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Melissa King on March 15, 2021 • 16 minute read
In a study of 6,700 consumers and business buyers, Salesforce discovered that 70% of customers believe that companies should understand how they use products and services to earn their business. How can you meet this high expectation in your marketing efforts?
Facebook offers a tool to make this job a little easier — the Facebook pixel. This handy snippet of code will give you insights into your customers’ behavior to help you deliver more relevant ads and marketing content.
In this report, we’ll introduce you to the Facebook pixel and explain how to create one, set it up, and edit it. Plus, we’ll share expert opinions and advice from a dozen marketers who know how to use the pixel to its highest potential.
Here are the topics on board for today:
The Facebook pixel is a code snippet that records the actions taken on your site to inform your ad targeting.
When you have the pixel active on your site, it triggers when a customer takes an action, such as buying something or visiting a certain page, and notes it. You can then use this data to understand your audience better or refine your Facebook ad parameters.
Facebook’s pixel technology is a standby in today’s digital marketing industry. We asked marketers if they use Facebook pixels, and a staggering 97% said yes.
The folks we asked about their Facebook pixel use came from a wide range of industries. Nearly half of respondents worked in professional services — one of the broadest industries interested in Databox — while the rest specialize in tech, eCommerce, and plenty of other areas.
So, regardless of your industry, you have something to look forward to as a marketer using Facebook pixels.
If you want to join the majority of marketers who use Facebook pixels, they have a fairly low barrier to entry. Most of the marketers we consulted (82.%) think it’s easy to set up a Facebook pixel.
So, how do you install a Facebook pixel? If you have a website for your business and can update its code, you have everything you need.
Let’s learn how to create a Facebook pixel first. Follow these steps:
Great! You have a Facebook pixel now. With your pixel ready to go, you can install it using one of three methods:
Facebook Business Help Center has a complete guide to creating and installing a Facebook pixel that you can follow for detailed instructions.
After installation, you can set up events for your pixel to record. If you have a developer installing your code, you can ask them to configure events manually. Facebook also has an in-browser Event Setup Tool you can access under your pixel’s Settings menu.
Using the Event Setup Tool, you can tell your Facebook pixel to track events such as:
After you create a Facebook pixel, you can find it any time in the Data Sources interface in Facebook Events Manager.
Once you choose a pixel to manage, you can visit these menus:
Facebook makes it a little unclear how you can manage your Facebook pixel events and delete your pixel. Both tasks often require some coding skills.
The difficulty of changing a Facebook pixel depends on whether you want to add, change or delete an event. You can edit your pixel code manually to add or change an event or use the Event Setup Tool. However, it seems that if you want to delete an event, you’ll need to take it out of the code yourself.
When in doubt, ask someone with coding knowledge for help and use the Test Events and Diagnostics menus to make sure your events fire correctly. You can also make sure that your events in Events Manager match your code (number three in this guide) by comparing Facebook’s code specifications to your website’s code.
How do you delete your Facebook pixel? You can’t permanently get rid of it, but you can remove it from your website. Delete the pixel code snippet from your website code to stop it from tracking events. If you linked your pixel to an ad account, you can also remove the ad account access to reduce clutter in your interface.
We consulted the marketers in our survey about their Facebook pixel habits and advice they had to share about it. Most of them use Facebook pixels for their most popular purposes — custom audiences, remarketing, conversion tracking, and ad optimization in Facebook Ads.
Considering that you can connect your pixel directly to a Facebook Ads account, this data checks out. You can use your pixel data to inform your other marketing channels, but it’s easiest to pair it with your Facebook Ads campaigns.
Whether the marketers we consulted used their pixels for Facebook advertising or not, they saw the most improvement in their conversion rates when they implemented them. That means that their results went beyond ad clicks — customers took action on the pages they advertised and optimized with a Facebook pixel.
How can you reap the benefits of Facebook pixel data like these marketers? Here are some tips for getting started:
One of the top ways that marketers combine Facebook pixels and Ads involves remarketing, also known as retargeting.
How does retargeting work? First, you let your pixel collect information on your site visitors. We’ll let Callum Coard from Vertical Leap explain the rest: “Using this data, you can then serve users the most appropriate Ad to encourage them to reconnect and engage, which is especially useful if their initial visit wasn’t at the right time, or early in their buying process.”
To remarket with Facebook pixel data, choose a Website Custom Audience while making a remarketing campaign in Facebook Ads.
