The basics of tag management.

 
What it is, how it works, and why it’s more important than you think.

 

 

 

 

 

 

With the rapid proliferation of marketing technologies, enterprises are tasked with creating, managing, and deploying more and more tags across their website every day. Efficient tag management has become essential to delivering compelling customer experiences. But what is a tag management system? How does it work? And what other advantages does it offer? Let’s find out.
 
 
 
 
 
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What is a tag?

 

Let’s start with the basics. Your website is filled with technologies — everything from personalization platforms and chat services to customer experience tools and analytics solutions — and each one has its own unique installation and objective. To enable those technologies on any given webpage, a snippet of JavaScript code, known as a tag, must be deployed on the page where those technologies are needed. Each technology requires its own tag. And a typical webpage requires several, sometimes even dozens, of tags to deliver the desired customer experience.
 
Often, when any one of those technologies is updated, the tag itself must be updated across your site to keep it functioning properly. That means making tweaks to the JavaScript code. Keeping all those tags up to date can be challenging — and incredibly time-consuming.  
 
 
 
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What is a tag management system?

 

What is a tag management system?
 
Your organization relies on a vast ecosystem of marketing technologies to deliver compelling customer experiences. And these technologies are not only growing in number, but they are also growing in complexity. Managing and unifying these technologies, along with the consumer data flowing through them, can be a monumental task. That’s where tag managers come in.
 
A tag management system is a SaaS solution that simplifies how all of your web-based technologies are installed, managed, and used. Tag management systems democratize tagging by providing easier and more efficient ways for less technical contributors, such as marketers and content managers, to deploy solutions across the site. So instead of asking IT to manually place every tag on every web page by hand, marketers can deliver compelling experiences faster by deploying IT-approved tags on their own.
 
Tag management systems operate just like any other web-based technology: with tags. To install a tag management system, a line or two of JavaScript, known as embed code, is placed on ideally all web pages. Once this embed code is deployed, the tag manager’s user interface allows marketers and IT to create “if-then” statements to activate a marketing technology instead of rummaging through all the code on a web page. For example: IF a person clicks the Buy button on www.weRetail.com/pants THEN send the name of that specific pair of pants to Adobe Analytics.
 
As these if-then statements are saved, the tag manager injects the additional JavaScript needed to execute the if-then statement through the one or two lines of code that were used to deploy the tag management system. 
 
 
 
 
 
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Why tag management is important for your business.

Tag management systems not only help businesses more easily deploy the right technology on the right web pages at the right time, but they also collect and share data among those technologies to provide a cohesive experience. For example, when a user searches an online store for a hat, a tag management system can collect the search data and hand that off to the analytics program to track items users are searching for. This data can be used to gain insight into what customers want. It can also provide better personalization to help customers find what they’re looking for faster and improve their overall shopping experience.
 
Tag management systems simplify four things for your organization:
 
  • Installation of marketing technology on a web page
  • Understanding audience behavior
  • Determining how a technology functions on a page
  • Collecting and distributing data to a marketing technology
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The advantages of tag management.

 

There’s so much more to tag management than simplified tagging and coordination of data. In fact, tag management systems provide five key business benefits.
 
1. Deploy faster. And make more money doing it.
Tag management systems empower marketers to deploy better customer experiences on their own, saving time and resources. This gives the people closest to your company’s content and customers the ability to add, tweak, and improve web experiences as needed — in a safe, IT-sanctioned way. With a tag manager, your company can do more in less time. And faster improvements to the customer experience can ultimately mean more revenue.
 
2. Achieve deeper customer understanding.
Tag management systems dramatically simplify the process of tracking user behavior on your site. Without a tag manager, your company must spend a lot of time combing through the code of each web page to track simple things like customer clicks. And you’ll spend even more time tracking complex behaviors that yield more insight. With a tag manager, marketers can use a friendly interface to determine what behavior should be measured, enabling your company to track both simple and highly complex behavior faster, which ultimately deepens customer understanding.
 
 
3. Deliver faster, better experiences.
With a tag management system, you don’t have to put every tag on every page. Tag managers enable marketers and IT to create highly selective rules that intelligently put the right tags on the right pages. With fewer tags, your web pages will load faster, which not only provides a better customer experience but also ensures greater reach because some devices are better at loading heavier web pages than others.
 
 
4. Collect and share accurate data across technologies.
Tag managers offer enterprises a single view into all data collected on a web property and how that data is being collected. This gives you the confidence to know that the right data is being collected in the right way, while letting you share that data with other marketing technologies. Making a central repository for web-based data that’s accessible to marketing and ad technology means you can be confident that you’re delivering the optimal experience because you know that experience is being driven by accurate data.
 
5. Unify data and technology in one cohesive ecosystem.
To deliver the best customer experiences, your company needs an ecosystem of marketing technologies that share information with one another and work together effectively. Tags are the medium to share information, and tag management is the connector that unifies that information among all deployed technologies so they can synchronize to deliver great experiences.
 
