In the race to improve analytic capability in companies, marketing teams can sometimes overlook the technical elements make analytics work. Thus incorporating analytics tags early in a digital marketing plan can reveal the tasks most relevant to business objectives and more vital than launch tactics.
If your marketing team struggles with vetting tags, they are not alone. Agencies are encountering new challenges for implementing client-server tagging. But tag usage is certainly not abating. In fact the number of web tag types used by agencies and businesses surged 53% in 2012 according to Adage. A revealing statistic: While 45% of tags were applied directly by the publisher, the rest came from other sources. Thus control over where data is being captured is an increasing concern. Privacy issues occur if left unchecked.
Early consideration of analytic tag placement can reveal potential security hiccups. It can also bring forth productive talks and tasks. In one instance, it can educate non-technical managers on the technical aspects to a digital marketing campaign launch. Many professionals have adopted computer usage, but not every professional understands client-server technicalities and programming that belies a digital ad or social share. A tag evaluation can help managers see what needs to be checked, and see how changes in data usage and associated code can aid business decisions.
Second, early tag implementation can lead to better refinement of a company’s website measurement against current digital trends. For example, most professionals can appreciate that data can appear at client-side and server-side, but apps in mobile and tablets have created new functionality for client-side data. This means planners must express content and associated tags to accommodate different screens, to balance customer activity on varied devices, and to capture metrics that reflect business objectives.
Third, early tag implementation organizes measurement complexity, easily highlighting needed skills or processes. For example, a team can achieve good tag quality assurance with an appreciation of client-server interaction. Verifying tag functionality does not require a deep knowledge of machine language, but translating business objectives to a website requires an imagination of where tags can be placed and which metrics are best recorded.
With early incorporations of tags, the good news is that many agencies are learning better ways to manage the teams involved. I learned about one such discovery while attending an Ogilvy and Mather presentation in their Chicago office. Benjamin Hong, Director, Marketing Analytics and Mike Armstrong, Technology Director explained the tag process to the Chicago HTML5 Meetup audience, a group of web developers. The fact that this presentation addressed developers highlights the ideas that it’s never too early to talk about tagging concerns, even with a website wireframe.
As you can imagine, gathering tag requirements for an analytic practice best starts with a holistic viewpoint from designer, developer and marketers. Doing so surfaces the reasons for why tagging is being requested in the first place. “We need to talk about web analytics as analytics – what is the relationship between the things we do and what our outcomes are, “ explained Hong in the presentation. “We may be given an assignment without really being given the outcome. Analytics focuses on behaviors caused by the activities that drove behavior.”
Understanding how to best translate marketing activity to URL queries is clearly valuable to any tag evaluation. And given the volume of media channels and publishers using tags, such translation has become prime real estate in a digital marketing neighborhood.