The pace of business is accelerating. In 1860, the first westbound pony express trip left St. Joseph, Missouri for San Francisco and arrived 10 days later. Quite a feat, but this morning my email inbox filled faster than I could open messages.
Or, even if the pace of business remains relatively steady, certainly the pace of technological adoption is accelerating. Nowhere is this more acutely felt than marketing technologies.
According to the Chief Marketing Technologist Blog, from 2011 until 2016, marketing technology vendors increased by over 2,000 percent. Companies of all sizes are excited by these new technologies. They allow for customer demographic profiles, behavioral targeting and analytics tracking. It’s a marketer’s dream. However, with this tremendous growth comes complications.
What many in e-commerce don’t realize is that the addition of these tools can be detrimental to site performance and optimization. Need evidence? Seventy-nine percent of shoppers who aren’t satisfied with a website’s performance won’t purchase from that site in the future. How do you make sure that doesn’t happen to your business?
New Technologies, New Challenges
With so many new technologies at their disposal, it can be difficult not to take advantage of something that promises greater insight into your prospects. However, these technologies can cause a host of issues — from security to page latency — that interrupt the all-important conversion.
Perhaps one of the most problematic, and least understood, aspects of marketing technology lies with tag redirects (also known as piggyback, daisy chains or hops). Redirects are simply an ad technology for tracking in which companies partner with one another to better qualify their users.
These partnerships, however, aren't always authorized by you, the site owner. They may be retargeters, optimization vendors and data aggregators (there are many additional categories). And each one might compromise your security or leave you exposed to data leakage — i.e., when a company collects data, often valuable customer data, via a tag without permission.
Over 50 percent of third-party tags encountered by users in a given session were the result of tag redirects, Ghostery has found. Knowing about and managing these redirects, while maintaining a strict governance program, will assure that your marketing technology operates optimally at all times.
Organizational Optimization: Tools to Manage Tools
A useful example that comes to mind is a top 50 U.S. retailer with global reach. This organization successfully transitioned from reactive third-party vendor governance to a more optimized framework. It was under pressure to improve the performance of its website before the holiday season — when online shoppers spent $2.72 billion on Black Friday alone. The website seemed to be lagging and user experience was suffering. There was also some reason to believe that vendors were making additional tag calls that the retailer couldn’t see. In other words, the retailer had an incomplete picture of its marketing tech.
The retailer needed a monitoring tool to provide a view of its entire tag ecosystem. After some discussion, it decided to implement one. The results were exciting:
- a four-second improvement in site speed;
- a 5 percent decrease in abandoned shoppers; and
- a .5 percent increase in online conversions.
It was vital that visitors to this top 50 U.S. retailer have an optimal experience. By implementing a tag monitoring tool, the retailer was able to keep many of the marketing technologies driving conversions and offering valuable insights into its customer base. Considering that a one-second delay in page load time for an e-commerce site that generates $10,000/day typically costs the site $2.5 million in lost sales every year, you can see how critical tag monitoring is.
Tag Monitoring Best Practices
It’s no doubt that you interact with customers across many platforms and channels, and you use many vendors to do so. This means that governance through continual monitoring is essential. These three best practices should help push you toward a less reactive approach to managing vendors.
1. Audit. An audit is an essential first step in assessing the state of your marketing stack and evaluating the cost and benefits of your tags. This will allow you to determine which team has ownership and the value that each provides vs. the cost in terms of latency and security.
2. Formalize the vendor selection process. Companies need a more rigorous vendor selection process. This can take the form of a vendor questionnaire that rates each on data management practices, relationships with competitors and compliance with online advertising governance. The care in vendor selection should continue in the form of regular monitoring to ensure compliance with governance policies.
3. Designate a leader. It’s important for a stakeholder to lead and manage this process. This should be a technical expert, probably within IT or digital marketing, to run the cross-function committee and assess strategic needs and goals for the marketing stack. This leader should:
- evaluate, approve and monitor active vendors;
- perform initial and ongoing cost-benefit calculations; and
- own vendor contracts and the removal of vendors.
Speed, Technology, Sanity
While the size of the marketing technology landscape continues to increase exponentially, it’s imperative that e-commerce stakeholders maintain vigilance over their technology stack. Using a tag monitoring solution gives you insight into the execution of these technologies and keeps you from exposure to performance issues, data leakage and security implications.
Despite the fact that the pace of technology adoption is accelerating, tag monitoring is the best way to ensure user experience remains high and conversions and revenues aren’t negatively impacted.
Scott Meyer is the CEO of Ghostery, a company that empowers consumers and businesses to create safer, faster and more trusted digital experiences.
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