facebook advertising

The Complete Guide to Facebook Conversion Tracking

conversion trackingDid you know that having Facebook conversion tracking set up properly will actually help reduce the cost of your ad campaigns?

That’s right!

Conversion tracking isn’t just about measuring your return on investment (ROI) using the Facebook ad platform. It actually helps you increase the revenue you generate from your Facebook ads.

And that’s the goal of any advertiser isn’t it? To achieve a positive ROI. Or in other words, to get back more than you spend on the ads.

Facebook conversion tracking is a crucial factor in your success as a Facebook advertiser.

Today I’m going to make it easy for you to set up Facebook conversion tracking in your own business.

Take some time to follow each of the steps in this guide and by the end you’ll:

  • Be able to accurately measure Facebook ad campaign performance
  • See improved performance of your campaigns
  • Save time by avoiding a lot of common mistakes people make with Facebook conversion tracking

Let’s get started.

Why Track Conversions?

First let’s dig a little bit deeper into the reasons why you need to have conversion tracking set up properly before you run Facebook ads.

1. It allows you to measure the return on your investment.

Conversion tracking allows you to see how many conversions you've received, whether they be registrations, sales, form completions, or anything else your campaigns are responsible for.

2. It lets you measure the performance of your A/B tests so you can continually improve the performance of your campaigns.

Without knowing which ads are driving conversions, how can you run tests and make data driven decisions? Conversion tracking lets you see exactly where your results are coming from.

3. It allows Facebook to optimise it’s algorithm to get you better results.

The algorithm is smart. It tracks who is converting on your ads and uses that data to automatically target more people just like them. That means as you get more conversions, Facebook learns more about the people who are likely to convert and shows your ads to more of those people. If you don’t have conversion tracking in place, you’re missing out on this optimisation.

Ok, so those are some great reasons to have conversion tracking set up on your own site.

We’ll look at 2 different ways to implement Facebook conversion tracking in the next section. But both methods depend on you having the Facebook pixel installed on your website.

If you haven’t already installed the Facebook pixel across your entire website, I suggest you take some time to do that now and come back to this guide when you’re finished.

Already got the pixel set up?

Let’s dive into the 2 options you have for implementing conversion tracking.

Methods For Tracking Conversions

With the new pixel, Facebook has given us 2 different ways to track conversions.

Neither of them is the ‘right way’, it’s simply a case of choosing the method that’s best for your business.

Let’s take a look at each method separately, their different use cases, and talk about the pros and cons of each.

1. Custom Conversions

Custom Conversions are the simplest way to get started with Facebook conversion tracking.

They don’t require any additional changes to the Facebook pixel on your website. As long as you’ve got the new pixel installed, it’s just a case of creating your Custom Conversions in the Facebook Ad Manager.

All you do is specify the URL (or partial URL) of your ‘post-conversion page’, enter a conversion value and you’re done.

What’s a ‘post-conversion page’?

It’s the page that people visit AFTER they convert. For example, that might be the thank-you page people see after opting in to your email list, or the order confirmation page they see after completing a purchase.

You can also specify a conversion value for each Custom Conversion. That means when the conversion is recorded, Facebook assigns the value you’ve specified to that event.

Assigning values to conversion events makes it easy for you to track your campaign ROI in the Facebook ad manager. Whenever Facebook records a conversion, it will assign the specified value to that conversion.

With conversion values set up, you can easily see your total spend, number of conversions, and the value of those conversions in the same row:

FB conversion value tracking

As you can see in this example, after a $3.93 ad spend, we had one customer purchase a core offer plus an upsell. The conversion value of each product is represented separately.

 

The Downsides of Custom Conversions

That brings me to the first downside of Custom Conversions.

The value you assign to a Custom Conversion is static. It never changes. Whenever that conversion is triggered, it always has the same value assigned.

That’s fine if you’re selling a single product with one price point.

It’s also not a problem if you’re selling multiple products, each with a separate order confirmation page with it’s own unique URL. In that case you’d just set up a separate Custom Conversion for each product / URL, each with it’s own conversion value.

But that’s not how most ecommerce sites work. Most ecommerce sites work using the same order confirmation page that’s dynamically updated based on what each customer purchases.

