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Tag management: Best practices for marketers

Tags - those wonderful segments of code that give us so much. But, despite being so critical for collecting vital marketing data, too often marketing teams overlook the need for a robust website...

Tags - those wonderful segments of code that give us so much. But, despite being so critical for collecting vital marketing data, too often marketing teams overlook the need for a robust website tagging strategy. Thus, to remedy this, here’s our quick guide to tag management best practices!

 

What are Marketing Tags?

A tag is a segment of code that is placed on a brand’s site in order to track user actions and collect data. Other names include; website tags, script tags, tracking tags, 3rd party tracking, floodlights, spotlights, and activities - largely depending on the platform that has produced the tag.

Tags play a crucial role in marketing enabling marketers to track data about user activity on their website and use that data to optimize campaigns, improve their customer journey, understand their audience better, and ultimately increase ROI and revenue for the company.

(For more on what tags are, check out our blog: What is a Marketing Tag (and what are they used for)?

 

What is Tag Management?

Tag management is the process of organizing and managing all the tags on your site effectively and efficiently. While this can be done manually by, for example, a webmaster, it is arguably more common for marketing teams (and webmasters!) to utilize a tag management solution or software (TMS).

A TMS is a platform that enables marketers to manage their tags more adeptly. Popular vendors include Google Tag Manager, Tealium, and Adobe Launch. Aside from being a much simpler and more organized way of managing your tags, a TMS can often mean that web pages load more quickly by loading tags independently of the web pages’ content.

However, whether using a TMS or not, in order to get the most from your tags, it is vital to build a robust website tagging strategy.

 

Not actual website tags - more of a visual metaphorNot actual website tags - more of a visual metaphor...

 

How to build a website tagging strategy

Question: Why do you need a website tagging strategy? Why not just deploy tags on all your pages?

Answer: Well, 99% of the time a single “all pages” tag is deployed across a website to track overall site visits and for general retargeting purposes. However, a robust tag strategy requires specific tags for your critical touchpoints (see below). And these additional tags should not be created for every single page.

Why? Because:

  1. Doing so will impact site loading times
    A high number of tags can (and often will) put a strain on page load speeds which is a big no-no for your website authority rating (think SEO) not to mention your customer experience.

    As noted above, a TMS will help to mitigate the worst of the impact from tags on load speed - often by loading tags asynchronously - i.e. not all page elements need to be loaded at the same time for the page to display. However, there is still some impact on load speed and for some pages, the presence of a tag is totally unnecessary anyway which leads to our next point…

  2. What’s the value?
    When adding additional tags to a page, ask yourself; Am I driving users to that page? Is it useful for me to know what users are doing on that page? If the answer to these questions is ‘No’, chances are you don’t need a tag there - it’s just adding unnecessary bulk.

  3. Time, resources, money…
    Depending on the number of pages of a brand’s site, it can be a waste of time and resources deploying tags across everything. At the end of the day, everything needs to be weighed up against whether it makes financial sense and your tag strategy is no different. It takes resources to add and maintain tags on every page - are the rewards worth it for your team?

Thus, instead of adding multiple tags to every single page across your website, look at your critical touchpoints and focus on them instead.

 


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What are my critical touchpoints?

Critical touchpoints on your website are always going to be unique to your business. That said, there are some generic touchpoints that all marketing teams are likely to have in common, and these are where you should start when building out your tag management strategy.

 

Campaign ad page(s)

When you run a marketing campaign, you’re generally trying to send your audience to a particular page, right? Whether it’s a landing page, a product page, or your homepage - tracking must be deployed on whatever page that your campaign is driving users to. This is so you can measure campaign success and power the activities that improve campaign effectiveness.

 

KPI and business objectives

Tags need to be employed wherever you have any KPIs that need tracking. Wherever data is needed to answer if your business objectives are being met - there needs to be a tag. For example, if you have a KPI around newsletter sign-ups/lead capture, make sure you have tag tracking on the form for newsletter sign-ups. Likewise, make sure to deploy tags on “Product Purchase Complete” pages (or similar conversion pages) to capture Acquisitions data. These can then be used in Cost per Acquisition (CPA) calculations.

 

Customer Journey Funnel

Try and understand what the customer’s journey is as they come into your website, down the funnel, and (hopefully) to conversion. Tags can help you understand this in the first instance, but you should also maintain tags right through the customer journey in order to track, for example, which pages or sections of the site visitors tend to drop off. In doing so, you can not only be alerted to any changes in that customer journey that require you to take action, but you can also continuously improve your strategy to drive future users down the funnel.

 

 

Utilize Data Passbacks

A Data Passback is where specific parameters are included in a tag in order to capture additional, richer, information from the page and the user.

For example, if a user needs to fill out a form (say for a sale or lead generation), a data passback means a tag on that page can pull the information from the completed form and add it to the other data already collected on the user. This means you can generate richer insights into your audience and campaign performance.

For example, let’s say you run a campaign with a very specific creative. By using a data passback at the point of sale, not only can you understand how well that campaign performed in terms of driving traffic and conversions, but also how that particular campaign translated to other variables - say the color of the car they bought or their age range. And you can use this information to inspire future creatives that resonate with those audiences.

In order for a data passback to work, the site needs to have a data layer where vital information is structured in such a way that it is very easy for tracking tags to ingest that information. This is typically a javascript/json object that structures page data so that the values of its variables can be pulled by tags.

 

Not an actual data passback. Again, visual metaphor.Not an actual data passback. Again, visual metaphor.

 

In summary...

In summary, don’t take tag management for granted - instead of bogging down both your website and your resources with a host of unnecessary and/or redundant tags, make sure you have a clear understanding of the critical touchpoints and KPIs you need to collect data on and build your website tagging strategy around them. Then, enrich those tags with data passbacks to ensure you are getting the most out of them - simple!

 

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