Posted to Erik Wagner's blog on October 30th, 2013

An Introduction to Marketing Analytics Tag Management

Every marketer has experienced the pain of trying to capture accurate marketing analytics. The process of maintaining an analytics platform can be at times nothing less than excruciating. Creating tags, snippets of code that allow analytics platforms and other third party tools to track actions, is difficult and implementing them even more so.

In Google Analytics you're subjected to creating events, setting up virtual PageViews, implementing custom definitions, inserting conversion tracking code, etc. In Adobe SiteCatalyst the list is that much longer and more complex. Nevermind if you happen to be one of those marketers with two or more marketing analytics platforms or third-party tools installed, then you're in for a real treat.

Tag Management companies realized that it was very difficult for corporations to maintain their Analytics platforms so they filled the need by providing a simple interface to create and implement tags on websites, mobile apps, Facebook apps, and more. A relatively new entrant to the digital marketing industry, the oldest Tag Management System (TMS) company was founded in 2007 (TagMan). These tools promise to make life a lot better for marketers and developers alike. Tag management systems make managing all of those pesky tags much simpler and they provide tag templates so that anyone can create a tag.

I'm going to save the technical jargon on how tag management systems work for a later blog post, but here is a simple overview of how tag management systems work and a screenshot of Google Tag Manager's interface. When you create a new Google Tag Manager account, the first thing that you'll need to do is create a new container tag. Think of a container tag like a bucket that you can fill with a variety of different tags (events, tracking codes, conversion tags, etc). The container tag is placed on every page of the website and it will execute the tags within it when told to.


Google Tag Manager Container Tags

So you're probably wondering, should I use a tag management system? If you're serious about your marketing analytics, you analyze your data regularly, you have quite a few tags implemented on your website or you frequently change your tags, then you'll want to consider a tag management system. Google's Tag Manager is a free solution that is a great fit for those who use primarily Google tools. But for those who have multiple marketing analytics platforms and lots of integrations, they may wish to look into a paid solution (i.e. Tealium, Ensighten, BrightTag and TagMan). In my next installation of this blog we will discuss some of the similarities and differences between the top tag management systems.

Need help implementing a tag management system or a new marketing analytics platform? Let us know!

Are you using a TMS currently? If so, how do you use it on your website?

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