The C-level importance of tag auditing

When a data driven company wants to proceed to the next level, there are four crucial factors that make out whether it will be successful or not:

  • Data quality – are your data a correct representation of the truth?
  • Data intelligence – the ability to convert data into knowledge and insights.
  • Data governance – making sure you have a compliant data infrastructure.
  • Data innovation – access to best of breed technology and insights.

Data quality is the foundation of all these aspects. It is essential in order for you to make the right data driven decisions. In practice, it turns out that many decision makers without any doubt assume that the web analytics reports are based on correct data. But is that true?

20% of web analytics data are wrong

Crucial for collecting web data are web analytics tags. These are placed on a website to collect data and send it to a web analytics solution. Based on the information from the tags, reports are made. But research actually shows that errors occur in 20% of all web analytics tags. This does not mean that the technology does not work. Most tag issues occur because of the fact that there are so many parties involved in every new page, app or release. Often, tagging policies are ignored or neglected and your website goes live with incorrect tags or none at all. In all cases, the bottom line is that you make decisions based on wrong data.

The impact of poor data quality

As a CEO, CFO or CIO you should be able to make decisions based on correct data reports. You should not be bothered with the actual data collection or wondering whether the data quality is good or not. That is (part of) the job of your IT department and web analysts. Of course, analytics professionals are at their best when they are analysing your data. But in practice, web analysts that spend up to 40% of their time on chasing issues are no exception. And that doesn’t even include fixing the errors and correcting the data. That’s a significant part of their time they should be spending on optimisation and increasing the revenue of your website. It is no wonder that the Gartner study Measuring the Business Value of Data Quality (2011) concluded that:

  • Poor data quality is a primary reason for 40% of all business initiatives failing to achieve their targeted benefits.
  • Data quality effects overall labour productivity by as much as 20%.
  • As more business processes become automated, data quality becomes the rate limiting factor for overall process quality.

Examples of tagging issues

So what are the implications of tagging errors? We have made a list of frequently occurring issues, based on our experiences with our clients:

  •  Incorrect attribution of orders and campaigns – To measure the success of your online campaigns, you should have insights in the entire path from an ad to an order. With these data, you can determine which campaigns lead to which orders and make decisions about budgets and optimisation. If these data are wrong, you will often end up investing in the wrong campaigns.
  • Multiple payments to affiliates – If you use affiliates for advertising on the web, incorrectly configured tags can make you pay the wrong party for a click. Double and multiple payments are very common implications of tagging errors.
  • Differences in the number of orders – In practice, it turns out that most companies have a difference of 5 to 25% in the orders in the order management system and those in their web analytics solution. This leads to multiple versions of the truth within your organisation and a mistrust of data.

How tag auditing helps

To clear your web analytics from tagging issues, there are quite a few tag auditing solutions. But what should such a tool actually do? Here are some of the most important features a tag auditing solution should have:

  •  Auditing before a release – With every new website release, the tagging has to be correct to make sure the data you are collecting tell you the truth. Therefore it is very important that your tag auditing tool has the ability to audit in the test environment of your website. This way you can find errors before the website goes live. And of course, the tool has to continue its job seamlessly once the new release is done. Please note that to monitor tags on the test environment, your tag auditing tool has to be able to work behind a login.
  • Auditing all orders, browsers, operating systems, devices, tags, etc – No website visit is the same. Therefore, a tag auditing solution should be able to monitor all combinations of browsers, operating systems, devices and click paths. That’s the only way to be sure you are monitoring all your website traffic and your measurements are correct.
  • Test both tag execution and the data sent – When it comes to tag auditing, there are two things you auditing solution should validate. First it has to check if the tag is placed and executed correctly. Secondly, it has to validate that the data sent are actually correct.
  • Alerting – If a tagging issue occurs, you want to know it immediately. You don’t want to find out afterwards that your data quality is compromised. Therefore choose a tag auditing tool that sends your team an alert instantly when a tagging issue occurs.

So now you know what a tag auditing solution should be able to do. There are various types of tag monitoring tools, which work differently. You could use simulators (or scenario tests), crawlers and audience based tools.

Simulators

In simulator tests, you use a certain scenario to see if all tags are placed correctly. You can use simulator testing to validate whether a tag is placed or not, but not to see if the right data are sent to your analytics solution. What you also should take into account is that building the actual testing scenarios is quite time consuming. Last but not least, the most important KPI of web analytics is order and campaign attribution. Therefore you should monitor each component of your campaign, such as banners, emails and ads, to check if they contain a tag or not. Unfortunately, simulators lack this ability.

Crawlers

These tools ‘crawl’ your website to test if tags are set correctly. They can perform more and better tag auditing than simulators and scenario testing. But crawlers also have their limitations. Just like simulators, the amount of browsers and devices you can monitor are limited, just as the different types of tags. So monitoring emails, banners, ads and other campaign components is out of the question. Also, validation of the actual data sent to your analytics tool unfortunately is not possible, as is continuous testing.

Audience based

Audience based tag monitoring chooses a completely different approach. You don’t use a scenario or a crawler to trigger and validate tags, but the actual clicks on each page of your website users. This approach offers numerous possibilities. That’s why Adversitement chose to develop Qmon using this principle. Qmon monitors every click of every visitor, so there are no limitations when it comes to browsers, operating systems or devices. With Qmon, you can monitor emails, banners, ads and other campaign components. The tool can also operate behind a login, so it can monitor in the testing and the live environment. This means you can find all tag issues before going live. Qmon validates both the execution of the tag and the data that are sent to the analytics tool. If an error is found, Qmon immediately sends an email notification with detailed information of the location and the cause of the issue, so the person responsible can immediately take action.

How Qmon improves your business:

  • Your team will find all tag issues on your website. In real-time and before going live.
  • They will immediately receive a detailed notification if something is wrong and your customer experience is in danger.
  • Qmon improves your data quality and allows you to achieve your targeted benefits because it reduces costs for regression testing, tag issue handling and report recovery.
  • Your web analysts actually get to spend their time on analytics and optimisation, rather than chasing issues.
  • You can make better decisions, relying on correct analytics data.

Free 1 month trial

Qmon doesn’t only improve your web analytics. It improves your entire online business, by simplifying data quality, securing your trust in data and creating an actionable and sustainable focus on increasing business value. Do you want your web analytics team to experience Qmon in your own environment? Just contact us! We offer you a 1 month free trial so you can try Qmon with no obligations.

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