The US Adobe Summit has come and gone, and it’s left us with a lot of interesting discussion to unpack. This week, I thought it would be worthwhile to hit on the key points of my presentation for Summit—specifically, the way we look at tags and how our perspective on what “tagging” is can impact how we implement our tools and what we get out of our marketing technologies.

Tags have always been a deeply interdepartmental conversation, as much a part of marketing and business as they are IT. This game of “telephone” that we play inside our organizations when tagging our sites often leaves us with errors, incorrectly implemented solutions, frequent breakage, and in almost all cases, we only get a fraction of our marketing technology’s value because implementing the most powerful features is where the complexity really ramps up. Dynamic Tag Management (DTM) technology has simplified all that. Now marketers can get hands-on with the technology of tags without the need for an IT intermediary, and more importantly, it’s just as easy to handle highly sophisticated use cases for analytics, testing, surveys, chat, product recommendations, and much more as it is to handle the basic use cases.

So the real question is how does this mentally free us up to take things to the next level?

Well, let’s look at an isolated instance. When we think of chat on our website, like support channels for customer inquiry, today, we often think of installation as simply a “tag” to place on the site. But what if we think of chat as an element of marketing? It’s an investment of time and technology into opening a direct line of communication with our customers. A proactive approach to chat is not just asking “how can we offer chat as a feature of our site?” How can this channel further our business goals? In essence, how can it help us grow? How can we use it strategically, rather than it just being there?

The stumbling block to this application of tags has always been their setup. When tags are seen as technical chunks added to a webpage, we have to begin with their technical aspects in mind: this tag needs to go in the global footer. This tag needs to go on that page. Highly general and inflexible.

Now we can flip the script. DTM is fluid—rather than being highly specialized bits of code that define the starting point of installation, now tags are simply tools that become the endpoint of installation. With DTM, the thinking turns to determining our visitors’ key interactions and our points of contact. Which are we utilizing today?’

In the language of Adobe, we call these our “last milliseconds.” They are the critical moments of marketing. In a split second, we can make decisions about how to alter a customer experience to be more personal and more relevant to their needs and our marketing goals (which starts to sound a lot like connecting the dots to the drivers of our business, discussed in my last post.) When we think in these terms, we are marketing in context, delivering technologies, experiences, and assets based on decisions we make in real-time around consumer behavior and profiles.

Look at these contrasting views: the tag or tool we want to use has always been the first question we’ve had to ask in thinking about implementation. Now it is the last.

This experience-oriented marketing has enormous potential for marketers, not only because it’s more targeted (delivering technology and experience to specific people at specific times), but because it’s more leverage-able: a good idea of how to use a millisecond can be used across the organization. The same millisecond, in other words, can trigger multiple tools, creating a marketing symphony rather than the solos we have going on today.

Tagging is dead. It’s time to manage your milliseconds.

So, let’s return to our hypothetical chat window. We want to learn something from these interactions through tags… but about whom? Under what circumstances? Let’s say you’ve discovered that people on iPads coming from Google paid search ads have a strangely low conversion rate. Let’s create a rule in DTM to engage that specific segment with chat when they land on the site.

Through chat, we discover that people are having a hard time navigating and searching our site. Using the very same rule that triggered chat, we can then set up a multivariate test on any and every landing page for this segment, changing the positioning, organization, and styling of our site’s navigation and search features. We then see that these users immediately start using search to find related products to the ones they are landing on. Again, using the same rule (the same millisecond of a user coming in from Google on an iPad to any page of the site), we decide to place a box with product recommendations of similar products with high user review ratings on the landing page. Conversion goes through the roof. Celebration ensues. And we never touched the site itself a single time—DTM handled all the delivery.

In this example, we identified a single millisecond in our business that was key for a group of users. Using that single millisecond, we delivered three new experiences, each building on the last, to better engage and satisfy our users, meet their needs, and drive growth in our business. In most businesses we work with, these aren’t just three tools, rather there are three departments that rarely see each others’ work. This is the magic of DTM and the magic of the modern digital marketer.

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