On most of the websites you’ll visit today (including this one), third party technologies are collecting data and loading pieces of content both in front of your eyes and behind the scenes. This is done through third party tags, which are snippets of code that can collect important analytics data for marketing (i.e. Google Analytics, Adobe) or even provide the framework for customers to write product reviews (i.e. Bazaarvoice, TurnTo).
Since tags often represent much of a given page’s weight and are difficult to manage, they can come at a high cost to page load times, user experience, workplace productivity, and overall revenue.
This post outlines best practices in tag management and governance, developed from years of experience working with enterprise clients across various industries.
Ebiquity and Blue Triangle have worked closely on various web performance projects. For example, the two companies recently helped Marriott on a large-scale tag management project that generated extraordinary results to performance, UX, productivity, and hotel bookings. This was discussed in our joint webinar.
Tag Management & Governance 101
Let’s quickly discuss the problems we’ve seen organizations face regarding tag management and governance:
Tag managers and performance monitoring tools have made IT and business organizations leaner and leaner, but you’ll still need to devote time and energy into managing and governing third party tags. There is an opportunity cost in every action.
What not to do is as important as understanding what to do.
We often see organizations fail to utilize quadrant II in Stephen Covey’s Importance vs Urgency Matrix when they’re managing time. Strategic planning is crucial to successful tag management and governance.
Development teams are expected to drive business value day in and day out but organizations far too often invest resources in areas that won’t benefit the bottom line.
Without “Data Driven Insights” (that’s Ebiquity’s mantra!), you risk prioritizing your team in the wrong areas.
UX & Business-Level Issues
Slow page speeds mean poor user experiences and measurably less conversions and revenue. As more and more tags are added to a site, sites become more complex and bloated. It’s a slippery slope if managed incorrectly.
Aside from effective tag management (which we will dig into later), you can certainly take measures to ensure your third party vendors live up to their respective SLAs, or service-level agreements regarding their tag’s performance.
Keep in mind that there may be tag performance issues you or your vendors can’t control. For example, the massive AWS outage on February 28 impacted several third party technologies.
Revenue and Conversions
Blue Triangle measured the Top 500 US eCommerce sites between Black Friday and Cyber Monday and found that on average, third party tags slowed 22% (compared to the previous month). This contributed to a 5% slowdown across the board. Five percent may not sound like much on paper, but we’ve seen this amount of delay result in millions of lost sales.
Blue Triangle and Ebiquity worked with Marriott to help with a tag governance and management project on their Home Page. The result was an 8% improvement in performance and a significant improvement in online bookings.
In our world, we need data and that data must be tied to the way an organization succeeds. For most organizations that is revenue. There must be a plan put in place that allows organizations to extract as much value as possible from a third-party investment.
How to best manage and govern these tags for revenue
The only way to truly establish long-term success is to build governance that fits into your current processes. It all starts by asking the right questions to yourself and your business and development teams.
Think about one of the tags you have on your website and answer the following questions:
- Who is ultimately accountable for that technology?
- Who should own insights that drive business decisions for that technology?
- How should those insights from this technology be delivered in a timely manner?
- Who should receive those insights?
- What are the expected actions team members must take utilizing those insights?
- Who should own prioritization of the workflows that fit into the larger vision of the organization?
Now repeat that process for every single one of them.
Answering those questions should solve much of the organizational issues we discussed earlier. Now you’ll need to handle the UX and business-level issues.
Monitoring and the performance of each of your third-party tags based on real user experiences is the first step to the equation. Here’s an example of a Blue Triangle report that does just that:
From here, you’ll need to look at each of your tags and answer this question:
Does the business benefit of the tag outweigh the revenue impact of the performance hit?
The Ebiquity + Blue Triangle Advantage
Ebiquity and Blue Triangle are bringing together these two capabilities, a groundbreaking technology coupled with a consultative approach to extracting long-term value from the product by announcing a joint service offering that layers Ebiquity's 20+ years of optimizing the performance of agencies, MarTech platforms, AdTech platforms, and analytical capabilities of organizations to Blue Triangle's technology.
What does this mean practically?
Not only will you receive a performance management and monitoring platform that utilizes real-user data to find revenue and performance opportunities throughout your site, but you will also understand how the platform should fit within your organization to deliver even greater value immediately.