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What Is a Facebook Pixel? Learn to Use It the Right Way in 2019

Jennifer Gregory
Jennifer Gregory
43
June 05, 2019

You look at a pair of shoes on your favorite store’s website. And then for the rest of the week, every time you are on Facebook, those exact same shoes magically show up. If you are like me, then more times than not, you eventually give in because you literally can’t get the shoes off your mind – or, more accurately, your screen.

You likely have a Facebook pixel to thank (or blame, depending on your perspective).

At this point you might be asking yourself, “What exactly is a Facebook pixel?” Basically, it is a free tool that generates a code you can use to track visitors’ activities and then customize ad content according to their preferences.

I’ve seen the benefits firsthand when using FB pixels with my clients. You’ll spend less money on ads (always a good thing) and get more results from your ads (an even better thing). I’ve learned plenty of tips and tricks through trial and error. But I’m happy to save you some time and trouble with this guide!

Why Facebook Developed the Pixel

If it seems like everyone is on Facebook, that’s pretty close to the truth – the site has more than 2.23 billion active users each month. Facebook reported that in the last quarter of 2019, ad costs decreased by two percent while impressions went up by 34 percent – making ads an even better way to reach people.

This means that you can get your products in front of a lot of people, which is a good thing and a bad thing. Most importantly, you want to get your products in front of the right people. You don’t want to spend money advertising baby products to an empty-nester couple. Facebook created the pixel tool to give advertisers the information that they need to make their ads more effective.

And yes, Facebook also benefits when you use pixels. Each time data is sent to you, Facebook also gets the information, which means that they collect even more knowledge about their users.

Why You Need a Facebook Pixel 

Facebook describes the benefits of the pixel as reaching the right people, driving more sales, and measuring the results of your ad. On the surface, this sums up the tool. And yes, FB pixel helps you do these super-important things, especially driving more sales. But we think that the benefits go even deeper.

Understanding your audience is important – probably one of the most important parts of running a successful business. And while it’s impossible to totally get in their minds, the FB pixel can get pretty darn close. It tells you exactly what people are doing on your website and then lets you create ads on demand just for them.

Everyone wants to feel important. Yes, your products will be top of mind to your customers when you use the tool. But even more important, by delivering messages that speak to their challenges and needs, you will make your customers feel like you understand them. And that is absolutely worth the few minutes it takes to set up the tool.

FB pixels are especially beneficial to retailers. You can track exactly what product a visitor viewed and then quickly retarget. With a tool like Shopify, Facebook pixels can easily be added to the platform, without having to go into the website code.

One of the best parts about Facebook Ads is that you can take advantage of real time opportunities. And using FB pixels, you can much more effectively target those ads. Let’s say that a snowstorm is headed to your area. Your online sporting goods store gets lots of people looking for sleds and snow boots and all the other things you need to have a good old-fashioned snow day.

With a Facebook pixel installed, you can target people who visit your site, in the area where the snow is predicted, with ads that specifically reference the upcoming storm. Because you are targeting warm leads (i.e., people looking for specific products) and you know their needs (i.e., to prepare for the storm), your ad can address their state of mind at a specific moment.

The bottom line is that if you are using Facebook ads without using a Facebook pixel, your ads are very likely underperforming, which is costing your company money.

What Facebook Pixels Tell You

The biggest piece of information FB pixels tell you is each time an event happens on your website. In this case, “events” refer to all the times your website visitors perform an action.

Facebook has standard events set up so you can easily copy and paste the code. You can choose from the following events:

Website actionDescriptionStandard event code
Add payment infoThe addition of payment information in the checkout flow (ex: click, landing page on billing info)fbq(‘track’, ‘AddPaymentInfo’);
Add to cartThe addition of items to a shopping cart (ex: click, landing page on Add to Cart button)fbq(‘track’, ‘AddToCart’);
Add to wishlistThe addition of items to a wishlist (ex: click, landing page on Add to Wishlist button)fbq(‘track’, ‘AddToWishlist’);
Complete registrationThe submission of a registration form (ex: complete subscription, sign up for a service)fbq(‘track’, ‘CompleteRegistration’);
ContactA telephone/SMS, email, chat or other type of contact between a customer and your businessfbq(‘track’, ‘Contact’);
Customize ProductThe customization of products through a configuration tool or other application your business ownsfbq(‘track’, ‘CustomizeProduct’);
DonateThe donation of funds to your organisation or causefbq(‘track’, ‘Donate’);
Find LocationA web or app search for one of your business locations that suggests intention to visitfbq(‘track’, ‘FindLocation’);
Initiate checkoutWhen someone enters the checkout flow (ex: click, landing page on checkout button)fbq(‘track’, ‘InitiateCheckout’);
LeadWhen someone expresses interest in your offering (ex: form submission, sign up for trial, landing on pricing page)fbq(‘track’, ‘Lead’);
PurchasePurchases or checkout flow completions (ex: Landing on “Thank You” or confirmation page)fbq(‘track’, ‘Purchase’, {value: 0.00, currency: ‘USD’});
ScheduleThe booking of an appointment to visit one of your locationsfbq(‘track’, ‘Schedule’);
SearchSearches on your website, app or other property (ex: product searches)fbq(‘track’, ‘Search’);
Start trialThe start of a free trial of a product or service you offer (ex: trial subscription)fbq(‘track’, ‘StartTrial’, {value: ‘0.00’, currency: ‘USD’, predicted_ltv: ‘0.00’});
Submit applicationA submitted registration form for a product, service or program you offer (ex: credit card, educational program or job)fbq(‘track’, ‘SubmitApplication’);
SubscribeThe start of a paid subscription for a product or service you offerfbq(‘track’, ‘Subscribe’, {value: ‘0.00’, currency: ‘USD’, predicted_ltv: ‘0.00’});
View contentKey page views (ex: product page, landing page, article)fbq(‘track’, ‘ViewContent’);

And if none of these meet your needs, you can set up custom events pretty easily.

