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Your Guide To Tag Management in 2021: Definition, Tips, and Tools

Harry Lees
December 7, 2021
IT & Development, Marketing

Your Guide To Tag Management in 2021: Definition, Tips, and Tools

Building a high-functioning website and collecting customer data is one of the most important things a business does today.

An optimized website can:

  • provide valuable company and product information to clients
  • serve as a platform for stories and educational blogs
  • enable ecommerce stores
  • provide users with a personalized experience

Though the website serves as a public face for a company, its purpose runs deeper. A website collects vital customer information that can be used for marketing and selling purposes.

To collect customer data and to function at full capacity, websites use tags. Whether you are just starting to build a website for your business or have an established site – tags are one of the most important tools to integrate into your site.

Tags can be a difficult and complex group of tools to keep in order. Too many tags can clutter a website and result in slower load times. Implementing a tag management strategy is key to making sure tags are performing as they should be and optimizing – rather than slowing down – your site.  

Here we take a look at the basics of tag management, why it matters, how it works, examples of popular tags, and some highly rated tools that can help you manage your tags from one platform.

What is Tag Management?

First things first: tags are pieces of code on a website that are designed to perform a specific activity, such as collect user data, call up specific content, track user sessions, enable live chat, integrate third-party content, and implement surveys.

A tag is either a piece of JavaScript code or a 1×1 transparent image (a pixel) that collects visitor behavior and then transfers this information to marketing platforms. Tags are designed to perform specific functions, such as conversion rate tracking, ad-serving, and remarketing. However, too many tags, or tasks, will slow a page down.

While it’s possible to manage and adjust each tag on a website individually, this can be time-consuming and will need re-adjusting when there are updates to the site or new campaigns. Tag management systems (TMS) are the solution to this. They allow users to easily gather the most valuable user information and perform the tasks at an appropriate speed.

Tag management is the process of keeping all tags organized and running efficiently. A TMS provides an interface where users can easily control tags. This enables individuals without any coding experience to determine which data to collect, deploy tags properly, manage page speed, and more.

Tag management solutions can be used across websites, mobile applications, and IoT devices.  

For more visual learners, or those who want a quick video overview of what tag management is, check out the video below.

Why Tag Management?

The need for tag management rose in the late 2000s. Many IT and marketing departments found themselves at odds with each other as the need for powerful website tracking and analytics tools grew.

Since tags are small pieces of code designed to execute a specific task on a website, marketers would have to rely on IT webmasters to manually change the code every time they wanted to switch which data points to collect, which survey to enable, or which remarketing strategy to employ.

Managing and maintaining all of these tagging decisions is tedious. Without a TMS, managing each tag could involve emails, meetings, and time-consuming delays. It was also not uncommon for the data marketers requested from IT to get lost or take too long to get sent to the marketing team. This was also a burden for IT teams, who found the never-ending coding changes cumbersome.

Thus with a need for a more streamlined and organized way to create and adjust tags, tag management systems were born.

TMSs enable marketers with no coding experience to use the platform for tag deployment on websites with just a click of a button. This makes editing websites and harnessing the power of data and automation much more efficient.

When using a more advanced system, marketers can use customization tools, privacy controls, mobile app support, and integrate the data collected from tags with other marketing technology.

A TMS is integral to data collection, regulatory compliance, and customer experience.

How Does Tag Management Work

A tag management system takes all the pieces of code that your website has and puts them all together in one container snippet. The tag management system takes care of deployment, testing, management, versioning, and documentation. All you have to do is manage the management system.

Each system is different, but in general, a TMS will have a central platform that allows the user to select the tags they want, add their website information, and deploy the tag to the live site. One benefit is that the user does not have to go into the coding of the webpage, the TMS takes care of that.

One of the most important parts of a TMS is the data layer. A data layer is a JavaScript object that lies between the application layer and experience layer. In this layer, you can define the data sets you are collecting and sync applications. It acts as a bridge between your website and the tag management system and other integrated marketing tools that funnels data between these applications.

Examples of Tags in Your Tag Management System

You can choose from many different tags depending on what information you want to track and what applications you want your site to feature. Here are some popular tags that websites use:

Facebook Pixel:

The Facebook Pixel is a tag that allows you to track your site visitors’ relationship with Facebook. The tag tracks visitor activity on your site and links back to Facebook to make sure that your advertising campaigns are reaching the right audiences and accessing the right advertising tools on this social media platform. This tag can also be used to find new leads and track conversions and sales from particular adds.

Adwords Remarketing Tag:

This tag enables you to easily create remarketing lists. With this tag from Google, your visitors who left the site will be retargeted with relevant messaging. This enables creatives and customized bids to visitors based on what they engaged with on your site.

Google Analytics Tags:

The GA Tracking Code or GA Javascript code snippet should be placed on your site when using Google Analytics. Google Analytics can help you track how much traffic your site is getting. More specifically, it can track where your visitors are located, how many pages they visited, and more. The tags can be implemented by a developer or you can use Google Tag Manager to help you deploy various tags.

Crazyegg Tracking Code:

The Crazyegg tracking code allows you to understand visitor behavior on your website. This tag tracks where visitors are spending time on your site and what they are clicking. In turn, it organizes your visitor engagement and can even show you where visitors scroll to and then leave.