 
 
 
 
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All tag management systems were not created equal.

 
The first tag management system was introduced in the early 2000s, and more tag management offerings soon followed. These first-generation tag managers use templates that make it easier to deploy tags across a website. Templates enable less technical users to deploy and configure a baseline implementation of a marketing technology on a page with little to no coding. Users simply fill out a form that configures settings and rules for a particular technology, and the tag manager translates the form input into JavaScript code and then injects that code into the desired web page. Every technology requires its own template to make the deployment process easier, and oftentimes technology updates require template updates.
 

First-generation tag management systems face two looming challenges:

 

Proliferation of marketing technology.
The number of web-based technologies delivering customer experiences skyrocketed from roughly 150 in 2011 to over 5,000 today. As the number of marketing technologies grows and the adoption rate of new technologies by enterprises also increases, brands are under new pressure to have maximum flexibility to both deploy and get value from new technologies quickly. Unfortunately, first-generation tag managers are in the business of building templates to support the entire ecosystem of web-based technology, and they can’t build templates fast enough to keep up with the market. This leaves marketers with fewer technology options to choose from, and options they do have are often out of date.
 
Siloed capabilities from marketing technologies.
For enterprises to deliver compelling experiences, the various technologies they rely on can’t work independently. They must work together so valuable customer signals sent to one technology can inform the actions of other technologies. Unfortunately, first-generation tag managers focus on making the deployment process easier — not on unifying how these products work together.
 
To get around these problems, next-gen tag managers provide an open architecture that can easily scale to accommodate new and frequently updated technologies. Instead of relying on templates that a proprietary tag manager must manually keep up to date, next-generation tag managers are built on an open platform that allows marketing technology providers to contribute, update, and even add functionality to the tag manager at any time. And marketers have instant access to all of these technologies in one place.
 
While the prospect of implementing a tag management system may seem daunting, the daily value a good tag manager delivers far outweighs the initial cost and effort to set it up. With a tag management system in place, your organization can save money through faster technology deployments, deliver better experiences, achieve deeper customer understanding, and — with a next-generation tag manager — unify your marketing technology ecosystem. For more information about what a tag management system can do for your business, click here to chat with an Adobe representative to learn more.
 
To learn more about next-generation tag management, read Transcend Tags and Deliver Experiences.
 
 
 
 
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Top five myths about tag managers.

 

Despite the clear benefits of tag management systems, many companies surprisingly haven’t yet implemented one. So what’s holding them back? The following are five common myths about tag management systems along with the reality that proves them wrong.
 
MYTH 1:
If you have a tag management system, you don’t need IT.

REALITY:
Tag managers reduce the reliance on IT, but they certainly don’t eliminate the need for IT. In fact, tag management is most valuable when marketers and IT work together to define clear roles and responsibilities. When done properly, IT can enable marketers to deploy campaigns faster, track customer behavior, and gain greater insight from website data, so IT can focus on IT and not on deploying tags.
 
 
MYTH 2:
Free tag managers can’t handle enterprise needs.

REALITY:
The two most popular tag management systems on the market are complimentary. And one of them, Dynamic Tag Management, has more than 3,000 customers representing some of the world’s largest and most successful brands, including Fortune 500 companies like AIG, McDonald’s, Morgan Stanley, Nvidia, Salesforce.com, Starwood Hotels, and Tyson.
 
 
MYTH 3:
I need to be a technical expert to use a tag management system.

REALITY:
A common goal of most tag managers is to make deploying basic tags easy for non-technical users. Oftentimes, deploying a tag comes down to entering a few configuration values and defining situations in which that tag should fire. Even complex tasks, such as tracking when visitors stop watching a video, can be mastered by less technical marketers. Like anything, it just takes a little time to get up to speed.
 
MYTH 4:
Free tag managers are not vendor-neutral.

REALITY:
Both Dynamic Tag Management and Adobe’s next-generation tag management system, Adobe Cloud Platform Launch, support any third-party technology. In fact, Launch by Adobe is more vendor-neutral than any other tag management system, because it gives all vendors a self-service way to build, manage, and update their own integrations.
 
MYTH 5:
Implementing a tag management system isn’t worth the effort.

REALITY:
The initial implementation of a tag management system can require some heavy lifting, but the long-term benefits significantly outweigh the initial investment. Tag managers save time, effort, and cost by empowering less-technical users to quickly track customer behavior and deploy tags approved by IT. Think about all the time spent implementing and tracking code and vendor tags and then all the back-and-forth between IT and marketing to refine requirements for those requests. With a tag management system, this entire process is streamlined every time, so marketers can deploy web campaigns and technologies faster, get higher-quality customer insights, and make adjustments based on those insights in less time.
 
 

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