For example, customers might always be taken to http://fakeshoppingsite.com/order-confirmed after they purchase, regardless of whether they purchased blue shoes, a red shirt, or a green bowtie.

In that case it’s impossible to track order values with Custom Conversions because that order confirmation page always has the same URL & therefore the same conversion value no matter what the customer purchased.

The solution to this is Standard Events, which we’ll cover in the next section.

The other downside is that you are limited to 20 Custom Conversions at any one time. That means if you have more than 20 different conversion events that you want to track, you won’t want to use this option.

custom conversion limit

This is most likely not going to be a problem for most sites. But for larger websites with lots of conversions to track, this might be an issue.

2. Standard Events

The second way to implement Facebook conversion tracking is with Standard Events.

This method is more complicated to implement than Custom Conversions because you need to modify the Facebook pixel slightly, but it’s definitely a more robust solution.

A Standard Event is an optional event that you add to your base Facebook pixel code.

Standard Events are only placed on specific pages, not on every page with your base pixel code. Pages with Standard Events are those where you want to track specific user behaviour such as a conversion.

So you have your base Facebook pixel code on every page, and for pages where you want to track conversions you have a slightly modified version of this pixel with your Standard Event code included.

You’re probably wondering why anyone would want to use this more complicated method over Custom Conversions.

The main reason is the ability to provide data to Facebook dynamically.

Because you’re modifying the Facebook pixel to send specific data to Facebook based on the page on your website that people visit, you can add data to the code based on what your customers are purchasing / signing up for.

This takes a little bit of coding knowledge, and I won’t dig in to that in this article. I will say that it’s nothing crazy and it’s something you can easily hand over to your web designer to do for you without costing a fortune.

Here’s an example of how it works:

Let’s say you’ve got an ecommerce site selling shoes.

Like most ecommerce sites, customers are taken to the same order confirmation page no matter what they order, the page is just dynamically updated with the details for their specific purchase.

You add the ‘Purchase’ standard event code to your Facebook pixel on the order confirmation page.

At the same time you add code that dynamically adds the total order value to that code, as well as details about the product such as category and type.

Which Method Should You Use For Facebook Conversion Tracking?

You’re probably wondering which method you should use, so here’s a quick summary:

When Should You Use Custom Conversions?
  • You have less than 20 conversion events that you need to track
  • Your products / services each have their own unique order confirmation page and the value of a purchase is fixed.
  • You are looking for the easiest way to implement Facebook conversion tracking
When Should You Use Standard Events?
  • You need to track more than 20 conversion events
  • You use a dynamic checkout system & want to track conversion values
  • You want to pass additional parameters to Facebook for advanced Custom Audience creation & tracking
  • You’re comfortable setting up the Facebook pixel and modifying it

custom c

One final thing I will mention here is that you can use a combination of both.

Custom Conversions can complement Standard Events when used properly, but that’s an advanced topic & out of scope for this discussion. Just know that you don’t have to make a permanent choice between one or the other.

Hopefully you now understand the difference between the 2 conversion tracking methods and have hopefully chosen the one that suits you best. Let’s take a look at how to implement each method.

How to Use Custom Conversions

In this section I’ll walk you through the process of setting up Custom Conversions.

Remember, this is assuming that you already have the base pixel installed on every page on your site. If you haven’t, you will need to add it before following these steps.

First , go to the Facebook ad manager and click ‘Tools’ -> ‘Custom Conversions’.

Custom Conversions Menu

Now you’re going to need to tell Facebook what you consider a conversion.

It’s really important that you get this right. If you don’t, Facebook will incorrectly report conversions & you won’t get the best results from your campaigns, nor will you be able to accurately measure your ROI.

First, determine the URL that people are sent to AFTER they complete the action you want them to.

If you want people to join your email list, what is the URL of the thank-you page that they see after submitting their email address?

If you’re selling products or services, what’s the URL of the page that they are taken to after checking out and payment is finalised?

Notice I’m talking about pages that people only see after a transaction is complete. You don’t want to use the URL of your email signup page or your checkout page.

