  know your data & share your data:

Get a single view of all the data being collected on your web and mobile properties. For better quality control and sharing.

Create server-side rules that send data to new destinations without changing your client-side implementations.

4. Trust in a community, not just a company:

Take advantage of evolving technology made available from a community of third-party engineers working together to create the best integrations.

5. Simplified data collection:

Simplify processes to collect and distribute data.

Reduce the chance that rogue pixels will fire by managing your server-side data central.

6. Faster load times, higher conversion rates:

Overcome sluggish sites and apps and boost conversion rates. By moving client-only implementations to the server-side.

Enjoy faster websites and apps by moving work once done in a browser or on a mobile device to the server.

7. Powerful automation made easier:

Trying to manage client-side deployments of all the technologies in your marketing stack can be fraught with challenges.

Fortunately, TMS (built with an API-first design) allows for scripting to automate technology deployments, publishing workflows, data collection and sharing, and more.

So the time-consuming tasks of the past, like web tag management or mobile SDK configuration, take less time — giving you maximum control and automation.

8. Easy to use & learn:

In a world of complicated technology, TMS is here to make learning and implementing new technology straightforward.

Designed from the beginning to be easy to master and simple to understand. Featuring a clean user interface that helps you deploy technologies faster, so you can spend your time on other tasks.

9. Bring your tech together to create smart experiences:

Through TMS (rule-based systems), you can easily integrate the data and functionality of marketing and ad tech to help disparate products communicate better. These rules look for user interaction and associated data.

Plus, these tag management systems let technology providers directly develop and maintain integrations. These integrations, called extensions, let users define and capture customer data. While orchestrating how each technology should contribute to the customer experience.

10. Thousands of accounts with the simple solution:

A majority of TMSs make it easy to administer access to tag management. Letting you assign proper rights to the right people, so everyone can work efficiently.

May it be an agency needing to support multiple accounts tied to different brands or an enterprise company needing to separate accounts by groups and access levels. It makes the experience easy for you.

Equally important, the Adobe Experience Platform Launch has always supported mobile-friendly web applications. But now, Experience Platform Launch supports 100% native mobile apps. Helping you overcome issues of instability and slow performance.

How to Use Google Tag Manager With WordPress

In the past, when someone in the marketing department wanted to put something as simple as a Facebook Pixel on a page, they’d have to create a ticket and hand everything over to IT.

Typically, IT — after a fairly lengthy process — would eventually get that pixel live on the site. That’s a painfully slow way of doing things.

In such cases, that’s why Google Tag Manager was built to give the marketing team a way to update their site. And at the same time, free up the IT team to focus on more important projects.

Finally, in addition to the resourceful blog topics link below, you can read and learn more about how to Track clicked links with Google Analytics.

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