The Complete Guide to Facebook Ads Pixels

Facebook ads pixels

NOTE: This article was updated at the end of February 2016.  Since Facebook is moving completely to the one Facebook pixel in a few months, now is the time to learn it and start using it if you aren’t already.  So because of that, I’ve updated this article to reflect the new Facebook pixel, tracking conversions with Standard Events, and Custom Conversions.  Enjoy…

Want to know the secret to high-converting Facebook ads?

Taking advantage of Facebook ad pixels.

If you’re serious about using Facebook ads to grow your business these days, you need to be using Facebook’s pixels.

Unfortunately, fully understanding how to use pixels properly tends to trip a lot of people up – it can be wicked confusing.

In this article I’m going to help you wrap your head around Facebook ads pixels and explain:

  • What is the new Facebook pixel — how to use it for retargeting and tracking conversions.
  • Where the pixel gets placed and how to verify it’s working correctly
  • How you can use pixels for more highly converting ads
  • A slick Facebook ads strategy using pixels that’s working really well right now

Ready?  Let’s dive right into it…

What’s A Pixel?

First, if you’re not sure what a pixel is, it’s simply a piece of Javascript code that gets placed on the pages of your website.  It allows you to measure, optimize and build audiences for your Facebook ads. Facebook provides this code to you.  Now, I know for some of you your eyes just glazed over, but if you’re a non-techy person like me, don’t worry, it’s not as intimidating as it seems.

I get into where it goes on your site and how to do it below so keep reading…

Facebook Moving From Two Pixels to One

Up until now there have been two different pixel types — conversion tracking and custom audience (also known as retargeting).  As I mentioned above you CAN still use each of these and everything will work just fine, however, Facebook is moving to one Facebook pixel, and removing the conversion tracking pixel in the 2nd half of 2016.  This one pixel will allow you to track people coming to your website and landing pages AND track conversions.

The Facebook Pixel: What You Need to Know

Facebook is aptly calling this “new” one pixel the Facebook Pixel.  There may be other names floating around out there, like custom audience pixel or upgraded pixel, but we’re going to refer to it as the Facebook pixel in this article.

According to Facebook, the “new” Facebook pixel is what the advertising team is basing all future product development on.

I think this is a good thing as it’ll provide some stability going forward, even though according to Facebook, there will be lots of iterations and updates as we go along.

The Facebook pixel is your base pixel code and it is used for 3 main functions:

  • Building Custom Audiences from your website for re-marketing.
  • Optimizing ads for conversions.
  • Tracking conversions and attributing them back to your ads.

Here’s an example of what the base Facebook pixel looks like (without the black lines):

pixel code screenshot

Where to Find Your Facebook Pixel

In your Ads Manager…

Step 1: Go to Tools

Step 2: Select Pixels

Step 3: View Pixel Code (you can copy it from here)

Where Does the Facebook Pixel Go?

If you want to track people coming to any page on your website so you can target your Facebook ads to them later, place the Facebook pixel between the “head” tags of your website’s theme.  By placing it in your site’s theme, the pixel will show up on every page on your site and you don’t have to manually place it individually on every page.

If you’re using WordPress, use a plug-in like Insert Headers & Footers, Headers & Footers or Facebook Conversion Pixel.  These plug-ins make it really easy to add this pixel code to your site.

See, Facebook gives clear instructions on where the pixel goes:

Conversion tracking pixel screenshot

Again, if you’re a non-techy like me, simply copy and paste this pixel code from Facebook and send it to your web person.  Or, hire one on upwork or Fiverr if you don’t have someone. For a web person, this is super easy and they’ll know exactly where to put it.

If you want to track people coming to specific landing pages, place the Facebook pixel between the “head” tags of the individual pages. For example, if you want to track people coming to your opt-in page and your “thank you for opting-in” page, you would place your one custom audience pixel on both pages.

If you’re using something like LeadPages or Clickfunnels or Optimize Press, each make it super easy to add this pixel code to your landing pages.

