Google Tag Manager – Best Practices

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Your website (or mobile app) is arguably your most powerful marketing tool. By merely using Google Tag Manager (GTM), you get to deploy marketing and analytics tags to your website.

These tags could be tracking pixels or snippets of codes — and you don’t need to be a developer to get things started.

Yes, GTM lets you add and edit tracking codes (also known as tags) without coding skills. It’s simple, but you would need some level of technical skills to get started. If you are not ready to go through the learning curve, you may opt to hire SmartMetrics GTM experts.

Simply put, GTM is the bridge between marketers and developers. 

If you’ve been having issues with your GTM, or you want to improve your GTM skills, here are six things you should know.

1. Structure your GTM account the right way

GTM account is much similar to Google Analytics account structure. An account holds several containers, and each container has Javascript code that should be placed into the website’s source code.

As a rule of thumb, it would be best to use one account per company and one container per website. If there are installations where lots of GTM accounts are created for one company or dozens of containers are made for one website, there would be diagnosing and tracking issues in no time.

What’s more, when the accounts grow, it would be almost impossible to manage triggers, tags, and variables across the various accounts/containers. Therefore, you should use one GMT account for a company and one container tag for a website.

There are exceptions to the rule — yes, there are times where it is ideal to use one GTM container code for two websites. In such cases, you should exercise utmost care while setting up the triggers.

2. Use folders

Every GTM professional knows that simplicity is everything. To sort things out very quickly and easily pinpoint where they belong at a glance, you should group your tags under folders.

Here is how it works…

You create various folders for vendor departments like marketing. And if a container has tags for multiple domains, you should create folders for various sites. The problem is, a tag, variable, or trigger can be in one folder at a time. You can use the drop-down menu in a variable, tag, or trigger to use it within a folder.

3. Give access to the right people.

Google Tag Manager is powerful, and if proper care is not taken, you will likely break the functionality of your website. Yes, it’s that powerful — and there is no room for irresponsibility, lack of planning and testing.

Therefore, to get the desired result, you’ve got to limit access. Only GTM experts or those who are directly involved in tag deployment should have access to it.

You can also delegate access to users at the accounts and container sections.

Google Tag Manager Best Practices, Google Tag Manager – Best Practices

The set up allows users to administer or view other users at the account level and give users the rights to read, edit, publish, and approve tasks within the container level.

If you don’t know your way around the dashboard, you can get a gtm professional to do the work for you, or you can add/modify users by merely clicking on the Admin icon in the menu bar, select your desired account or container, and click on the User Management option.

Moving on, you can modify the functionality of a user or create a new one by adjusting the settings.

Depending on the settings, a user could have access to any of these levels.

  • Read: The user can browse through the triggers, variables, and tags in the container but will not make changes.
  • Edit: The user can edit workspaces and create new ones but cannot publish or create versions.
  • Approve: The user can create versions, workspaces, and make edits but cannot publish.
  • Publish: The user can do most things — create versions, workspaces, edit, and publish.

Hint: Ideally, users with publish permissions are those who have a good grasp of GTM.

4. Use ready-made auto-event listeners

Auto-event listeners are java functions that fire a GTM event when a specific interaction occurs on a webpage. The GMT event is known as a data layer event, and you can use it as a trigger to fire tags. There are other built-in auto-event listeners in GTM like Form, Click, and History listeners.

Therefore, if you desire to track an action on your website, you can look out for ready-made auto-event listeners.

5. Test Before Publishing

Every GTM consultant knows this truth — no matter how minor the change is, always test before publishing. Regardless of the kind of change you make in the GTM container, always test it before publishing — it’s a no-brainer.

GTM has great Debug and preview mode; use it. You can also use other debugging tools if necessary.

6. Use Google Analytics Real-Time Reports

Most newbies tend to assume that once Google Analytics fires, the task will be completed. Well, that’s not always the case. There are instances where data is accidentally sent to the wrong Google Analytics property.

You’ve got to keep checking the Google Analytics real-time reports to be sure of everything.


That’s it — six Google Tag Manager best practices. You should always conduct proper testing. If not, most of the marketing tags will not work. During testing, you will probably spot your mistakes and correct them.

Using GTM doesn’t mean you eliminate developers — they are not your enemies, and their skills come in handy at some point. You should consult your developers, or ping our GTM specialists if you have any questions.

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