Congratulations! Your organization recently implemented a Tag Management Systems (TMS), giving you more control over the marketing tags deployed by your team. The days of spending months trying to get a variable changed or a new analytics tool deployed are over. Before you swear to your IT department that you’ll never need them again, make sure you ask for one more favor: they need to implement a robust data layer containing all the custom information currently being tracked (and those in your future wish list!) in your existing toolset.
You might be asking yourself what a data layer is – it’s a single source for all tags to pull that custom information from. This can include data such as authenticated user ID, product ID, a customized page naming structure, ecommerce transaction information, and other data that may not exist or is not easily accessible on the page. Ensuring you have a reliable place to pull this data from is the only way your organization can achieve the efficiencies and agility promised by a TMS.
After leading dozens of TMS implementations, the clients that have been the most successful have taken the extra step of planning and developing their data layer strategy. It’s easy to get caught up in your new found power to “pop tags,” but trying to implement a fully customized analytics package without a comprehensive data layer may leave you with only twenty dollars in your pocket.
At first glance this may seem like a fairly straight-forward process, especially if you read many of the blogs written about data layers out there. As with any technical implementation, there are many best practices that need to be incorporated into the deployment strategy. Guaranteeing this data is available for all tool types (testing, ad serving, traditional analytics, VOC, etc), free of vendor specific syntax, and populated in a way that can survive site updates and URL changes are just some of the considerations to keep in mind.
I will dive much deeper into this topic covering all the best practices with an upcoming eBook. Stay tuned for more information and please send me your questions and comments!
I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org