In my last post, we looked at the Data Tag Management implementation experience of 33 Sticks, a boutique analytics consulting firm. In an effort to share as many user experiences as we can, today’s post is a conversation with Tim Elleston of Digital Balance, another analytics consulting company that helps its clients install, manage and optimize DTM for their marketing practices. Digital Balance has supported hundreds of TMS implementations for clients in the Asia-Pacific region, as well as companies throughout the world.
What was the first DTM implementation you worked on, and as part of that process were there any myth-busting moments?
Our first implementation was for a large insurance company, migrating from their s_code into DTM. We underestimated the variety of implementation options available at first. What started out as a good way to approach the process actually ended up forcing us to redo the deployment three times over six months, but each redo enabled us to find a much better way to get the results our client was looking for.
Myth-busting moments? Oh yes. DTM is so flexible and customizable. Typically, you need to get into the code sections to do a custom implementation, but DTM allowed us to use the UI to create the rules. That was a bit of an eye-opener for us.
How long did that first implementation take versus planned timelines?
The first implementation took a lot longer (18 months) than we anticipated, primarily because of the redo. But it really taught us how to best implement the system from a standardization perspective. We now approach implementations differently and far more efficiently.
How did your experience with DTM compare to other TMS products?
We have used Google Tag Manager and Adobe’s Tag Manager v1 and v2. GTM was good; DTM is better.
What has been the most significant workflow change you have seen companies have to make with using DTM?
The biggest change is removing the existing on-page code. They can’t just stop everything to remove on-page code. And you’d be surprised at how much on-page code there is. Beyond that, their ability to launch marketing tags easily, integrate with third-party platforms, and make changes without going back through IT is still the big selling feature.
Are your clients prepared for changes to their organizations that a TMS requires?
No, I don’t think so. When they consider DTM or the other TMS solutions, they typically don’t think about the effort involved in switching over. Reality sets in pretty quickly, though. But just like other initiatives, the reward down the track is worth the upfront investment.
How has DTM changed your relationship with your clients?
Not much really. They still rely on us heavily for implementations – from planning, installation, testing and so forth. But we’re also mentoring a bit more now, as companies want to take governance in-house. So we’re doing a bit more now in terms of hand holding.
Were there any “gotchas” in the process?
The on-page code was the biggest gotcha. Just trying to help navigate through the process of removing it was huge. We’ve now developed a way to get through that migration a lot easier.
What advice would you give clients looking to get started with DTM?
Speak to others who have done the migration and plan it out first. It’ll take longer than you expect, so plan for that. Implementation is not something that happens quickly, especially if you’re migrating, because the entire methodology is different than what we’re all used to with just the s_code. But then the rewards are so much better, too.
Using the fabled crystal ball, how do you see the TMS market evolving over the next few years?