Increase marketing agility with tag management

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Andrew Edwards, CEO, Technology Leaders
Andrew Edwards, CEO, Technology Leaders

Remember the 1990s when, if you were lucky enough to have a cell phone and a mythical fax machine, you might aspire to that ultimate symbol of occupational freedom? Let's call it the “fax from the beach” paradigm. Presumably if you were (un)wired enough and tech enough, you could work (and send faxes) from anywhere—even the beach. It was considered the niftiest way to leverage technology and still enjoy life as if you were in a Corona beer commercial.

For most, the fax is a mere memory of technologies past. But doing real work from afar remains a desirable goal for many. Remote control of digital assets today combines convenience, seamlessness, and accountability without the suit and tie—or the commute.

Now suppose you're responsible for the typically complex task of getting your website tagged properly for analytics and other digital solutions. And you have to oversee QA. And your developers have mastered the thousand-mile-stare when they see you coming. They take your donuts, but not your job ticket.

Enter the fast-growing field of tag management. With the help of a tag management solution, a marketer or Web analytics professional can place and manage tags from their laptop, in minutes—and even from the beach (or cubicle), instead of via time-consuming calls with IT.

Tag management providers want to make tagging much, much easier than before. Consider Onestop Internet, which runs the e-commerce operations of more than 35 major apparel retailers. Assuming an hourly developer cost of $100 per hour, Tealium customer OneStop saved about $100K across its client network by using a tag management solution. The savings were realized primarily by cutting out developer time in deploying and managing the tags of various online solutions across client sites.

When US Autoparts Network got serious about managing the tag overload on its marketing and IT teams, it implemented Tealium's tag management solution. Says Houman Akhavan, VP of marketing, “It's the first digital marketing solution that I've seen both marketing and IT get really excited about.” Those who know digital marketing will recognize that getting marketing and IT smiling at the same time is about as common as spotting Mothman in the Jersey swamps, and about as mythical.

Tag management solutions allow for easy placement, removal, and deployment of tags from hundreds of different tag-based marketing tools. The integrated tag libraries in the tools range between those from ad networks to those from full-featured analytics tools. Once a single line of code is installed on the client site, all other tags are added and managed through a Web interface—representing an enormous leap beyond the rote task of opening up pages and placing HTML. Deploying a new ad network? Just click on the appropriate logo in the tag library, add some account details, decide which pages you want the tags to load on, and tracking is in place. Your pages load faster too, because tag management tools let you prioritize tag load and that, in turn, keeps tags from crowding the pipes with me-too snippets of code.

What does tag management not do? As Forrester has said, tag management doesn't “remove the need for human involvement in the conception, creation, and monitoring of tags.” The user needs to build a metrics plan that answers business questions; and a human brain still needs to interpret tag-gathered data to make recommendations for site optimization.

For most marketers today, tag management can be a highly impactful technology. Remove the months long, conversion-killing delays associated with IT-placed tag schema, while adding the ability to pop in and pop out tags like you were playing with Lego blocks, and you've got a keenly honed solution that gives digital marketers the jump in a field too often hobbled by immobile deployment schedules.

And if you could only get your hands on a sand-proof laptop, you could even tag from a beach.

Andrew Edwards is CEO of Technology Leaders and cofounder of the Digital Analytics Association.

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