If you were to use these pages, Facebook would record a conversion every time someone visits your signup page or checkout. If they left your site before submitting their email address or completing the checkout you will see ‘false’ conversions in Facebook because there won’t be a corresponding email sign-up or purchase.

That said, the next step is to select either ‘URL Contains’ or ‘URL Equals’ from the drop-down box. There is also the option to select ‘Event’ but that’s a big topic in itself so we’ll save it for another post.

Custom Conversion Rule

It generally doesn’t matter whether you choose ‘Contains’ or ‘Equals’, as long as you enter the correct information in the ‘URL Keywords’ field.

If you choose ‘URL Equals’:

Enter the entire URL of your post sign-up or post checkout page URL. That will look something like: ‘http://www.yourwebsite.com/my-thank-you-page

If you choose ‘URL Contains’:

Enter the unique part of your post sign-up or post checkout page URL.

As you can see in the example below, I’ve selected ‘URL Contains’ and entered ‘/my-thank-you-page’ as the URL Keyword. This will work well as long as no other URL on my site contains ‘/my-thank-you-page’.

Custom Conversion Details

Next you will need to select a category for this Custom Conversion.

This should correspond with the type of conversion event you are tracking. As you can see in the image above, I’ve selected ‘Purchase’ as the category.

After you choose a category, hit ‘Next’.

The last step is to give your Custom Conversion a meaningful name, description (optional), and set a conversion value (optional).

I suggest giving it a name that makes the event easily recognizable. For example, if you’re tracking the sale of a pair of blue shoes you might call it ‘Purchased Blue Shoes’.

You can also add in a description for the Custom Conversion if you need more detail than you can fit in the name.

Finally, you have the option of entering a conversion value.

Conversion Value for Facebook Custom Conversions

Entering a conversion value can be really useful because it allows you to not only track the number of times a conversion occurred, but you can also see the value of those conversions in the Facebook ad manager.

Once you click ‘Create’, your Custom Conversion will be created and you’ll see something like this:

List of Facebook Custom Conversions

Notice that the Status says ‘No Activity Yet’. That just means that nobody has visited the URL that you configured for the Custom Conversion since you created it.

Go ahead and visit your conversion page. Give it a couple of minutes and refresh your list of Custom Conversions and the status should now be ‘Active’.

That's it!

You've created your first Facebook Custom Conversion.

All that's left to do now is configure your Ad Sets to optimise for that conversion. We'll take a look at how to do that after I show you how to use Standard Events.

How to Use Standard Events

Now lets walk through how to use standard events to track your Facebook conversions.

You need to make small changes to the base pixel code to use standard events, which I’ll show you how to do.

The first thing to note is that you don’t want to have duplicate pixels on your pages where you’re tracking conversions. That means if you’ve already got the base pixel on your thank-you page or order confirmation page, you do not want to add another Facebook pixel with the standard even code. You should simply modify the existing base pixel to include the relevant standard event.

Start by heading over to the ‘Pixels’ page in the Facebook ad manager.

Viewing your Facebook pixel

From there, the easiest way I’ve found to see the list of standard event codes is to click ‘Actions’ -> ‘Email Pixel Code’.

email facebook pixel code

Now you’ll see 2 separate sections.

At the top is your base Facebook pixel code.

At the bottom you’ll see a list of the 10 different standard event codes. The events available include:

  • View Content
  • Search
  • Add To Wish List
  • Add To Card
  • Initiate Checkout
  • Add Payment Info
  • Purchase
  • Lead
  • Complete Registration
  • Other

See the full list of events with descriptions of how Facebook recommends you use each of them here.

base fb pixel code

To implement standard events, you need to take your base pixel code and add in the standard event that you want to track.

To do that, just copy and paste the base pixel code into your text editor of choice and then copy the standard event code in. You need to put the standard event code directly after ‘fbq(‘track’, “PageView”);’ and before the </script> tag.

Here’s a quick look at my base Facebook pixel code with no standard events:

base pixel with no events

And here’s the pixel after adding the ‘Complete Registration’ standard event:

fb pixel with complete registration standard event code

From there you’ll just copy & paste the pixel with your standard event between the head tags of your post-registration thank you page.

You’re now tracking registrations as a conversion on that page using standard events.

