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Category: Digital Analytics

Increase Your Competitive Advantage with Tag Management Governance

Is your tag management system the Wild West or Fort Knox?

A tag management system (TMS), with proper tag management governance, plays a critical role in your organization’s ability to move quickly and efficiently when implementing analytics and marketing tags/platforms onto your website. By using a TMS, it’s easier to remove old tags that you no longer use, onboard new tags (even for a POC/trial), and update tags to work with new features you wish to launch. 

With so much flexibility, a TMS can, unfortunately, cause a wide variety of security and performance issues if not governed properly. Tag management governance is all about determining who can make/publish changes, what happens when things go bad, etc.

As a tag management consultant for many large enterprises, we’ve directly seen the TMS usage on both sides of the spectrum: zero governance and complete governance

Don’t Wait to Enact Tag Management Governance

Often, it isn’t until a catastrophic issue occurs that tag management governance gains the proper focus.

A poorly planned TMS design and a lack of governance will eventually lead to problems. The issues are typically related to security, site performance, or just a complete tangled mess within the tag management system that makes things unmanageable. 

The proper tag management governance can help reduce the chance and severity of issues.

Bypass IT: The Wrong Approach

image representing tag management (system) governance

“The serious risk of a poorly governed TMS should be top of mind for all organizations.”

Unfortunately, a common example we see with a tag management system implementation is that it was deployed as a means to avoid having to work with the IT and development teams (or go around them completely).

This is the wrong approach and thought process. 

Even though a TMS makes it super simple for just about anyone with basic knowledge to paste in code or use an interface to set up a tag, there are so many things that can go wrong. Common issues range from completely breaking the checkout flow and causing massive revenue losses to performance issues that quadruple the load time on completing common tasks within a page. 

The serious risk of a poorly governed TMS should be top of mind for all organizations.

Benefits of Tag Management System Governance

Your IT team wants security and performance. Your analytics and marketing teams want speed, flexibility, and reliable data. Through TMS and data governance, everyone can get what they want, while creating competitive advantage for the organization.

The reduction of risk through proper governance helps increase your organization’s competitive advantage. Poor site performance, or even potential data leaking from your website to unintended marketing tags, can destroy the trust you have with your customers. When you build and maintain trust with your customer, you are taking steps to increase competitive advantage. 

image of sanjay saxena, svp of enterprise data governance at northern trustCompetitive advantage extends to the enablement of taking better action with your data. According to Sanjay Saxena, SVP of Enterprise Data Governance at Northern Trust, “Good data quality gives organizations confidence in their products and services. This, in turn, enables companies to make data-driven decisions that lead to better client relations, better products, and premium pricing.”

Proper TMS governance drives business value. A Harvard Business Review article found that only 3% of companies’ data meets basic quality standards. Through data governance, including validation processes and quality assurance, you can increase the quality of data. When you decrease data collection errors and ensure that the right data is collected, you’ve increased trust in data.

Tag management system governance includes documented answers to the following sample of best practice questions:

  • Who has access to make changes?
    In addition to who has access, there MUST be a process to remove users once they end their relationship with the organization.
  • What’s the quality assurance (QA) process, and who is responsible?
    No two organizations are identical to each other, and the QA process is slightly different. A customized QA process should be developed that meets the needs of both IT (for security and performance) and marketing (for speed, flexibility, and data reliability). How does the QA process align with automated QA tools, such as ObservePoint?
  • Who can publish the changes?
    Oftentimes, the person making the edit in the tag management system should not be privileged to also publish the change. The publish needs to be coordinated, documented, and audited to reduce risk in production environments.
  • What happens after each publish?
    After a change is published, it should be documented somewhere, and teams need to be informed of the publish so that they can alert you to any significant issues or changes in metrics. There must be a QA process in production to validate the results. If you’re using an automated QA tool, such as ObservePoint, now would be the perfect time to kick off web journey and web audit tests.
  • What’s the workflow from start to finish to get a change live?
    This must be documented in a CoE (Center of Excellence) so that everyone is aligned on what to expect. If you’re able to align the steps into a Jira workflow, this creates the ultimate level of transparency for others to immediately understand the status of the work. You should also set standards in terms of how long a typical tag should take from start to finish.
  • What are the coding standards within the TMS?
    The users that are making code edits within the tag management system should follow common best practices and align their coding to your unique organizational standards. While it varies by TMS, how are exceptions treated? Is there a need to put everything in its own try/catch to avoid browser errors?
  • What data is exposed to the TMS and to the individual tags?
    Are you aware of what data is being sent to each vendor? For example, are there serious privacy issues, such as sending the user’s email address in plain text to a third-party marketing platform?
  • How often is the TMS audited?
    The audit should ensure stale tags are removed, processes are being followed, and opportunities to improve performance are completed.

Through application of the data governance best practices, your organization will start moving away from the Wild West approach and closer to a Fort Knox TMS governance that will increase your organization’s competitive advantage and benefits. 

“…moving away from the Wild West approach and closer to a Fort Knox TMS governance will increase your organization’s competitive advantage”

Increasing your organization’s TMS governance can be daunting, to the point that you don’t know how to effectively start. By auditing what you’re doing today and establishing a roadmap of where you want to be, you’ll be ready to get executive buy-in. 

We’d love to hear your questions and ideas on how to increase tag management system governance, in the comments below. Together, we can ensure the digital analytics industry is increasing maturity and using tag management in a way that respects security, transparency, and performance while ensuring speed, flexibility, and data quality are achieved.

Joe Christopher
About the Author

As Vice President of Analytics at Blast Analytics, Joe leads a team of talented analytics consultants responsible for helping clients understand and take action on their vast amounts of data, to continuously improve and EVOLVE their organizations. With over 20 years of experience in analytics and digital marketing, Joe offers a high-level of knowledge and guidance to clients across all industries. He is an expert in all major analytics platforms including Google Analytics and Adobe Analytics, as well as various tag management systems such as Tealium and Adobe Launch. He also consults on data visualization, data governance, and data quality strategies. Having extensive expertise in many areas, has enabled Joe to become a well known thought leader and speak at industry events such as Tealium’s Digital Velocity series. Joe remains on the pulse of various information technology, programming languages, tools and services, keeping Blast and its clients on the leading edge.

Connect with Joe on LinkedIn. Joe Christopher has written on the Blast Digital Customer Experience and Analytics Blog.

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