The Myths and Misunderstandings of the Facebook Pixel

There is a ton of confusion around the Facebook pixel so I am writing a very brief overview on what it is, how it works in layman terms and why you should bother installing it on your website.

The Facebook pixel is tracking code that is placed on every page of your website that helps you properly attribute sales, emails sign ups, leads and other conversions and goals to individuals who originated from Facebook.  The pixel, when properly configured and implemented, will show you how traffic from the social giant is either directly responsible for or how it is impacting your business growth.
Some questions that we’re hearing:

  1. Why can’t I just rely on my Google Analytics (GA)to show me the referrer and attributions? Google Analytics is awesome and it’s one of my favorite things to geek out on every day, but it won’t show you if someone came to your site from Facebook, left with out purchasing, came back days later and purchased.    The Facebook pixel cookies the individual who lands on your site and retrieves that information and connects it to their actions. Google Analytics attribution model by default is “Last Interaction” which means that where ever the person came from last, GA says, hey that sale came through search or direct, etc.   As your advertising campaigns mature, you will have a better idea of how social is fitting into your consumers’ overall path to purchase.   This is a huge issue for a number of reasons that we’ll discuss at a later date.
  2. How does Facebook know what action the individual took on my site?  Each website page should have the pixel installed on it.  The implementation of the code varies by the action you want to happen.   So if a ‘thank you’ page relates back to a completed sale or an email sign up, then because the correct code has been installed AND the ad campaign has been implemented correctly, Facebook will be able to record and attribute the desired action.
  3. Does the Facebook pixel work if I’m not advertising?  The Facebook pixel is working even though you’re not advertising, but it won’t record specific actions unless they are attached to ads.  Even though the Facebook pixel is firing, basically, it doesn’t return actionable data unless ads are running and the desired conversion is indicated on that ad.Facebook Tracking Pixel
  4. Will Facebook tell me which products customers purchased? This is a change from when I first wrote this article.  Now you can create a custom conversion that will track specific sales.   However, your ads promoting one product will only record it as a conversion when that action is taken.  If the ads are promoting one product and the consumer ends up buying something else, the pixel may not know which product they purchased and record it accurately.
  5. What actions will the Facebook tracking pixel track:  The pixel will track:
    1. Leads
    2. Sales
    3. Email sign ups
    4. Video views (on your site, not on an external site)
    5. View Content
    6. Search on your site
    7. Add To Cart - Track when items are added to a shopping cart
    8. Add To Wishlist
    9. Initiate Checkout
    10. Add Payment Info
    11. Completes Registration
  6. Can I see the individuals who purchase because of the Facebook pixel?  Theoretically, this is possible if you have a way to reverse engineer the sale from your end, but Facebook doesn’t return a list of individuals with personally identifiable information to you.
  7. Retargeting - You know those ads that follow you around once you’ve looked at something on Amazon, but didn’t purchase?  Those are retargeting ads.  And in our experience they can increase your conversions between 30 - 50%.  Part of why our ecommerce wine sales digital advertising campaign was due in part to retargeting. That can add up to a ton of dough.  The Facebook pixel will capture those who visit your site and you can serve up retargeting ads to them.  Very, very impactful.  There is a a range of personalization options here.
  8. Measure offline conversions - Many measure the health of your business by what happens in your bricks and mortar location, not on your website.  These new reports will help measure offline sales lift from Custom Audiences.    We are exploring how we might be able to measure sales lift of wine sales in retail locations.  Haven’t figured that out quite yet, put we'll keep you posted on how to use the Facebook tracking pixel for that.
  9. What are your questions?  Please let me know!

If you are considering installing the Facebook pixel or wondering if advertising on Facebook and Instagram (it WAY less expensive than you think) could benefit your business, shoot me an email.