Adding Conversion Values

I mentioned earlier that one of the benefits of using standard events is that they allow you to pass in conversion values dynamically and to add parameters as well. Here’s how you add that information to your standard event codes.

First let’s take a look at adding a ‘Purchase’ event with a set conversion value to your pixel code.

You’ll see that it’s very similar to adding the registration event, except for this one I’ve also included a purchase value and a currency.

16_pixel with conversion value 2

If you’re thinking there’s no benefit to doing this compared to using Standard Events, you’re right.

What I’ve shown above is the most basic way of adding a conversion value to your standard events. In order to update that value dynamically, you’ll need to get whoever looks after your website to replace the ‘value’ amount with a variable that contains the conversion value. The same goes for the currency. It needs to be replaced with a variable as well.

Don’t worry if this part goes straight over your head. It is getting quite technical but it’s something a web developer can handle quite easily. Hand it over to them, explain what you need done and let them work their magic!

Here’s an example of what the code might look like with dynamically updated variables being passed as your conversion value and currency:

conversion parameters facebook

Using Parameters To Collect Even More Data

In addition to dynamically tracking conversion values, standard events also allow you to collect a wealth of additional data by adding parameters to your Facebook pixel code.

I’ll use the ‘View Content’ event as an example.

This event is intended to be used when a key page is viewed such as a landing page, product page etc.

Naturally, if people are visiting content or product pages on your site, it would be useful to report this to Facebook as part of the standard event so you can use that information in your remarketing down the line.

Here’s how you add parameters to pass the content type and content name whenever the ‘View Content’ standard event is triggered.

All you need to do is add the standard event code as I showed you above, except this time you’ll also include your parameters.

Here’s what the standard event code might look like this:

fbq(‘track’, ‘ViewContent’, {

content_type: ‘product’,

content_name: ‘Shorts’

});

Added to our base pixel code it becomes:

fb parameter tracking

So in this example, by placing this pixel on a product page for a pair of shorts, you would have the ‘View Content’ standard event triggered and Facebook would also know that the content viewed was a product named ‘shorts’.

You can then use this data to make your remarketing campaigns even smarter.

A simple use case based on this example would be to show ads containing shorts to everyone who looked at shorts on your site.

The level of customisation you can implement with standard events and parameters is almost endless. It’s definitely not something that everyone will use, but for those who do it can be very powerful.

Configuring Your Ads

Once you’ve chosen your Facebook conversion tracking method and set it up, the last thing left to do is make sure you set up your ad sets to optimise for the correct conversion event, and make sure your ads are linked to the correct conversion event.

When you create a new ad set, you’ll be asked to choose a conversion to optimise for.

This means that Facebook will try to show the ads in that ad set to the people most likely to complete that conversion event.

When you click the conversion event drop-down box you’ll see a list of conversion events. It will contain both standard events and custom conversions. All you need to do is select the conversion event that you want to optimise for in this ad set.

optimizing for conversions

Because we’re using the new Facebook pixel to track conversions, there is no need to configure conversion tracking at the ad level. It’s automatically done for you.

In the example below we’re looking at the ad configuration in the Power Editor.

Notice under ‘Pixel Tracking’ it’s automatically selected your Facebook pixel as the conversion tracking method.

pixel tracking

If you are using the old pixel (which I don’t recommend because it’s being phased out), you will need to select your conversion pixel here.

That’s all there is to configuring your ad sets and ads to optimise for and track conversions. Not too hard at all!

You’ll now see conversions being recorded in your Facebook ad reports as they happen.

Conclusion

If you’ve made it this far you should have a clear understanding of the 2 different methods of conversion tracking available to you in the Facebook ad platform & the differences between them.

If you’re only selling a few products and aren’t running a large e-commerce store then Custom Conversions are probably all you need.

If you have a large catalogue of products, dynamic checkouts, and/or lots of different lead magnets and opt-in forms, then you’re probably going to need to use standard events.

The important part is you get your Facebook conversion tracking set up properly before you start running ads. That way you can be sure that Facebook is optimising your campaigns for the best performance possible, and you are tracking the ROI of every campaign you run.

Which method are you using to track Facebook conversions? Let me know in the comments below!