10 Ways to Become a Google Tag Manager Expert

Will Rice
First published January 18th, 2024
Last updated May 15th, 2024
Become a Google Tag Manager expert with our guide: 10 essential tips from mastering components to leveraging AI for advanced analytics.
10 Ways to Become a Google Tag Manager Expert

Looking to become a Google Tag Manager expert? Look no further–we’ll explore 10 ways you can master GTM and make the best tracking deployments.

This is a write-up of Julian Jueneman’s talk that he gave at GTM4ward. Here you can find his slides.

 

10 things to master in GTM

1. Know your components

In GTM there are tags, triggers, and variables–everyone knows that. But whilst you might know about them, you also need to understand them. Each is connected and you can intersect each component with another.

Variables are part of the filters inside of a trigger. You can input data into tags via variables. You can even build triggers based on ‘listeners’ which are part of tags and create a listener that feeds back into a trigger.

Understanding the dynamic between these components is a vital part of being a GTM expert. This also gives you the ability to play ‘the whole piano’– not just individual notes. You can come up with new, undiscovered solutions to pain points.

 

2. Use the dataLayer

Designing a dataLayer involves working with code, causing a lot of people to shy away. If you want to call yourself a GTM expert, though, you need to be able to both utilize and define a dataLayer. This should be built from scratch and designed in a way that is useful for the business.

The image below shows part of an example dataLayer. We’ve taken the GA4 dataLayer and redesigned this for the client. We input custom dimensions and data points and explained these to the client.

 

Implementing a Javascript dataLayer with purchase information on the thank you page

 

The importance of this can’t be stressed enough. Extracting the data from an existing dataLayer and making it into the format you need, is a skill that is reserved for more advanced users.

 

3. JavaScript it!

Google Tag Manager is a JavaScript injector. The tool is based on JS; you need to know how the language works to understand complex problems such as raised conditions. The journey of learning JS can be very rewarding.

You’ll understand the internal processes of GTM much more strongly. You can open up a whole new world, understanding CSS selectors and regular expressions. You’ll recognize the templates and the codes that you see online.
When it comes to customization, you can take a code and tailor it for your use case. This is a step above standard copy and pasting. Customizing code is essential for reaching the level of a Google Tag Manager expert.

 

4. Planning

If you don’t prioritize planning over implementation you are doing something wrong. As all experts know, planning has a lot of advantages. It should begin from the earliest stage,

When you’re on a consultant call, you should be thinking about how you can best meet client requirements. Be careful to put your thoughts on paper so that you don’t forget anything. This could be as simple as a spreadsheet.

An example is shown below. You’ll notice that we list all our tags and configurations. It’s a useful document to work from and clarify a path forward, it’s also helpful in getting buy-in from a client. A documented plan can even be sold as a deliverable in the milestone of your product.

 

list of tags and configuration

 

Of course, you can always create a more extensive measurement plan depending on your goals, and if you have more complex technologies.

 

An extensive measurement plan

 

So, take a look at planning if you haven’t already done so and improve your strategy!

 

5. A lot of reps…

Sets and reps are important are regular gym activities used to improve your body strength. In a similar way, you need to continually train yourself to become a GTM expert. Reading about the tool and learning from other people helps. Unless you use it frequently, though, you wont come across interesting ad cases that you haven’t seen before.

Never shy away from any kind of implementation work. Implementation forces you to go through the motions and learn new techniques. If you’re just starting, don’t ever turn down a project because you feel it’s ‘beneath you’.

It could be as simple as working on your demo website. You might practice deploying a cookie banner or using consent mode tools. Believe it or not, this can be crucial for getting another perspective and seeing things from the other side.

 

6. Translate & communicate

Google Tag Manager is essentially just a communication tool. In essence, it is an extraction of JavaScript. GTM asks us a lot of questions. The first time we login we are asked questions like

  • What tag do we want to deploy today?
  • When do you want to deploy your tag?
  • What data should be sent over to your tool?

Answering these kinds of questions is crucial if you want to become skilled with GTM. You can extend this skillset to go beyond this.

It’s a well-known myth that GTM is replacing the developer. In reality, it’s a great tool that can be used by the implenter, but also by many other team members. If all teams are to make the most of the tool, though, you need strong communication.

