Best practice for managing multiple tracking codes (tags) on your website

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tag, also known as a pixel, is a snippet of code on which a web page is added. Google Analytics (GA), cloud-based CRM, Marketing Automation platforms, social media advertising platforms, and other retargeting platforms like AdRoll are some of the examples of software that use tags for tracking and data gathering.

Typically, these tags are placed in the header, body or footer of each relevant webpage. The tag will track visitor behaviour, capture data filled out in forms, or place a cookie on a visitor's device to advertise to them on some of the third-party websites they go on to view.

Adding one or two tags to a website is relatively easy. Many website platforms offer direct integration with applications like  GA where you'll only need to add your customer ID to the plugin which bypasses the need to add the tag directly to a webpage and is something just about anyone can do with some familiarity with their website platform (Wordpress, Webflow, etc.).

Managing one or two tags isn't too challenging but if you have GA, CRM, Marketing Automation, chat, Facebook pixel, AdRoll pixel, LinkedIn pixel, etc. then it becomes too complex to keep track of and to update if they change. They can also affect each other and mess with your website.

Using Google Tag Manager (GTM) requires just one code on your website and allows you to manage all of your other tags in one place. It also offers integration with some applications such as other Google products, Facebook, and other popular cloud systems.

Configuration

Containers

Your GTM account can manage multiple containers. A website or application is typically managed by one container. For example, we use two containers – one for our main website and one for our sub-domain because they reside in different systems and we wanted to be able to manage them separately. Another scenario where you might use separate containers is where you use marketing automation software (MAS). When you build a landing page in your MAS, which usually resides in a different system, you risk double-firing tags. This scenario is where it becomes complicated and hard to explain, but here goes……

Double-firing

Marketing automation systems (MAS) use a tag to track behaviour and data on your website, which resides in one platform – Wordpress for example. Most MAS are also a content management system though – that's where your landing pages and clogs might be managed, and this is different to your main website platform. So, if you have a GTM code on your website, it won't track your landing pages because they are in a different place. It will fire the MAS tag for tracking though, so if you add the GTM code to the landing pages – which would seem the most straightforward thing to do – you will effectively be firing the MAS tag on its landing pages, which it tracks anyway. Clear as mud? There are two ways you can get around this:

  • Add your MAS tag directly to your website  – this means you will have to have two tags, one for MAS and one for GTM, or
  • Create a new container for your MAS landing pages and manage the tags separately.

The first solution is the easiest as you can manage all of your tags in one place, but it does mean that every tag – except for MAS – will fire on both CMS's.

Tags

Once your container is set up, you can start adding tags. They are the tracking codes for Facebook, LinkedIn, Analytics, CRM, Website chat wigets, etc. etc. - whatever you use.

Within the tag configuration, you can choose to add custom code or connect to an application which already integrates with GTM. If there is an existing integration. choose that as it's faster - you generally just add in your account ID and away you go. For custom code, you'll need to get that from the application you want to add to your website. Log in to the application and it should be somewhere within your account settings. Contact them directly if you have any issues.

Triggers

The more tags that have to load on your website the slower it will be. So you'll want certain tags to only fire (or load) on specific pages or after a user has taken some action - for example filled out a form.

GTM can get a bit more technical, but in most instances the above information will be enough to get you through. One thing to remember though is to make sure you SUBMIT your changes. Simply saving them won't publish those changes to your website.

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