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October 15, 2020

An Intro to Tag Management Systems for Simpler Analytics Management

a man working on web analytics on a laptop Image description: a man using a laptop on a glass screen

When it comes to successfully setting up analytics tracking on a website, devising the best implementation method is the key. The more time and energy you invest during the strategy and planning stage, the smoother the launch of the configuration will be.

If you are working with analytics, it’s recommended to incorporate a tag management system for your marketing analytics and consolidate your user behavior information with a data layer. 

Tag management was introduced in the late 2000s to resolve issues created by the rapid growth of digital marketing platforms. Let’s find out how it works. 

What Is a Tag Management System?

Tags are pieces of code deployed to a website, which are used to execute a specific task. They collect user information, monitor and track user sessions, implement surveys, enable live chat, call up specific content, and integrate third-party surveys. So, where does this information go? Tags send this information to marketing platforms. 

Their applications include re-marketing, ad-serving, and conversion rate tracking. Manually managing and modifying each tag on your website can be time-consuming, which is why tag management systems (TMS) are designed to automate these activities. 

Example

The Facebook pixel is a tag that tracks the relationship of your website’s visitors with Facebook. It monitors visitor activity on your website and connects to Facebook to ensure that your ad campaign’s reach is maximized and it gets to access suitable advertising tools. You can also use this tag to track new leads and assess various metrics like conversions from your ads. Using a tag management system, you can add the Facebook pixel to any pages that you want to track.

What Is a Data Layer?

A data layer refers to a data structure that stores data you need to process and transfer from your digital property (usually a website) to your integrated tools (e.g., Google Analytics.). 

This data is related to customer interaction, which comes from different sources, including mobile devices, desktops, tablets, and other devices. It supports your third-party vendor solutions and forms the core of your data-driven activities.

It’s important to note that a data layer is an external component of the tag management system—the only one that resides outside it. 

For instance, imagine an eCommerce website’s confirmation page. Typically, such a page contains a wide range of customer-related information, including order numbers, product IDs, and shipping details. A data layer is responsible for storing all this scattered information in the source code, so any tag manager can easily access it. 

When to Use a Tag Management System?

Consider installing and configuring a tag management system if you fit the following criteria.

  • You use five or more online marketing tools.
  • You rely heavily on data analytics. 
  • You intend to release a mobile app (tag management works the same for both websites and mobile apps).
  • You plan to rebrand your website and need to maintain campaign continuity and analytics. 
  • You are considering expanding your performance marketing activities by employing attribution tracking or launching new campaigns. 

Why Use a Tag Management System?

The biggest benefit of a tag management system is that it minimizes IT dependence. Digital marketers only need to get the hang of a few fundamentals, after which they can easily launch vendor campaigns. In today’s world, where data analytics has evolved from a luxury to a necessity, a tag management system offers greater control over your online marketing deployments. A tag management system also allows non-technical team members, such as marketers or web analysts to add or update tags on various pages of the website without needing help from the development team.  All of this helps to increase marketing agility.

Tag management systems also offer the following benefits:

  • Gets all the tags centralized, making your online marketing more efficient. 
  • Increases the accuracy of your analytics with first-hand data. 
  • Increases your website performance by loading your pages faster, which is not only good for SEO but also plays a pivotal role in your conversions.

Which Tool to Use for Tag Management?

If you are already familiar with Google’s digital marketing tools, it’s a good idea to start your tag management activities with Google Tag Manager (GTM). GTM is free and simplifies controlling and embedding marketing tags on your websites and mobile apps. There’s no need to get help from an IT expert—you don’t have to modify the website code once the GTM code is installed on the site. GTM boasts a power tag technology, boasting the following features:

  • Asynchronous Tag Loading, 
  • Tag Pausing, 
  • Tag Blacklist, 
  • Tag Sequencing. 

However, there are still some basic concepts that you need to learn to make the most out of Google Tag Manager. Beginners need to understand the following three components in GTM.

  • Tags 
  • Triggers
  • Variables 

Final Thoughts

Integrating a tag management system like GTM can greatly enhance and streamline your online campaigns. Most importantly, it puts you in greater control by reducing IT dependence and ensures that you can tailor your products and services with first-hand data.


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Gino Randal is a writer for SEOConsultants.com, a website that matches marketers and business owners with vetted SEO consultants and agencies.

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