It’s really hard to do something well the first time you try it. A first step is followed quite inevitably by a first fall. My daughter’s first word was not her current favorite: rhombicosidodecahedron. And it’s not very likely that you’ll hit a home run with your first swing of a bat.
Unfortunately, when it comes to web analytics implementations, you often get only one chance to get it right. IT professionals don’t like opening up tags and modifying them. If they have to, they’ll usually require a full QA cycle timed with a release that might be many months away. Flash contractors will charge you extra to re-open a Flash and fix a tag. And when an Ajax application launches, if it isn’t tagged properly you can usually write measurement off for a least a year or so.
What’s so tough about this is that most organizations are tagging only one site. You never get the chance to build up the expertise required to do it both well and easily.
It’s because of this inherent first-time risk that we see two very common problems in web measurement. First, page-tagging implementations are often badly broken. Second, they are often streamlined to the point of near worthlessness. Sometimes they are both.
Streamlining an implementation does reduce problems of course. For that reason, very thin implementations are often favored by professional services organization’s whose primary interest is in delivering a SAFE implementation. Unfortunately, real-world measurement often requires significant tag customization to get the information you actually need to do good reporting or analytics. If the implementation doesn’t pass the necessary data, it doesn’t help that it isn’t wrong.
With lots of organizations facing a transition from HBX to SiteCatalyst, this page tagging problem is especially acute.
I’d like to say that doing an HBX tag is great preparation for creating an Omniture tag. It actually is pretty helpful. But there are some dramatic differences between the two. Particularly when it comes to using custom variables, setting up administrative options, handling link tracking, and managing campaigns. Important stuff.
And there is no magic bullet to this first-timer problem.
But I think we do have a product that can help. We’ve just released the Omniture Implementation Toolkit. It’s a set of tools designed to help you implement SiteCatalyst tags and get it right the first time. The Toolkit consists of four products. The biggest and most important is an extensive guide to Omniture page tagging. It’s designed to be readable and understandable and to help you put in place a process for tagging and then to understand each of the elements that go into an Omniture tag.
The guide is based on our experience with some of the largest Omniture implementations in the world (and a lot of small and mid-size implementations too). Paul Legutko was the lead author, but Phil, June, Jesse and I all contributed different sections and edits. It covers the SiteCatalyst page-tagging from the Project Manager's perspective, the IT perspective and the Measurement Analyst's perspective.
This gives a combined view on doing SiteCatalyst page-tagging well - and I think almost any organization new to the process will benefit from the Toolkit.
In addition to the guide, we’ve create a QA checklist to help you make sure you catch the most common and some of the sneakiest errors that we see in many Omniture implementations. QA is a vital step in page-tag implementations and having a simple, easy to follow checklist makes it much more likely that you’ll cover everything you need to.
We’ve also included two Excel-based templates to help you manage your implementations. The first is a Project-plan template. The second is a functional template that helps you map the process from business requirements all the way to tags.
Together, the toolkit provides you with a framework for doing a good page-tagging implementation, for understanding from a business and measurement perspective every aspect of the tag and of the administrative options you need to configure, and for checking and insuring the accuracy of the implementation.
Who isn’t the guide for? Well, if you’re an organization that has done lots of Omniture implementations, then the Guide may not be for you. I won’t say that you might not learn some things or find the templates valuable – but this isn’t like our Omniture Tips & Tricks White Papers. The audience here is really new Omniture customers or organizations that have significant doubts about the quality and completeness of their existing implementation.
You can view a sample section and buy the guide on our website.
I won't say the Tookit will make your first swing at page-tagging a Barry Bond's home-run. After all, the Toolkit isn't illegal. But I think it can help you get safely on-base and maybe even knock in a runner or two. Not bad for a first swing.