Tag management solutions are widely considered to be a staple of analytics best practices, yet not everyone has taken the plunge.
If you’re new to tag management, take a quick look at the below section to understand what tag management is.
If you already know about tag management, the list that follows provides a jumping off point to begin considering the leading solutions on the market today.
If you’re looking to implement a TMS, you’ll want to use a tag governance solution to discover the technologies you currently have implemented on your site and then maintain them. Once you’re done reading this post, check out this one about tag governance.
What Is Tag Management?
First off, what is a tag?
A tag is a short snippet of code, usually from a third-party vendor, that companies implement on their site to collect data for analytics and digital marketing tools.
Traditionally, marketers and analysts had to submit a ticket to IT every time they wanted to deploy or update a tag, making it harder for data-driven professionals to be agile and measure quickly. Tag management systems (TMSs) make it possible for marketers and analysts to deploy and manage the tags on their site without relying wholly on IT.
Instead of deploying each tag individually, companies can instead deploy a TMS container code and, within a TMS interface, set rules for when any other tags should fire.
What Is a Tag Management Solution?
A tag management solution or system (TMS) allows you to keep all the tags on your website inside of a single master set of code. That means your employees no longer need to work directly with the code for each tag that needs to be added, deleted, or modified.
They also won’t need to send a request to IT for any tag management, because the TMS provides an interface that allows employees to control how the TMS deploys tags.
Besides being convenient, a TMS can make your web pages load more quickly by controlling the way your tags load. It can save you money by reducing the number of duplicate tags you may be paying for unnecessarily. It can also help you follow data privacy laws better.
How Does Tag Management Work?
A TMS provides an easy-to-use interface. With it, non-IT professionals can set rules about when each tag will “fire” (run). Marketers, analysts, and others who are authorized can access and update these rules.
One of the most common and serious problems on company websites is broken tags. On a large corporate website, it’s easy for tags to be lost, wrongly duplicated, unauthorized, and poorly configured, because they’re running so many times across so many web pages.
A TMS allows you to see and correct many of these problems in one place. The interface may even allow employees to select, delete, and edit tags with the click of a mouse.
What Is Tag Firing?
A tag “fires” when its code runs on a web page. With a TMS, employees don’t have to manually write a tag’s code on each web page. Instead, the TMS executes the code of a tag on a designated web page based on rules employees have entered.
The TMS can fire tags in response to trigger events, which can include page views, form submissions, a certain amount of time passing, and many others. You can also set tags to fire only within designated times and dates.
What Is Tag Management in Digital Marketing?
Tags can add tracking, A/B testing, advertising, and other marketing functions to web pages.
When a user visits one of your pages or takes other actions, certain tags will fire through your TMS. Then, marketers can receive notifications about those actions through email or analytics tools.
Using a TMS, digital marketers can edit and replace tags to quickly test different marketing tactics. This helps them improve the performance of marketing campaigns, using their budget more efficiently.
Plus, a TMS can speed up the load times of web pages. Faster load times contribute to less site abandonment, higher conversion rates, and increased revenue.
Without a TMS, marketers either have to wait for the IT department to change tags, or marketers may give up on asking for tags to be edited or deleted because it takes too long.
Benefits of Tag Management Solutions
Your tag manager system can track how well each of your tags is performing and the data each is bringing in. Imagine having all this information in one user-friendly dashboard. A great visual interface is a key advantage because it allows any employee to manipulate complex code without actually looking at that code.
It’s vital that you get the most accurate data you can from your tags. And your tag management solution can provide that, giving you a wealth of data that you can turn into profitable action.
For example, marketers can see a summary of the types of products that are getting the most views on your website even down to the color and price range and decide which products to feature more. By avoiding the time it would take to gather that data manually, your employees can instead use the data to make better decisions.
And there are other benefits of tag management services, including:
- Making web pages load faster
- Letting authorized employees instantly update tags without going through IT
- Easily tracking a large number of tags—even hundreds
- Helping you stay compliant with privacy laws
- Saving money by eliminating duplicate tags
- Quick testing of different marketing tactics
You’re going to get a competitive edge by implementing a tag management system, and you’re probably interested in picking one out. Let’s narrow down your options out of the many brands available.
