Getting your Digital Plumbing setup is imperative to accurately track visitors cross-channel. Laying this foundation enables accurate retargeting to drive them back to your website. I’ll walk through how to leverage a Tag Management system, Google Tag Manager (GTM) in this case, to quickly and accurately get your digital plumbing in place and begin your retargeting efforts.
What is digital plumbing?
Digital plumbing is connecting your various platforms so you can accurately track audiences across multiple channels. It ties together audiences and analytics, enabling you to analyze ad campaigns based on real data. Set-up correctly, it helps you create powerful remarketing campaigns.
“This is the power of remarketing—to bring back people who you’ve touched in another channel,” says CTO BlitzMetrics Dennis Yu.
Now that we’re on the same page, let’s jump in and get everything setup.
We’ll need to jump back and forth between different platforms/systems. So let’s start by opening up the following tabs in Chrome (you’ll see why Chrome in the validation section):
Google Tag Manager (GTM) setup
Start by installing the DuracellTomi’s Google Tag Manager plugin. This is the best GTM plugin I’ve found on the WordPress platform. It will put the necessary code in the <head> section as well as the <body> section of your code, is pretty lean and lightweight, and is easy to setup on the WordPress side.
If you don’t have WordPress but still want to follow along, install Google Tag Manager globally on your website and skip down to the Analytics section.
Switch to your Google Tag Manager (GTM) browser tab and create a new account for your website. You’ll need to grab your Container ID (example: GTM-S15MTZ1), then in WordPress go to Settings->Google Tag Manager and paste your GTM Container ID.
In the Google Tag Manager (GTM) workspace dashboard, select New Tag (you can also get there from the Tags link in the left sidebar). Rename the tag to “GA – All Visitors” and click into the Tag Configuration section. Choose the Universal Analytics tag type (unless you’re using the Classic Google Analytics account – which if you are you should consider upgrading).
If you’re wanting to set this up the simple way move onto the next paragraph. If you’re setting this up to scale, knowing you’re going to setup multiple conversion tracking points, then I’d recommend pausing here and setting up a Variable in GTM. You’ll want to setup a constant User-Defined Variable named “ga_property”.
Switch to your Analytics browser tab and copy the Account Tracking Code ID (example: UA-51551515-1). If you’re setting up a new account for this, it’ll help to paste the code into a text editor and copy only the Tracking ID value. Head back to GTM browser tab and paste the ID into the Tracking ID field (or you’ll select the Variable Icon and select your variable name).
Scroll down and click into the Triggering section. Select the default All Pages trigger. Save your completed Google Analytics GTM tag.
Facebook Pixel setup
In the GTM workspace dashboard, select New Tag (you can also get there from the Tags link in the left sidebar). Rename the tag to “FB Pixel” and click into the Tag Configuration section. Choose the Custom HTML tag type.
Switch to your Facebook Business Manager browser tab. Click the hamburger menu to select the Pixels section. Then select View Pixel Code under the Actions dropdown. Click to copy the Pixel Base Code. Head back to GTM browser tab and paste the Pixel Code into your Custom HTML field.
Scroll down and click into the Triggering section. Select the default All Pages trigger. Save your completed Facebook Pixel GTM tag.
In the Google Tag Manager (GTM) workspace dashboard, select New Tag (you can also get there from the Tags link in the left sidebar). Rename the tag to “AdWords – All Visitors” and click into the Tag Configuration section. Choose the AdWords Remarketing tag type.
Switch to your AdWords browser tab. Click on Shared Library on the left-hand side of the Conversions section (you’ll have to setup an initial AdWords campaign if you haven’t previously). Click on View under the Audience section and then create a new Website visitors Remarketing List. Once you have a list created, click on the Tag details button and then Setup button within the dialog box that pops up. You’ll need to select View AdWords tag for websites to view the code, then you can get the Google Conversion ID (otherwise known as your AdWords Remarketing ID for this setup). It’ll help to paste the code into a text editor and copy only the Conversion ID value (example: 515515515).
If you’re going the scalable variable solution, you can create another User-Defined Variable called aw_conversion_id.
Head back to GTM browser tab and paste the ID into the Conversion ID field (or you’ll select the Variable Icon and select your variable name).
Scroll down and click into the Triggering section. Select the default All Pages trigger. Save your completed AdWords Remarketing GTM tag.
Publishing GTM Container and Tags
In your GTM browser tab, click on Publish in the upper right-hand corner. You’ll want to set the Name and Description fields for this so you can reference it later. Click on Publish and the GTM container with the Analytics, Facebook, and AdWords tags will fire inside of it.
Validate your setup
Chrome has 2 browser extensions which will help you validate your setup without having to wait a few days to review the data (which you should also set a reminder to do). Install:
Go to your Website tab, and click the Facebook Pixel Helper. You should be able to see the identical Pixel ID from your Business Manager code and a green checkmark by PageView.
Next, click on the Google Tag Assistant. You’ll hopefully see all green smiley faces.
If you see a warning like I have, dig a level deeper and make sure the correct IDs for Google Analytics and AdWords Conversion Tracking are in place. The plugin currently has an error with longer GTM tag IDs.
Now you have a fully integrated remarketing tracking platform with your digital plumbing leveraging tag management. This is the first portion of completing Digital Plumbing with additions such as conversion tracking and Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) still to complete. These pieces make-up the foundation for building out your own social amplification engine.