The Facebook Pixel – More Than Just a Technical Tool

by | Mar 8, 2018 | PPC

Facebook UsersFor some, the word “Pixel” brings shivers down their spine. For others, their animal-like defense mechanisms kick in “I don’t deal with those. They’re the tech guy’s responsibility.”

However, for the smart marketers, they know how vital they are to understand, implement, and take advantage of. You see, something that on the surface, looks pretty technical is actually an art form in itself… And just like any other, once you learn the technicalities, you can start getting pretty creative with how you use them…

First, let’s backtrack a little bit…

Tracking pixels – small but mighty

The Facebook Pixel – like any other tracking pixel – is a small piece of tracking code that you add to your website, landing pages or any other web property you own. It can be done via a Tag Manager (which I would recommend), or applied directly to the source code of your page.

Tracking pixels enable you to:

  • Track a user’s behavior around your site, landing pages, Thank You pages and more.
  • Count the number of conversions you receive.
  • Remarket to users who have visited your site.
  • Optimize for the right type of user.

It’s vital that you have a pixel installed, and that it is tracking correctly throughout the campaigns you are running. Without this, there can be some disastrous effects.

For everything you need to know on how to set up your pixel, go here.

Working with Facebook’s Standard Events

Unlike many other pixels you may have worked with, Facebook doesn’t offer a “blanket” piece of code to throw at your site… they offer ‘Standard Events.’

Standard Events are plotted against a typical sales funnel that Facebook has standardized for ease. It means that Facebook can understand when you tell them someone ‘checked out,’ because all advertisers are using the same code to determine what a ‘check out’ looks like.
Standard Events
You can find the full list of Standard Events here.

Use Standard Events to Your Advantage

Standard Events are a great tool for manipulating the Facebook Algorithm, which already is incredibly sophisticated. It understands a user’s behavior and uses this for optimization.

For example, if you tell Facebook you want Conversions, Facebook will go out and find you people who are most likely to convert.

It does this by looking at all the people in your audience, and their unique profiles, activity and behavior. It also looks at how many have entered into sales funnels in the past.

There is a theory that Facebook even scores its users, meaning if you are looking for converters you might pay a little more to reach them, since they are deemed more valuable than serial–link–clickers.

There are a few tips and tactics you can use that will help you to deploy the tracking pixel as part of your marketing strategy:

1. Add standard events throughout your funnel – regardless of what you are optimizing for [ Highly Recommended ]:

If you do nothing else, definitely do this: add standard events throughout your funnel.

Facebook’s algorithm is intelligent – it’s always “learning.” So, by allowing Facebook to see all the sales funnel through its standard events, despite only optimizing for the one you want (e.g. Conversions), you are “teaching” the algorithm more about your ideal customer and those that are less appealing.

For example, use:

  • Lead = showing Facebook a potential customer (lead) who are interested in your offer, and who gave you their email.
  • Add Payment Info = allowing Facebook to understand the customer profile, who entered credit card details but hasn’t completed the purchase.
  • Purchase = showing Facebook our ideal audience: customers who went through your funnel and converted to a paid customer.

2. Optimize for higher up the funnel

Facebook requires at least 50 conversions per Ad Set within your conversion window in order to be able to optimize for conversions. This is usually fine for a lead gen (2–step) campaign with low Cos Per Acquisitions (CPAs). However, for a paid campaign (1–step) this can be trickier to achieve. For example:

If you had a campaign with a conversion window of a day, and a CPA goal of $50, you would need to spend at least $2500 per day, per Ad Set on a 1–step campaign to achieve 50 conversions… That’s to say, if your CPA goal was achieved immediately and there was no ramp up period. This is very unlikely and for some businesses, this is just too much to spend on an unproven promotion or audience.

So, if you’re not optimizing for conversions, what can you do? You can optimize for events further up the funnel instead: Add the “View Content” standard event to the promo page after an advertorial, and ask Facebook to optimize for that goal while still tracking your CPA and Conversion goals as your measure of success.

You can also add the “Add Payment Info” or “Initiate Checkout” standard events to the order form, allowing you to optimize for these events – where more people are likely to land on these pages than on the Thank You page.

A word of warning: Facebook is great at profiling user behavior. So, if you are asking it to optimize for people landing on the order form, that is exactly what will happen. You then have to work hard to convert those Order Form visitors into paying customers. Facebook may have sent you the digital version of “tyre kickers” (or window shoppers) who are less valuable, and less likely to convert, which means your offer needs to work very hard to drum up conversions.

3. Optimize for a different event with the same audience to reach a different subset

Facebook is using your optimization settings to segment your audience. It takes that pool of 100,000 prospects, and slice them up based on what your campaign has told it to look for.

For example: you’re looking for converters – those within your selected audience who are most likely to convert. That’s 20% of your potential audience. You’re showing those people Text Ads only – Facebook analyses that 40% of those people are likely to engage with text over video. You’re targeting desktop only, which whittles down your potential prospects even further.



Facebook Segmentation


So you see, by changing some of the targeting, you are reaching MORE of the potential audience and changing the people you are optimizing for is the first step. But after that, you should consider other ad types, other devices and of course look at the placements you are targeting.



Adding Targets


All of this helps you to scale your campaign further, driving more traffic from the audience you consider to be your strongest prospects. (Figures used in graphics are for demonstration purposes only)

How to Check if a Pixel is Set Up Correctly?

Facebook have a tool, the Pixel Helper, which helps you to check whether the pixel is firing correctly on each page. This is especially helpful if you have a tag manager or a developer adding the code to the pages for you.

It works as a Chrome plug in. You can download it here.

You can also find full documentation on the tool here.

Once you have installed Pixel Helper, it will appear in the top right corner of your Chrome browser screen. When you visit a page and click on the Pixel Helper icon, a box will appear that will show you which pixels are firing – including the pixel ID (which correlates to the correct pixel in your Facebook account) – and which standard event is placed on the page.



Pixel Helper


The simple traffic light system will show where there may be errors – look out for yellow warning symbols and red error symbols.


Facebook is gathering more and more data on its users from its own platform, other websites as well as third party data from offline and online activity. It’s becoming better and better at finding the right customer for you. It is in your best interests to find the best way to optimize these pixels. Don’t just treat them as a job for the tech guys. Apart from tracking, they are also a great tool to help you scale and reach new audiences.