How do marketers know when a Facebook ad actually generates interest and revenue in places other than Facebook itself? The answer is Facebook tracking.
Marketers spent nearly $70B on Facebook ads in 2019 (that’s more than the individual GDP of 117 countries). Yet most of the sales attributable to those ads happen on eCommerce sites, in apps, or in brick-and-mortar stores.
Facebook Tracking tools provide a link between Facebook and wherever your sales happen.
With the right tool, you can share data about your customers’ actions with Facebook, attribute the ads that helped encourage those actions, and create better ads for more targeted audiences.
Each Facebook tracking tool works a little differently depending on how and where customers engage with your business.
In this post, you’ll see how three tracking tools—the Facebook pixel for eCommerce websites, offline event tracking for brick-and-mortar stores, and Facebook SDK for online apps—can help you find more lucrative audiences and create higher-performing ads.
1. Facebook Pixel
A Facebook pixel is a small bit of code you embed in your website. With the pixel installed, you can see what people do on your website after they’ve been exposed to one (or more) of your Facebook ads, ultimately helping you make ads that are more relevant to your audience.
A Facebook pixel works by dropping an identification cookie on your website visitors. That cookie is like an ID badge telling the pixel—and Facebook—what people do while they’re on your site. You decide what gets tracked, then that information is sent to Facebook.
The magic of the pixel happens when Facebook can identify one of your website visitors as a Facebook user through some piece of common information like an email address. Once that link is made, you can start creating custom audiences and measuring ad success based on website visitors’ actions.
In Facebook speak, each action someone takes on your website is called an event. Events can be just about any action, such as opening a product page, conducting a search, or making a purchase.
The cookie “ID badge” follows your visitors no matter which device they use to access your website. Say someone places something in their cart using their phone, then completes the purchase later on their laptop. The Facebook pixel will track the entire buying journey from both devices.
Facebook Events Manager is where you’ll view the event data gathered by your pixel.
In fact, Events Manager is where you can see the data you collect from any source, including apps and brick-and-mortar stores. We’ll get into that a bit later.
Why you should use the Facebook pixel
FB pixel improves the way you measure the success of ads, which empowers you to create more relevant ones.
The pixel helps you measure Facebook ad success by:
- Tracking the conversion rate of each ad so you know which ads motivate people to visit, subscribe, and buy
- Calculating return on ad spent (ROAS), so you know which ads deliver the most total revenue and revenue per customer
The pixel helps you create more relevant ads by:
- Allowing you to create custom audiences for retargeting ads, then refining audiences by removing people from the list who have already converted
- Letting you create lookalike audiences, targeting new groups of people with similar characteristics as your current customers
- Giving you access to dynamic product ads that feature the exact products that visitors saw on your website
Just how effective is the Facebook pixel? The beauty brand imPRESS used the Facebook pixel to hyper-target audiences that were likely to buy with a powerful one-two punch of awareness and retargeting ads.
First, the brand launched awareness ads to drive new visitors to their website. Then, with the help of data gathered by their pixel, imPRESS retargeted those visitors with more detailed product ads. The result? imPRESS doubled the return on ad spend of previous ad campaigns.
How to install the Facebook pixel
First, create the pixel and then install it on your website. Here’s an overview of how to do it and this guide will give you detailed instructions.
Step 1: Create your Facebook tracking pixel
You can create a Facebook pixel in Ads Manager, Business Manager, or Events Manager. Here’s how you’ll do it in Events Manager.
From the Events Manager main page, choose “Pixels.”
Next, click “Create a Pixel” from the next page.
Finally, give your pixel a name and click “Create.”
Step 2: Install your pixel
There are a few ways to get your pixel installed on your website. We’ll show you how to do it manually and how to do it using AdEspresso’s Pixel Caffeine.
Manually installing your Facebook pixel
To install your pixel manually, choose the manual option on the “Install Pixel” screen that comes up after you’ve named your pixel.
Then, copy and paste the pixel code into the header code of your webpage.
For every event you want to track, you’ll also add a bit of extra code (called events code) into the pixel base code. In this image, the green number “3” section is where you place the event code.
Don’t worry: You don’t need to be a developer to install a pixel. There’s an easier way.
Using Pixel Caffeine to install your Facebook pixel
Pixel Caffeine is a WordPress plugin created by AdEspresso that helps you install and manage Facebook pixels. With Pixel Caffeine, you can install Facebook pixels on any and every page of your website in a couple of minutes without writing, copying, or pasting any code. And the best part? Pixel Caffeine is 100% free.
To install Facebook pixels using Pixel Caffeine:
- Log into WordPress and add the Pixel Caffeine plugin
- Activate the plugin and connect your Facebook account
- Enable tracking options
And you’re done!
With Pixel Caffeine, you can even create custom audiences quickly and start retargeting ads right away.
2. Offline Event Tracking
Facebook offline event tracking (OET) makes it possible to attribute real-world events such as in-store purchases, sales calls, and appointments booked to Facebook ads. Basically, what Facebook pixels do for your online store, OET does for your brick-and-mortar location.
