The Facebook pixel allows advertisers to better track, optimize, and target. These are the three most critical aspects of advertising, leading to the success or failure of your efforts. To make the most of the pixel, you need to utilize Facebook pixel events on your website. Not only must you utilize events, but you must do it right.
This post is your introduction to Facebook pixel events. It will help you better understand what pixel events are and how to use them.
First: The Base Facebook Pixel Code
If this is your first exposure to the Facebook pixel and events, know that pixel events can’t live independently. You must first have your base Facebook pixel code installed on every page of your website.
The base pixel code is what identifies the data as being connected to your ad account.
If you haven’t done this yet, read this post that outlines three primary methods to get the base pixel code added to your website — including what I do.
What Pixel Events Are
The base Facebook pixel code is what alerts Facebook that someone loaded a page on a website connected to a particular ad account. If you only have the base pixel code, your website sends page views, and nothing more.
If you use pixel events, you can define actions that occur on your website. The most common events we think of might be purchases, registrations, or leads. When using events, Facebook knows when these actions occur.
You notify Facebook of these actions with the addition of a pixel event. Most often, these pixel events fire when specific pages with their related code loads (though they could fire on button clicks or other custom actions).
For example: A visitor hits a landing page for a product (View Content event fires by visiting this page). They add the product to their cart but haven’t completed the purchase yet (Add to Cart event fires). They then submit their payment info and complete the purchase, redirecting to a confirmation page (Purchase event fires).
Sending this information to Facebook helps in three primary ways…
1. TRACKING: You’re able to connect your advertising to actual sales that occurred on your website because Facebook associates a person who saw or clicked your ad with a conversion.
2. OPTIMIZATION: Since Facebook knows who has converted on your website, you can optimize to reach other users similar to them.
3. TARGETING: You can target the specific people who performed these events.
At the time of publication of this blog post, there are 17 predefined standard Facebook pixel events (18 if you include Page View, which is included within the base pixel code). Facebook is likely to add more, as they already have during the evolution of pixel events.
- Add Payment Info
- Add to Cart
- Add to Wishlist
- Complete Registration
- Customize Product
- Find Location
- Initiate Checkout
- Start Trial
- Submit Application
- View Content
Here’s a grid that includes all of the standard events, what they mean, and the code for implementation (with parameters, as necessary).
Standard events are helpful for a couple of reasons. First, the predefined code makes it easier for publishers to add events to their website.
Second, an event utilized on websites around the world means more data for optimization. If a person has shown to make online purchases on other websites, they may also be more likely, combined with other factors, to purchase on yours.
If you have an event that falls outside of the 17 standard events, you can create a custom event. This, of course, will be a bit more technical. While most often used for targeting (you can create a Website Custom Audience based on standard and custom events), you can still track or optimize for custom events if mapped to a custom conversion.
We’ll go into more detail on custom conversions in a separate post. However, you can read about two custom events that I have created for my website (and how you can create them, too):
So far, we’ve discussed how to notify Facebook when a conversion occurs. Facebook may know, for example, that someone completed a purchase. But, how do we provide details of that conversion? That’s where parameters come in.
Parameters provide details like currency, value, quantity of items purchased, and the actual name of the product purchased or acted on.
It looks like this…
Only certain parameter are valid for each conversion event. In most cases, parameters are optional. The exception is the Purchase event, which requires currency and value.
More details can be found here on which parameters are available for each event.
Adding Events to Your Website
Event code needs to be added after the opening BODY tag. There are three primary ways to add events to your website:
- Partner Integration
- Event Setup Tool
Ideally, you can utilize partner integration that makes this easier, particularly for standard events. For example, if you have an e-commerce website on Shopify, much of the work is likely done for you.
You could use the Event Setup Tool, which is Facebook’s codeless method for adding pixel events. As of this writing, the Pixel Event Setup Tool is far from perfect (generally related to bugginess and a lack of parameter flexibility).
If given the option (and no partner integration), I prefer to set up events manually. Unfortunately, Facebook scrapped their tool that seamlessly provided the code you’d need when creating events. My team created a new option for you, called the Pixel Event Generator. Try it out!
Some Notes on Tracking, Optimization, and Targeting
I want to add some clarification regarding tracking, optimization, and targeting related to pixel events…
TRACKING: You can add columns for standard events within Ads Manager, but not custom events. Also, you can’t add separate columns based on parameters. For custom events and specific products, you’ll need to map your events to custom conversions for tracking purposes.
OPTIMIZATION: Like tracking, you can optimize for a standard event, but not custom events. Optimization would be for the aggregate of all purchases, for example, rather than the purchase of a specific product. Once again, you could optimize for a custom event or specific product purchase by first mapping the event to a custom conversion.
TARGETING: Understand that you can’t just drop a name of a pixel event in your ad set targeting. You need to first create a Website Custom Audience and select the pixel event. You would then use that audience for your targeting.
We’ll get into more details on these topics in separate blog posts.
Facebook Analytics and Attribution
One final point. Know that the pixel and events aren’t only helpful for advertising. They also help with analysis of organic content. When using Facebook Analytics and Facebook Attribution, you can measure your performance, regardless of whether the source of traffic came from an ad.
These are two very deep topics on their own that will be discussed separately.
Learn More About the Facebook Pixel
Want to master the Facebook pixel? Take your learning a step further with the Facebook Pixel Masterclass, a video series covering advanced topics related to the pixel. We’ll go into detail related to pixel events, custom conversions, tracking, optimization, and targeting. GO HERE TO SIGN UP!
Or, if you aren’t ready for the advanced topics, check out my Facebook Pixel Basics free video series (this is also included within Facebook Pixel Masterclass). You can register by clicking the link below…
It includes eight lessons covering what the pixel is, why it’s important, how it works, how to add it to your website, and how to test that it’s working.