Southwest Airlines Implements DTM to Power its Analytics Implementation
Southwest Airlines extensively reviewed all available tag management systems and selected Adobe’s Dynamic Tag Management to be part of its analytics implementation. Because of Southwest’s limited technology capacity, it’s working on a multi-year rollout for the DTM implementation. However, the company has already benefited in the early stages of its rollout. Southwest’s digital team has been able to implement DTM in various micro sites in a single afternoon and has enabled the company to have more detailed tracking than ever before.
While actual implementation was painless, the rollout required substantial planning in order to get the organizations impacted by the move on board. Following multiple process meetings with the marketing and technology groups, Southwest decided to use shared coding language and eliminate duplicate workflows by utilizing a common data layer to be shared among its teams.
One of the challenges faced by Southwest was to separate out DTM publishing from its typical release schedule, which includes approximately eight releases per year. Jordan Johnson, manager of digital optimization at Southwest, found the DTM solution’s flexibility allowed his teams to track scheduled releases without impacting the tag management deployment for other digital assets.
Southwest shifted some of the implementation requirements from its IT team to its marketing group. The company added one head count to run its DTM deployment; however, Johnson believes additional resources will be needed at some point. “Ramp up time is not fast (for us),” said Johnson. “We are prepared for that (because) it would be a very full-time job to implement site-wide all at once.”
Southwest will take a few years to roll out DTM in order to fit with its site upgrade schedule. As a standalone project, Johnson estimated three to six months for its small tech team without substantial improvements to its data layer beyond existing tagging. Southwest plans to roll out DTM as sections of its primary domain are rebuilt, which will allow it to implement the DTM solution “from scratch”. Johnson acknowledged that while this delays some benefits of DTM, this strategy is by far the most efficient for his tech teams.
Southwest has seen an increase in communication, cooperation and partnership among Johnson’s teams as the company began its Adobe DTM implementation. In contrast to its first tag management system implementation in 2007, the DTM rollout has been much smoother. Animosity as a result of a failed code update had been present until the marketing and IT groups were brought together to undertake the new implementation. Johnson claims that “DTM is both a part of the reason and the payout of years of growing the relationship (between marketing and tech organizations).”
A Word of Advice
Southwest advises brands considering an implementation of DTM to do their research. “I highly recommend if you haven’t yet to reach out to the experts to ensure a sound foundational start to (your) project,” said Johnson. “Getting off on the wrong foot and having to back track does not go over well the tech teams trying to help implement the solution. Even the best analysts can’t add value if the implementation is not correct! Also, if you have a good person (to manage deployment), pay them well and do whatever it takes to keep them. These guys and their roles are invaluable.”
He also encourages other organization leaders to get their teams on the same page, clearly define everyone’s responsibilities and think about on-going maintenance before you start implementation. The steps taken prior to implementation will significantly impact the success of your DTM deployment.