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3 Reasons you Should be Using a Tag Manager

DeveloperTown • May 06, 2015

Tag managers have evolved since the early days when their complexity made them a tool reserved exclusively for IT departments. Today, tag managers are beginning to live up to their initial mandate of increasing accessibility to the code snippets (commonly known as tags) which power digital analysts and marketers.


1.) TAG MANAGERS REDUCE RELIANCE ON DEVELOPERS

If you have no idea what a tag manager is, you’re not alone. Tag managers require a container code snippet to be added to a website or mobile app. This snippet then allows digital analysts and marketers to maintain and update their analytics and marketing infrastructures without having to go through their Dev or IT team.

Why is this useful? If you want to start re-marketing on Facebook you have to add the required Facebook Audience Pixel (also a tag) to every page on your site. Similarly, in order to track specific actions on your website or mobile app you’ll need to add tags which fire whenever a user completes an action your tracking. Out of the box Google Analytics can only tell you page URL - it can’t tell you how many users clicked a button, submitted a form or watched a video. Without a tag manager, this falls on your Dev or IT team to add the necessary custom tags directly into the code.

A Tag Manager allows you to create these tags within the tag manager interface and then publish them to your website or mobile app without having to touch the code base. The majority of tag managers also include predefined tags for common events such as clicks and form submissions. This means you won’t have to write custom code to track these events. Lastly, if you want to start re-marketing on Facebook, all you’ll have to do is copy and paste the tag into your tag manager interface and then publish it to your website or mobile app. No more waiting on your overworked developers to update the code and push out a new release.

However, don’t think you can stop having snacks around to bribe your ace developer (I recommend skittles during operating hours - if it’s after 5 use beer or even better, whiskey). While tag managers have a suite of predefined tags, most still require custom tags to track more complicated events such as video views. Fortunately, your Developer will only need to write a custom tag for one video and then you can use custom firing rules to track the other videos on your website without any additional customizations.


2.) TAG MANAGERS GROW AND ADAPT WITH YOU

Over the last month I’ve been working with a client to improve their checkout abandonment rate which was a startling 92% (70% is considered average). To try and fix the problem quickly we moved the checkout over to their WordPress ‘marketing site’ and added a SSL certificate.

However, moving to WordPress created an entirely new URL structure. Each time a transaction occurred the client needed 12 tags to fire. However, because we had set the client up with a tag manager (Google Tag Manager) we only had to change the one rule which was triggered by a transaction. This single change successfully reconfigured all 12 tags to match up with the new environment.

Another recent success story was a not-for-profit client who just began to use digital analytics to evaluate their sites search engine. Initially they had asked for basic information regarding what users did after performing a search.

However, a month later they came back and asked us to go deeper to see if how visitors used the search engine would predict whether or not the visitor would create an account. We used the tag manager we had implemented for them (again Google Tag Manager) to track overall filter usage. From this the client learned filter usage was a leading indicator that a visitor may create an account. We are now working with the client to create a quick on-boarding process to explain the filters and we will be tracking new visitor participation to see if it's successful.

Digital assets are in a constant state of change. A tag manager allows you to adjust existing tags to account for these changes, while also allowing you to track new events which you may have missed when first implementing your measurement plan.


3.) TAG MANAGERS ENSURE GOOD DATA GOVERNANCE

In order to analyze digital activity in the aggregate you’ll need a naming scheme which is consistent across all digital assets and is maintained through each new release.

Maintaining data governance can be particularly difficult when it comes to tracking key events. An event refers to any action a user makes while on a page or screen, such as adding an item to a shopping cart or submitting a registration form. Google Analytics allows an event to have four different parameters: category, action, label and value.

Without a tag manager you’re dependent on your Dev or IT team to comply with your naming structure. Don’t get me wrong, developers and IT professionals are more than competent enough to follow a basic naming convention. However, what happens when the naming scheme changes?

When I first got started in digital analytics, I created an unnecessarily complicated naming scheme for events which was a complete disaster. It was so bad I couldn’t understand my own notes on it when I tried to go back and add tags after new releases. My saving grace was I tracked all of these events through a tag manager. Once I accepted I needed to fix my mess, I was able to quickly update the naming scheme without having to go back to a developer to do so (also saved myself some embarrassment).

Additionally, each marketing platform has it’s own unique conversion and goal tracking code snippets (i.e. Facebook Conversion Pixels). Tag managers allow you to define rules for key events such as email subscriptions or purchases. These rules can be applied to multiple tags so you can be sure the AdWords, Bing and Facebook conversion tags are each firing at the same time. Besides ensuring data integrity, these rules also reduce the amount of time it takes to expand and test new marketing channels.


A PATH FORWARD

Switching to a tag manager does not mean you will never have to add another line of code - but it may be one of the last lines of code you’ll need your Dev team to add for you. It also provides an infrastructure which can adjust and grow with your business while maintaining consistent standards needed for good data governance.