Tags on your website help measure traffic and can assist in optimising your online marketing. 

Tags are integral to most modern marketing tools, from web analytics to retargeting to ad serving to CRM.

Here we’ll be taking a beginner’s look at what tags are, what they do and how you can use tag management to make online marketing less arduous.


At a basic level, without tags, you won’t know who’s coming to your website, what they’re doing there, why they left, why they stayed and what they did in their time there.

Tags come in the form of code that you can embed within your desktop and mobile site. 

One popular tag used in various types of websites and available to anyone with a Google account, is the piece of code that Google Analytics generates... 

You can copy and paste this into any page of your website where you want to measure the traffic...

To be honest though, manually adding this code to every page of my own website’s CSS is rather slow and takes the patience of a diligent coder.

Thankfully there are tag management systems available which make the process much easier and quicker. Some of them are free too, including Google’s own Tag Manager tool. More on that later.

As I said at the top of the article, tags aren’t just for measuring traffic, they can also help you serve appropriate adverting on your site, understand the impact of online advertising and social channels, and tags can also be used to drop cookies on visitors so you can retarget them with advertising later. 

Problems with tags

A report published by Econsultancy and Tealium titled 'The ROI of Tag Management' states that many organisations choose to implement tags manually. This creates a lengthy procedural delay around all web publishing, technology implementation and campaign management processes.

For nearly 75% of those tagging manually, implementations take more than a day and often far longer. 47% require more than a week.

In digital marketing, time is the most precious raw material. With a tag management system, this process can take less than a day, often less than an hour.

Too many tags can also slow down the loading of a web page, which affects the usability of your site and ultimately its SEO.

If tags are added manually they are subject to human error. Best case scenario: a broken tag won’t serve you any data, worst case scenario: a broken tag will break your entire website.

To ensure that resources are saved, human error is avoided and accurate data is recorded, using a tag management tool may be the safest bet.

Google Tag Manager

This is a free tool that allows you to keep track of tags and configure the rules on how those tags should work on your site.

Google Tag Manager has it’s own container tag which you place on all your website pages. This container tag replaces all other tags on your site, including ones from AdWords, Google Analytics and any third party tags.

You can then update, add, and administer additional tags right from the Google Tag Manager application.

There’s a detailed guide on how to set up Google Tag Manager right here but there are also many other premium tag manager solutions available.

For more information, download the Econsultancy/Tealium report: The ROI of Tag Management

Christopher Ratcliff

Published 11 March, 2015 by Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff is the editor of Methods Unsound. He was the Deputy Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

686 more posts from this author

You might be interested in

Comments (1)

Jordan McClements

Jordan McClements, Owner at PPCNI.com

I am using GTM, and while it fantastic that you can implement new tags and listeners and remarketing code without having to rely on sometimes slow and unreliable developers, I still feel a bit uneasy about it.

There is effectively no support (I got an error importing containers and had to resort to setting new ones up manually).

Google can decide to retire it at any time and there is nothing you can do about it (I'm thinking back now to when I got a client to invest a lot of time in effort in setting up the Google Affiliate program only to have Google retire it a few months later).

But I guess you could say the same about Google Analytics :-)

over 3 years ago

Save or Cancel

Enjoying this article?

Get more just like this, delivered to your inbox.

Keep up to date with the latest analysis, inspiration and learning from the Econsultancy blog with our free Digital Pulse newsletter. You will receive a hand-picked digest of the latest and greatest articles, as well as snippets of new market data, best practice guides and trends research.