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Tag Manager: bring your web analysis to the next level

Every online marketer uses web analytics software to measure the success of marketing campaigns and of their company on the web.

The use of such software brings a host of advantages. Among others, you will learn to better understand your customers, recognize products and services, and identify touch points in the customer’s journey that cater to conversions.

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For web analysts, software is the focal point of their work. A tag management system is thus an important tool and can solve many problems that may arise. This article shows you the reasons and examples of why it makes sense to rely on a tag manager for web analysis.

Status Quo

All preparations are made, the tracking code of the analytics software you trust is implemented, and tracking begins. Normally, numerous analyses, reports, and dashboards have already been made by this point that are worthwhile to filter and evaluate. The first KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) are formulated and analyzed using the available data. But, if you begin to formulate and implement the tracking strategy in a detailed and granular fashion, manual interventions and adjustments of the codes are the usual result.

At some point, standard tracking will no longer suffice and manual interventions will accumulate to the point that the internal processes will be disrupted. IT is annoyed or postpones implementation of the next overhaul because all the resources have already been planned. The marketer or web analyst who commissioned the action starts to feel time pressure, because the campaign is supposed to go live next week.

This dilemma seems to be pre-programmed and begs the question: "Should I switch on the campaign on time and not measure according to the analysis concept, or should I postpone the start?" A tag manager can solve this problem and many other similar scenarios. With this software, which ideally completes the web analytics tool, automated and efficient work is possible.

Advantages of a tag manager

A tag manager is software with which quick and simple tags and code snippets from your own website or your own app can be implemented without having to directly interfere in the website code. It is used within a user-friendly browser interface.

The tag manager code also requires a one-time integration into the website using a container from IT. From this moment on, the marketing in this container can complement the standard tracking code and every type of tracking method in this container from the software with the help of tags. In this way, individual tags are created and which conditions (trigger and variables) must be fulfilled so that the corresponding data is collected and transferred to the web analytics system that is precisely defined.

With the tag manager, online marketers gain more flexibility and room for maneuvering and can substantially plan, activate, and control their campaign monitoring. The analysis concept can be implemented without the participation of IT and new requirements can be quickly integrated. Moreover, the content and event tracking can thus be implemented more quickly and easily.

In order to minimize errors and problems, a good tag management system should prepare a debug mode, a versioning system for a possible rollback, as well as a change history. In the case of acute problems, IT can also support the marketing department.

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Figure 1: The container list includes all containers that were created for the web project. All associated tags are managed within the container.

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Figure 2: Example of a tag manager container code that is integrated into the website at the beginning.

Keep an eye on website performance

Thanks to the tag manager, you always have a good overview of your tags and the contained tracking code. In this way, a code that is no longer necessary can also quickly be deleted. Additionally, you can avoid data waste that can negatively influence website performance. In general, it is true that the implementation of asynchronous container tags through a tag management system will allow the website to load more quickly - independent of how many tags are on the website.

The creation of tags and the establishment of triggers and conditions can easily be learned. All tag management systems have templates that cover a large spectrum of analysis methods. A basic technical understanding and experience in reading codes are an advantage, but not a necessity, because the surface of the tag manager leads through the process step-by-step.

A test and debug mode also ensures that the publication of the tracking mechanism is carefully checked and thus ensures that the new code is properly implemented — because nothing is worse than an erroneous code that corrupts the analysis.

Examples of use:

1. Equip hundreds of websites with tracking codes

An agency has acquired a new large client. The company would like to switch from a SaaS to an on-premises analytics software, but the customer visits hundreds of websites with several thousand subpages. Without a tag manager, this would be an endless task and an enormous waste of time for IT.

Furthermore, it wouldn’t be finished with a one-time implementation of the tracking code. The modification and expansion of the code has to be done when there is no time pressure. Using the tag manager, an individual tracking profile can be created for each website, and global tracking methods that are relevant for all websites can be rolled out at the same time.