The marketers we surveyed pointed out that you should target audiences with a genuine interest in your website when remarketing with your pixel. You can improve the quality of your leads by aiming for visitors who stayed on your website for more than a moment.
“To leverage the power of the Facebook Tracking Pixel, I recommend retargeting people who visited your website for more than 45 seconds,” says Jonathan Aufray of Growth Hackers. “Why? Too many marketers are retargeting all the past visitors but if someone stayed less than 5 seconds on your site, it’s unlikely that they will be interested in what you offer.”
At Growth Boss, Brendon Bennell automates this process. “When we’re building a retargeting audience, we will often delay the event part of the pixel from firing, so we only capture those users with stronger intent, not those that bounced from the page right away. It makes the pixel a more powerful indicator of buyer intent and builds more effective retargeting audiences,” Bennel explains.
To delay your Facebook pixel’s event triggers, you’ll need to dive into the code and add the setTimeout function to your event. This function lets you set the number of seconds that a visitor has to stay on the page for the event to go off.
Your Facebook pixel delivers powerful information on your customers’ browsing behaviors that can be tricky to find using other methods. SERPRise Agency’s Jure Kljajic segments audiences based on this data. For their fashion and watch eCommerce store, they “start by targeting the cold audience with general fashion interests to increase the reach. We then proceed by creating a new campaign that includes LLA while also retargeting the warm audience.”
According to Kljajic, “We do that by segmenting the different audiences based on the products and categories they engaged with and targeted them with ads containing coupon codes.”
You don’t have to make two different pixels to segment your audience like this — you can edit it in Ads Manager while you set up your ad campaign. As you create your Website Custom Audience, you can narrow down your audience by the URLs they’ve visited on your site.
Facebook pixels have Advanced Matching features that make it easier for Facebook to match website visitors with their Facebook profiles. When you turn on this function, it sends hashed data to Facebook to help it link your website and Facebook audience data.
Bernadett Kovacs-Dioszegi from Creatopy tells us more about Advanced Matching: “Automatic Advanced Matching can be a great help when it comes to conversion attribution and reaching more people. You can use information from your customers to match your website’s visitors to people on Facebook. You can select one or all the following information: email, gender, location, name, phone number, date of birth, or external ID.”
With Advanced Matching, you’ll be able to match more conversions to Facebook users to more detailed insights on your Facebook Ads and website metrics. Facebook pixels have Automatic Advanced Matching and manual installation.
You’ll have the first opportunity to turn on Automatic Advanced Matching when you set up your Facebook pixel. After that, you can visit the Events Manager at any time to switch it on or off.
Marketers who work with their Facebook pixels on the code level can install Advanced Matching manually. The Facebook for Developers guide outlines the entire process.
Facebook Lookalike Audiences use data from a Custom Audience to target users with similar demographics and behavior. You can pull data from your pixel to create a Lookalike Audience that includes new customers with similar traits to your website visitors.
(Note that while the Lookalike Audience directions on Facebook say that the custom audience shouldn’t be from your pixel, this seems to be an error — the Blueprint tutorial and About Lookalike Audiences page state the opposite.)
When Jenna Carson needed to expand Music Grotto’s audience, the Facebook pixel and Lookalike Audiences gave them a head start. Carson says, “We’d used a Facebook Pixel extensively in 2020 and we took the data it obtained to create Lookalike Audiences based on existing customers that the Pixel had tracked. This allowed us to have a better understanding of music lovers across different states.”
Lookalike Audiences have a similar creation process to Custom Audiences. Choose “Lookalike Audience” from the “Create Audience” dropdown in Ads Manager or as you make a new ad. After choosing the source pixel, set your Lookalike Audience’s location and size.
The integration between Facebook Ads and Facebook pixels allows for seamless customer journey tracking from ad to conversion. Facebook can also record the type of device used during an interaction throughout these steps to help you understand your audience’s behavior.
“With Facebook Pixels, we can see how people interact with our website by viewing our Facebook ads. We can track customers across their devices,” says Tim Culpepper from Conexa.
Culpeper continues, “This lets us see if people tend to see our ads on mobile but switch to a desktop before buying. Or maybe vice versa. This information helps us to refine our ad strategy and calculate return on investment.
