If you haven’t heard,  Google Tag Manager’s popularity is soaring. The free service allows you to easily and efficiently collect data from your website and mobile app through the use of tags – a process that (except for a single snippet of code immediately after the <body> tag of your website) requires adjusting minimal code.

Digital Marketers, and the like, can rejoice! There’s no need to bug the IT department! As Google says:

“It gives marketers greater flexibility, and lets webmasters relax and focus on other important tasks.”

We couldn’t agree more. Google Tag Manager has some fantastic features to bring your data collection from something that leaves you constantly scratching your head to one that’s intuitive and friendly to use.

Making the Tag Manager Transition

So I have you convinced now, right? Tag Manager is the way to go. Luckily, getting started is easy. Google has released a Google Tag Manager Fundamentals Course allowing you to follow along on a series of lessons guiding you through the ins and outs of the tool.

The lessons are divided into four units. Now, unlike the Google Analytics Exam (if you’ve taken it), there is no cumulative exam at the end. Instead, your score for each of the assessments following each unit (a total of four) is averaged together at the end to give you a final grade. If this cumulative grade is above 80%, you’ve passed the assessment and receive a certification.

Throughout the course, it never mentions the cumulative nature of the assessments. It actually was a bit of a surprise to me! I had assumed, while following through the lessons, that the unit assessments were simply practice questions. I was gearing myself up for a final exam – a final exam that never happened. Nevertheless, these assessments should be taken very seriously, as they determine your final score.

Note: the certificate is only available to those that complete the entire course and pass it prior to July 24, 2015. However, within the FAQs, Google alluded to the certification opening up again in the future. Keep your eye out for the announcement on the Google Analytics blog.

The Course

I, myself, am a proud recipient of Google’s Tag Manager Certification, and I wanted to share my experience (and notes!) from the course. In the sections that follow, I’ll go through the four lessons.

Unit 1: Starting out with Google Tag Manager

Unit 2: Setting up Google Tag Manager

A screenshot showing how to add a new account in Google Tag Manager A screenshot showing the Google Tag Manager set-up container A screenshot showing how to install Google Tag Manager A screenshot showing the Google Tag Manager GAProperty set-up A screenshot showing the Google Tag Manager GA pageview set-up A screenshot showing setting up Google Tag Manager cross-domain tracking A screenshot showing a code snippet for Google Tag Manager data layer

Unit 3: Collecting data using the Data Layer, Variables, and Events

A screenshot showing the Google Tag Manager trip category set-up A screenshot showing the Google Tag Manager custom dimensions set-up A screenshot showing the Google Tag Manager custom metrics set-up A screenshot showing Google Tag Manager URL destination set-up A screenshot showing Google Tag Manager click options A screenshot showing the Google Tag Manager trigger set-up A screenshot showing Google Tag Manager configure tag set-up

Unit 4: Using Additional Tags for Marketing & Remarketing

A screenshot showing the Google Tag Manager adwords set-up

The Assessments

Drumroll, please. It’s assessment time! Since I had gone through each lesson and did my due diligence in taking notes, at each assessment I was feeling pretty confident I was not going to have one of these situations on my hands:

A cat meme about studying for a test

And, I didn’t. The assessments were as I expected. You get unlimited time and only ten questions per unit. The questions are all multiple choice with a few “select all that apply” style. Once you’ve answered each question, simply select “submit.” The following page will give you your overall score, an overview of which questions you got right, which questions you go wrong, and the reason why. You are even given the opportunity to retake the exams (with the same ten questions) if you wish.

After all is said and done, you should walk away with a handy certificate.

A Google Tag Manager certification for course completion

Final Thoughts

Overall, the course was not what I had expected. In fact, I thought the exam (dare I say) was too easy. While the units dive into a number of in-depth concepts, the questions pertaining to these areas were fairly basic. In addition, the fact that there was no true final exam added to this feeling.

Furthermore, I felt the units glazed over the basics. I felt myself continually second guessing when to use a tag vs. trigger vs. variable. My recommendation is this: in addition to the demos Google provides, set up a Tag Manager account of your own to run side by side. This allowed me to better grasp the concepts and see them in action, using the preview mode provided.

I’ve learned some valuable insights and will continue to dive into Tag Manager further. Good luck to all those that take the course! Any additional questions? Add them to the comments, and I’ll be happy to help.