How To Make The Most Of Tag Management Governance (And What To Avoid At All Costs)

Updated October 6, 2023

Good tag management governance makes organizational agility simple. This is vital when responding to fast-changing consumer markets and ensures you can keep your website relevant and appealing. Whilst getting (and keeping) on top of tags can be challenging, bad tag management governance can expose your business to a huge number of security and efficiency issues. In this post, we will outline everything you need to know about tag management and how you can maximize your competitive advantage with good governance.

What is a tag?

Before moving on to explore effective tag management governance, you need to understand what a tag really is. A tag simply refers to a bit of JavaScript code that is used to collect data about how people use web and mobile sites. These tags make it possible to collect the unique behaviors of all those who visit your site. They also improve functionality, facilitate personalization, and enable things like A/B testing, facilitating greater learning from your data.

Tags are sometimes also referred to as pixels and are required by most digital vendors. However, it is important not to confuse ‘tags’ associated with tag management with blog tags or search engine meta tags. The tags involved in tag management solely refer to the bits of code used to collect and move data from a webpage to a technology vendor.

What is a Tag Management System?

A Tag Management System (TMS) is used to control and deploy tags using a web interface and without the need to understand software coding. With a TMS, you can easily add, edit, or remove tags. Whilst it is possible to find free solutions to tag management, paid-for options offer great security and flexibility. For example, with an advanced TMS package, it is possible to customize the system, ensure privacy controls are secure, and to obtain mobile application support as well as benefiting from advanced data management capabilities.

A TMS also makes a complex situation much simpler. Rather than having to manually code integrations, through the installation of a master tag and an intuitive web interface, marketers can simply click on a vendor logo and input which pages and sites the tag should load on. Through master tags, this is then implemented without having to go to each individual page. With safe preview options available in some TMS’s you can also check for any formatting and security issues before final deployment.

What is Tag Management Governance?

Without a TMS you can have no effective tag management governance. However, simply having a TMS does not equate to having good governance of your tags. If you don’t plan your TMS things can soon become a tangled web leading to issues with site performance as well as causing security issues. In some ways, this is because of the fact a TMS makes it easy for anyone to set up a tag. As such, if clear governance structures are not in place regarding who can implement tags, things can quickly get out of control.

One of the issues with tag management governance is also the competing demands from different areas within any given busines. For example, whilst the marketing team might value a system that is fast and flexible above all else, the IT team will likely focus on issues of security and the system doing what it is supposed to do. Fortunately, with TMS governance, everyone can have their cake and eat it.

What does good tag management governance look like?

Proper governance of your TMS will help to improve site performance, keep data secure, and allow for flexibility. As such, good tag management governance can offer your company a competitive advantage by making things work efficiently for your staff whilst also ensuring customers stay happy (and you understand what it is that you do that makes them happy). With better data fed back from the well-managed system, you can then also make more informed decisions further helping with customer satisfaction, retention, and extension.

But what are the fundamentals of good tag management governance? Here, we outline the things that matter most when it comes to maximizing the returns from your TMS:

  1. Controlled access

Just because a TMS makes things simple enough for almost anyone to add, edit, and remove tags, doesn’t mean everyone should have access. It is important to have a clear process in place regarding who has permission to make tagging changes and how, when, and why people have this access removed.

  1. Controlled publishing

A good strategy for TMS governance is also to have a more limited number of people with access to publish tags than to edit them. This helps to build oversight into the system as it is harder for people to make changes to things that might seem like minor changes to them. It also prevents changes being made without them being documented, audited, and coordinated further helping to reduce associated risks.

  1. Quality control

Whilst processes for Quality Assurance will differ from business to business, every business needs to know who is responsible for the overall quality of their TMS as well as individual components. The QA process must ensure results are validated and that, when new tags are published, the web journey is audited. You can use automated QA tools to do this, but when and why this happens should be pre-defined.

  1. Document changes

Whilst checking changes don’t cause problems is important, recording changes as they are made should not be overlooked. This will help to ensure learning over time is not lost, enhancing efficiency and preventing runaway complexity.

  1. Workflow

Once you have established the steps that will be in place to make changes, you need to ensure everyone understands the process and how long changes will take. The workflow itself should be documented and the process should be as transparent as possible.

  1. Undertake regular audits

Even if you think everything is set up perfectly, over time, things will inevitably change in unexpected ways. Unwanted tags should be removed. Whether or not people are following the correct processes should be checked. What data is being sent to different vendors should also be regularly reviewed to avoid risks of data breaches or other security concerns.

Implementing an effective TMS and appropriate governance structures can seem challenging at first. However, without this structure it is impossible to ensure efficiency, prevent security concerns, or maximize the potential of your data. However, by focusing on implementing the tag management governance steps above, you can ensure you can maximize your business potential.

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