You may have noticed that nothing special happened around this plugin in the past few months. First, I want to reassure everyone that the plugin is not abandoned. There will be a next version and another next version, etc.
Why the silence?
Well, just like most of us, Covid-19 changed plans for 2020 in many ways. At the digital agency I am working for, we have had interesting months behind us. Some clients were not able to operate at all, some other clients skyrocketed and needed even more attention. Luckily, I have a well talented team, still, things needed more attention from me as well.
As the plugin got more attention, the number of support requests increased as well. Some questions are more related to Google Tag Manager itself, less questions are related to this plugin directly. Anyway, the time I was able to dedicate to this plugin was mostly used by answering those support requests and I must admit that I was not able to answer completely some of them.
I also needed a bit more rest during the summertime to spend more time with my family in July and in August but now I feel fully recharged. I was planning to release a new plugin version much earlier, but I must admit I did not assess this well.
What is going to happen now?
Well, of course I must release the next version of the plugin as soon as possible. WordPress 5.5 is here, Google Optimize changed the container ID format, there is a new way Google Ads dynamic remarketing can be configured. All those need immediate attention from me. Next to this, I have rewritten the blacklist/whitelist feature which is not the most important part of the plugin, but it was way beyond the capabilities of Google Tag Manager.
WordPress 5.5 and WooCommerce 4.4 support
While you are reading this post, the site is already running WordPress 5.5 which is also true for the developer sandbox. WooCommerce 4.4 is also working as you can check this on the WooCommerce Sandbox Site. I already updated the supported version numbers in the WordPress.org repository of this plugin.
Google Optimize new container ID format
The very next item on the TODO list is that I will release a new plugin version with only one change: supporting the new Google Optimize container ID format (OPT-XXXXX instead of GTM-XXXXX). This has been already merged into the development version of the plugin. It has been not released yet, because earlier this year I planned to include this change along with many other updates and improvements.
Updated blacklist / whitelist feature
This feature is rarely used in GTM4WP, but it is also quite outdated as there are many new options on GTM side. I already updated this in the development version, but this needs some more testing as I have seen some server errors after updating the plugin on some test sites. Since only some bug fixes are needed, this will be released as v1.12
Google Ads dynamic remarketing – new tagging format
Though the currently supported Google Ads dynamic remarketing tagging should still work, there is an increasing demand on being able to send product data using the latest codes preferred by Google. This is a bigger change and it is partly implemented in my closed dev environment. It is largely connected to another new feature of GTM4WP: native support for enhanced ecommerce tracking for App+Web properties. Since this is a bigger project, I will need some more time to release it, but this is now on the very top of the TODO list for me. v1.13 will be largely about this update.
And the future….
After that, I will move to a different release schedule. Until now, there were about 2-3 releases of the plugin per year with a long list of changes. I felt it more comfortable to work more on a new version instead of releasing a new version (for example) bi-weekly. I think for a website owner, it is very hard to keep up with the changes and testing if a plugin is updating that frequently. But this also resulted in delays for new version since I was trying to finish a fixed list of feature set for each version.
From now on, I will always focus on one specific, bigger change and of course bug fixes and smaller enhancements. This means that I plan to release a new plugin version more often but still not bi-weekly. I also do not plan to release a new plugin version in November and December. It is much more important to keep those websites up and running and not risking any unintended bug to ruin your Black Friday sale.
And what about support?
It is hard to distinguish between support tickets. There are many types of requests and I cannot help in some cases
- If you are new to Google Tag Manager, please go through some free or paid online course, I am sorry but I do not have enough time to explain the concept and basic terms for each of you
- Not able to record all transactions in Google Analytics?
That can be tricky. If you are only accepting online payments and I cannot place a test order without using my bank card, I will not be able to help. Still, if I can place a test order, I cannot guarantee I can solve all issues. In most cases, if you customize the cart and checkout experience, things can break. Nearly 2/3 of such support requests cannot be solved by fixing something in GTM4WP as there is nothing there to fix on my side. But 1/3 of support requests are valuable and help me to improve the compatibility with other plugins and themes. And it is hard to see from your initial message which group you will belong to
- If you have concerns about GDPR or CCPA, I will not be able to fully help. Even within the EU there are many interpretations of GDPR which is not really a regulation created for the online world. I do believe that Google Tag Manager as a standalone product is not something that needs special care. GTM is not storing anything, it is a layer between your website and your tracking codes. But you can block certain tags to fire in case of a missing user consent. GTM4WP itself is placing some cookies too if you use some plugin features. But no cookies are storing either direct or indirect personal data. And GDPR is not about cookies in general but storing and processing personal data in a direct or indirect way
I would like to keep the WordPress support forum as the primary place to answer questions related to GTM4WP. And I would like to keep the private support form only for cases where you would like to report a special bug or give me a link that cannot be shared publicly.
The WP.org forum rules are quite strict. I understand the reasons. Folks there would like to keep the place a safe environment. But especially in cases where there is an issue around transaction tracking, I cannot help without getting a coupon code or a link to a hidden product that can be used to place an order without the need to really pay for the products.
I never ask for passwords, I do not want to access your WordPress admin area, I do not intend to see and reuse the data you have in your database. But due to the nature of the features in this plugin, sometimes I need more than just a case description from you. I will keep the private support form intact, but I will inform everyone that it should be used only in those very special circumstances. I will update the contact page soon.
And what about a paid version?
I get this question all the time. And there is the potential of course. Let me explain why there is no paid version of this plugin.
First: I have a great job at a super digital agency. GTM4WP is more like a love project for me. I always felt that the plugin should remain free. I do not believe in adding features that are only available after paying a fee for me. What if for example the ecommerce tracking is only part of a paid plugin? Well, the “how” is publicly available, someone with PHP coding capabilities can easily create this for free and the business is gone.
But the increasing number of support tickets tells me that change is inevitable. I already have some thoughts in my head, but this will be more a story of 2021.
All in all
I sincerely apologize for this longer silence and if you feel disappointed. I truly hope that you will be convinced after some days and weeks from now, when you see things moving on.