Time and time again, I’ve had clients come to me desperately trying to figure out why on earth their Facebook ads aren’t raking in any sales, no matter how generous their ad budgets are.
When I pop the pixel question, I’m not surprised that many of them aren’t even sure what the Facebook pixel is used for in the first place, let alone have it set up. Then they wonder why their ad dollars slip through their fingers like sand.
That’s not how Facebook ads work. And that’s definitely not how strategic marketing works.
Yes, I know you’ve heard the stats. A whopping 93% of marketers regularly use Facebook ads, and we know how much influence that’s had on online shopping behavior.
But the cold harsh truth is that while over 5 million businesses advertise on Facebook every month, 62% of small businesses don’t reach their Facebook ads targets.
I’ve witnessed the disastrous aftermath of countless Facebook ads campaigns due to a complete lack of understanding, tracking and strategy on behalf of business owners or marketing managers. However, when you peel back the layers, it all stems from one essential component that I’ve seen too many ecommerce businesses underestimate – the Facebook pixel.
Without it, you might as well be throwing your money out the window. You have no way to tell if your Facebook ads are actually converting.
With it, you can effectively track sales, leads and revenue, and optimize your campaigns accordingly.
In this extensive guide, I’ll be breaking down everything you need to know about the Facebook pixel and how you can use it to strategically maximize your ROAS, with tips and tricks from my experience working with dozens of ecommerce clients.
- What is a Facebook pixel, anyway?
- How does Facebook pixel work?
- Why is Facebook pixel important: must-know benefits for Facebook ads
- How to create Facebook pixel & install it
- Best practices for effective Facebook pixel advertising
- Facebook pixel problems?
- Is Facebook pixel worth it? Our clients’ results
What is a Facebook pixel, anyway?
In a nutshell, the Facebook pixel is a free, versatile and highly efficient tool that allows advertisers to monitor what actions users take on their websites.
It’s a small piece of code that, once added to your site, opens the way to advanced metrics, custom retargeting, ad optimization and conversion tracking on Facebook.
How does Facebook pixel work?
A few years ago, understanding Facebook pixels was a complicated, stressful and migraine-triggering process that would leave my clients confused, overwhelmed and one step away from rejecting Facebook ads altogether.
Thankfully, Facebook now features just one pixel that follows a basic flow to identify how leads and customers interact with your platform:
- A user reaches your website (via a Facebook ad, Google search or any other source).
- They take specific actions, such as adding products to their cart, initiating checkout, completing a purchase, etc.
- The pixel fires and registers the actions you choose to track as “events”.
- All the event data collected by the pixel is then available in your Events Manager for you to analyze.
What can Facebook pixel track?
Remember what I said about the pixel’s versatility? Well, you can use it to track pretty much any action taken on any page of your website.
Facebook offers a broad list of predefined standard events you can choose from. Standard events represent the most common website actions, like viewing a specific product page or adding an item to a wishlist, just to name a few.
If your desired action isn’t among them, you can create custom events to suit the needs of your ecommerce business. I’ll dive into specifics about events a little later on.
Using Facebook cookies, the pixel also enhances advertiser experience by providing substantial metrics like:
- Number of conversions
- Purchase Value
- CPA (cost per conversion)
- CVR (conversion rate)
- ROI (return on investment)
How many Facebook pixels can I have?
Facebook allows as many as 100 pixels for each Business Manager account.
If you have just one website, you’ll only need one pixel to track all of your ads, building on your base Facebook pixel for different pages.
You can even use the same Facebook pixel for multiple websites, if they share similar audiences. Subsequently, you can set rules to separate the audiences based on the URL.
Adfix Pro Tip: From my experience, the best practice is to use a different pixel for every website. If you run several ecommerce businesses, you’ll have a much easier time keeping track of your ad results this way.
When should I install Facebook pixel?
If you have a business page and haven’t installed the Facebook pixel yet, make it an immediate priority. Even if you don’t plan on running Facebook ads for the next few months, the pixel gathers information about your audience for up to 180 days.
In other words, when you do decide to start advertising, you’ll have all the audience data you need for remarketing. It doesn’t cost a dime, and I guarantee it will save you both time and money in the long run.
Adfix Pro Tip: When you begin to create a custom audience, I advise you to choose the number of days (1-180) based on behavior and objective:
- Fewer days – generally retargeting customers who forgot something in their cart or didn’t finish making their purchase (for larger ecommerce businesses)
- Longer time frame – to reactivate previous buyers and transform them into loyal customers
Why is Facebook pixel important: must-know benefits for Facebook ads
Let me break it to you gently. Running Facebook ads without having the pixel installed is the equivalent of launching your ad dollars into a black hole and hoping for the best.
It’s impossible to track your results.
That’s how important it is.
