This article is part of Marketing Technology series that I have started. Please read this article to get started. This second article starts to talk about details in marketing technology architecture.
Marketing technology starts with collecting data. In this article I will talk about specific data type, digital data that we generate on digital platforms such as websites, mobile apps and social media.
How to Collect Data from Websites?
Depending on kind of data you need, you might need different technology.
1-Collecting Clickstream Aggregate Data with Web/Digital Analytics Tools
Web analytics platforms such as Google Analytics, Adobe Analytics, or Matomo can collect data while customer interacts with the website. These tools can give you base statistics such as page views, visitors, session duration, orders, conversion rates, and more. You can also collect custom data by using each tool's custom variables. You need this kind of tool to collect aggregate data.
Traditionally we use JS, front-end method to collect data through web browsers. Recently all digital analytics software companies started to offer server side data collection method. There are both pros and cons for both methods. I will talk about details in another post.
Big technology companies like Netflix, Facebook, Google or Amazon have their own clickstream data collection software. But all other companies have to use a software like Adobe Analytics or Google Analytics as developing and maintaining in-house clickstream tracking requires big tech talent and other resources.
What Software Do I Need to Track Mobile App (Native) Data?
If you are using native app, then you need to use SDK version of certain web analytics software. Use Adobe SDK. JS, front-end code does not work here as native app code is not front end. Tracking mobile data has more options. Google Analytics uses "Firebase" brand to collect mobile app tracking. Popular mobile analytics solutions also include Adjust, Flurry Analytics, and Mixpanel. These SDKs offer insights into user engagement, app performance, and conversion metrics.
What Software Do I need to Track Hybrid Mobile Apps?
If your app is hybrid, meaning you are using both native screens and web view pages, you need to make sure you integrate SDK code with web code. Usually many companies collect hybrid app data wrong. You need to integrate web code with app code or you will double count users, and your paths will be wrong.
2-Customer Experience Tools
If you want to track user experience you need more than numbers, you need to see how customers are actually using the website. There are heatmap and session recording tools like Tealeaf, Glassbox, Hotjar, Crazy Egg, or Mouseflow to gain visual insights into user behavior on your website. Heatmaps display where users click, scroll, and spend their time, while session recording records user sessions for playback, providing a detailed view of their interactions.
Mobile app version of these tools are little bit trickier. For web, these tools generate lots of insights by using DOM through simple JS code. Since we can't use JS technique on mobile apps, each vendor has their own way to produce this data. Make sure you talk to the vendor to find out mobile app tracking options and limitations. For instance one of the vendors take a video to create session recording which can cause a problem on the user end and also can create a huge data.
3-Tag Management Systems
Tag Management systems are now backbone of all web analytics/marketing technology implementations. You can implement digital analytics solutions like Adobe Analytics and Google Analytics natively, like we did before year 2013 but now we always recommend using tag management.
Important to know about native apps: tag management systems mainly work with websites, native app does not work well with tag management as app does not run JS front end code. I recommend using native SDK to collect data from your native app instead of tag manager.
The biggest reason to implement tag manager is to use 1 data layer for all marketing technology. For instance you can collect revenue or product ID data in your data layer, and later all your marketing tech software like Adobe Analytics or Google Adwords can use this data. Before tag managers we had to add code for each marketing tool to send revenue data, If you had 10 different software you had to add 10 codes to the website, test it and release it just to send that revenue data. And this had to be done with IT. With tag manager you capture revenue once on the website and you unload los of work from engineering team.
The other important reason is to update tags without any release or IT development.
These tools allow you to easily add, edit, and control tags without requiring developer involvement.
Market place integrations are the best friend of a non-technical marketer
There are 2 ways to implement marketing software with tag manager.You can insert custom code or you can use tag manager's ready integrations. As an example all these 3 tools have already integrated Google Ads to their platform, this means as a marketer you can go to tag manager, choose Google Ad integration/template and add your account ID and other information, map variables and choose the pages you want to add this tag and implement the software without and development or code.
