Taming the Growing Complexity of Digital Marketing: 7 Questions with Econsultancy’s Stefan Tornquist

Editor’s Note: The following is an interview with Stefan Tornquist, VP of Research at Econsultancy, the leading source of independent advice and insight on digital marketing and e-commerce. Stefan covers a wide range of digital marketing topics and is a frequent speaker for the industry and mainstream press. In conjunction with Tealium, the leader in enterprise tag management, Econsultancy recently released a report on the benefits of tag management for digital marketers. You can find the full report here.

Hi Stefan, you did the research for Econsultancy‘s recent report, “The ROI of Tag Management.” What is your impression of tag management now versus before? 


I knew vaguely that tags tied the ecosystem together, but I didn’t grasp the scope of their role, or the sheer volume of tags that many sites are dealing with. As I spoke with people in the trenches, it became clear that tag management has a more significant impact than simply tidying up a mess—it gives marketers control over a core business process.

What surprised you in your research?

I had no idea manual tagging represented such a huge drain on tech resources. The opportunity cost of what those developers and website people could be doing is enormous. On the other side, marketers could be waiting for days or weeks to get tags implemented, which slows down everything that they’re trying to accomplish, even to the point of missing external campaign dates.

What is your favorite data point?

A word that kept coming up in the research was “flexibility” — 81% of users found that implementing a tag management system increased marketing agility.

Digital marketing seems to be growing in complexity. How are marketers, who are often technology adverse, coping?

Fortunately, we’re now several generations into some marketing technologies, and the emphasis today is more user experience than small feature upgrades (or it should be). Marketers need to take over as much of the technical side of their discipline as possible—that’s one of the points this study makes very clear.

Tagging is a great example of something that can, and I think should, be transitioned from a manual to a managed process. It gives marketers flexibility and control, which are usually in short supply.

Why is it important for tag management to be designed for digital marketers?

These technologies offer marketers a way to save time and take control. That only works if they find the solutions intuitive and easy to use, and easy to integrate with all the other technologies they find themselves working with and responsible for.

In the survey, ‘vendor neutrality’ was ranked as one of the top vendor criteria among participants. What does this say?

Marketers don’t want to get boxed in. Many of them feel locked into specific vendor technologies because they’re “baked into” their websites to the extent that it would take many hours of IT’s time to de-couple and implement a new solution. Wanting vendor neutrality is a reflection of that desire for flexibility.

You spoke with a lot of marketers for your survey. Looking back, what is the most compelling story or anecdote you came across that reflects the value of tag management?

One marketing manager in B2B talked about tag management like it was therapy for their organization. It improved their relationship with technology to the point where other projects suddenly got fast-tracked because tech folks weren’t slogging through tag implementation.

If you’re talking about marketing, you’re talking about technology. Anything that frees tech resources while giving marketers control of a previously technical process should be closely evaluated.

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