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What is a "tag"?

I've talked to a number of people lately that are confused on what a "tag" is.

A tag in the tech world can generally mean two different things these days, so hopefully this quick explanation helps.

Tag - for "thing" classification

This is the tag definition that you're probably most familiar with. A tag is typically used to label or group something to make it easier to find.

One example is adding tags to a WordPress page. WordPress describes tags as:

Tags provide a useful way to group related posts together and to quickly tell readers what a post is about. Tags also make it easier for people to find your content.

You can read the full explanation here if you're interested.

Adding tags is great for both on-site grouping / search and for boosting your SEO as well.

For example, after I'm done with this blog post I'll add tags such as "tag manager", "marketing", "wordpress", etc. Things that describe what the post is about to make it easier for you to find on Google.

The other common use case is for adding tags to user profiles in your CRM or marketing platform. It depends on the product you are using as they could be called tags, labels, properties, or anything along those lines.

Here's how ActiveCampaign describes tags:

Tagging is a fast, easy way to add information to a contact. You can use tags to group your contacts and indicate their status. For example, you might tag your contacts as “prospects” and “customers” so that you can easily segment the two groups and send targeted campaigns.

And here's the full explanation if you want to learn more.

Tag - as in Google Tag Manager (GTM)

On the tech side, tags have a somewhat different meaning. A tag in this context refers to HTML tags.

These are all valid HTML tags:

  <button class="btn" type="submit">Buy Me</button>

  .btn { color: black; }

  alert('Hey there!');

In this case, we have defined a simple form with a button, styling with CSS via a style tag, and some JavaScript via the script tag.

What Google Tag Manager does is basically enable you to dynamically add tags to your website via their UI. Instead of going into your raw HTML on your server, you can simply add your code to GTM and publish changes whenever you want.

In general practice though, GTM is primarily used to add 3rd party scripts or integrations.

In English please?

One of our users had an interesting way to describe what a tag was:

You know that scripty shit that you have to paste into your website so that Google can run analytics, or Facebook can track activity and events? That stuff that looks like this:

<script type="text/javascript">  
var trackcmp_email = '';  
var trackcmp = document.createElement("script");  
trackcmp.async = true;  
trackcmp.type = 'text/javascript';  
var trackcmp_s = document.getElementsByTagName("script");  

That's what they call a "tag". I call it "scripty shit". So every platform that you want to integrate with will have one of these that you somehow have to get into your pages so that the feature you want can work.

Yeah, that's more or less it. Most platforms these days have their own "tag" that you have to add to your page for the platform to work correctly.

So what are the benefits to using a tag manager?

A tag manager helps you quickly add / remove tags to your website. It's usually a one time install on your website, then from there you can simply publish changes from a UI.

For example, you're using GTM and want to add ActiveCampaign to your website. ActiveCampaign will provide a script to install on your website to track some basic stuff like pages views.

All you would need to do in GTM is create a new "custom tag", copy / paste their script into the GTM UI, then configure how it should be loaded. Then GTM will load ActiveCampaign on to your website and start sending data.

It takes a minute to understand the GTM UI, but it's pretty straightforward once you get the hang of it.

Is there an easier way?

Why yes there is. That is why we built Big Picture.

With GTM you still have to copy / paste some code or "scripty shit" and there's the risk of things getting messed up. Then if you want to do anything more advanced, like track a button click, well good luck. You have to code that, or find a developer who can.

The best way to describe Big Picture is like a more advanced, visual point-and-click tag manager.

So to our installing ActiveCampaign example...

1) Find ActiveCampaign in the Big Picture integrations list and turn it on, or any other integration you're interested in as well.


2) Point-and-click on what you what to track. Example, a call-to-action button

That's it. No coding, copying / pasting "scripty shit", no worrying if you did it right, etc.

Our goal is to this stuff as simple as possible and be the central hub to manage all your marketing tools.

Check us out.