Benefits of using Google Tag Manager with E-commerce Data Layer in Shopify
E-commerce witnessed one of the best phases during and after the Covid-19 era but the current recession is giving a reality check to online sellers. In fact, Amazon has laid off more than 18,000 employees since the global economy took a nose dive. The implications can be even more devastating for smaller online businesses as they neither have the pockets nor the brains that Amazon has at its disposal at this moment.
Thus, it is necessary that smaller online businesses use technology to democratize the business landscape and create healthy competition while providing more alternatives to customers. Leveraging the data layer on the e-commerce website is a must but a majority of online sellers have little understanding of the subject.
To guide our fellow readers, I have compiled this article on the benefits of using Google Tag Manager with an e-commerce data layer in Shopify since it is the go-to platform for all online selling business owners.
Let’s get started:
What is data layer?
If you are into digital analytics space, data analysis, or digital marketing then you probably know the term ‘data layer’. Many of you have implemented and tested and ripe the fruit of the implementing data layer in the website!
But if you do not know what is data layer then you should know and understand its power in analytics!
Let’s go deeper!
So data layer is like the virtual layer of your digital asset (website) and contains data points in the organized frame such that tag management/tag shall collect data using it.
Let’s understand a data layer with some analogy or real-time example that is easy to understand,
Here is a simple understanding, like manufacturer creates a product and stores it in the warehouse, and later a truck or carrier/container picks up the product and brings it to a retail store.
Like the above example, the website creates/has data/information, and much of the data is stored in the data layer, a tag collects data layer information and sends it to the analytics platform.
So imagine a bucket or a pool in which all ‘data balls’ are placed, it might be anything like product Id, product view, user id, author name, etc. The data collection system uses this bucket to access these data balls, so if any new data ball is placed in this bucket, the collection system uses this bucket to collect new data.
A typical example of data layer:
Why you should use the data layer in data analysis?
Reason #1: Reliability
Most analytic companies collect data using two methods
- DOM scrapping
- Data Layer
DOM scrapping is getting involved with HTML code (Presentation layer) and in our experience as well it is not a reliable method to collect data. DOM scrapping is good when your data/information and interaction (e.g. buttons) on the website are not going to change. But let's say you have a product and order page and you change something which is a frequent case on your website then DOM scrapping is not a good idea.
Reason #2: Scalability: Works with other tools
A typical data layer injected in the site would be like below (To see implemented data layer on your website, Go to website → Inspect → Open console → Write ‘data layer’ → hit the enter key )
The data layer is generic and tool agnostic. It means the data layer object as described in the above image can be used by any application/tool (e.g. Google Analytics, GTM, etc).
Here in the above image, the data layer of the 6th number has an event name as ‘formsubmission’, so ‘formsubmission’ can be processed by all the tools let's say GTM, Google Analytics, Facebook, etc.
Thus, the data layer is generic in nature and works with other tools and applications and hence provides scalability.
Reason #3 Quality
Consistent data is quality data. At the point of collection, the data layer has a set of naming conventions you have decided and it will be the same for all data platforms.
So, data in Google Analytics is the same in the Mix panel or in Facebook pixel due to that same data layer snippet and naming conventions.
How does the data layer work with Google Tag manager?
Once the data layer is pushed on the website via the data layer push method, the Google Tag Manager tag collects data via unique event name and configuration of the data layer in google tag manager.
Google Tag Manager uses the mechanism of data layer variables to process data. It has built-in variables and user-defined variables.
What are the benefits of having an e-commerce data layer in the Shopify store?
You can enable google analytics 4 default tracking using the Shopify store and you can track the below events.
- Product view
- Product impression
- Add to / remove cart
- Starting of checkout
But if you use a data layer then you can track so many things apart from the above like:
- Product clicks
- Promotion impression
- Purchase data
- Product data
Advantage of using google tag manager on the Shopify store!
Why use google tag manager for the Shopify store? Well, this question must be surfaced before using it.
So being a Shopify store owner, you probably know there are thousands of apps to help to grow your store. But for Google analytics 4, Google ads, and Facebook ads, you would need a developer’s help to implement tracking and it would be time-consuming and costly.
Google tag manager is the tag management system/platform which supports non-Google tags as well. Google tag manager makes life easy for implementing tracking. Let’s check some of the benefits of using google tag manager for the Shopify store.
Google tag manager is absolutely free! but it comes with paid version if you are a very giant company then you might need paid version else for the store owner free Version does all the work.
Dependable and correct data
Google tag manager’s deployment of tags ensures the proper working of tags and there is hardly a case of the tag not working once it is placed.
Your side loading becomes faster even though many tags are implemented on the website.
And most large brands and companies use google tag manager for this reason.
No / Less dependency on the developer
Developer’s dependency hurts on two fronts: cost and time. With google tag manager, you can reduce a developer’s dependency to 50% to 80% or even more. So, the crux is you will save time and cost by using google tag manager for your Shopify store.
Quick implementation and easy management of tags
Google tag manager offers google and non-Google Tag templates and for more, advanced requirement users can create custom tags as well. All pre-built platform-specific tags are quick to implement. Google tag manager has so many triggers and built-in variable mechanisms to further accelerate the process of implementing tags on the website.
Saves cost and time
With so many data platform-specific tags, the mechanism of triggers and variables accelerates further in the tag implementation process. An easy UI of google tag manager gives the experience of smooth operational handling. All these with no cost as mentioned GTM is 100% free! So a ton of cost savings.
A lot of data platforms' tags
Google tag manager not only provides google tags (e.g. GA4, Google ads, Flood light, etc) but also provides third-party vendor tags like LinkedIn, tik tok, Snapchat, Facebook, and many others.
Testing of tags through debugging tool
The most beautiful part of Google tag manager is the ability to debug before publishing tags on the website. Yes! before going live with tags, it is always good to check whether implemented tags are fired or working properly or not and hence google tag manager provides the feature of debugging that enables live data collection in the data platform
User management and control
If you are a sizable store owner with staff members and you want to do delicate tasks for team members then you can do it with user management and access control for example certain parts of website tracking should be handled by one of the staff members then you can do it via user management of google tag manager.
I hope that this blog helps you understand the fact that unless you leverage the data layer on your e-commerce website, your business won’t achieve its full potential regardless of digital ad spend and other forms of marketing.
Apparently, the list of benefits would be incredibly long if I were to compile it in the form of an eBook but it would be in your best interest to start harnessing the insights offered by the data layer. However, it is easier said than done as both the intricacies Google Tag Manager and the complexity of managing the data layer are unbelievably high in many cases. This is also one of the roadblocks in the process since most e-commerce companies don’t have specialized IT talent to overlook the GTM and data layer part.
Here’s how you can turn the tables: Tagmate as it helps you automate the entire process and instead of doing the coding work, use pre-built Shopify-GTM templates to get the work done.
Wondering how? Try Tagmate and find out!