Google Tag Manager (GTM) is a powerful tool that allows you to manage and deploy tracking and marketing tags on your website. But like any tool, GTM can become cluttered and disorganized over time, which can lead to errors, confusion, and inefficiency. In this article, we’ll discuss how to clean up your GTM account to keep it running smoothly and efficiently so you can get the most out of this powerful resource to consolidate tags for conversion tracking, remarketing, analytics, and more.
Step 1: Export your current container
Before making any changes, it is smart to make an export of your GTM container. This way, you can always restore back to the original version. Though you can save multiple versions as you go through the clean-up process, and always revert back to an earlier version, this is an extra safe precaution.
To export your GTM container:
- log in to your GTM account via tagmanager.google.com and go to the Admin section.
- Here, you’ll see a menu on the left-hand side of the screen. Click on the Export Container option in this menu.
- This will open a dialog box where you can choose which version of the container you want to export, and which format you want to export it in. You can choose between the latest version, a specific version, or all versions of the container. You can also choose between JSON and ZIP formats.
- Once you’ve made your selections, click on the Export button to download the container. The exported container will contain all the tags, triggers, variables, folders, and workspaces in your GTM account, along with their settings and configurations.
You now have a backup of your GTM container in its original state.
Step 2: Review your tags
The first step in cleaning up your GTM account is to review your tags. Tags are snippets of code that are used to track and measure the performance of marketing and analytics on a website. GTM tags are usually snippets from common Google products like Google Analytics and Google Ads, popular third-party tools like Adroll, or may even be custom HTML.
As you review your tags, you should look for the following:
- Inactive tags: These are tags that are no longer used or needed on your website. They might be old tags that were used for a specific campaign, or they might be tags that were created by mistake. Inactive tags can clutter your GTM account and cause confusion, so you should delete them to keep your account clean and organized.
- Duplicate tags: These are tags that are identical to other tags in your GTM account. They might have been created by mistake, or they might be the result of copying and pasting a tag without modifying it. Duplicate tags can lead to errors and inconsistencies, so you should delete them and keep only the most recent or relevant version of the tag.
- Inconsistent or outdated tags: These are tags that have incorrect or outdated information, such as the wrong tracking code or the wrong event category. Inconsistent or outdated tags can lead to errors and incorrect data, so you should update or delete them to ensure that your data is accurate and reliable.
Step 3: Review your triggers
After you’ve reviewed your tags, you should review your triggers. Triggers are the conditions that determine when a tag is fired on a website, such as a pageview, click, or form submission.
As you review your triggers, keep an eye out for:
- Inactive triggers: Any triggers that are no longer in active use should be deleted to avoid clutter and confusion.
- Duplicate triggers: Similarly, any duplicate triggers should be removed from your container.
- Inconsistent or outdated triggers: Finally, update or delete these types of triggers to ensure that your data is accurate.
Step 4: Review your variables
Next, it’s time to review your variables. Variables are the values that are used by triggers and tags in a GTM account. For example, a variable might be a Click ID or Page Path.
GTM has dozens of built-in variables. These cannot be edited or deleted.
However, you also have the ability to create “user-defined” variables. These are completely custom, and you will need to audit these variables. As with tags and triggers, address any of the following improper variables:
- Inactive variables
- Duplicate variables
- Inconsistent or outdated variables
Step 5: Review your folders and workspaces
In addition to reviewing your tags, triggers, and variables, you should also review your folders and workspaces and conduct a clean-up (or add folders, if all your tags and triggers currently live at the root level!)
Step 6: Review your tag and variable templates
GTM also has the ability to create “tag templates” and “variable templates,” which you can custom-define to match your organization’s needs. As with the other assets, these should be audited and cleaned up as needed.
Step 7: Review your users and permissions
Next, you should review your users and permissions in GTM. This will allow you to see which users have access to your GTM account, and what level of access they have. To review your users and permissions, log in to your GTM account, and go to the Users and Permissions section. Here, you’ll see a list of all your users, along with information about their roles and permissions.
As you review your users and permissions, you should look for the following:
- Inactive users: These are former employees or former partners/vendors who should no longer have access for security reasons. You may also have partners/vendors/colleagues who were added for a temporary reason (such as setting up a campaign) but who do not need ongoing access.
- Update permissions: Even if a user should maintain access to the GTM account, you should audit and update all permissions to the lowest possible setting that will allow them to conduct their work. For example, some users might only need access to one container (such as the blog subdomain) instead of the entire account. Others might need read-only permissions, and you can downgrade them from full publishing authority.
Step 8: Create a maintenance process (OPTIONAL)
Finally, you should create a process to keep your Google Tag Manager account healthy going forward, to prevent having to do another overhaul in a few months’ time.
Some things you can consider including:
- Best practices for adding tags, triggers, variables etc., including naming conventions
- Add GTM user cleanup to your offboarding processes for both team members and partners/vendors
- Add tag/trigger/variable cleanup to the end of campaigns or shift in strategies (ex: if you are closing a sign-up form on the website and will never use it again, also be sure to remove any corresponding items in GTM).
- A regular schedule to test, audit, and maintain your Google Tag Manager account (ex: weekly testing, quarterly cleanup, yearly audit)
By following these eight steps, you can clean up your GTM account and keep it running smoothly and efficiently. Regular maintenance is essential for the success of your digital marketing efforts, and these measures can help you avoid errors, confusion, and inefficiency. By taking the time to review your tags, triggers, variables, folders, users, and permissions, you can ensure that your GTM account is optimized for success.