Instead of having to manage all these pieces of code manually, a TMS will help you keep your tags in order. Tags can bring you a wealth of information on your leads and customers.

If your marketing team and webmasters are too busy manually managing tags, they will have no time to analyze all the data collected by the tags. A tag management system lets you take full advantage of the analytics tools that are available today.

Why Tag Management is Important

Modern marketing is based upon robust data. This first-party data comes from tracking website and mobile app visitor behavior. Tags are what allow marketers to gather the information they need to plan omnichannel campaigns, give site visitors a more personalized experience and use marketing automation tools effectively.

A tag management system is a key component of your marketing stack. Your content management system, customer relationship management platform, and marketing automation tools will rely on the data you gather from your tags. Your TMS will not only place the tags on the website and collect the designated data, but it will integrate with your other marketing tools to give you the insights you need to make intelligent decisions.

Tag management systems help you build better campaigns. As data is collected on your site’s visitors, you will:

  • know where they are coming from and what other activity they engage in
  • be able to track how many conversions happen on the site
  • be given an idea of which channels to deliver targeted messaging across

A TMS allows you to optimize your website. Today, users expect fast websites, especially mobile sites. Tags are necessary for understanding your mobile visitors but they can slow a mobile site down. A TMS can be helpful for using the most effective tags on mobile sites.

Tag management makes your business run more efficiently. When marketers are able to run tags without going to IT for every step in the process, the IT team can focus on other strategic goals. Likewise, marketers can get real-time data and be able to make decisions based on that data quickly. This translates to an increased conversion rate and more time saved. Overall, tags can lower costs and boost ROI for you business.

Another reason tag management is important is that it helps companies comply with regulatory standards. Data privacy laws are constantly changing and are important to abide by, and can be difficult to follow on a case-by-case basis. A tag management system can help keep you apprised of and implement data privacy laws.

Tools for Tag Management

Tag management platforms are vital for your business. Below are 3 of the highest-rated tag management solutions listed on TrustRadius.

Google Tag Manager: An Obvious Choice

Suprising to probably no one, the makers of the king of search engines offer their own tag manager.

The Google Tag Manager is a free platform that allows users to easily implement, edit, or remove tags on their website. The tag manager supports and integrates with Google tracking tags and third-party tags. This tool checks for errors, security features, and makes sure your loading speed is not slowed down by too many tags.

Currently, this is the lone Top-Rated award winner for tag management software according to TrustRadius reviewers. 

Users praise the comprehensive tagging features and the best possible price point: free. As you would expect, the tool integrates well with Google Analytics tools. One area where some users face difficulty is the User interface. 

This is somewhat unusual for a Google service, as they are known for stellar, user-focused design. Complaints usually state that the system can be confusing for less experience, less technically skilled users. There are also a surprisingly limited number of educational materials directly from Google. 

For some small-to-mid-sized businesses, they may not have staff with skillsets dedicated to SEO and Website categorization. Since we here at TrustRadius are always rooting for your success, below is a comprehensive guide to Google Tag Manager, updated for 2021. This is a full hour and a half, and will serve as a fantastic introduction for those with fewer skills, and companies with more generalist staff. 

Tealium iQ: Advanced Tag Management

Some users may be asking why pay for a service that Google can provide for its own search engine, for free. Tealium is an example of a tool that serves a very clear purpose for those in its niche.

First and foremost, Tealium is largely used by mid-sized and Enterprise-level companies. Just 4% of TrustRadius users of this tool are using it for small businesses. Tealium is for those with more advanced tag management needs, in terms of specificity, third-party needs, and scale. 

Tealium is a tag manager that allows clients to manage tags to collect customer data and offers integrations with 1,000 different third-party applications. IT features data protection tools to help you follow policies and respect ‘Do Not Track’ practices.

The tool is customizable, with the ability to build specific load rules to manage vendor tasks. Users have reported that moving to this tool from Google Tag Manager can be difficult and time-consuming, and is often sticking point. This tool is for extremely impactful for those who can take advantage of its powerful features but would be hard to implement and use for organizations without the time, skillset, and willpower to put in the effort required to use it. 

Dynamic Tag Management

This is a tag management solution under the Adobe Marketing Cloud. Dynamic Tag Managment allows clients to manage page loading speed, data standardization, and deployment of tags. It integrates with other Adobe solutions and makes deploying Adobe analytics simple. Reviewers appreciate the ability to use version control, measure shopping cart funnel, the ability to measure where visitors abandon your site.

Moving Forward with Your Tags

Tag management does not need to be complicated. There are many benefits that tags give your marketing and IT teams – such as site visitor insights and less time spent on tag management – that can help you drive business. Implementing a TMS can help you take advantage of these benefits and streamline the tag management process.

To learn more about specific tag management solutions and the different marketing software they integrate with, read customer reviews from fellow marketing tech buyers.

About the Author

Harry Lees
I am a proud University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate, with a Comprehensive Honors degree in Political Science and Journalism. Go Badgers! A dual-citizen with the U.S and U.K, in my free time I support Liverpool Football Club, obsessively follow politics and do extremely nerdy things with my friends.

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