The difference between the pixel and OET is how you gather information. For OET to work, you’ll need to pull data from places like your point of sale (POS) system and send it to Facebook in a CSV file. This is often done manually, but you can also use Facebook’s Offline Conversion API to do it automatically.
Once Facebook has the data, it looks for matches between your customers and their users. When a match is found, Facebook can tell you which customers were exposed to an ad before taking some real-world action with your business.
Offline tracking allows you to track just about any piece of data, including:
- Customer details like email address and name
- Customer events like making a purchase, attending an event, or placing a phone order
- Conversion specifics like exact time, day, and value of a purchase
Since Facebook allows for custom data types for offline tracking, there’s no limit to the type of information you can send to them.
Why use Facebook offline event tracking?
With OET, you can tell if your Facebook ads are helping grow in-store conversions. You can also use real-world customer activity to create customized audiences and deliver more relevant Facebook ads.
Here’s an example to illustrate how it works:
Let’s say someone sees your ad for running shoes on their phone. They come to your physical store and buy a pair. You then retarget them with an ad for running shorts, which they also buy—but this time through your ecommerce store using their phone.
From that interaction, you can:
- Tell which purchases were made after seeing a Facebook ad
- Compare the effectiveness of that ad to others you’ve tested
- Continue to retarget that customer with future products and special offers
- Create look-a-like audiences that share similar characteristics with this customer
Michael Kors, the luxury fusion brand, used Facebook offline tracking to increase in-store conversions by 31%.
To get the results, Michael Kors tracked in-store activities. They then used that information to build campaigns designed to reach customers based on the value, timing, and frequency of purchases.
How to import offline event data into Facebook
Since you can’t install a pixel in your store, you’ll need to upload data from real-world transactions for Facebook offline event tracking to work.
Before you start uploading, create an event set in Events Manager. That tells Facebook where you want your offline data to go. Then create a CSV file of your event data from your POS system, customer relationship management (CRM), or wherever you’ve gathered that information.
Now it’s time to upload your data.
From Facebook Business Manager, choose “Offline Events.” Then drag and drop your CSV file and click “Next: Map Data.”
Review each column to make sure your data mapped correctly. If you hover over a column and choose the pencil icon, you can edit that column.
Click “Next: Review” and then “Start Upload.”
And that’s it.
Note that it will take up to 15 minutes for your results to appear in Ad Manager or Events Manager. But once it’s uploaded, you can start measuring your ads and creating custom audiences.
3. Facebook SDK for Mobile Devices
The Facebook software developer kit (SDK) is a package of instructions, tools, and shortcuts for developers looking to integrate their app with Facebook. It’s why you can log into your favorite apps through Facebook.
For marketers, the important aspect of the Facebook SDK is that it allows the exchange of information between your app and Facebook. In that regard, it’s similar to the Facebook pixel, but for apps instead of websites.
With the SDK installed, you can track app events—like achieving a level in a game, completing registration, or making in-app purchases—then share that data with Facebook. That information is useful for optimizing, targeting, and measuring ads.
Why use Facebook SDK?
Facebook SDK helps marketers find and advertise to audiences that are most likely to be high-value app users.
For example, with the SDK installed, you can optimize Facebook ads for in-app purchases. In other words, you’ll tell Facebook to display ads for your app only to people who will most likely make a purchase. That will increase the ROI of your ad spend.
The SDK also allows you to use Facebook Analytics to measure your ad’s effectiveness. That way, you’ll know which ads, ad sets, and campaigns deliver the most new app installs, highest retention, and most valuable customers.
The personal savings and investing app Plum offers a good example of how the Facebook SDK works. First, Plum used data from its most valuable customers to create custom and lookalike audiences.
Then, Plum was able to see which new registrations came after someone saw an add on Facebook versus those that didn’t. In the end, Plum was able to attribute a 3.5x lift in conversions to their Facebook ads, confirming the value of their advertising investment.
How to set up the Facebook SDK on Android/iOS
The Facebook SDK is the most technical of the tracking tools we’ve covered in this post. You’ll need a developer’s help to get the SDK installed. However, Facebook has recently released codeless event management. That means you can at least add new events to track without the need to implement code.
There are three things you’ll have to do:
Step 1: Make sure you have a Facebook Ad Manager, Business Manager, and Events Manager account.
Step 2: Have your developer implement the Facebook SDK for your app.
Step 3: Use these instructions from Facebook to add events without code for either iOS or Android apps.
From brick to click: follow the full journey with Facebook tracking
Facebook tracking tools are fantastic for optimizing and measuring your ads. But they can also help improve conversion at each step of your customer journey.
The path to purchasing has become complicated. Before buying, a single customer might visit your physical store, your app, and your website. They may research on their mobile device and order through their laptop.
Facebook tracking tools log each of these events so you can see where customers get tripped up. Does your conversation rate drop after customers put products in their cart? Do fewer Android users pay for your app than iOS users? With that knowledge in hand, you can begin to remove friction wherever it exists.