By Jason Thompson, co-founder, 33 Sticks
If you attended Adobe Summit, or happened to be anywhere around the event, chances are pretty good you heard something about Adobe DTM. Tag Management, although it’s been around for years, has traditionally been the awkward kid at the children’s table, but this year they became honored guests, along with the rest of the marketing solutions, at the grown-up’s table.
With the increased attention on tag management solutions (TMS), especially a solution like Adobe DTM that is available for free, there is an inherent trap that “it’s easy, so what’s the harm of just slapping it on our site and taking off?” many agencies and companies alike are getting snared in.
So, let’s set the record straight. Deploying and managing a tag management solution is difficult. It requires a lot of mental muscle, it requires having the right people on the team, and it requires being a lot more strategic about your data collection strategy than the old approach of slapping tags on pages.
5 Tips For TMS Success
1. Have a Strategy
Using a TMS is not an excuse to cut corners when it comes to architecting and making use of a digital measurement strategy. In fact, I would argue that introducing a TMS makes having a measurement strategy even more important. Before code ever hits the page, take a giant step back and invest time in developing a plan that aligns with your business goals.
Your strategy should take into consideration what is being tracked and why, how you will handle legacy data collection code, how requests are prioritized, and how your overall data collection framework will be designed. This step is often overlooked but is by far the most important step in deploying a TMS. If you don’t follow any of my other tips, please follow this one.
You can not build a great analytics and optimization practice on a weak foundation.
2. Set Goals
As with any successful project, setting and measuring goals for your TMS is critical. How will deploying a solid data layer reduce the overall level-of-effort required of the development team to maintain analytics data collection? Can we now run our optimization practice more efficiently? How often can we deploy new marketing pixels?
I have found that by asking a series of questions focused on the ‘why’, why are we investing in TMS, it is relatively easy to identify the most important goals for the project.
3. Document. Document. Document.
I know, everyones favorite part of any project but don’t skimp here. Putting in the time and effort upfront to fully document your data layer, tag management rules, and operational processes will save time, money, and countless headaches later on.
With every TMS project that we complete for our clients, we also deliver an extremely robust set of documentation that details reporting setup, variable usage, data collection logic, data layer architecture, and steps for adding new tracking functionality as well as on-boarding new sites.
4. Develop an Operational Plan
The moment your shiny new TMS is deployed, you will quickly find yourself overwhelmed with request for additional tracking and deployment of marketing pixels. Resist the urge to quickly address all of these requests because “it’s now so easy to do.” Pushing out new code, without having a robust operation plan to follow is a sure recipe for disaster.
Take time, this can be done in parallel to your configuration and deployment of your TMS, to develop a process flow for how incoming requests are prioritized, versioned into the existing TMS, tested, and deployed. Just because you can “cut IT out” of the development process doesn’t mean you have a free pass to cut corners. A sloppy release process will surly destroy all of the hard work you put into deploying a solid TMS foundation.
5. Consistent Maintenance
As with traditional analytics implementations, an implementation managed through a TMS is in need of constant maintenance. Site changes, marketing campaigns, new tracking requests, improved user experience, mobile friendly design. The list of items that could impact the stability of your TMS foundation is endless. In order to maintain a high-quality data foundation, it is critical to perform on going maintenance to ensure that data is collecting properly, new functionality is being tracked, and the overall health of the data layer is intact. Tools like ObservePoint can prove to be very helpful in any on-going maintenance plan.
Finally, remember that nothing in life is free. A successful analytics practice is built on executive sponsorship, talented analysts and data implementors, and a strong financial investment.