Verifying The Facebook Pixel is Placed & Working Correctly

Verifying that the pixel has been placed and is working correctly is another thing that tends to trip a lot of people up.

Here are a couple tips to help make verifying the pixel easier:

  • After you’ve placed the conversion tracking pixel on a page, save and reload the page (if you’re using LeadPages, “publish” the page and make sure the page fully loads.)
  • Then, if you’re using Power Editor to set up your ads, simply refresh the browser tab you’re working in. This should change the pixel from “unverified” to “verified”.
  • Another trick, if you’re using Chrome, is to download the Facebook Pixel Helper extension.

The Pixel Helper is an awesome tool that helps you validate and troubleshoot your Facebook pixels. If you don’t have it yet, get it now, it’s a lifesaver.

Here’s an example of what it looks like:

pixel helper screenshot

Using the Facebook Pixel for Retargeting

If you’re not already familiar with retargeting or re-marketing (same thing)… you know how when you go to a site like Amazon.com and you visit a product page but don’t end up buying the product? Then later that day you’re surfing the Net and you see an Amazon ad for that same product you were looking at? That’s retargeting…and it’s awesome.

Facebook retargeting allows you to do things like:

  • Target your ads to people who have visited your website
  • Target your ads to people who have visited your opt-in page but didn’t opt-in
  • Target your ads to people who have visited your sales page but didn’t buy
  • Find new Facebook users to target your ads to who are similar to people who visit your website (lookalike audiences)

The opportunities are only limited by your creativity and where you want to “capture” people in your sales funnel.

Remember, there is only ONE Facebook pixel per Facebook ads account. This is another thing that tends to be confusing. That means your ONE Facebook pixel goes on any page (or your website) that you want to track.

Setting Up Your Custom Retargeting Audiences

Once you’ve placed the Facebook pixel in your website’s theme, then you can begin creating your custom retargeting audiences.  NOTE: THIS IS A TWO STEP PROCESS.  PLACE THE FACEBOOK PIXEL ON YOUR SITE FIRST, THEN YOU CAN CREATE YOUR RETARGETING AUDIENCES.

Step 1: In your Ads Manager, under Tools, select either Audiences or Pixels

Step 2: If you selected Audiences, Click the Create Audience button and select “Custom Audience”. Choose Website Traffic.

Custom Audience Setup Screenshot

If you chose Pixels, then simply select Create Audience.

Step 3: Create what kind of audience you want

Custom Audience Setup Screenshot #2

Step 4: Choose the duration for how long you want to track people who visit your website or landing page. It defaults to 30 days and goes up to 180 days. That means that people who visit your tracked pages are kept in the Audience for a maximum of 30 days. After 30 days from their first visit they are removed from the Audience. You can adjust the retention window from a minimum of 1 day to a maximum of 180 days.

Step 5: Create your ad and choose the custom audience you want to target in the Targeting section. Here’s a step-by-step video for how to set up your custom audiences: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CDA2ux83Scg

Tracking Conversions With the Facebook Pixel

Ok, so here’s where things get A LITTLE techy, so stay with me…

I’m going to assume you know what a conversion is (every time someone lands on your landing page and gives you their email address in exchange for your lead magnet or they buy something from you) — that’s a conversion.

In order to track conversions with the Facebook pixel, we now need to add a small snippet of code (that Facebook provides us) to the base Facebook pixel.  Facebook calls these small snippet of code things “Standard Events”.

Using a Standard Event code you can see how many conversions you’ve had and thus how much you’re per conversion.

For instance, with the following example, I know exactly how many leads I’ve received from this campaign and what my average cost-per-lead is:

CPL Screenshot

But, here’s where a lot of people get things wrong when tracking conversions…

If you’re measuring leads, conversions, registrations or checkouts, the Facebook pixel WITH THE STANDARD EVENT CODE should be placed on the page that a person lands on after your landing page.

This is often the “thank you for opting-in” page.

