Facebook Pixel Tracking That Can Empower Your Facebook Marketing

The Facebook Pixel is tracking code you install on your website to configure data capture and events tracking to improve your marketing performance and gain deeper audience insight.

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The word pixel has a cool, sophisticated ring to it, don’t you think? The real meaning of pixel is one of those little dots that make up the resolution of a screen. Your screen has a resolution of maybe 1920 by 1024 … pixels. The name has been adopted by a number of digital marketing platforms to designate their tracking codes, but in reality, the relation with the pixel is a historic internet hack.

In the web programming language HTML, you have no tracking command. One of the early tracking techniques was the counter. It was an image you collected from another server which would increment the visitor count every time it was shown. Visitors to the page would see the counter, an image showing that 129 visitors had been to the page. Wow.

The next iteration of that technique was to reduce the size of the image to just one pixel and make it invisible and provide the data to the website owner only. This was the birth of web analytics as we know it today, using what we call tags, or for the cool kids, pixels, to monitor what is happening on a remote website.

Illustration of one orange pixel in a 25 by 25 resolution.

A pixel is the smallest individual element of the screen. Due to its small size, it was used for tracking website traffic on remote sites in the early web analytics solutions.

Overview: What is a Facebook Pixel?

The main component of a Facebook ad pixel is not a pixel anymore, although the tiny image is used as a fallback solution. Today, the main component is JavaScript code, also called a tag, which collects information when a user goes to a website that has the code installed. In its simplest form, it only counts the page load, but it has the capability to track and collect more information.

When you set up a Facebook Pixel, you can choose to add advanced tracking which activates data collection from activity on your website which is sent to Facebook.

Let’s be clear about the fact that information about your users which is not exchanged with your website cannot be collected by Facebook; the same way you cannot collect the email address of a user, if the person doesn’t submit it via a form.

Allowing for advanced tracking, however, allows Facebook to collect practically all the data which is exchanged between users and your website, and aggregate it into user profiles back in its own audience analytics platform. Remember to explain this in your privacy policy and collect user consent if you activate the option.

Screenshot from the Pixel setup indicating the types of information you allow Facebook to collect from your website.

During the Pixel setup, you can allow Facebook to collect data from your website including email, gender, phone number and more. Source: business.facebook.com.

But what does a Facebook Pixel do? When a user visits your site, they activate the code which then records the data the user browses and sends selected pieces of information back to the platform and makes it available to Facebook Analytics.

How does the Facebook Pixel work?

So how does Facebook Pixel work? When you look through the Facebook Pixel code example below, you will notice a scrambled numeric code. This code identifies the Facebook page the site is attached to. The code itself is integrated into every page of the website and connects back to Facebook analytics with the collected data.

As mentioned earlier, the Facebook pixel tracking today has little to do with pixels, however, if you look at the last two lines of the tag, you will notice an IMG tag with the sizes WIDTH=1 and HEIGHT=1. This is the 1 by 1 pixel image tag which is called as a fallback solution if the script is unable to execute.

A standard Facebook Pixel tracking tag.

The code for the Facebook Pixel is a tag composed of JavaScript calls and a fallback image tag calling a pixel-sized image in case JavaScript is switched off. Source: business.facebook.com.

3 benefits of using your Facebook pixel

To succeed in marketing on Facebook, you need data and insights. Since Facebook does not allow you to tag your profile or company page, the most effective way to get the data is by sharing yours with Facebook. Let’s look at what you need it for.

1. Conversion optimization

If we had to describe only one reason to set up Facebook tracking, it would be to track conversions related to social media campaigns you run on that network. To do this, all you need is the generic tracking code on your landing page and a conversion event on the thank you page at the end of the buying process. Sending this data back to Facebook allows the advertising engine to optimize for your main objectives.

2. Enhanced data for campaigns

By setting up more events, you can get more insights around user behavior and audiences you reach. You can also use the data to create audiences, which you can use as the seed for much larger lookalike audiences for new campaigns.

3. Audience exploration

Not sure who your website users are? Let the Facebook Pixel collect data for a while and then look at insights about your audience via Facebook. You can use Facebook Audience Insight with your enriched audience data to get a better understanding of who they are and benchmark their characteristics against a wider population.

