Being a tag management agency it is more than natural that we explain to you what tag management is. At the same we would like to present our tag management maturity model.

The first thing to know when considering tag management is that tag management is not just a tool. When searching for information on tag management we are nevertheless confronted with the technical aspects of it. When we need to describe to clients what a tag management system can do, we tell them the following:

Tag management, from a technical aspect, is focused on translating digitally collected data into a predefined format to be forwarded on to a digital marketing technology platform based on a set of rules.

The topic of tag management is often seen as very technical and that it only involves the placement of tags. As tag management systems grow into more mature solutions the technical aspects become just one of many that build up what we like to call the tag management ecosphere.

That is why this article will not be a guide on how to implement tag management systems, but a guide to the tag management ecosphere and how your company can grow in the tag management maturity model.

Our Tag Management Maturity Model

Tagticians’ tag management ecosphere can be broken down into 7 different aspects or focus areas. These focus areas cover more than just the tag management system, but also considers the business and management elements.

As tag management consultants we have identified 9 key focus areas which form the tag management ecosphere and that populate the tag management maturity model:

  • Business (ie. How does tag management help collect data for your KPIs or OKRs and create (indirect) value for your business?)
  • Documentation (ie. Where are the data collection guidelines and implementation instructions documented for handovers, audit and optimization evaluations?)
  • Technical (ie. Will the tag management system and tags function properly on your businesses’ platform(s)?)
  • Maintenance (ie. How is maintenance performed on the tag management implementation and documentation? How are quality issues reported and solved?)
  • Compliance (ie. Are they any local or international laws that our data collection strategy needs to abide, such as GDPR?)
  • Data Quality (ie. How is data generated by your tag management systems monitored for quality ie. conformity, consistency and accuracy?)
  • Process (ie. How can someone request a tag to be placed and how is the tag managed once it is published? How are implementation and configuration updates communicated?)
  • Accountability (ie. Which person(s) are responsible for managing tag management?)
  • Security (ie. Who has access to your tag management system and how safe are the tags that you publish?)

It is important to remember that when you start using tag management systems you will often not have enough resources or requirements to support all 9 focus areas. This is a process your company will learn to apply, and where Tagticians can assit, as you mature in the field of tag management.

Tag Management Maturity Model

In the above model we have placed the 9 focus areas of our tag management ecosphere into the different levels of maturity. While (human) resources is a focus area by itself, it is the underlying engine of gaining the most value from tag management. As your company grows within this tag management maturity model it is safe to say that (human) resources requirements will grow, too.

The link between the lowest two levels is intrinsic, such that a poor setup and implementation can lead to increased resources needed for maintenance. The link is also there to emphasize that the initial Business scoping, Documentation and Technical implementation are often a one-time investment requiring a significant amount of hours to complete. After completion, the lower level maturity model elements become Maintenance elements.

The main thing to remember is the strategic depth to which tag management systems will play in your company’s growing digital data collection requirements. It can quickly grow to the point where data governance starts to play a major role in all your data collection activities. 

If this has got you interested, let us quickly explain to you what tag management is.

The definition of a digital marketing tag

A tag is defined as a piece of Javascript code or image HTML element that can monitor and transmit your website visitor’s behavior and input through the browser. We refer to this as the front-end approach. Tags will, for 95 percent of the time, collect data in the in the front-end

Tag Synonyms: When reading books, blogs and articles on tag management a tag can also be reffered to by terms like ‘pixels’, ‘snippets’ or ‘scripts’.

A tag used for digital marketing technology tools can collect both quantitative and qualitative data behind the scenes or by prompting visitors for input. Tags can be used to track data for a range of tools such as:

  • digital analytics tools
  • digital marketing platforms (DMPs)
  • customer data platforms platforms (CDPs)
  • customer data integration platforms (CDIs)
  • user feedback tools
  • server load and page rendering performance
  • adverstising remarketing and conversion performance

The tracking of data using tag management systems is mostly performed online through websites and mobile apps.

How does tag management work?

Tag management is the process in which tags, for the purpose of collecting data for digital marketing technology tools, is setup and maintained through a centralized tag management system. 

As mentioned before, tags are often a piece of code that collects data. Before tag management, tags used to be placed in the source code by front-end developers. This was tedious work that also limited the flexibility of tag placement since building conditional rules for certain tags was very laborious and difficult to manage.

Tag management systems offer a more centralized approach. Although tag management systems still require you to place a piece of Javascript in your website’s source code or use an SDK in your mobile app, it does create a more manageable solution for tag placement.

After placing the Javascript on a website for instance, you can then use the tag management system’s interface to create tags, add conditional rules and publish them to your website. Of course, this is a very simplistic description of the process and capabilities, but it quickly proves the ease of use of tag management systems. You can quickly create and place tags on your website or within your mobile app and start collecting data in record time.

Tag Management Myth #1

It is often considered that tag management systems negate all necessity for front-end developer resources. This is a myth. The dependency on front-end development resources actually increases with the growth of your company in the tag management maturity model.

The true power and increased value of tag management comes from applying time and resources to all the 9 focus areas as mentioned above, not just the tool itself.

What tag management systems are available?

Not every tag management systems is the same. Time and effort are needed to decide which tag management system best suits your company. Although the core principles and functionalities remain the same there are significant differences between various tag management solutions.

Differences can be found in terms of pricing, scalability, security, platform and technology. An additional yet important difference is the availability of knowledge and experience in the job market. A lack of knowledge and experience in the use of a specific tag management system can have an extra financial impact on your budget.  This financial impact comes in two forms. One form will require your company to recruit tag management specialists and the second form will require you to work with external tag management consultants.

Luckily there are many tag management systems available in the market today, ranging from Free solutions to Enterprise capable solutions like Segment, Adobe DTM and Tealium IQ. Some of the better known tag management systems on the market sorted by tracked implementations are:

  • Google Tag Manager (3.519.170)
  • Piwik Pro (330.761)
  • Signal (90.979)
  • Adobe DTM / Adobe Launch (70.238)
  • Tealium IQ (41.044)
  • Ensighten (17.668)
  • Qubit (4.334)
  • Segment (2.675)
  • Tag Commander (144)

(source: Q2/2019)

With Google Tag Manager available for free it is no surprise that it is the most commonly used tag management system in the world today. This results in plenty of knowledge being available in the job market, online communities or even Slack channels

However, is Google Tag Manager the only solution you should consider? At Tagticians we find that Google Tag Manager is a great place to start, but not the de facto tag management system that can best scale with your company. That answer really depends on the unique requirements of your company.

There also many other factors to take into consideration when choosing a tag management system. For example on-premise solutions that add to data security requirements that Piwik Pro offers make it a popular choice among governments and financial institutions. Or versatile solutions like Segment are popular among companies with above average front-end resources availability and you want to put extra effort into Governance.

Tag Management Maturity Model, your next steps

In the end starting with tag management is the first consideration you need to make. Using tag management systems will, in the long run, deliver value albeit indirect. It is important to never neglect tag management systems and consider them a implement-and-forget solution. Our tag management maturity model will help you increase the level of value your company can derive from digital data collection. Although resources are required to grow in the tag management maturity model our consultants are ready to help your company take the next steps.

Want to grow in the Tag Management Maturity Model?

Tagticians can help you grow and improve your company's tag management strategy based on many years of experience. When looking beyond an implementation, experience is needed to reach the next step in the tag management maturity model and add value to your company's digital data collection efforts. Tagticians is your Tag Management Strategy partner. Contact us for free to learn more about the possibilities.

Improve your tag management strategy? Contact us today.