In this case, this pixel doesn’t go on your landing page.

Cool?

Standard Events

As I mentioned, in order to track conversions now, you’ll need to add a snippet of code to the Facebook pixel on the specific pages where you want to track the conversion. This is what Facebook is calling a Standard Event.

Currently, there are 9 Standard Events that you can use.  Here they are:

Screen_Shot_2015-12-08_at_3.44.32_PM

Here’s an example of the Facebook pixel which also includes a Standard Event code:

Screen_Shot_2015-12-09_at_12.10.54_PM

So what you do is simply select what kind of event you want to track from the above chart, copy the corresponding Standard Event code from the chart, and paste it into your Facebook pixel ON THE PAGE THAT SIGNIFIES A  CONVERSION.

For example, if I am sending people from my Facebook ads to a webinar registration page, I would copy the “Complete Registration” event code from the chart — fbq(‘track’, ‘CompleteRegistration’); — and add it to my Facebook pixel code on the webinar registration thank you page.

As you can see in the above image, you want to paste the standard event code right after the ” fbq(‘track’, PageView’); ” and before the ” </script> “.

 

Seeing Your Conversion Results in Ads Manager

Once you’ve added the Standard Event code to your Facebook pixel and your ads are running, you need to be able to monitor the results, right?

It’s pretty simple…

In Ads Manager, open up your campaign and go to the “Columns: Performance” dropdown menu on the right side of the screen.

You’ll then want to select Customize Columns.

From there, simply choose “Websites” in the left column of the box that pops up and from the list of Website Actions, select which action you are tracking.

standard event reporting screenshot

The action you select to see will now show up as a column in your Ads Manager so you can see the results.

Setting A Value for Your Conversions

Notice in the Standard Events chart above, the “make purchase” event has an area for you to add the value of the product you’re selling.

Soooo, did you know you can set the value of a conversion? Yep!

Say your product is $97.  You can put that value in the Standard Event code and Facebook will track that for you.

Just edit the Standard pixel code to reflect the price of your product or service. Where you see the “0.00”, replace it with your value.

Pretty cool, right?

By entering a conversion value, you know exactly how much money you’re making versus how much your spending on ads.

Boom!

Here’s how to see the return on your investment using Facebook’s reporting:

  • First, click on Reports in the left column of your Ads Manager or View Report in your campaign.
  • Click Customize Columns
  • Select Websites in the left column
  • Select the corresponding conversion value (will likely be Checkouts Conversion Value [conversion pixel])

Conversion Value Screenshot
“Website Conversions” As Your Objective

When the goal of your Facebook ads campaign is to generate leads, test using “website conversions” or “increase conversions on your website” (they mean the same thing) as your objective.

This tells Facebook to show your ads to as many people within your target audience who are most likely to convert on your landing page.

(Just make sure you’ve added the appropriate Standard Event code to the Facebook pixel on the necessary “thank you” page and that your pixel is verified.)

When you choose the “website conversions” objective, Facebook recently simplified the process of optimizing for a specific conversion and then tracking that conversion.

At the Ad Set level, simply choose the conversion that’s most important to your campaign.  This will usually be the initial conversion that you’re trying to get (opt-in, webinar registration, coupon download, etc…)

Here’s a screenshot of this section and what it looks like at the Ad Set level.

Optimize for a conversion ad set level

Then, at the Ads level, you have your Tracking section.  Facebook now automatically defaults to tracking the conversion pixel you chose earlier in the campaign set up.

You then have the option to choose additional conversions to track if you want (for example, the number of sales you’re also getting from the campaign).

Here’s what you’ll see at the Ads level:

pixel tracking ads level screenshot

Custom Conversions

Now, in addition to the new Facebook pixel, Facebook has ALSO introduced something called Custom Conversions.

Custom conversions allow you to optimize for and track actions without having to add any additional Standard Event code to your Facebook pixel base code. They also allow you to optimize for and track actions that are different from the 9 standard events that we just talked about.

