Four Quick Tips for Better Tag Management

Tag Managers speed up the process of adding new scripts and services to a website. Here are a few tips how to make sure it won't gradually, tag after tag, kill your conversion.

Tag Managers are a blessing for marketers. They can finally add all those marvellous services - chats, surveys, advertising, exit-intent popups, anything - all by themselves, without that "unnecessary" IT hassle: release cycles, rigorous testing, security approvals and so on.

When it is so easy to add new stuff to a website, you start with adding one tag, then another and you end up a year later with tens of them. Many of them forgotten and unused anymore because the priority is always on adding and never on removing tags. Gradually, tags slow down your website, reduce conversion and customer experience.

If you would ask your developers to add twenty third-party tags at once, they would say "no" for a multitude of reasons. But, when you add one tag at a time, no one notices the overall impact of your tags on KPIs or site speed.

So here are four simple tips how to add tags in a better way.

Tip No. 1: Delay Tags

Many services that are added using a Tag Manager don't have to be added immediately to a website. No one is going to use a widget, like AddThis, to share your content within the seconds from landing on your website.

Delay execution of a trigger. Delay execution of a trigger.

By delaying the tag, you let other scripts and assets that may have higher priority to load and execute first. You also declutter your layout and allow users to focus on the website's content. Then, 10, 30, 60 seconds later, if the users are still on your website it's the right time to load the tag. When the widget shows up, it will surely get some extra attention.

Delaying a tag can do wonders to your marketing budget. If you are using a tag manager to add retargeting tags provided by Google Adwords, Linkedin Ads, Facebook and others, a delay in adding those tags can help you avoid remarketing to users who landed on your website by a mistake.

Let me give you an example from our own backyard. Every now and then we prepare free market reports. The two of reports compare insurance quotes of popular insurance brands. Soon, we have started getting visits to this report from Google. However, these visitors were not interested in our report but were looking for insurance quotes provided by the featured brands. They needed only a quick look to realise they visited the wrong website. Without a delay, these users would be haunted by our remarketing ads, annoying these innocent visitors and wasting our budget.

Tip No. 2: A/B Test Your Tags

If you have enough traffic, always A/B test every new tag you add. Heck, re-test old tags every now and then.

Example of AB testing of a tag on MobileExample of AB testing of a tag on Mobile

Depending on what websites you run, you may have different KPIs, but at least take a look a quick look at conversion, financial metrics, engagement metrics, retention. Then think which metrics should be changed and which should stay flat in the test version with the tag.

For example, adding a survey tool should have no impact at all on your metrics. Perhaps some users who will respond to a survey will stay longer on the site but probably not long enough to move the needle. So if you see a drop in conversion or time spent on the site then you will need to ask yourself: do insights I gain from surveys justify the drop in metrics?

Unfortunately, most of the tag managers, including Google Tag Manager, don't offer AB testing of tags. Some require integration with other A/B testing tools, like Piwik which requires integration with Optimizely or VWO.

Tip No. 3: Keep a Small Control Group

Not all websites have millions or even tens of thousands of visits a week. If you don't have enough traffic to quickly AB test a tag, at least keep a small control group - like 5% of your users - and don't add the tag for them.

You may generate 190 leads instead of 200 per month from your popups but missing these 10 leads won't kill your business. But these popups can be deadly, and having the control group may allow you to find out about that. Just come back some time later and compare performance for visits with and without the tag.

Keeping a small control group is worth doing even if you have a huge traffic. Let me give you a couple of reasons.

  1. 1) even if you tested thoroughly a tag and made sure it doesn't impact the performance, your tests may not be valid a month later. Your website will change by then but also the vendor's tag may behave differently. If you preserve a control group, you will be able to monitor tag's performance and quickly detect any changes.
  2. 2) you will be able to calculate ROI more efficiently than with a quick A/B test, especially with services that can lead to customer satisfaction fatigue. A message telling users to hurry and book a hotel room NOW or they spend a night on a bench in a park may increase conversion in the short-term but have the opposite effect in the long-term.

Tip No. 4: Control Tags by Devices

Many device related issues can be easily spotted during testing. For example, AddThis and Drift live chat widgets are in conflict on small screens. This could be resolved by adding a simple rule to trigger the live chat tag only for large screens:

rule to add a tag for large screens only This rule allows to add a tag for large screens only.

However, in most cases, decision which tags should or shouldn't be added on mobile should be backed by data and heuristic evaluation. Will my mobile users benefit from this tag? Are they using the feature or the service delivered via that tag? Sometimes you may find the answer in your web analytics, sometimes you will need to look for it in the service - go through the live chat history and see how many conversation were with mobile users. Not too many? Don't add a live chat tag for mobile.

And, of course, when you evaluate AB test of a tag, compare the test results for desktop vs mobile, big vs small screens. You will surely find out that some tags are not worth adding on some devices. This of course applies also to other key segments, for example paid vs organic traffic.

There's a Fifth Tip too: Control Tags by Behaviors

This tip deserves a separate post. Visit our blog again soon, to find out how to use specific behaviours instead of just page views to trigger tags more effectively.