What’s a Facebook Pixel and Why Does My Site Need One?

Even if your website is buzzing with new and returning visitors every single day, one rather deflating fact remains: approximately 96% of visitors that come to your website are not ready to buy (Source: Marketo).

So how can companies keep opportunities from slipping through their fingers? The answer is retargeting.

Though there are numerous pay-per-click advertising options on the market, adding a Facebook Pixel to your website can be particularly valuable. But first things first…

What is Retargeting?

Retargeting is the technical term for something we all see every day online. Have you ever been idly browsing the web, only to be surprised by an ad for a product you looked at previously – possibly hours or days prior? This is retargeting in action.

We’ll get into how it works shortly but it’s essentially a way of showing targeted adverts to previous website visitors – especially those who showed particular interest but didn’t place an order or enquiry. They’re already familiar with the product at hand – from the advertiser’s perspective they just need that extra bit of encouragement to cross the finish line and purchase/enquire.

How Does Retargeting Work?

In order for a website to use retargeting, a snippet of code (provided by your advertising network such as Facebook Ads or Google Ads) needs to be installed within the website’s code. When someone visits your website, this code places a “tracking cookie” on their device. Cookies are small files that allow the advertising network in question to identify an individual for marketing purposes. They don’t contain any sensitive information, but they do contain an anonymous ID (usually just a string of numbers) that identifies each user to the advertising network.

As each user continues to browse the web, they will most likely come across websites that display pay-per-click ads from the same advertising network as the website in our example. When they do, the page will load an ad that may relate to the previous website, or may relate to other sites who have also left cookies on the user’s machine.

The aim here is to direct the user back to the advertiser’s website to complete their purchase. Retargeting ads can take the form of general brand ads to cement brand awareness, or they can display the specific products or services that the user looked at to act as a reminder to buy.

However, just because you have retargeting functions on your website, this doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone leaving your site will see your ads elsewhere. Much like other pay-per-click functions, there are numerous parameters at play which decide which ads to show. Advertisers can set certain targeting parameters and ad spending limits, so there may be situations where showing an ad from another advertiser would be more appropriate.

What is the Facebook Pixel?

The Facebook Pixel is a retargeting function that advertisers can install on their website, enabling them to run retargeting ads that only appear on Facebook through Facebook Ads. If you’re already using Facebook Ads, we’d highly recommend using a Facebook Pixel too!

Much like other retargeting platforms, the Facebook Pixel is a piece of code you install on your website that initialises a Facebook tracking cookie on your visitors’ machines. Then, when that user logs into Facebook on the same device, they may be shown ads for your company and/or products or services they’ve previously shown an interest in. Here, “interest” can mean anything from visiting your homepage, visiting a category or service page, browsing individual items, or even adding something to the cart without checking out.

Let’s look at an example. Say you’re an ecommerce fashion retailer. A particular visitor – let’s call her Jane – puts a specific handbag in the cart without checking out. Your website has a Facebook Pixel enabled, so it leaves a tracking cookie on Jane’s device, noting which product she’s interested in. When Jane logs into Facebook next using the same device, she may be presented with ads in her news feed relating to the handbag, effectively reminding her to return to your site and make the purchase.

Without using retargeting, Jane may have completely forgotten about her prospective purchase after leaving the cart. But retargeting keeps the door open to customers who have shown interest in the past.

Why Choose Facebook Retargeting Over Other Networks?

It may seem counter-intuitive to limit your retargeting efforts to those that only show ads on Facebook, when networks like Google can display ads on numerous different websites. But Facebook’s audience figures are astounding – despite being buffeted by recent scandals, its user base is steadily growing. The platform currently has 2.32 billion monthly active users (Source: Statista, 2018), 1.6 billion of which are connected to small businesses (Source: Facebook, 2018). Additionally, the average conversion rate for Facebook Ads is a very reasonable 9.21% according to WordStream’s 2019 research.

Year-on-year, the time that people spend on social media globally is increasing. In a GWI study, researchers found that social media users spent 2 hours and 22 minutes on average with social media in a normal day. This implies that a network like Facebook may be a better place for companies to be visible compared to search engines, where the user is likely to be more focused on what they’re trying to find.

The targeting tools available in Facebook Ads are remarkably robust. As well as being able to target users with standard demographic information like location, age, gender, and relationship status, you can also target based on device usage, purchasing behaviour, interests, connections, and – if your site has a Pixel installed – site users.

Facebook’s analytics provides in-depth data about the kinds of people who are viewing your ads and – if your site uses a Facebook Pixel – visiting your site. This can provide another layer of insight into your audience, enabling you to target your whole advertising landscape around the in-depth demographic information at your disposal.

Pixel users are also advised to enable event tracking on their site. This is an optional feature that lets you track conversions on your website that occurred as a result of a Facebook Ad, including actions such as registering as a new user, adding items to cart, or completing checkout. This helps you to trace each conversion back to a specific campaign and accurately calculate your return on investment.

You can start reaping the benefits of using a Facebook Pixel even if you aren’t in a position to run ads yet. By simply having the Pixel set up on your site, you’ll start to accumulate valuable usage data. You can use this information to inform your decisions about ad content and targeting once you’re ready to start publishing ads.

Once your Pixel is collecting usage data, Facebook can start to create “Lookalike Audiences”. These are groups of individuals who share common traits with those who’ve interacted with your site and/or ads, who may therefore also be interested in your company. You can then target ads towards these new audiences, potentially increasing your reach.

Are you ready to make a start with pay-per-click digital marketing but don’t know where to start? OLCO Design are here to help! Our experienced team of savvy marketers are on hand to help you get your PPC and retargeting campaigns off the ground and flying in no time. Call us today for a no-nonsense, totally free consultation.

Showing 2 comments
  • April Arflack

    Yes it should.

    • OLCO

      Hello April,
      Thank you so much for your comment.
      We are really pleased to hear that you approve of the Facebook Pixel and understand the importance of installing one.
      We hope that you enjoy reading the other posts on our blog.
      Thanks again.

Leave a Comment

A view from above a desk showing a gentleman's hands typing on a laptop keyboard next to a notebook, smartphone and cup of coffee.A wiro-bound sketchbook with some pencil sketches of the letter 'R' as logo designs with a desk in the background containing a tablet, keyboard and various items of a graphic designer.