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What is a Facebook pixel and why should my store have one?

For those familiar with advertising, a pixel is as basic as you can get. For those just starting out, it’s another one of those many confusing, daunting things to deal with before you can even get started.

Not to worry, here’s everything you need to know about the Facebook pixel.

First, what is a Pixel?

A Pixel is a custom piece of code that lets you track how people behave on your site. The data collected can then be used in a number of different ways.

Do you use Google Analytics? The insights you see on your dashboard are most likely built on data collected via the Google Analytics Pixel.

Facebook, like other advertising platforms, has its own custom pixel. Once installed, the pixel helps you track who came to your store, which products they saw, how long they stayed on a particular page, whether they added products to cart or purchased, and much, much more. It then helps you personalize your FB ads based on exactly what each shopper does on your store.

So if you have a Facebook pixel installed, you can easily target customers at different stages of their purchase journey with relevant Facebook ads.

representation of a Pixel's role in retargeting

How the Facebook Pixel works

The Facebook Pixel has multiple predefined events (site behaviour patterns) coded in. Any time a user triggers one of these events, the pixel collects and send the data to Facebook.

Here’s an example. Let’s say I were to visit the t-shirt store Santara.in. The moment I land on the home page, the pixel detects that I’ve viewed the home page and passes that data on to Facebook.

Pageview data in the FB Pixel

From here on the pixel is going to track all my activity on the site, including the products I view, the time I spend on each one and much more. Here’s a pixel snapshot after I clicked through to a product page.

Product page view data on the FB pixel

...after I added a product to my cart.

Add to cart data on the FB pixel

Keep in mind that Facebook saves this data for 180 days so that gives you quite a lot of options to segment and then target your site users accordingly. I’m sure you are now beginning to see how powerful the Facebook Pixel is as an advertising tool. In addition to all the predefined events I mentioned earlier, you can also add your own events. Here’s how.

Getting started

Site and theme builders often include the Facebook Pixel installation as part of their basic services, so it’s worth checking if you already have one installed.

To do so, install the Facebook Pixel Helper tool. This will let you validate your pixel installation.

Once you’ve installed the Chrome extension, simply navigate to your site and then click on the </> icon and you will see a list of any active Facebook Pixels that are on your site.

The Facebook Pixel helper tool

If you don’t have the pixel installed, it’s super easy to get started. Most eCommerce platforms have simplified the process, so anyone can install the pixel with little to no tech knowledge needed.

Simply follow the specific instructions for your store platform here and you are good to go.

Are you on Etsy? Using the pixel can be a bit tricky in that case but lucky for you, we've got a handy guide.

Have any questions for us on the Facebook Pixel or FB ads in general? Let us know in the comments below.

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