How Many Tag Management Platforms Are There?
Many tag management solutions are offered on the market by many companies, but only a handful of them routinely stand out above the rest.
Each tag management system has its strengths. Below are 10 tag management systems you should consider when preparing to make the TMS plunge.
1. Launch by Adobe
Launch by Adobe is Adobe’s new tag management platform to replace Dynamic Tag Management (or Activation). Using Launch’s open APIs, tag managers can quickly and easily integrate their top marketing technologies. Launch works with both Adobe and non-Adobe products.
- Simple interface for both technical and non-technical users
- Free to Adobe Marketing Cloud customers
- Marketing-friendly rule builder to determine when to deploy tags and what data to capture
- Extension catalog to make deploying new tags a quick, user-friendly process
Learn more about Launch by Adobe.
Tealium is a heavyweight in the TMS world, powering 25 percent of the top 100 Internet Retailers with their TMS solution, and is a great solution to consider for organizations with complex requirements or more than one high-traffic website.
Tealium allows for easy deployment and management of web tags, while giving digital marketers the ability to try out new technologies and take control of their marketing technology stack.
- High amount of turnkey integrations
- Controlled, secure deployments
- Robust privacy capabilities
- Powerful variables and load rules management
Learn more about Tealium.
3. Google Tag Manager
Released in 2012, Google Tag Manager has quickly become one of the most widely used TMS solutions in the market. GTM makes it easy to add and update any Google AdWords tags, Google Analytics tags, DoubleClick Floodlight tags and many non-Google, third-party tags as well, directly from the TMS.
- Free, easy testing
- Made for marketers, but IT-friendly
- Convenient preview mode
- Multi-account support
You can take a quick introductory tour of Google Tag Manager in this video.
Learn more about Google Tag Manager.
With Signal Tag Management, practitioners can focus less on wrangling code and more on innovation. Like any TMS system, Signal Tag Management helps marketers improve digital user experience by speeding up website load times. Signal is very focused on advertising tags.
- Free for Signal Fuse customers
- Preview, activate and deactivate on your own schedule
- Built-in privacy policies allowing users to opt-out
- Expert support for help when you need it
In the words of Marc Kiven, Signal Founder and CRO:
“At Signal, we have an unwavering commitment to providing a world-class solution that liberates marketers from the pain points associated with third-party tags. For marketers, the larger goal is providing seamless, cohesive experiences to their always-on, multi-device customers. As brands focus on cross-channel marketing activities, we believe that access to enterprise-class tag management should never be an obstacle to reaching those goals.”
Learn more about Signal.
Qubit runs a tag management system called Opentag, which is built for marketers, but customizable for developers. Opentag is a sleek, easy-to-use solution to tag management.
- Clean, modern design that supports easy navigation
- Flexible user management
- Integrated with A/B testing
- Asynchronous tag loading
Adam Bird, a website manager and Qubit customer, offers this recommendation of Opentag:
“Data is power and understanding your customers’ onsite behavior and what leads them to conversion is the greatest tool in an ever-expanding eCommerce toolbox. The Qubit platform is a Black & Decker power tool of opportunity for eCommerce business owners and anyone with a transaction/goal-based website.”
Learn more about Qubit.
Ensighten Manage is well suited in security-focused, policy and process-driven, highly collaborative environments where marketers need technical flexibility in order to meet the demands of configuring and deploying a variety of web tagging requirements.
- User roles and security access can be thoroughly defined
- Offers reliable and redundant data centers
- Can track Mobile App user engagement
- Collects omnichannel first party data
As one of the market leaders, Ensighten offers great insight around tag management research and best practices on their company blog.
Learn more about Ensighten.
Based in Europe, TagCommander integrates with hundreds of tag solutions worldwide. TagCommander enables users to boost marketing agility and performance across both web and mobile platforms. Real-time conversion deduplication and easy compliance to data privacy legislation are just two of the many benefits of TagCommander.
- Provides enterprise-level support and service
- Offers role-based permissions, intuitive workflows and full audit trails
- Over 800 turnkey templates available
- No technical knowledge required, thanks to a wizard-driven interface
Learn more about Tag Commander.