I’ve seen so many clients reach rock bottom with their budgets because of this, and I don’t want you to be one of them. Becoming aware of the pixel’s benefits is the first step towards rethinking your Facebook ads strategy and getting closer to that great ROI you’ve been longing for.
Aside from the invaluable in-depth conversion tracking it offers, Facebook pixel unlocks a series of advanced marketing tools on the platform:
- Remarketing – The pixel enables you to retarget previous website visitors through custom audiences, whether leads or returning customers.
- Cross-device tracking – As long as the user is logged into their Facebook account, the pixel can track conversions across all their devices.
- Dynamic ads – I can’t stress enough how important it is for ecommerce businesses to list their products in a Facebook catalog. After Facebook records user activity via the pixel, it shows them dynamic product ads based on your catalog and their behavior.
- Lookalike audiences – Generate leads with a similar profile to the customers your business already has.
- Facebook ads strategy optimization – This is where things tend to get complicated. Book my free 30-minute strategy consultation and we’ll develop a plan that will make your campaigns skyrocket.
How to create Facebook pixel & install it
Any person can create and set up Facebook pixel on their business page. Knowing how Facebook tends to tweak the installation process throughout time, I’ll highlight the main guidelines for generating the Facebook audience pixel for your ecommerce below.
- Go to your Events Manager.
- Click the button that suggests getting started with creating a pixel.
- Give your pixel a name and add your website’s URL.
- Choose to install your retargeting pixel through one of the options provided. If your ecommerce business uses one of the platforms listed as a partner, scroll down to our Setting up Facebook pixel for ecommerce section below for setup guidelines.
- Select manual installation if your platform isn’t included or if you want to place the code on your website yourself.
- Click the box with the pixel code to automatically copy the text to your clipboard.
- Paste it right before the </head> tag in the header section of your website code.
- Verify the accuracy of your setup by sending test web traffic to your pixel. An Active status confirms that the pixel was properly placed on your site.
Setting up Facebook pixel for your ecommerce
Facebook facilitates a simplified installation process for their partner platforms.
Currently, you can connect your site without editing any code if you use one of the following services:
- Google Tag Manager
Adfix Pro Tip: If your online store runs on one of these platforms, I strongly recommend setting up your pixel this way.
While some ecommerce platforms like WooCommerce or Magento require an extension .zip file you need to upload in your account, others like Shopify or Squarespace simply ask you to paste your Facebook Pixel ID in your settings. The specifics will vary.
Adfix Pro Tip: During the setup process, I insist that you make sure automatic advanced matching is enabled. The rich data provided will boost attributed conversions, custom audience size and remarketing campaign results.
Where is my Facebook pixel ID?
If your Facebook pixel is missing from a certain setting, you can find the ID in your Events Manager at all times, usually in the top left area of the page.
Every pixel ID consists of a unique 15-digit number that you can use to double check that everything is running smoothly. The string of digits is typically preceded by Pixel ID: and located under the name you assigned to your pixel.
Installing Facebook Pixel Helper
Mark my words – the Facebook Pixel Helper is just as important to have as the pixel itself. Officially developed by the platform, Facebook Pixel Helper is a Chrome extension that you can use for troubleshooting and pixel status verification.
I encourage you to download and install Facebook Pixel Helper from the Chrome Web Store right after you create and set up your pixel.
Do note that Facebook Pixel Helper is only compatible with Google Chrome browsers. Nonetheless, it will help you troubleshoot the majority of issues you might come across.
Best practices for effective Facebook pixel advertising
My agency, Adfix, is an official Facebook Marketing Consultant. I’ve worked with a myriad of clients to increase sales and acquire loyal customers through Facebook ads.
If you’re just beginning, you can check out our guide on how to get started with Facebook ads for ecommerce here.
Still struggling to wrap your head around everything? Schedule a free strategy meeting with me so we can get the most out of your Facebook ads campaigns, beyond the best practices I’ll be presenting below.
Standard events vs. Custom events
My clients tend to get confused when they come face-to-face with the whole events system. In reality, it’s not as intimidating as they make it out to be.
When defining what actions you want to track (standard or custom events), you need to add a bit of code to your base Facebook audience pixel on each website page.
Adfix Pro Tip: To provide the Facebook algorithm with as much data as possible, I recommend implementing all the standard events that apply to your ecommerce.
The full list of standard events that are currently available features:
- View content
- Add to cart
- Complete registration
- Add to wishlist
- Initiate checkout
- Submit application
- Find location
- Customize product
- Start trial
- Add payment info
Adfix Pro Tip: If your ecommerce doesn’t have a lot of traffic or purchases, I recommend using the Add to Cart standard event as a source of optimization. As a result, your pixel will be able to collect more conversion data.
What happens if a website action you’re interested in isn’t a standard event? You can create a custom event, such as targeting certain button clicks.