How to set up your Facebook Pixel

How do you get a Facebook Pixel for your website? First, you need a Facebook company page for your business. You will also want to set up a Facebook Business Manager for the page, as it allows you to manage all your business-related activities from Facebook and Instagram in one place.

This can even enable you to schedule Facebook posts and Instagram posts in one interface. Now, go to the Business Manager to set up the Facebook Pixel using these steps:

1. Create and configure the pixel

In the Business Manager menu, select Data sources, then Pixels. Give the Pixel a name which indicates the site and the purpose, something like “Pixel for domain.com,” then simply follow the instructions. In essence, the pixel is composed of a numeric code. This is then used in the tag — the 10 lines of code which communicates back to Facebook.

Screenshot from Facebook Business Manager showing where the Pixels item is found.

You can manage several Facebook pages and ad campaigns in Business Manager, as well as set up and manage your Data sources. Source: business.facebook.com.

2. Install code on your site

Installing the code on your site is more painful. Facebook gives you three options for this: integrate via a partner tool, code it into your website yourself, or send it to your developer.

Personally, I prefer to send the code to my webmaster who’s skilled at this. We’ve all taken our chances with self-inflicted haircuts during lockdown, haven’t we? It’s not that I don’t like DIY, it’s just that the pros’ work is usually much better and lasts longer.

The first option works quite well, too. You may integrate the code via your CMS or the shopping platform you are using. With Shopify, configuration, using your Pixel numeric code, takes five minutes. With WordPress, you download and install a plug-in and activate it. What usually takes the longest is remembering the logins and passwords for your e-commerce solution or CMS.

Overview of all the integration partners for setting up your Facebook Pixel.

During Facebook Pixel setup, you can use one of 25 partners allowing for a quick and simple integration of the code on your site. Source: business.facebook.com.

3. Configure events and test

Once the code is in place on your site, you can return to Business Manager to configure events centrally. Events are important actions a user undertakes on your website. Facebook has a list of generally used events you can choose from. If you want to customize beyond that, you can create specific tags via the manual Pixel setup.

The standard set of tags is sufficient for most people. These are events you can tie to buttons or URLs on your site: add payment info, add to cart, add to wishlist, complete registration, contact, customise product, donate, find location, lead, purchase, schedule, search, start trial, submit application, subscribe, and view content.

3 ways to use Facebook Pixel tracking to improve marketing and advertising

When you manage your social media with one of the leading social media management tools, you may be using their integration with Facebook Ads for boosting high-performing ads. In this case, the Facebook Pixel tracking will also provide you with more data and insight for your Facebook marketing.

In this section, we’ll look at some data-related tips for using Pixel. Follow this link, if you are looking for more general tips on Facebook advertising.

1. Using micro conversions

If you’ve ever optimized an advertising campaign for conversion, you’ve met the terrible concept of the “training period,” the time the system needs to monitor a sufficient number of conversions to be able to function effectively. This is a general challenge with conversion tracking: you track the most precious conversion and therefore have fewer instances of that conversion.

Providing more conversion data is one way to provide more and faster feedback to a conversion optimization engine. Micro conversions are less important but still significant events on your website, and they happen more frequently than the final conversion. The more of these you build into your marketing setup, the more data you provide to an optimization engine, and the faster you can get traction.

2. Building audiences

The Facebook Pixel can create an audience of people who have been to your website. If you have a lot of traffic, why not create an audience from people who have visited the more important parts of your site, such as the e-commerce section or your product catalogue.

These visits usually signal higher buying intent. Using the characteristics of this audience to build look-alike audiences on Facebook is a good way to target audiences based on trustworthy market feedback.

3. Tracking the conversion funnel

If your purchasing funnel has three or more steps, you likely see dropout at each stage. You can tag each stage of the funnel with a specific event to feed that information back to your campaigns. This will help you pinpoint spots where interest wanes. You can then improve messaging to reduce the dropout rate.

Data awareness and value focus

The Facebook Pixel is a valuable tool for your social media marketing. It can help you understand your audience better and is especially useful if you do considerable advertising. It collects data from your website and helps enrich the data the Facebook platform already possesses.

It’s important to be aware of the nature of the data you share, so configure carefully. Be aware of legal requirements you must meet in some cases, and identify and activate the data which is most valuable to your business. This will enrich your entire marketing setup.

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