Do you need to take any extra steps for Facebook to track Pixel events across devices? Kyle Bachmann of Linkoceans reminds us not to forget to add a mobile tracking tag to capture every event. “The pixel tracks about 95% of traffic across desktop and tablet, but to track mobile you do need to use an additional mobile-specific tag. We used a URL tag to do this, which was straightforward and doesn’t require any special configuration in Facebook,” Bachmann states.
Capturing mobile traffic correctly will depend on your campaign and website, but Facebook for Developers provides an overview of tracking dynamic ads on mobile web.
You can implement a Facebook pixel in a marketing campaign whenever you want, and some advertisers might think they should add it after establishing their audience and creative. However, Lauren Shroll from Camille Outside The Box has proof that the pixel can help you shape an early campaign.
“With the pixel, we’re testing early marketing messaging on landing pages as we transform an online course product into an interactive browser-based application,” explains Shroll. “The feedback we get from pixel activity and running small budget Facebook ads has helped hone in on the ideal customer, ad copy, and market fit for the future application product.”
For Shroll, the pixel’s data impacted the future of the overall campaign for more effective targeting and ad design. The Facebook pixel may shine when used with Facebook Ads, but you can also use it to guide higher-level marketing decisions.
Editor’s note: As you take a campaign from broad strokes to a refined approach, keep an eye on the relationship between your ad and website performance. Catch any discrepancies with the Audience Building & Brand Awareness dashboard for Databox.
Don’t underestimate the power of Facebook pixel pageview tracking in figuring out audience intent. When you have the right URL structure on your website, you can easily organize your audience funnels for better targeting, as freelance marketer Tiffany Ruder found.
“When I have clients who have set up a smart URL structure in WordPress, I’m able to easily group pages by content type, which often correlates with audience intent,” Ruder explains.
Ruder references these groups when analyzing Facebook pixel pageview data to make hyper-targeted, conversion-centered ads. Ruder says that thanks to this combination of URL structure and pixel data, “I can set up ad audiences consisting of people at the bottom of the funnel, because I know that they’ve been spending time on pages that speak to return policies, for example. Then I can target these people with conversion-oriented ad creative, offering discounts that expire soon and so forth.”
How can you apply Ruder’s advice? Consider which pages your bottom-of-funnel customers will visit, then create an audience based on visitors to those URLs. Show that audience an ad that will help you overcome a common objection for that part of the customer journey, such as a coupon for price-related objections.
With your Facebook pixel collecting so much useful data, why would you ever take it off your site? LinkGraph’s Manick Bhan brings up one possible reason to use your pixel carefully.
“The pixel data Facebook collects essentially allows competitors to target your audience in a much greater level of detail. Facebook can weaponize your own site traffic to allow your competitors to target and bid on your audience,” Bhan warns us.
As your Facebook ad targeting becomes more effective, your competitors have ways to replicate it. PixelMe points out four different methods for guessing at another company’s targeting methods.
According to Bhan, strong Facebook pixel data can become a disadvantage in certain cases. “It’s a really important consideration for big brands to think about, particularly if you have high organic traffic volume from your SEO rankings, or if you have a really niche audience that’s in a high-value space. If our clients are not planning to utilize Facebook Pixel data, or they stop running retargeting campaigns, we strongly encourage them not to leave the tracking pixel on their site.”
Of course, this doesn’t always mean that having a lot of Facebook pixel data is bad. For example, if you don’t have to worry about strong competition, you can keep your pixel running on your site. Plus, if you apply your pixel data in your regular marketing efforts, the benefits from the data might outweigh the drawbacks.
Just keep in mind you aren’t the only one who can use your Facebook pixel targeting data.
After you earn an ad click, it won’t always convert to a landing page view. Speed issues can cause visitors to leave before they even see your website.
At Adbuffs Media, Abhishek Maity uses this difference between clicks and views to catch any speed problems happening with destination sites. “We compare landing page views with outbound clicks to understand how many clicks are getting converted as real traffic,” Maity explains, continuing, “Successful ad accounts have an 85%+ conversion rate of click to traffic. This metric helps us track possible website speed issues for different ad placements.”
If you notice your click-to-traffic rate dip under 85%, what can you do to improve your website speed? Some of the website speed tips we received from marketers include:
Editor’s note: Once you have your customer’s eyes on your landing page, you want them to seal the deal. Track which ads lead to conversions using Databox’s Website Conversions dashboard that pulls metrics from Facebook Ads.
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