Happy Families: Data Layers and Tag Management

Tags are crucial for the marketing team but they can cause all sorts of headaches which is why you need to understand how to use data layers and tag management solutions.

Many leaders like to think of their businesses like a family and, like many families, the children often squabble. Two of these children, however, bump into one another more than most – your marketing team and your IT guys.

At the best of times, both sides are probably a little frustrated with one another. Your marketing people will feel that the IT bods are dragging their feet while you’re IT guys feel that those pests from marketing keep demanding the impossible.

The problem? A trifling matter called tags.

What are tags?

Your marketing team loves tags. These are small snippets of code which fit onto your website and track the behaviour of your customers. You might also have heard them referred to as tracking pixels and they are the stuff of marketers’ dreams.

They will want tags to be placed just about everywhere to test almost every aspect of a website’s performance from homepage visits, to email campaigns, online marketing, visitor conversion and site personalisation. Indeed, almost nothing happens in the online world without them trying to slap a tag on it.

The people on the receiving end of all this are the embattled IT department. Every time the marketing team asks them to add more tags or replace others, their workload goes through the roof. It’s a huge burden, but it’s not just their wellbeing you should be worried about.

Too many tags will slow down your marketing efforts, increase costs and affect the performance of your website, which is why businesses need tag management.

How tag management works

This is an attempt to bring the marketing team and the IT department together and ensure both sides can have their cake and eat it. Marketers can access all the performance data and analytics they want, while the IT team won’t be buried under an avalanche of tags.

Tag management facilitates the configuration, testing and release of third-party vendor tags to any digital property. It replaces the old hard-coded tags on your existing website which have been causing your IT team so many headaches with a single container tag. This will give you full control over the adding, removing and updating of all tags.

Good tag management providers will have hundreds of tags from third party vendors integrated into their platforms. All you need to do is log in, choose a vendor logo, which pages you want them to go on and click ‘publish’. This reduces the time and effort involved in deploying tags and ensures you have an effective method of gathering all the precious marketing information you need.

For all this to work effectively, though, you will need something else: a stonking good data layer.

How data-layers work

Everything about tag management revolves around data and this is where a data layer comes in. Its job sounds straightforward but is crucial for the relationship between the tags and your tag management software.

Here are some of the key roles it performs:

  • It stores all the key attributes of your web pages such as URLs and page categories.
  • Stores user IDs, preferences, client IDs and all sorts of other information your tag managers need.
  • Stores key information you may need in the future, such as tracking.

It will take all this disparate information from different data sets and store it in a vendor neutral format before sending it on to your tag management system.

This will need to be set up by a developer with the help of the marketing team. They will have to tell the developer what information they would like to include and they will set up the data layer.

The data layer is key to all your customer data initiatives. It sits at the hub of everything providing third party vendor integrations and allowing your tag manager to do its job. By doing so, then, it keeps pretty much everyone happy. Your marketing gurus can use tags in whatever way they like. They can add new ones, delete old ones, update existing ones, all without making the IT team burst a blood vessel with stress. Most of all, they will keep the boss happy. All that data will boost his marketing strategy without compromising the effectiveness of the company website. This, then, is why understanding the interaction between tag management and your data layer will ensure your business remains one happy, contented and very successful family.