The Facebook Pixel: What it is and why you should use it
If you’re thinking about using Facebook Ads to promote your product, service, or your business in general, you should install the Facebook Pixel.
Before you start promoting anything, before you start thinking of the audience you’re going to target, before you start thinking of the cool images and videos you’re going to use to interest your potential customers, installing the Facebook Pixel is the single best action you can take.
In this article, we tell you why.
What is the Facebook Pixel?
It’s simply a small piece of code (provided by Facebook) that you add to your website, which allows you to do some very, very useful things. Things that could drastically improve the results you’re getting from your advertising.
Seriously, it’s that good.
What does the Facebook Pixel do for me?
There are a load of cool things the Facebook Pixel can do for you. Let’s break them down into three main headings, which can be summed up as follows:
- It lets you create Website Custom Audiences
- It helps you track conversions
- It helps you optimise your ads
Now, let’s look at each of these in turn.
Website Custom Audiences
Track your warm audiences
First and foremost, the thing most people will immediately benefit from, is the ability to generate Website Custom Audiences using the Facebook Pixel.
Custom Audiences are your ‘warm’ audiences, where you provide the data to Facebook, whether it’s a customer file or a list of people who’ve visited your shop. They’re made up of people who have had some form of interaction with, and therefore have an awareness of, your business.
The Facebook Pixel allows you to generate website custom audiences, by tracking who visited your website, when, how much time they spent, and what they did while they were there.
What can you do with website custom audiences?
You’ve probably heard marketers use the term ‘retargeting‘ before.
Once you’ve created your Website Custom Audiences, you can then ‘retarget’ them with your ads.
You know that TV you were looking at online but didn’t buy, which then seemed to follow you around the internet, appearing on random websites you visited? That wasn’t magic or coincidence: that was retargeting.
Retargeting allows you to keep your brand in front of people who’ve visited your website. It allows you to convert people who don’t necessarily buy, or commit to your offering on the first visit, rather than lose them and try to win them back in the future as a ‘cold’ visitor.
You can retarget people based on behaviours such as what pages on your site they visited, what pages they didn’t visit, and because the pixel stores the information for up to 180 days, you can even base it on when (in the previous 180 days) they visited.
Let’s say you run an eCommerce website selling consumer electronics. You’re about to discount the price of a specific camera and want to maximise sales. You use the custom audience data provided by the pixel to show an ad for the product to people who have looked at that product page on your website in the last 1 – 3 months.
Alternatively, imagine you’re a company who creates written content as a means of building your brand and credibility among your potential customer base. You use the information the pixel provides to serve an ad to people who read your blog last week, but who haven’t read this week’s article, inviting them to do so, increasing your readership, and possibly the interest level in your business.
In both instances, you’re serving your ads to warm audiences, more likely to convert, targeting people who are both familiar with your business and have (to some degree) expressed an interest in what you’re promoting or sharing, by visiting your product or blog.
These are just a couple of the ways you can retarget using Website Custom Audiences with the Facebook Pixel.
Let’s not forget about Lookalike Audiences!
Website Custom Audiences are also one of the ways you can create Lookalike Audiences in Facebook.
Facebook simply uses the Facebook Pixel data to look at the things your custom audiences have in common, and then finds other people who have those characteristics too!
This is great if you’re looking to reach even more people, while ensuring their chances of being relevant and interested in what you’re promoting are as high as possible, saving you money!
Pretty cool huh?
Find out what’s actually happening on your website
The Facebook Pixel also allows you to create Custom Conversions and Standard Events, which allow you to track and optimise specific instances or actions on your site.
Setting up a Custom Conversion, based on a “Thank You” page or another form of confirmation page, allows you to track when someone visits that page, specifically by telling Facebook the URL to look out for.
Since these types of pages only load when someone takes a certain action, for example, signing up to your mailing list or making a purchase, you’re able to track instances of each specific action. You can even specify the type of conversion, for example, “Add to Cart”, “Purchase” or” Complete Registration”.
What’s more, you can add a value against your Custom Conversion. This means that when someone orders a box of handmade chocolates from your website, you can more easily determine that it cost you £1.03 to get each £8.99 purchase!
So, using Custom Conversions, you’re able to tell Facebook what a purchase looks like and how much that purchase costs!
Standard Events are an alternative to Custom Conversions, but instead of using a page URL, you tell Facebook that a certain type of event happened by amending the Facebook Pixel code on that page.
It’s generally accepted that Standard Events are a more robust, reliable solution than Custom Conversions, with the trade-off being that they are a bit trickier to set up.
If you’re not comfortable working with your site’s code, then Facebook recommends you use Custom Conversions.
Optimise your ads
Help Facebook to help you
When you’re setting up a new campaign, you’re asked to choose an “objective” for your marketing.
Choosing an objective helps Facebook know what you want to get out of your campaign, whether it’s traffic to your website, views on your videos or something else. Facebook will then provide you with the best bidding and optimisation options to help you meet your objectives based on that choice.
For example, one of the objectives available you to when creating a new campaign is the “Conversions” objective.
If you’ve set up conversion events and have told Facebook what what action you’re looking for, i.e. what a conversion actually is on your website, Facebook can then start to understand what people are more likely to convert, and show your ads to the people within that audience more likely to the take the action you want!
How do I set up the Facebook Pixel?
You simply place the pixel code on each page of your website that you want to track. It’s not something that your visitors will see, and it shouldn’t affect the speed or performance of your site.
If you’ve used Google Analytics, the setup should be broadly familiar. You (or your webmaster if you have one) simply place the code between the <head> and </head> tags on your website. If you’re using a theme you can put the code there so that you can add it once, and it’ll track on every page on your site.
You can also use Google Tag Manager or download one of a number of plugins that will make this simple for you, such as PixelYourSite, among others.
If you use a 3rd party to manage your website, speak to them about installing the Pixel.
How do I know if I have the Facebook Pixel already?
The easiest way to check if you have the Facebook Pixel is to use the Facebook Pixel Helper, an extension for the Google Chrome browser.
Not only can you use the Facebook Pixel Helper to check if you have the pixel installed in the first place, but it’s also a useful tool for checking the pixel is still firing when you have it installed, what conversion events you have in place, or just seeing what other websites you visit use it.
So are you ready to use the Facebook Pixel?
The Facebook Pixel is a must-have for businesses looking to use Facebook Ads.
The ability to track your website traffic (if they are logged into Facebook), effectively building ‘invisible lists’ to use for future advertising, as well as being able to track and optimise for the actions your potential customers are taking on your website, is invaluable to anyone looking to sell a product, promote a service or advertise their company in general.
And, as Facebook continues to build upon, and enhance their platform, the usefulness of the Facebook Pixel will only continue to grow.