-You don't need developer help to implement your tags
-Since tag manager software tests the tag to integrate to its system, you don't have to worry to much tag causing any bug on the site.
What Are The Best Tag Management Tool?
In 2013 I had to choose a tag manager for a client. There have been many different brands and I have chosen Tealium IQ. Luckily Tealium IQ proved the best tag manager so far. But you have to pay to use Tealium, it is not a free tool.
The other options are Google Tag Manager and Adobe Launch. They are both free and owned by Google and Adobe and are the best tag management tools if you are using heavily Google or Adobe software.
What are the Key Differences between Tealium IQ, Adobe Launch and Google Tag Manager?
1-Tag Management Support
My most favorite tag management feature is direct support from the software team like Tealium does. Tealium IQ's best feature is their support. After so many implementations that I have gone through with Tealium IQ, Google Tag Manager and Adobe Launch I can't express the beauty of this feature. Yes Tealium IQ support costs in most of the time but if there is an issue with your implementation support is free and you get support directly from Tealium engineers.
If you need support to implement Google Tag Manager, you are not allowed anybody in Google tag management team (unless you are billion dollar Google customer), you have to go through Google partners, and it is not as same as talking to vendor directly.
If you need support to implement Adobe Launch situation is same, Yes Adobe seems to provide free support, but its free support can't help you to implement any tag or solve complex issues. They can point you to correct direction or you need hire third party consultant like me.
If your company does not have very experienced tag management experts, I highly recommend to buy Tealium and make sure they support you every step. They can even implement all your tags for you. Implementing tag like Google Adwords is super simple but if you want to implement specific marketing technology, it is not that easy to implement if you do not have right people.
2-Tag Management Marketplace and Vendor Independence
As I explained above, tag manager market place is a great feature and this is second best feature for Tealium IQ because Tealium has the biggest market place and integrations as of now. Tealium IQ is mainly vendor independent. Adobe and Google have their own marketing technology tools so they are focused on their tech stack but Tealium works with all marketing technology vendors. If there are no integrations with specific software, you can ask from Tealium to add an integration for an easy implementation.
3-Your Marketing Tech Stack
This is very crucial. Tealium IQ works well with all marketing technology software but Adobe Launch and Google Tag Manager might not.
As an example if you use Adobe Analytics, you can't use Google Tag Manager as it does not have market place integration and Google Tag Manager code architecture is not compatible with Adobe Analytics. Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics product and e-commerce data collection method is different than Adobe Analytics and this creates a huge difference between these 2 tools.
If you use Adobe Analytics you have to use either Tealium IQ or Adobe Launch.
If you are using different technologies, again I highly recommend Tealium IQ.
3-Content Testing and Targeting Software
All tag management software claims that they can also manage content testing software through their systems but unfortunately this always does not work properly if the tag manager is not vendor specific.This is one area I don't recommend Tealium IQ directly. If you want to implement content testing software like Adobe Target to be able to use Tealium data layer, make sure you do proper testing. Your website might not like additional layer and you might need to implement this software directly on the site or you might need vendor's tag manager. If you want to use content testing software on SDK, you can't use Tealium, you have to use vendor's SDK directly.
4-Using Tag Management on Native Mobile App and SDK
This is one area I do not recommend Tealium IQ as it makes things harder. If you are using Adobe Analytics or Google Analytics, make sure you use vendor's its own SDK instead of tool like Tealium IQ.
For instance if you are using Adobe Target for testing and targeting on native apps, you will get best performance if you are using Adobe SDK, If you use Tealium IQ, you really can't use WEB data layer and functions and you end up adding one more layer to your SDK and you can't use all features that Adobe Target SDK offers if you use Tealium IQ SDK. You can't also implement tags for SDK from one place, you still have to add tags separately to your SDK.
Choosing correct tag manager or digital analytics technology can be tricky. I can help you to choose the right technology with my 24 years experience. Please contact me on Linkedin for a meeting.