The six-step guide to optimize your Facebook conversion tracking

June 16, 2017

By Angela Trumbaturi, Digital Marketing Account Manager

Without proper Facebook conversion tracking, you’re not taking full advantage of all the tools that are currently available to help set your advertising up for success. To ensure you’re aware of the latest offerings, we’ve compiled a list of tips and techniques for optimal conversion measurement.

Perform a Pixel Health Checkup

Chances are good that you already have a Facebook pixel on your website, but how long ago did you implement it?

If it has been a while, it may be time for an update. About two years ago, Facebook introduced a new pixel, combining features of the older Conversion Tracking and Custom Audience pixels. It wasn’t until recently, however, that Facebook stopped allowing use of the Conversion Tracking pixel. This means that if you haven’t conducted any Facebook conversion-focused advertising in a few months, you may not have noticed the change (time flies while you’re busy marketing). To update your pixel, check out Facebook’s step-by-step guide.

If you’re confident you have the correct pixel, you should still check to ensure it’s firing properly. If it is working, you'll be able to see activity in the Facebook Pixel page in your Ads Manager.

A few things to note when analyzing your pixel:

  • Your pixel's status should be set to “Active”
  • The main graph on the pixel page shows TOTAL pixel traffic over time, regardless of whether they were associated with your ad
  • Compare the Total Traffic number with the total number of website visits as reported in your website analytics
  • It's not unusual to see a slight variance from Facebook's numbers vs. third-party data
  • If there's a large discrepancy, or if you do not see any pixel traffic, something may be wrong. Download Facebook’s Pixel Helper to verify that it’s working properly and troubleshoot any errors

Define Your Conversion Events

Facebook’s pixel code enables you to track specific events, optimize for conversions, and build remarketing audiences. To track and optimize the specific events on your website, you first need to define them as conversions. Lucky for us, Facebook offers 9 standard events and also allows you to add custom conversions for when you need more customization.

To set up a standard event, drop the code for each type of event you want to track and add it to the Pixel base code on the relevant page of your website. You can also assign a specific value and currency for your conversions. Setting a conversion value and knowing where you stand in relation to customer acquisition cost will help you figure out whether to stop an inefficient campaign or scale up to a more valuable one.

For the best insights, consider your purchase funnel and add corresponding events (ex. AddToCart and Purchase) to capture all relevant actions on your site. If, for example, you sell artwork on your website, you would place the corresponding standard event code on your add-to-cart page and purchase page.

Before you start sprinkling snippets of code around your website, consider how your pixel will fire/how you determine a conversion. Be wary of assigning a conversion value to a page customers may bookmark or revisit. If, for example, users repeat an action, Facebook will track as if they are making multiple conversions. Being diligent in your event assignments will help ensure you’re not tracking inflated actions on your end.

Select the Appropriate Conversion Window

Selecting the proper conversion window will tell Facebook what type of conversion data to use when determining who they deliver your ad to for maximum results. They currently offer the following options:

  • 1 day after a click
  • 7 days after a click
  • 1 day after a view or 1 day after a click
  • 1 day after a view or 7 days after a click

When selecting a conversion window, select the option based on the type of conversion that aligns with your type of product or service. If you’re unsure, you should monitor when your conversions are happening and choose the appropriate window based on that information and, if possible, a split or conversion lift test.

Important things to note:

  • Change your conversion window at any time by editing your ad set; doing so will not cause you to lose any conversion data
  • Conversions that happen outside your window will not be used to optimize how Facebook shows your ads
  • An ad set needs at least 15-25 conversions per week for Facebook to learn who it's best to show your ads to; it needs about 25 conversions to start optimizing properly
  • If you can't get 15-25 a week, select a more common result or longer conversion window
  • Test a combination of conversion windows, events, bids, and budgets to see what works best for your needs
Determine Your Attribution Window

Facebook credits an action to your ad if someone viewed or clicked your ad and then took a desired action (e.g. purchased that piece of artwork on your website) within a specified number of days. The number of days between when a person viewed or clicked your ad and then subsequently took an action is called an attribution window.

Attribution windows have no effect on how Facebook will deliver your ad, just as your conversion window has no effect on your reporting:

  • Attribution Window – for measurement system
  • Conversion Window – for delivery system

Facebook sets your attribution window to 1-day view and 28-day click by default, which means you’ll see attributed actions that happened 1 day after someone viewed your ad and 28 days after someone clicked your ad.

If you’re currently running ads and want to see how your attribution shakes down, head to Customize Columns in Ads Manager. At the bottom you’ll see an option to compare Attribution Windows:

After you click apply, you’ll that see several new insights have appeared. Not surprisingly for the below campaign, most conversions took place 1-day after click. That being said, sorting this data out allows us to see there were a few view additional windows where actions took place.

  • You can change your attribution window to show view and click attribution for 1 day, 7 days, or 28 days
  • Click-through attribution may include engagement clicks, such as likes, comments, or shares on your ad
  • Conversions and actions are counted in your reports on the day the click or view happened
  • If you're pulling your attribution data into your own models, you should backfill it with the final numbers after the full 28 days have passed
  • Utilize whichever conversion/attribution combo makes the most sense for your business
Ensure Proper Measurement

When measuring your conversions, you'll need to customize the reporting columns in Ads Manager to show the data most important to your goals. By default, the Results column for a Website Conversions campaign will display the total number of events/conversions associated with your ads.

If, for example, you have AddToCart and Purchase events on your website, the Results column will display the aggregate number of all these events, and the Cost column will display the cost per the total number of these events. If you only want to see the number of Purchases and cost per, you should customize your columns to select “Purchase (Facebook Pixel)” and “Cost per Purchase (Facebook Pixel)."

Stay on Top with Automated Rules

With automated rules, you can keep tabs on the performance of your conversions by creating rules that automatically update or notify you of important campaign happenings.

For example, you can create a rule that automatically turns off your campaign when the average cost per purchase is greater than $15.00. This, of course, is only one option. You can also set up for several other Facebook pixel-related condition options like “Complete Registration,” “Lead,” and “Purchase.”

A quick word of caution when using Automated Rules: while it’s tempting to set it and forget it, you should still frequently check in on your advertising performance to ensure everything is up to up to speed and performing as desired.

Properly setting up these Facebook conversion tracking tools means you’re ensuring you’re fully knowledgeable of what’s working and what’s not - crucial information in running successful, and more importantly profitable, digital campaigns.

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