You’ll also get detailed data to give you even more information about your customers. On the Data Source tab of the FB pixel, you can see the following:

  • Events Received: This is just what it sounds like – the number of events your FB pixel tracked.
  • Top Events: You can see which events are most common on your page. The later the funnel events (e.g., adding to a cart and adding to a wish list) the better.
  • Activity: This metric tells you what events happened each day for the past week. You need to monitor this stat so that you can spot issues with your pixel or concerning trends with your customers, such as significant drop-off in late funnel events.

Setting Up Facebook Pixel – We Promise It’s Easy

It only takes a minute (or six) to get your FB pixel setup completed using the Facebook Pixel Helper app.

There are two parts to setting up your pixel. First, you need to create the pixel. Then, you need to create events for it to track. Don’t worry, it’s not as hard as it sounds. But you do need to have the ability to add code directly to your website. If you don’t have this, you need to get the help of someone who has the power to do so before you get started.

Pro Tip: The best website builders, like Wix and Weebly, provide easy ways to add the Facebook Pixel to your site. All you have to do is create your pixel and copy the code.

Creating Your Pixel

It’s just a few steps. No special knowledge required. Just a couple of clicks and keystrokes.

The first step is to go to the Facebook Events tab. Then click Facebook Pixels from the menu on the top right.

What Is a Facebook Pixel Learn to Use It the Right Way-image1

Now you see the Create a Facebook Pixel page. Click on the green Create a Pixel button at the bottom.

What Is a Facebook Pixel Learn to Use It the Right Way-image2

You will then see the Create a Facebook Pixel popup.

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In the name field, put in a name for your pixel that will be meaningful and recognizable to you. The information is only as good as your ability to know what you are looking at. Then put in your URL and click the Create button.

When you see the Install Pixel screen, click on Manually Install Pixel Code Yourself. Alternatively, you can opt to Email Instructions to a Developer. If you go with the second option, then you are done with the process and can go get a cup of coffee instead of reading the rest of this section.

What Is a Facebook Pixel Learn to Use It the Right Way-image4

If you are installing the pixel yourself, this is where the actual code comes into play.

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Copy your code and follow the instructions on the screen that tell you where to put it on your website. Now is not the time to be creative – simply copy and paste. And if you ever want to delete the FB pixel, just highlight and delete the code. Yes, it’s that simple.

Setting Up Events

You’ve got your FB pixel all set up, but it’s pretty much useless without the events. These are what tell your FB pixel when to send information to Facebook to create targeted ads. So don’t go home just yet or decide to take a long lunch – you’ve still got work to do.

What Is a Facebook Pixel Learn to Use It the Right Way-image6

Click on Use Facebook’s Event Setup Tool. Then select the events that you want to set up from the Standard Events.

The only thing left to do now is connect your pixel from your Ad Manager. Click on Create Custom Conversion and then select the event you want to connect to the ad. This means that the ad will be targeted to the people who perform the event.

Designing Custom Audiences

You can also use events to set up custom audiences and tie them back to your FB Ad Manager. For example, you can create a custom audience of visitors who only look at shoes on your website. Then you can create shoe-focused ads specifically for this audience.

What Is a Facebook Pixel Learn to Use It the Right Way-image7

Start by going to the Audiences tab and then select Create Custom Audiences. Here, you can select the different events and sources to create your audience.

What Is a Facebook Pixel Learn to Use It the Right Way-image8

More Ways to Use Your Pixel

We forgot to tell you one of the best parts – you can use FB pixels to help other tools target your audience even better. Here are our three favorite integrations:

  • Hootsuite: Next time you set up an ad campaign, add a FB pixel to get even more information. You don’t have to set up a new one – just use your existing pixel. Go to the Facebook Ad Accounts tab in Settings on Hootsuite. Click Create a New One in the Pixel column and follow the on-screen directions.
  • Sendible: With this tool, you can use FB pixels to help define custom audiences. This way, when you set up Facebook retargeting pixel campaigns, you can use the data you’ve already collected.
  • eClincher: If you use eClincher, then you can easily add your existing FB pixel. After that, you can use the info to further target your ads and campaigns.

Managing social media is hard. And knowing what ads to create and pay for is often even harder. There are a lot of tools out there for social media – some paid, some free. And it’s easy to have shiny object syndrome. But FB pixels are really a no-brainer. They are simple and free, and they give you the information you need to drive the right customers back to your website. And, hopefully, this time to buy something.

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