When Might You Use a Custom Conversion Over a Standard Event?

  • When you don’t have access to your site’s code or when you need more than the 9 events that Facebook provides.
  • If you’re tracking a page, like a visit to your homepage, where data quality isn’t really needed, you might consider using a custom conversion.

What’s the Difference Between Custom Conversions and Facebook Pixels?

  • You only have 20 custom conversions
  • You can’t edit or delete custom conversions
  • You can track conversion values with the Facebook pixel but you can’t do that with the custom conversions

The fact that we’re currently limited to 20 custom conversions and we can’t edit or delete custom conversions is ridiculous in my book and I think these are rules that Facebook will relax over time.

If you’re an e-commerce business or if you want to categorize different types of specific events, you’re definitely going to want to use standard events.

You can use both types of tracking to track the success of your sales funnel with regards to blog posts, opt-ins, add to carts, purchases, etc.

What If You Manage Multiple Facebook Accounts?

It’s against Facebook’s ad policies to manage more than one ads account from your single Facebook account.

Remember, you only get one Facebook pixel per Facebook account. So, if you want to track multiple audiences of people coming to different websites that you own, I recommend using Facebook’s Business Manager. Business Manager lets you manage access to different Facebook pages and accounts.

Powerful Strategy for Using Facebook Ads Pixels Today

Here’s a powerful strategy that’s working really well right now to generate qualified leads for your business:

  1. Write a value-packed article on your website (like this one!)
  2. Include a lead magnet opt-in that’s relevant to the content in your article
  3. Make sure you’ve added the Facebook pixel with a Standard Event code on the thank you page for that opt-in
  4. Set up a custom retargeting audience for people coming to your article
  5. Set up a Facebook ads campaign that drives people to that article, while excluding your email list.
  6. After running ads to your article for a little bit, set up a new Facebook ads campaign with the Objective “website conversions” (Make sure to exclude people who are already on your email list.)
  7. Retarget people who visited your article with a value-packed offer they have to opt-in for.  Since they’ve already consumed your content, they’re “warming up” to you so they’re more likely to convert and they’re that much more of a qualified lead.

Your goal with this campaign is to get people on to your email list who didn’t opt-in when they previously visited your article page.

What To Do Now

If you are currently using the “old” custom audience pixel, you can simply swap out that old one with the “new” Facebook pixel.  Facebook has assured me this doesn’t mess up any of your existing audiences.  I didn’t believe them at first but I asked them like 4 times and they assured me that swapping out the old pixel with the new one wouldn’t affect anything.

If you are currently using the “old” conversion tracking pixels and your campaigns are ending soon, cool, no need to change anything.  If your campaigns are running late into the year, you’re going to need to replace the conversion tracking pixel you’re using with the new Facebook pixel and add the appropriate Standard Event code.

If you’re not using any pixels right now, you’re golden, you get to start using the new Facebook pixel from scratch.

Oh and here’s another tip…

Whenever you create a new piece of content, whether it’s a blog post, video, etc… create a custom retargeting audience for that page even if you don’t plan to use it for your Facebook ads at that time.  You never know when you might want to use that retargeting audience in your ads.  That way it’s populating all along when you’re ready to use it.  If you never use it, no sweat off your back.

If you want to get the most out of your Facebook ads today — growing, tracking and optimizing — you’ve got to be using the Facebook pixel for retargeting and conversion tracking in your campaigns.

Personal Help From Me

If you’re looking for in-depth video tutorials, personal help from me, and a community of supportive and helpful like-minded entrepreneurs all using Facebook ads to grow their businesses, I’m re-opening my flagship program The FB ADvantage in late March 2016.  It’s completely revamped, teaching you exactly how to create an automated system that gets leads and sales every day with Facebook ads.

Also included will be a live 2-day event here in San Diego.  Make sure to hop on my email list to be the first to know when enrollment opens.

