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  • Writer's pictureEllan Warren

A Pixel by Any Other Name

🌟 When all my triggers are firing and tags are working 🌟

Welcome, Sarah Anne as our guest hacker this week!

She's one of our awesome contributors at DBD is going to share her expertise of Google Tag Manager. 🙏🏻

If you prefer video tutorials, check out Sarah Anne's here!


Happy Sunday y'all,

One of my favorite uses for Google Tag Manager is for organizing all my ad platform pixels and event code snippets.

If you’re tracking conversions that are indicated by reaching a specific URL, then often, it’s easy enough to set this up within the ad platform and you don’t have to use any kind of external event firing tools. 🙌🙌

But let’s face it - how often do you want to track a conversion that doesn’t have a unique URL associated with it, like a newsletter subscription, specific button click, or contact form confirmation message?

Destination goals are a little out of date, since they don’t really align with the way real websites function, and that’s why you should definitely know about Google Tag Manager and all the triggers you can use to really focus in on behaviors beyond just pageviews!

You can really supercharge your digital ad performance just by accurately reporting back to the ad platforms what behaviors are conversions, so you can optimize for them in your campaigns.

The way to do this is with tracking codes, which are called different things in different platforms, like “pixel,” “UET code,” or “Insight Tag,” but whatever you call it, it’s the same basic idea. You’re going to install one base tracking code on every single page of your website, and then fire an additional short code snippet whenever a certain conversion behavior occurs, and the combination of this code reports back to each ad platform “Mission accomplished!”

Setting it up through Google Tag Manager is ideal, because we’re going to be tracking these behaviors ANYWAY so we can see them in our Google Analytics reports (right?!), so we can reuse the triggers with new tags for each ad platform too!

Let me give you an example of a recent client I have been working with, and then we’ll break it all down:

It looks a little crazy in there 😰, so you definitely need a system to stay organized!

I personally have my tags named like [AD PLATFORM] - Conversions - [CONVERSION NAME] so I can sort them and they’ll be grouped by platform. That helps me stay organized, but you can also make folders and sort your tags like that. Whatever works for you!

This Google Tag Manager Container has tags and triggers for a client who is running ads on Google, Bing, LinkedIn, Quora, and Twitter.

STEP ONE - My first step was to take a look at the website and identify which behaviors we wanted to track, and which of those counted for them as “conversions,” and since they are a company looking for leads, we landed on:

  1. contact form

  2. newsletter subscription

  3. outbound clicks to register for a Zoom webinar

  4. clicks to download their whitepapers

Besides these “conversion” events, we also wanted to see:

  1. scroll depth

  2. all outbound clicks

  3. phone number clicks

Google Analytics is always my first step because we use the Google Analytics data to compare site behavior from multiple sources, and over multiple sessions.

Setting Up the Triggers

With this in mind, our first step was to set up the triggers for these 7 types of behaviors on the site. There are TONS of ways to track this stuff, with different trigger types and specifying certain variable values, so you can really narrow down to the specific valuable behavior of interest.

Once I had the triggers set up, I set up the tags for Google Analytics events for each of the behaviors. Then I made Google Analytics goals for the 4 conversion events.

For Google Ads, all you have to do is link your Google Analytics property to your Google Ads account, and then you can import your Google Analytics goals as conversions. Google Ads’ auto-tagging and Google Analytics linking makes this super easy!

Next up is any other ad platforms you want to run ads on. Now we’re talking about those pixels or whatever your platform of choice is calling it!

Install Code on Every Page

You have to take that base code and install it on every single page. The way to do that is with the “All Pages” trigger, which is always there for you by default, and depending on the ad platform, you’ll either use the custom html tag type and paste the code in there (Facebook and Twitter are like this), or there may be a special tag type for that platform (like Quora or Bing), where you just have to put in your unique ID for that platform.

Once you have that set up, you will reuse the triggers you made earlier, the ones that indicate your conversions, and use them to fire the code snippet that tells the ad platform “mission accomplished!”

This code snippet itself varies by platform - sometimes it’s a short script (use the custom html tag type) or the URL of an invisible image (use the custom image tag type) or sometimes there’s a special tag type for that platform (like Quora).

The pixel knows all, and the ad platforms do all the magic of piecing all this information together from the base pixel and the conversion code snippet to figure out if it happened from one of their ads.

For you, this means that when you are looking at your ad reports to see how many “conversions” each campaign has achieved, you will

  1. Have data there (yay!)🙌🏼,

  2. Have confidence that these “conversions” are the meaningful interactions that you want to achieve, and

  3. Know how to update your conversions as your objectives and website changes in the future.

Also, sometimes ad platforms will let you bid towards a target cost per conversion, or target audiences most likely to convert, so OBVIOUSLY you have to be working with real and specific conversions to take advantage of these!

To get the full picture and more details on how to set up your brand's Google Tag Manager, watch the full series here.

GTM Tutorials>>

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