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What’s the pixel and why do I need it?

This post is about the Facebook pixel. A length of code that essentially acts as a tracker, allowing you to retain data from everyone* who visits your website.

*Not everyone. Some people are super-private and not totally trackable online.

Thinking about getting trained up in Facebook Ads and all the tool that go with it? Sign up for Jess’ 8-day FAT Facebook Ads Training program here. 

It’s been written for people who are unfamiliar with the pixel, or uncomfortable with it as they know very little.  If this seems a little basic to you, you’re in the wrong place. Head to the Facebook group instead. 

What is the pixel?

Put simply:

The Facebook pixel is an analytics tool that allows you to measure the effectiveness of your advertising by understanding the actions people take on your website.

Quoted from Facebook themselves.

Essentially, the pixel is a code which is unique to your advert account on Facebook.

You place this code on your website.

The code measures the visits (called a pixel “fire”) to each page that you have your code placed on (which should be all of them).

You are then given specific information on the behaviour of your website visitors such as what pages they visit, what buttons they click, and if purchases or other conversions (such as click to book) can be attributed to your adverts.

So, why is this so valuable?

Besides the obvious (learning about your visitors), as you can do this also with Google tags, it allows you to step up and dominate your advertising game. Here is a little glimpse of what the pixel data allows you to do:

  • Target visitors of your website. They click on a page, you send them an ad. (Retargeting visitors)
  • Target people on Facebook who looked at a specific product.


Jim sells hand-sewn toilet seat covers. Becky is in the market for a new one. Becky finds Jim’s website while looking around one day. Becky looks through the site and finds one she likes. It’s the blue one with white detail.

Becky’s kids start yelling for her (they are really testing her today) and puts her phone down.  Jim’s pixel has picked up that she visited the site, looked at a few pages and ‘Viewed Content’ (A Facebook event which is measured by the pixel) on specific products.

Jim has created an ad based targeting people who viewed products to retarget the, (come after them after looking at the site) which includes the blue toilet seat cover with the white detail. Becky is back on Facebook after (finally) getting the kids to bed. She is delivered an ad, with an image of the Blue toilet seat cover with white detail. “oh, that’s right”. Becky clicks the ad and… you guess what happens next.

But there’s more:

  • Target people based on how long they spent on your website
  • Look for people who visited your site up to 180 days ago* but haven’t returned in the last 30
  • Find people who may have started the checkout process, but left
  • Locate those who abandoned their carts (think they can get away that easily, eh?)
  • Understand which page gets the most attention, and which gets the least. Analyse this and work to balance the data (tipped towards to better performance, of course) or fix your website to deliver a better experience.

*You can only record information for up to 180 days and it is only useful for 180 days from the date it is recorded. If you just put the pixel on today, data collection starts today.  If you placed the pixel 4 days ago, you have 4 days of data. If you placed it 200 days ago, you have 180 days of data. Make sense? Let’s move on…

  • Build Lookalike Audiences thanks to collected pixel data

Lookalike Audiences?

Oh, baby, You’re going to love this.

Once your pixel has collected enough data on the people visiting your website, you can ask Facebook to create a Lookalike Audience. A Lookalike Audience is a way to reach new people who are likely to be interested in your business because they’re similar to your best existing customers.

You can ask Facebook to collect a pool of people (you can’t see them, it’s all encrypted) who have similar interests or behaviours to those who have made a purchase on your website.

Maybe you want more people who are similar to those who are reading your best blogs?

Or people who are on your mailing list and open them most often?

A lookalike audience is a pool of people who probably want to get to know you but you haven’t worked to locate (kinda…You have to do the legwork to create the seed audience).

There is so much you can do with a Pixel and to be frank, you’re wasting a huge opportunity not having it on your site.

In fact, I am pixel-ling you right now.

If you’re thinking “wtf” and this just isn’t your thing… you’re in luck. It’s Jess’ things (that’s me, I do the social stuff here *waves*).

To get started moving into the current offerings of social media marketing join our free group: Facebook Ads Made Easy.  Let’s get you up to scratch.


6 thoughts on “What’s the pixel and why do I need it?

  1. Hi Jess,

    Interesting post on FB Pixel – it’s not something I’ve looked into much but I take it that from your post here that it only relates to the visitors on your site that come from Facebook and how those visitors interact within Facebook – is that correct?

    I think FB should only be a small part of a PPC program – and above all only a fraction of the overall marketing plan for a website. My main focus is and always has been SEO which now includes the social signals from many different sites like FB and a well rounded marketing campaign leverages paid social advertising to help create those social signals etc.

    I’ll be sure to come check out some more posts when I’m looking for information on FB advertising 😉

    1. Hey Richard, thanks for stopping by! The pixel will fire each time there is activity on your website, however, in relation to advertising via FB platforms, it will tell you exactly which fires and which events (add to cart, view content, purchase etc) were attributed to your adverts and which adverts. Facebook is not the sole answer to advertising and marketing, oh no! I completely agree. Which is why we also offer SEO and Adwords to cover off the online giants. A well-rounded campaign absolutely requires multifaceted considerations, and your marketing plan should both achieve longevity in relevance as well as going where the audience and target groups go! Glad you stopped by, thanks for commenting, and hope to see you again soon.

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