 

Are you using the new Facebook pixel?  What’s your experience been?  Share in the Comments below.

 

36 Responses to The Complete Guide to Facebook Ads Pixels

  1. Tom says:

    great read and very informative thanks as I know all about it and have used it to some degree but your plan of action will help no end.
    Cheers
    Tom

  2. Great piece. I have just begun added pixels into my ads! Love watching the stats.

  3. Amina says:

    Thank you!! I’ve known I needed to figure out this pixel thing but didn’t know where to start. Bookmarked!

  4. Sanjay says:

    Hey Rick – Amy Porterfield sent me a note highly recommending this blog and true to form, it is brilliant. Love what you do, Love your show. Cant wait for your Periscope sessions.

  5. Up until now I was really confused between Custom Audience and Conversion Pixel and I’m thankful that you’ve shed light on this matter. But I just want to clarify something so that I can know that I really understand the concept of both.

    The Custom Audience is used for retargeting? See I’ve setup a site that has a landing page, a confirmation page and a thank you page and I want to setup separate ads that 1) targets someone who visited my landing page but didn’t optin 2) optin to the landing page, went to the confirmation page but didn’t confirm the email 3) visited the thank you page but didn’t buy the product. Do I need to create separate “Custom Audience” for each page so I can create an ad that target each visitors that have taken specific actions?

  6. Rick
    I appreciate your podcast so much. I go to bed with you everynight…..cause I keep replaying the podcast. LOL…. as Amy would say, “you got some good stuff there”. Again you are a jewel!

  7. Alysa says:

    As always Rick, you take the overwhelm out of facebook ads! Thanks so much for this post. I’m going to try to do the remarketing pixel this week. Here’s a question for you though… How much traffic does one need to be having on a site (monthly or daily) before this is a lucrative way of remarketing?

    Thanks again for all you do!

  8. Ethan says:

    Hey Rick! I love the strategy you’ve outlined. One question I’m hoping you can clarify for me: When I set up the ad retargeting people who have visited the article but not opted in, do you recommend sending them back to the article or sending them directly to a landing page for my email list?

  9. Michael says:

    Hey Rick,

    I am about to create a new website with my very first product, a training course program in the fitness & health niche.

    The last two weeks I have been on vacation and listened to sooo many episodes of your podcast. Awesome information, thank you so much for sharing all this!

    Next step will be to implement the custom audience pixel into my website from the very beginning on so that I will be able to retarget my visitors.

    May I ask one question about this topic? If there is only one custom audience pixel for the whole site, where is the difference in placing this pixel on every page compared to only some pages? What would be a reason not to place it on every single page (what my next step would be…)?

    Thank you so much and keep up the good work!

    Cheers from Germany,
    Michael

    • Love all the action you’re taking, Michael. I recommend placing the custom audience pixel in your website’s theme, before the closing Head tag. That way, you’re tracking all pages on your site. Once the pixel is placed, you’ll then want to create the audiences within Facebook that you want to build retargeting audiences for. Hope that helps. — Rick

  10. Krisz says:

    Hi Rick, does this whole thing work on free websites? I use WIX.

  11. I have the tracking pixel set up fine for my newsletter subscriptions because I have a thank you page for that. But what if you want to track a free book with multiple sales channels? I set my pixel up on the book page on my website and I’m getting conversions, but since I can’t (or don’t know how to) tie the pixel to output from the many store buttons (linking to buy pages on Amazon, B&N, etc.), I’m not sure I’m getting a true reading. Any suggestions?

    • Hey Sam, good question. If you are selling/giving away a book on platforms like Amazon, you aren’t able to track those conversions within Facebook because the conversions are happening on those platforms where you’re not able to place Facebook’s tracking pixel. Do you direct them back to a page on your site? You could place the pixel there. — Rick

      • I do redirect them to the book’s page on my site. I have placed the pixel there and if you look at my stats on Ads Manager I’m getting good results. I just didn’t know if that was truly representative of real conversions because there’s no guarantee they’re clicking to take a book once they get there. I mean, it’s a free book and the page has lots of positive reviews on it so chances are they do take a book once there. It’s just not certain. That’s why I asked. You confirmed what I suspected. *grin* Thank you for all the great information!

