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Tag Management Beyond the Tag

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"The number of digital touchpoints is increasing exponentially—and with the Internet of Everything no longer the plot of a Philip K. Dick novel, marketers need a strategy to keep up."

These days, saying that tag management is just about managing tags is a bit like saying social media is just about managing a Facebook page—there's way more to it than that.

But first, a few definitions are in order. What, without fanfare, is a tag, and why should marketers care?

“As an industry, we do tend to overcomplicate the matter, but we can say it in English,” jokes Darr Gerscovich, CMO of enterprise tag management solution provider Ensighten.

Tags are simply little snippets of code that influence how a website or webpage performs when a visitor visits it. Invisible to the user, tags can be used for a variety of marketing's most favorite things: third-party tracking, data collection, remarketing, conversion tracking, website personalization, attribution, and segmentation.

Back in the days of what Gerscovich refers to as “tag management 1.0”—around 2007 when tags first hit the scene—it was mostly about updating tags and keeping them in working order. But in the current era of tag management 2.0, tag solutions are available for any device, be it laptop, tablet, or smartphone to give marketers visibility across the breadth of digital touchpoints in real time.

“What we're really talking about when we talk about tag management is data,” Gerscovich says.

For example, let's say you're booking a trip. You buy your ticket online, you check in using a kiosk at the airport, you finally get on board and start fiddling around with the digital display on the seatback in front of you. Generally, each of those steps and the others in between are disconnected from each other—but there's no reason they have to be.

“Imagine a brand knew in real time what consumers were purchasing based on CRM data in addition to offline activities to give them a totally personalized experience, from the moment they buy their ticket to the moment they get on the plane,” Gerscovich says. “Done right, the consumer doesn't even realize it's happening—they just see what's relevant to them, without being aware that something else, also relevant, is being served up to someone else.”

Gerscovich sat down with Direct Marketing News to imagine the world of our not-too-distant future—“I actually know people with touchscreen fridges,” he says, with a laugh—in which experiences are always integrated and personalization is par for the course.

One-to-one marketing: Are we finally there?

The industry has done itself a disservice by overpromising one-to-one for so long that now—when we're truly able to deliver it with new technology and solutions—there's a lot of mistrust. We'll soon move away from calling it one-to-one and instead talk about personalization and delivering a unified customer experience.

What's the right amount of personalization?

My background is in online advertising for LinkedIn and Yahoo. When I first started doing behavioral targeting, there was the sense that an ad based on your behavior could get a little creepy. But today we're not talking about out-of-context or retargeted ads, and leading brands aren't thinking about personalizing for personalization's sake; they're doing it to create a better customer experience. Done wrong, consumers aren't ready for it—but done right, the consumer will always welcome a better experience. And to do that, you need to know what's happening all over, not just on laptops or just on mobile.

How would you define real time?

When we say “real time,” we mean leveraging data the moment something happens. Here's an example: Let's say you're a preferred customer of a particular services company. You visit the company's website, but you can't find what you're looking for so you click the “Let's chat” button. But what if, in real time, instead of going to the bottom of the queue and waiting for the next available representative, the company knew right away that you're a highly valued customer? They'd immediately see your history and where you've been on the site. In a case like that, not only can the company give you the best representative and move you to the top of the queue—they can try and upsell you based on their CRM data.

At the end of the day, if you're not acting on your data, then you're not getting its true value. The closer you can get to acting in the moment—that's where you can increase your ROI tremendously.

What will happen to brands that don't keep up?

All leading brands are using personalization today. Those that aren't personalizing their content will have lower overall ROI, and lower ROI means they'll have less money to spend. If they have less money to spend, that could lead to decreased market share and revenue. Throw whatever buzzwords you need in there to scare people—but personalization is effective, and not to do it will hurt the longevity of your business.

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