Google Tag Manager 101 for Retailers

By Tinuiti Team

If you’re not using Google Tag Manager (GTM), you’re missing out on a valuable free tool to track events that happen on your ecommerce site.

From views to conversions, GTM will give you access to valuable insights about your customers via AdWords and Analytics, and it supports both Google and third party tags.

Even more importantly, Google Tag Manager can help you avoid creating errors in your website JavaScript and HTML when you launch new tags, and it’s super easy to use.

Warning: Just because the GTM makes it easier to manage tags doesn’t mean anyone can set it up–you will most likely need coding experience or you’ll need to hire a developer.

Jump to a Section:


What is Google Tag Manager

First, let’s start with by answering what a “tag” actually is.

A “tag” is a snippet of code that helps your website communicate data with everything from AdWords to third party platforms.

Let’s say you want to track conversions on your site.

Tag Manager generates “containers” or snippets of code which you can embed on the pages where you want to track conversions, and you can view these via AdWords reports.

Once the initial setup is done, you can simply make edits or updates to the code via the Tag Manager, and not directly in the backend of your site–and all pages with that “container” embedded will be updated.

In addition, you can easily roll back changes via the historical change log (or “versions” tab).

How to Use Google Tag Manager

To start, you must have a website and existing Google account. Here are the steps to getting up and running:

  1. Copy/paste generated code below the opening body tag on your site pagesinstall tag manager on site
  2. Sign in with your existing Google account
  3. Select the “Tag Manager” and start one for your company
    • Create a “Setup Container” for your domain name (containers hold all tags on your site)
    • Select where you want to use use the Container (typically web)
    • Accept the terms of service agreement (includes Privacy Policy and 3P tag policy)

    google tag manager container setup

  1. Add Your Tags & Triggers
    • You can add both Google (ex. AdWords conversion tracking for purchase) and non-Google tags
    • To set up AdWords Conversion Tracking, add the following information from your AdWords account:tag manager fields setup
      • Conversion id–AdWords > Tools > Conversions > Conversions actions > Select Conversion > Input Value After “var google_conversion_id =”
      • Conversion label–AdWords >Tools > Conversions > Conversions actions >  “var google_conversion_label =”
      • Conversion value–Have your developer add the order total variable to a dataLayer.push event and reference it by creating a GTM variable
      • Order ID–Have your developer add the order ID variable to a dataLayer.push event and reference it by creating a GTM variable
      • Currency code–USD (if you are in the US)
  2. Add a rule to fire the tag only on a specific page that will indicate a conversion has been made (ex. thank you page)trigger configuration for tag manager
  3. Save rule


Once you’ve created your code snippets, you can access and edit past versions on the left-hand side of the screen.

Google Tag Manager vs. Google Analytics

You can use the Universal Analytics tag type within the tag manager, and it should fire on all pages.

You can track any of the following actions within a tag:


Just as you did with the conversion tracking tag previously, you can choose a trigger type to fire this tag–everything from click to scroll.

Troubleshooting Google Tag Manager Errors

google tag manager error update

Update 5/23/2017: If you woke up this morning and noticed your Google Analytics account isn’t reporting accurately, you may have been hit by the GTM bug.

What Happened?

GTM containers are reportedly disappearing/are being deleted by unknown users across multiple GTM accounts.

google tag manager twitter complaint

google tag manager problem forum

When Will This Problem be Fixed?

This is a widespread issue that’s affecting many accounts, and we will update this post when we hear back about Google’s fix.

Here’s what we’ve seen on the G Suite service page so far:

google tag manager error


In the meantime, double check your Google Analytics and AdWords accounts to ensure they’re tracking correctly.

You Might Be Interested In

*By submitting your Email Address, you are agreeing to all conditions of our Privacy Policy.