Understanding Facebook Pixel

by Kevin May

Over the years, Facebook has rolled out various tools and resources that are beneficial to business owners, solopreneurs, marketing directors, and everyone else in between.

If you’re selling a product or service, chances are Facebook has a toolkit that will help you connect with the right audience and grow your business. Today I’m going to highlight one feature: The Facebook Pixel.

If you’re looking to understand what the Facebook Pixel is, how to use it, and how it can help grow your business—read on!

The Facebook Pixel Explained

The easiest way to begin is with a snippet from Facebook themselves; the social networking tycoon says the Facebook Pixel is “an analytics tool that allows you to measure the effectiveness of your advertising by understanding the actions people take on your website.”

The pixel is actually a piece of code that you can put into your website, and it will collect data on your business’ behalf. Many have called the pixel the most useful tool put out by Facebook, and with a little research, it can work well for any business leader of any budget and expertise level.

Some ways this data can help you include:

  • Tracking conversions from Facebook ads
  • Optimizing ads
  • Building targeted audiences for future ads
  • Remarketing to people who have already taken some action on your website

This little piece of code can give you some major insights into your audience and allow you to adjust messaging between users who are already familiar with your brand and then track the performance of your ongoing paid social advertising efforts.

How Does it Work?

The short answer: it places and triggers cookies to track users as they interact with your website and your Facebook ads. Seems easy enough, but let’s take a more in-depth look.

It’s important to note that this isn’t the first pixel from Facebook; in fact, there used to be a couple of different ones that all served different functions. For example, there was a pixel dedicated to conversion, another for custom audiences, and over the years the pixels have evolved.

Today, the Facebook Pixel combines all of those great features from above and allows us to handle conversion tracking, optimization, and remarketing without the need for various pixels.

Have you used the Facebook conversion pixel in the past? You’ll need to switch over to the current pixel (find out how in this article). Need to upgrade the old custom audience pixel? Look here.

Once you’re all set up, you can expect the pixel to fire when users take action on your website. Types of actions could be making a purchase, clicking on a specific link you’ve chosen, adding something to their shopping cart, when the user rolls their mouse over a particular element of the page, etc. You can customize your pixel to do what you want. So, when should you set your pixel up? Unfortunately, there are business owners that miss out on opportunities because they think they can’t start their pixel without Facebook ads, but the truth is it’s always best to implement it sooner than later.

Even if you’re not running ads at the moment, you can get a jump start on collecting useful data that can ultimately help you construct more successful ads.

Where Does the Info Go?

Now that you have an understanding of what the pixel is and what it can give you let’s get clear on where that information goes. Remember the actions I mentioned above? Facebook calls them “events,” and the pixel will send your events to a section in your Facebook pixel page called Events Manager. It’s all pretty straightforward, and you can log in to your Events Manager at any time to see what actions your customers are taking and even use that info to reach out to the same customers again through future Facebook ads.

What the Facebook Pixel Can Do for Your Business

I opened the topic up earlier, but now I want to dive in. The Facebook Pixel has three functions that it operates around: Custom audiences from your website, custom conversions, and custom and standard events.

  • Custom Audiences

This is Facebook’s way of helping you retarget visitors to your website. We know that if you have the Facebook pixel installed, it will track the movements of any visitors on your website if they are also logged into Facebook. You can get insight into what pages on your site they visited, which pages they didn’t touch, and when they visited. This insight won’t allow you to choose a specific visitor and advertise to them but instead allows you to advertise to groups of users based on shared behavior (this is the custom audience from your site).

Custom audiences may be defined based on which pages they did or did not visit, and by when they visited your website with a timeframe between 1 and 180 days. You can then use this information to decide which audiences see which ads.

  • Custom Conversions

Custom conversions is a function that many are particularly excited about and feel that this makes the entire process more straightforward. To create the custom conversion, you must select a completion page that may say something like “Thanks for signing up, you’ll get an email from us shortly.” The different categories you can choose from include:

  • Add Payment Info
  • Add to Cart
  • Add to Wishlist
  • Complete Registration
  • Initiate Checkout
  • Lead
  • Purchase
  • Search
  • View Content

All custom conversions are always being tracked, and you can log in at any time and create a report for one of your Facebook ads to see the conversion rate of any of your Custom Conversions.

  • Custom & Standard Events

This is perhaps the most advanced feature of the Facebook pixel; with a little extra code, you can get access to more robust analytics and reporting, greater accuracy, and surpass the limit of 40 Custom Conversions. Custom and Standard events don’t have to be linked to a specific completion page to track but instead only require adding a line of code to the page of interest.

Standard events are recognized by Facebook as predefined actions across ad products, there are currently 17 standard events (Purchase, Contact, Subscribe, Donate, etc.) while custom events are any action that fall outside of the standard category. These custom events allow you to build custom audiences and can offer more details than the standard events can provide.

While both custom and standard events are useful track and allow you to optimize for actions across your website it’s recommended to use custom conversions if you’re not comfortable editing your website’s code and using standard events if you don’t mind working with standard events and adding parameters, which are extra bits of code that allow for customization.

Why You Need the Facebook Pixel

The Facebook pixel can provide you with valuable information that will help you craft better Facebook ads and improve how you target your ads. Make sure your ads are seen by the people who are most likely to take action and improve your Facebook ad conversion rate and ROI.

It doesn’t matter if you’re currently using Facebook ads or not, the sooner you install the Facebook pixel, the more robust data you’ll have to use in the future. Utilize the Facebook pixel to grow your business and reach your audience!

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