2. Campaign analysis – Faster optimization cycles

A new campaign with a landing page is started and is marketed using AdWords. In the analysis after the first week, the performance values are below expectations and the landing page is examined. As a result, the CTAs (call to action) are changed and event tracking in the code has to be adjusted.

Because the budget for the campaign is, however, very high and each day counts, a delay by IT is very costly and damages the success of the campaign. Through the tag manager, marketing has complete freedom of action to carry out changes to the website immediately and to adjust the tracking code to the new CTAs at every moment.

3. Social Media Tracking – Facebook Pixel

A company starts advertising on Facebook and would like to address visitors who visit the website via Facebook but who still do not convert with a retargeting campaign. The action is limited to certain areas of the website, and it is only there that the Facebook Pixel must be integrated.

With the help of the tag manager, this can be implemented in a few minutes. The tag manager should also be able to support other tracking pixels from other analytics tools, such as, for example, AdWords, Qualaroo, Marketo, etc.

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Figure 3: Various tags can be set up using the Google tag manager

4. A/B Testing

The tag manager can also be a great help in the case of an A/B test, because the tracking can be quickly integrated into the various test sites if it supports synchronous tests.

In A/B testing software such as Optimizely, everything has already been stored and you can just start. Only the implementation of the tracking code is missing. Through synchronous tags, this can be done by simply using the tag manager.

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Figure 4: With the Piwik PRO tag manager, for example, synchronous tags for A/B tests can also be integrated.

Digression: What are asynchronous and synchronous tags?

Asynchronous tags are tags that are loaded before the website. They are implemented into the site. As already described above, they support the website in achieving good performance values.

Synchronous tags, on the other hand, are mainly used in A/B tests. These are integrated into the website code. Anyone who is intensively involved with A/B tests and has experience knows that there are frequently problems with the flash of original content effect. The use of synchronous tags hinders this effect. However, synchronous tags influence the loading times of the site and should be used carefully.

At a glance – Important functionalities of a tag manger

  • Data protection-compliant solutions (e.g. Piwik PRO Tag Manager) in their own IT infrastructure or SaaS solution (e.g. Google Tag Manager)

  • Extensive tag manager API in connection with other marketing and analytic tools

  • Use of asynchronous and synchronous tags (important for fast loading times and, for example, for A/B tests)

  • Marketing tag templates (web analytics, tracking pixel, user experience, conversion rate optimization)

  • A/B testing tags

  • Comprehensive library of triggers and conditions

  • User-defined tagsTag manager variables

  • Test and debug mode

  • Test- und Debug-Modus

  • User permissions and access controls

  • Data protection features such as opt-out and DoNotTrack


The above-named examples show that it can pay for every company and every website operator to use a tag manager system as soon possible as not only the KPIs are collected and analyzed using standard reporting, but also individual tracking methods of events, content, and campaigns are necessary.

The companies thus gain flexibility and independence from IT and can save the dispersed resources or use them sensibly in other places. This saves time and money. Agility in campaign planning, control, and optimization increases. The larger the web presence, the more the need for detailed analyses increases and special attribution models are used that must be checked, the more important it is to establish the use of a tag manager in your daily business.

Checklist – The advantages of a tag manager

  • Relieves IT and saves IT costs

  • The agility of the online marketing and of the web analysts is increased

  • Automated tracking processes are established

  • In the support of many websites, tracking methods can be automatically rolled out

  • For websites with many hundreds to thousands of websites, the administration is simplified many times over

  • With higher frequency of individual tracking methods, the reaction time is fast

  • Easy integration of tracking tools such as, for example, Facebook Pixel or A/B tests

  • Supports website performance because the tracking codes are summarized and loaded asynchronously

  • Better overview of the complete tracking concept within the tag manager

  • Intuitive and user-friendly interface for creating, testing, publishing, and managing tags

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Published on Mar 9, 2017 by Britta Behrens