Search Snippets #17, Measure Twice Cut Once Recap

It is time, ladies and gentlemen, for a recap of the first MnSearch event of 2015. Search Snippets #17, Measure Twice Cut Once (incredibly sound advice, by the way), featured two experts from Three Deep Marketing, Derrick Shields and Kristin Ziegler, going full nerd on Google Tag Manager (GTM).

Derrick is an Interactive Solutions Architect, while Kristin is the Director of Solutions Services. Clearly, if you have tag management problems, this duo is where you’d want to go to get them solved.

The pace was frenetic and the amount of info shared incredible. For a tool that has been around since 2005, it seems like there’s a big opportunity for more digital marketers to learn how to leverage this free tool to get insights into traffic and conversion metrics, fire off remarketing code, or learn more about a site’s users

What Is Google Tag Manager and What Does It Do?

From the horse’s mouth: Google Tag Manager is a tool that allows marketers to add and update website tags, like those mentioned above, with “just a few clicks, and without needing to edit your website code.”

For the uninitiated, a tag is just a little bit of code that “fires” on a specific event. For example, basic Google Analytics code fires when the page loads, while more specific goal tracking may only fire when a conversion event occurs (clicking a sign up button, for example). The data you get from these tags will ideally help you refine your digital marketing strategy.

Why Google Tag Manager?

The tag management game, just like analytics, is not Google’s private playground. In fact, there are fairly robust third party tag management platforms that can, depending on the client’s needs, provide more functionality for–of course–a price. Debating the options is a matter for another day, however.

For now, here’s Derrick’s list of “why” GTM:

·       Easy to deploy and test tags

·       Dependable data

·       Your site is not going to get hacked

·       GTM comes with built-in syntax error-checking

·       Agency friendly, as it comes with multi-account support

·       Provides tag templates out of the box

·       It’s easy to learn, because Google

In addition, the platform has just upgraded to v2.0 and Google is ramping up support, and most important, with a hashtag this time: #free.

The next segment was a quick tutorial on setup, which you can view in the presentation deck, or there’s a decent video on the Google Tag Manager’s How to get started page.

Measurement Modeling: Plan What You’re Going to Measure

Kristin took to the stage to talk about planning how you’re going to make all the data you get from GTM and other tag management systems work for you.

The key takeaways here, much like in Jeff Sauer’s presentation last fall, are that for all the data you can collect through tag management, you still need to make that data answer the questions that are going to come from your boss and your boss’s boss. Measurement models allow you to structure your thinking, which leads to better reporting on your analysis. This in turn leads to actionable business insights, which help drive the almighty ROI, which results in the gold star and maybe like a pony or something. Good job.

Anyway, how do we get to this state of enlightened analytics reporting, where we mold our ungainly data blob into an elegant, angular, modernist digital marketing strategy? Each level in the organization has to play its part:

1.      Execs need to identify business objectives and define the goals that will meet them.

2.      Directors and managers need to define and map KPI (key performance indicators) to those objectives.

3.      The folks in the trenches who are collecting the data need to set targets informed by the data that bang on those management KPI.

Hey, speaking of strategery, don’t forget to register for Search Snippet #18: What To Do First: A Crash-Course in Developing an Online Marketing Strategy for SEO, PPC and Beyond, starring MnSearch board member Manos Kalaitzakis and Findlaw PPC guru Jason Stinnett!

Oh, and while you’re registering for important things that are going to make you a smarter, more talented, better looking digital marketer, don’t you dare forget to sign up for the 2015 MnSearch Summit, being held on June 26th at St. Paul River Centre!

The Anatomy of Google Tag Manager

It suffices to say that you can get as lost in the weeds with GTM as you can with any other analytics tool, and the robust suite of tags you can add from both Google and third parties means you could probably stay out there in the wilderness indefinitely.

Since my boss gets worried about me when I wander off, and your boss may too, I’m going to break this part of Derrick’s presentation down at a very high level, which is really a bit of a disservice, as he gave some incredible details about the tool and examples of how he’s used it. Check out the video and Slideshare links for the full effect.

The three core concepts in GTM are tags, triggers, and variables. All three of these live within the container construct that, hopefully, you were able to learn about in the intro video all those words ago. Here’s the lowdown:

·       Tags: Well, tags do stuff. They track events, the execute analytics scripts, they fire when there’s a conversion event, and they can kick off retargeting. They can also execute custom HTML or JavaScript to do…well, you know, basically whatever. Mentioned previously: Google has its own tags as do third parties.

·       Triggers: The triggers, you can probably tell from the analogies I’ve been cramming in here and there, cause the tags to “fire,” or more succinctly, when to do stuff. For example, when someone signs up for a newsletter, clicking that “submit” button may be the trigger to fire a tag for a conversion event.

·       Variables: Variables are what returns values to tags and triggers. Pro tip: Derrick recommends some liberal copy/paste from Stack Overflow for variable config. You can use these bad boys to do lots of cool stuff like lookup tables, form tracking, and custom dimensions.

The Upshot: Why Would You Want to Go Do this Tomorrow?

The TL;DR here is that GTM allows you as a marketer to have a ton of control over your analytics and reporting without having to deal with development every time you want to change something. It’s flexible, well supported by Google, and a ton of fun. You can also watch the presentation below!

Finally, you definitely need to check out the slides, because I’ll be honest he’s way into this whole GTM ecosystem, and there’s no way I can do justice to his efforts in print.

Thanks to Derrick, Kristin, and MnSearch for putting on another great event, and know that we’d love to see you later this month at Ye Olde Spyder Trap for Search Snippet 18: What To Do First: A Crash-Course in Developing an Online Marketing Strategy for SEO, PPC and Beyond.

This post was written by Ryan Dahlen

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