Knowing who visits your site, what actions they take (or didn’t take), and what content they engage with is crucial to the success of any marketing strategy. After all, if you can’t measure, you can’t improve. Over the past years, marketers have taken the responsibility for monitoring and measuring their analytics, and they require easy-to-use yet powerful website analytics tools to do their job.

Website Analytics Tools Shouldn't Be So Difficult

If the analytics is difficult to read or set up, this not only handicaps the marketing team, it can hurt your business's bottom line. Reading your analytics should not be the equivalent of navigating a map in a foreign language.

Every site Boston Digital ships out has some form of website analytics tools enabled to gain insight for our clients. We even go so far is setting up the key performance indicators (KPIs) our clients should be monitoring for long-term business success.

The Simplicity and Power of Google Analytics

Primarily, we implement Google Analytics onto our clients’ websites. Google Analytics (GA) is one of the most popular website analytics tools for gaining insight. What makes GA so powerful and useful (besides its wealth of information) is its ease of use. Within a matter of minutes, even the most novice of users can set up an account, drop GA’s tracking code onto their website, and start running reports.

But what if you want to figure out how many people clicked on a specific link? Or track how many people start to fill out a form but leave before clicking the submit button? Maybe you have breadcrumbs on your site and you want to know how many used the breadcrumb links to get to another section. While these can all be tracked in Google Analytics, they require coding to get started.

Before you could begin monitoring any of these, you’d need a developer to add Javascript to each specific element or field you want to track. And each time you want to track something new, you have to go back and add more code.

This is an issue because most marketing teams don’t have access to the backend of their website. And even if they did, not everyone knows how to add Javascript to a website.

That brings us to Google Tag Manager.

Google Tag Manager: The Marketer’s Blessing or Curse?

Google Tag Manager - Website Analytics Tools

Instead of asking a developer to add some javascript that would help google analytics reflect these behaviors Google created Google Tag Manager (GTM), which works in concert with Google Analytics and does not require any coding knowledge.

The goal of GTM is to empower marketers by giving you access to events, triggers, and rules that you can modify all without having to change any “code.”

The Blessing

Here’s how it works: You add the GTM code one time to your website much like you would with Google Analytics. Once the GTM code is added to your site, the rest of the work is done through the GTM online interface. No further coding required.

So I know what you’re thinking. “Oh great. Google Tag Manager saves the day. We should get that installed right away.”

Unfortunately, it’s not so simple.

The Curse

While the intention of Google Tag Manager is commendable, the execution of the website analytics tool falls short.

Google Tag Manager Screenshot - Website Analytics Tools

One of the problems that you will face is documentation. Like most of Google’s products the user interface (UI) and its behaviors are constantly changing. As you try to follow Google’s documentation, you may find yourself frantically searching through menus trying to find what the next step is telling you to click on. You eventually give up and search for the answer using Google search, and come to realize that what you are looking for has changed since that documentation was published.

For example, GTM’s “Rules” function was not just renamed “Triggers” but its function and purpose altered as well. So if you were reading the documentation on Rules and got your mind wrapped around all that it could do, you’d find Rules missing and its replacement, Triggers, just different enough to make you wonder what the heck is going on.

Likewise, “Macros” was changed to “Variables.” And “Auto-Event Listeners” was deprecated and now falls under the types of Triggers.

See how that might get a little frustrating?

Keep the End User in Mind

The problem with most website analytics tools is that tech companies like Google are rushing to get the product to market. This means the companies are rushing through QA (quality assurance) and that the usability tests are conducted by the QA team rather than the real end user: marketers.

As a result, these tools end up being designed for developers rather than marketers, and you can see it in the user interface. There is a hidden logic inside the UI that is elusive to non-developers.

If the point of Google Tag Manager is to ease the pain of gathering information from your site’s users without the need for custom code and development, then the tool should take less time to complete a task than it would for a developer to implement it.

That does not seem to be the case as of yet, but it is worth keeping your eye on GTM because it is constantly being improved upon and if anyone is going to get an easier tool out to market, it would be Google…unless of course they cancel the project altogether.

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