Tag management helps Glasses Direct take on a gloomy-looking 2012

Rob Silsbury, Marketing Director, Glasses DirectRob Silsbury, marketing director of online glasses retailer Glasses Direct is under no illusions as to the state of the retail environment in 2012.

Speaking at TagMan’s most recent client get together TagMeet 2, Silsbury said: “It’s going to be a pig of a year.” And none of the other retailers in the room looked ready to disagree.

So what does Glasses Direct plan to do about it? Given its focus is online, then drive its online channels hard. Efficiency is the overriding mission. But, that doesn’t mean the company isn’t prepared to invest to get as lean as possible. Silsbury has a couple of things in mind:

  1. Data unity: Getting all his marketing data in one place so he can learn to optimise his spend against entire user journeys, not channel-by-channel
  2. Conversion: Maximising things like site speed to make sure that any customers that do get to his website, buy – and buy big – before they leave

Both these causes are part of his justification for implementing TagMan at Glasses Direct. The system will be used to enable Silsbury and his team, including long-time TagMan user Oli Elliott – formerly of online clothes retailer Boden – to track the entire online path to conversion of customers and attribute credit for sales much more fairly across the channels that made a contribution.

Silsbury is also one of the first to use TagMan v3, the newest version of the software, which includes several world-first features to lighten the load that tracking tags place on websites, and speed up his website. Silsbury said initial tests showed a 25-28% decrease in page load time.

“We are obsessed with site speed,” he said. “Apart from the obvious impact on user experience and site conversion, it is part of how Google ranks your website.”

Silsbury has committed to TagMan for other reasons too. He explained how “tagging is an unnecessary distraction” that hampers his team’s ability to implement new technologies and campaigns. Tag management enables them to focus on the things that matter.

But, the biggest challenge is attribution. Silsbury is keen to distinguish the use of attribution tools for understanding user journeys better and for optimising campaigns.

He explained: “For me it’s important to distinguish attribution from optimisation. We mainly use TagMan’s attribution data for reporting, but we want to optimise paths-to-conversion, not individual channels so we use ‘assisted views’ [reporting that shows when a channel appeared anywhere in a user’s journey to a sale] to optimise. The Unique User ID assigned in the system enables us to see any user’s complete path to conversion and so see how all channels work together. It’s important to know that investment in one channel may see the conversion take place in a completely different one.”

Silsbury stated that in reverse to the above, there are very real financial efficiencies to focus on too and attribution should be used to deduplicate and ensure that you are paying the right party for its part in a sale. Using email and affiliates as an example, Silsbury’s argument is that if a customer has been sent a Glasses Direct email, then they can’t be considered a customer 100% driven by the banner they clicked on [up to] 30 days earlier. He wants to focus affiliates on customer acquisition and therefore not pay 100% where email is present in the path. Silsbury was quick to add though that “this is not a money saving tactic, more a way of reinvesting the saving in areas like paid placements, which do deliver genuine value from the affiliate space.”

Silsbury closed by stating that the ultimate goal is “getting to a fractional model, where split percentages can be applied to individual channels dependent on their importance in the path.”

“Ultimately it is a question of understanding, as Oli puts it, the ‘golden combinations’ that drive sales. We’re not there yet, but we’re getting there.”

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