As the title suggests, we will be discussing Tag Management Systems and looking at some of the challenges with implementing them. A Tag Management System (TMS) provides a central tool to deploy, manage and maintain tags on your website, ideally with little or no IT dependence. A tag is a piece of code from a third-party vendor that you place on your site or in your mobile application. Tags collect data on visitors, such as how much time they spend on the page or using the app. They can also add functionality like advertising, surveys, analytics, and so on.
Why do you need one?
A TMS provides the best solution to marketers who all have to share the same website real estate. Without a TMS, a disorganised mess of different tags can result. With a TMS, tracking and updating of multiple tags, and marketing needs fulfilment, are all handled in one central tool. TMS optimises many well-known tags for improved site performance.
TMS deployment realities
While a TMS is clearly the route to follow, it doesn’t come without its own complexities. Here’s some practical advice for navigating them.
1. Replace all your tags with a few lines of code
At the end of the deploying a TMS, you will replace all your different tag codes (analytics, advertising, affiliates) with only your TMS code. The reality is that you will need to move all those different pieces of code over to your TMS for them to execute.
2. it’s so easy even a marketer can do it.
One of key benefits of using a TMS is to streamline the updating processes, deploying tags with minimum IT involvement. In practice you will find yourself more involved with the process. Any site changes will need to be thoroughly tested and comply with company policies.
Test, test, and test again. A TMS makes it easy to update and push changes to your live site in a matter of moments. It is as simple for a few changes to crash your site.
3. it’s not paranoia if it’s true.
Test, test, and test again. A TMS makes it easy to update and push changes to your live site in a matter of moments. It is as simple for a few changes to crash your site. Changes should be thoroughly tested in a staging environment, and be authorised before going live.
4. Data layer? We don’t need no stinking data layer.
If you’re planning to deploy a solid TMS implementation, the best thing to do gather as much information about the tags, vendors and, most importantly, the data you plan on collecting. You can then translate this into a data layer.
5. A rose by any other name…
The naming convention used in the data layer can be as important as the data collected. Which of the following is easier to decipher: customer_name, or c_nm? While either naming conventions can be used, it is simple best practice to use one that is easy to discern.
Similarly, use a naming convention to group data. Any customer related data can be prefixed with ‘customer_’. By simply looking at ‘customer_name’ or ‘customer_address’, we easily identify the data points relating to customers.
6. One of these things is not like the others
We’ve used TMS as an umbrella to encompass solutions that allow you to deploy tags to your site. However, when choosing a TMS there are a few key questions to ask:
- Does this improve site performance?
- Does the TMS support a majority of the tags you need?
- How simple is it to use and implement?
- What support will it have?
7. Now play nice with each other
Many jump into using a TMS because its ‘free’ (Google TM) or already part of the product suite purchased (Adobe DTM). However, as the old saying goes you get what you have paid for. These are not necessarily the best when it comes to deploying other vendor tags.
8. The beginning of a beautiful friendship
Some may view a TMS as a great way to quickly and efficiently implement tags. That is only part of what a TMS can do. Coupled with a data layer, a TMS is capable of not only mapping data and delivering it to various tags, but also processing that data to determine when and where a tag should be triggered. This allows greater control over what happens on your site, and when it happens.
9. Spread the wealth
Regardless of which TMS is chosen, your company should make a conscious effort to ensure that at least a few individuals know how to use it, and proper documentation is kept.
How can we tell if we did it right?
We may be led to believe that migrating to a TMS is pretty cut and dry, but as we have seen, there are many factors to consider. There will always be room for improvement, no matter how successful your TMS implementation is.
- Compliance with your company’s governance, and assignment of roles and responsibilities
- Adhering to testing, and deployment procedures
- Use of Data Layer with standardized naming convention
- Truly understanding how to use a TMS through training and documentation