  12. My head is exploding. This reminds me of my only computer programming class (began with hexadecimal) 40 years ago. At the beginning of every class the prof would hold up a sheaf of signed drop slips and suggest that at least 50% of the class should drop now and avoid their inevitable “D.”

    Can you explain all this for people who don’t know how to code stuff or do HTML?

    I’m signed up for your seminar on Wednesday, but I fear I’ll be asking you to sign that drop slip at halftime…

  13. Blake Fisher says:

    Facebook is putting up messages in Power Editor that the custom pixel will be phased out. By the second half of 2016 it can’t be used anymore. They want everyone to use only the Facebook Pixel and Custom Facebook Pixel.

  14. Marc says:

    So if you have multiple websites (2-3) it is okay to still use the one pixel?

    You just have to use custom retargeting audiences?

    • Hey Marc, ideally you’d have individual Facebook accounts for each, but if you don’t, you can still use the one pixel but you’ll have to create retargeting audiences based on URL and not the website as a whole.

  15. Clinton says:

    Thanks for the really clear explanation Rick. It finally makes sense to me. 🙂

  16. Hi Rick, love this guide! Question for you on the section saying ““Website Conversions” As Your Objective >> I got a little confused because the screenshot says at the Ad Set level you are optimizing for “WTC-Jan 16-Mulready”. Is it possible to have a unique name for a Facebook Pixel conversion (that isn’t a Custom Conversion)?

    At the Ad Set level, if you are optimizing conversions for the Facebook Pixel, isn’t the dropdown meant to show standard events e.g. Lead / Purchase etc.? And if so, do we select the Standard Event in the dropdown if we want to optimize the Ad using the new Facebook Pixel?

    Thanks in advance 🙂

  17. Paul says:

    Is there a way to track (with pixel) the people who view a video ad?

  18. Trung says:

    Dear Rick Mulready, I’ve 3 questions
    1/ I want to use Custom Conversions for track and optimize for many niches. With one FB ad account, I can track and optimize conversion for upto 20 niches, is it right?

    2/ If yes, when create Custom Conversions. At box: URL Contains: Does I input thankyou page url?

    3/ Upgrade to facebook business manager. I don’t have a business, Can I do it?

    Thanks you very much

    • Hey Trung, great questions.

      1 – Yep, that’s correct. We currently have up to 20 custom conversions although I hear FB is increasing that.
      2 – Yep, correct again.
      3 – Do you have a FB accounts for each of your niches? If so, that would mean you can run ads for each niche out of each account. If you only have one account, than I recommend using Business Manager to manage all your niche ads.

      • Trung says:

        Dear Rick Mulready,
        I’ve only 1 FB ad account. I need your advice in 2 ways:

        Option 1: Can I use one FB ad account for 20 niches?

        Or Option 2: Use Business Manager to create many FB ad account, then use each ad account for each niche. So with 1 Business Manager account.

        How many maximum FB Ad account can I create? Can upto 50, 100?

        Can I use 1 payment method for all FB ad account?

        Which option is better?

        Thank you so much

  19. Brett says:

    Hey Rick,

    Great post! If you have traffic coming to your landing page from multiple sources, including Facebook ads, will your conversion results become diluted? Or is Facebook able to determine which conversions resulted from Facebook ad traffic and which conversions resulted from other sources, like organic search traffic? I’m trying to determine if I need to create separate landing & thank you pages exclusively for Facebook ad traffic. Thanks.

    • Hey Brett, great question. Facebook will be able to determine which conversions come from FB ad traffic because you’re results will show based on people seeing the ad within 24 hours and also those people who clicked on your ad within 28 days. No need to create separate landing pages for your ads traffic.

Leave a reply