The flow of publishing and setting up new procedures should be built around communication. You can add notes on your implementations, write release notes, and leave behind traces if you don’t want to carry out large-scale documentation.

Translating the business requirements to the tracking deployments is a skill. Constant communication with your teams, stakeholders, and developers is essential.

 

7. Debugging and testing

As with a car, you need to be able to look under the hood and understand the inner workings of your implementation. You need to be able to go to your website and easily identify all the contact points and spot issues. There are plenty of expert-recommended GTM tools that can help you with this.

The image below shows one example using JavaScript console, a tool that can help spot error messages on your site.

 

Debugging and testing using JavaScript console

 

Unfortunately, the process of debugging is getting harder. GTM with server-side tagging means that you might not be able to see all the requests that go through the network. Or, you might not know what to look for to find the right request.

You need to keep digging and figure out other scenarios where you can see the data. Chrome extensions can prove useful here.

So, to make a long story short, you need to take the components that go into tracking deployments, sequence these, and devise a test. Often this can be as simple as carrying out a test order to spot any errors.

Ultimately, while tracking might be getting more difficult, devising new tests is vital if you want to find and fix errors.

 

8. Don’t keep secrets – contribute

Going through the learning chain and making the most of different resources is important. Beyond this, however, you should share what you know with others.

But what’s the best forum for sharing your knowledge? Once upon a time, we had Google + (RIP), which was the best forum for GTM. These days, however, we have a lot of other options, including

  • Linkedin
  • Medium
  • Measure Slack

You need to think about the materials that you’re putting out. That requires you to go back and reflect on how you make tracking deployment work. By doing so, you’ll be able to understand the topic much more strongly next time around.

 

9. Those that teach…

You might know the expression ‘those that can’t do, teach’. For GTM in particular, teaching is a fantastic way of broadening your knowledge.

You’re probably already teaching your clients how to use the tool. If you have a following on LinkedIn, you might have people interested in your current projects. Teaching can come in many forms and helps you to go back to the basics.

Teaching can also help you form new views. For example, when describing your tracking deployment, what steps do you need to go through? Did you follow best practices or do you need to customize next time around?

 

10. AI is coming, embrace it

Large language models like ChatGPT can give us instructions for deploying tracking techniques that are already out there. However, the technology cannot yet deal with specific individual cases or new techniques. For tracking deployments, implementations, and other technical areas, AI still has some way to go.

The technology is currently more suited for the data analysis and data visualization side. That’s not to say that in a few years, we won’t see autonomous agents that perform actions for you in GTM.

So, eventually, we might not be implementing our own tracking. We’ll still be there, though, to take decisions such as clicking ‘publish’. To put it in a nutshell, once AI comes along, we need to embrace it.

 

Summary

How can we avoid being obsolete in the world of AI? Start by reminding yourself of our checklist.

1. Know your components
2. Use the dataLayer
3.JavaScript it!
4. Planning
5. A lot of reps..
6. Translate & communicate
7. Debugging & testing
8. Don’t keep secrets – contribute
9. Those that teach…
10. AI is coming, use it

These points will only get more and more important as we head into the future. By putting these tips into practice you can begin your journey to becoming a Google Tag Manager expert. So, why not get to work?

 

Need some extra help

Mastering GTM takes time. Getting your head around the many complex features isn’t easy–it’s okay to ask for help when you need it.

MeasureMinds is on hand to provide GTM training services. Delivered by experts with over 20 years of experience, we’ll provide you with a comprehensive Google Analytics and GTM curriculum. We’ll equip you and your team with the skills to configure your own implementations and drive powerful insights.

Why not get in touch today and register for free training?

 

About Julian Juenemann

MeasureMasters, led by Julian Juenemann and his team at MeasureSchool, was born from Julian’s experience in digital marketing with various startups. He founded JJAnalytics in 2013 to help businesses embrace data-driven marketing. In 2015, he started the MeasureSchool YouTube channel, which has since grown to over 150,000 subscribers, becoming a premier resource for marketers to learn data-driven techniques.

Julian Juenemann profile picture

LinkedIn

Will Rice
Follow me
0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Articles from our Blog
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x