8. Piwik PRO
Piwik PRO can either be used as a local or cloud solution. To use locally, Piwik PRO can be downloaded, installed and used by anyone—but those in medium to large-sized businesses will see the most benefit in the solution’s powerful capability.
- Open source
- Integration with popular CMS platforms
- Synchronous and asynchronous HTML tags
- No data limits
Piwik PRO pays a lot of attention to security and privacy, which can be a good alternative to GTM where the topic of data security gets a little murkier. They also provide a large library of templates for tags and variables to simplify your implementation process.
Learn more about Piwik PRO.
9. IBM DDX
Included with the IBM Digital Marketing Optimization suite, DDX has similar capabilities as the other TMSs mentioned in this post. DDX also allows users to syndicate real-time digital intelligence via the “gold tag” API.
- Intuitive user interface to ensure accuracy and consistency
- Capabilities such as versioning and rollback
- User-defined tag deployment and scheduling
- Visual overlay of the website via the tag bar solution
Learn more about IBM DDX.
While Yottaa doesn’t classify themselves as a tag management platform, they perform the same function as most TMSs. Yottaa’s target audience is eCommerce companies, with one of their principal objectives to give a single point of control for third-party technologies in order to increase page load times.
- Automated and accelerated rendering of dynamic and static content
- The ability to manage the order and execution of first- and third-party technology
- Cross-device optimization of mobile and desktop properties
- Dynamic optimization based on location, device type, network connection and more
Learn more about Yottaa.
Tag Management Solutions Comparison
Each TMS focuses on a slightly different type of client company and/or situation. What is your top need in using a TMS?
Look at each of the priorities below and the corresponding TMS. This should help you limit your choices to just 1–3 of the top tag management solutions. You can then more easily use free trials or demos to decide which is best for your company.
Easy Adobe Integration—Launch by Adobe
Companies that already use Adobe products and subscriptions will easily be able to start using Adobe’s tag management solution (which also works well with non-Adobe products). Adobe’s TMS interface is easy to learn and use, making it simple to find new tags and deploy and control them.
When a company has several websites receiving high traffic or has other complex needs, Tealium helps marketers keep track of all their tags. It also helps them quickly test different marketing solutions.
Limited Budget—Google Tag Manager
Marketers and IT staff can use Google’s solution for free, as well as upgrade to get even more features. Plus, it’s easy to add and edit tags for Google Adwords, Google Analytics, and so on in this TMS.
This TMS focuses on helping marketers manage advertising tags and improving website functionality around those tags, covering many different advertising channels. It also improves customer relations by letting viewers opt-out of advertisements.
Marketers can immediately use this TMS as it is, but developers can also customize it to fit any website. (Many other platforms are customizable too. Qubit simply focuses on easy customization.)
If your business is driven by security and detailed policies, Ensighten can put your leaders’ minds at ease. It allows you to completely define security parameters, and it provides excellent data backup.
European Law Compliance—TagCommander
If you need to adhere to the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), TagCommander is specially designed to comply with it. The interface includes a “wizard” which guides you through common tasks with step-by-step instructions.
Enterprise Solutions—Piwik PRO
This TMS focuses on benefits for medium and large businesses, offering unlimited data, integration with major content management systems, and open-source code for extra customization.
Streamlined Data Gathering—IBM DDX
Included with IBM’s Digital Marketing Optimization suite, this TMS pulls consumer behavior data from your web pages using a single tag (the “gold tag”) and sends this data to applications in the cloud. This avoids the need for multiple tags on the same page, improving performance.
Made especially for eCommerce companies, Yottaa helps pages load more quickly and improves their functionality in both mobile and desktop browsers, which can help you reach more customers.
Tag Management and Tag Auditing
The tag management industry will only continue to grow as vendors innovate to win customers and solve digital marketing problems.
No matter what TMS system an organization ultimately adopts, the larger questions of governance and data quality still exist as companies who have long been busy gathering data try and learn the most effective, strategic and reliable ways to actually leverage that data.
Companies wishing to implement tag management would do well to apply tag governance best practices alongside a TMS, and website audits (specifically tag audits) are a key component of a successful tag governance strategy. As you prepare to implement a TMS, use a sample tag audit to see what technologies are currently deployed and start building your tag management strategy.
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