Although I know it’s inconvenient that custom events don’t support dynamic product ads, they’re a good solution if you want to get more specific with your website events and pixel tracking. Nevertheless, due to their complex nature, I recommend them for experienced marketers, or you can let me take care of them for you.
Strategy above all: Facebook retargeting pixel tips from the pros
Throughout the years, my experience working with ecommerce clients has taught me the most valuable lesson possible: it all comes down to the strategy.
Many of my clients felt that Facebook ads were transactional. Nothing could be further from the truth.
People are not on Facebook and Instagram to be sold.
Every ecommerce needs to set time aside for developing a strong brand and high-level marketing strategy before aimlessly boosting posts and asking people to buy their products right from the get-go.
Think of it like dating. First, you invite the person out. You have a great conversation and learn more about each other. If there’s a solid opportunity for a connection, you still have to go out on a few more dates before calling it a serious relationship.
You have to engage. You have to build trust. The same goes for Facebook ads.
Adfix Pro Tip: Adopt a systematic approach and create a progressive message with a series of campaigns using a 4-step funnel.
- Awareness – bring attention to the users’ problem. Objective: landing page views or post engagement
- Retargeting – show users who engaged with your ad/site what product is the solution. Objective: view content
- Benefits or Offer – draw them in by presenting the same product’s benefits or a special discount. Objective: add to cart
- Incentive or Reminder – encourage them to complete their purchase with a reminder or additional incentive (i.e. free shipping). Objective: purchase
The closer you get to the bottom of the funnel, the more Facebook pixel will help you reach your ideal customers.
- Conversion tracking
- Lookalike audiences
Strategies like this have helped my clients get fantastic ROI. Let’s set up a one-on-one meeting so we can uncover new areas for your Facebook ads campaigns.
Tracking conversions: Facebook Attribution Tool vs. Google Analytics
When it comes to choosing the right tool for measuring results, there’s quite some debate among marketers about choosing between Google Analytics and Facebook Attribution Tool.
There will always be significant discrepancies between the two competitors, such as conversion attribution dates. Similarly, each tool has its fair share of pros and cons that every ecommerce should study.
From where I stand, every business needs to decide what its central source of truth is.
Adfix Pro Tip: For my omnichannel clients, I advise using Analytics at least once per month without completely discarding Facebook. There might be branding benefits (i.e. increased visibility and awareness) that influence the other channels, even if users don’t convert on the spot.
To get a broader picture of your actual results, I recommend using the Model Comparison Tool to see how the dates change when comparing first and last click attribution.
Curious to see how Facebook and Instagram ads compare to Google Shopping? Read about their benefits side by side here. Even more, take your research to the next level and check out our Google Shopping, AdWords, Facebook and Amazon comparative analysis and find out where you should advertise your ecommerce.
Facebook pixel problems?
You normally shouldn’t encounter that many issues if your pixel is set up appropriately. With the Facebook Pixel Helper Chrome extension I talked about, you can check to see if your pixel ID is valid and firing where it should be.
Still, there are some recurring problems my clients face.
For example, if your Facebook pixel can’t match products, it’s likely that you’re feeding conflicting data to the platform. Therefore, if there are differences between the product IDs registered in pixel and your Facebook catalog, your dynamic product ads won’t be accurate.
I urge you to ensure that your product IDs line up in all places.
Is Facebook pixel worth it? Our clients’ results
It’s difficult to quantify the difference when analyzing the life of an ecommerce business before and after Facebook pixel. A lack of tracking is a lack of insight, analytics and metrics.
What is certain is that my clients’ businesses were severely stagnating, while the owners were losing hope because they couldn’t see results.
By implementing the pixel, it gave them the confidence to invest in their ad strategy and ultimately grow their business with more customers and revenue.
Their subsequent results spoke volumes.
Facebook pixel & ads case studies
For one of my clients in the cosmetics industry, I leveraged two ways. To begin with, I created the 4-step funnel for the site and then remarketed to the visitors. For those who bought products, I set up a repurchasing campaign.
Using Facebook pixel as part of the comprehensive marketing strategy I designed for them, I’ve succeeded in helping the client achieve a 200% increase in transactions and triple their revenue.
I helped another client that sold an innovate fishing accessory go from 0 product awareness to $100,000 sales in one month after working together over the course of a year. The Facebook pixel helped us market his reasonably priced product to a passionate community of fishing enthusiasts by strategically targeting custom audiences.
In addition, the remarkable success of a pre-owned designer handbag retailer I worked with was determined by the awareness created through Facebook ads. Considering the high-end status (and prices) of the items they sold, the buying cycle was notably long.
The pixel allowed us to build a relationship of trust with their leads so they could be confident enough to make their buying decision.
However, my clients’ results would not have been possible without the detailed Facebook ads strategy behind the pixel implementation.
And that’s why I’m here.
Drop a line so we can arrange a strategy meeting where you get my undivided attention for half an hour and start elevating your ecommerce business to where it needs to be.