Conversion Tracking Pixels vs. Retargeting Pixels: Why Putting Them in the Wrong Place Will Make Your Head Explode

When I was about eight years-old, an important man came into my life. His name was Viktor, and he was the new ballet teacher at my neighborhood dance studio.

Born and bred in the Ukraine, Viktor was a hard-ass. He worked my little ballerina-self to the bone. He whipped my dance skills into incredible shape, fixing my bad habits and helping me form new ones that strengthened me as a dancer. Viktor was a huge reason I was a (mostly) kickass ballerina.

But I can’t emphasize enough how much I hated him sometimes. I didn’t like (and don’t like now) such intense criticism, even though learning from it is so important, blah blah blah. I also have an aversion to hard work, which is pretty crucial for both the ballet and entrepreneurial worlds. I vaguely recall a screaming match in the middle of the studio, my dance classmates inching away from me as I told Viktor to fuck off. Colorful language for a teenager, but not altogether unexpected, right?

There’s good news that’s also bad news: I’m YOUR Viktor when it comes to Facebook ads. You’re probably going to hate me for it from time to time, but basically I won’t rest until you’ve got that foundation in place.

Today that means two pieces of code you need in place right this bloody moment.

Let’s take a look at each one:

1. Your remarketing pixel (also known as WCA pixel, retargeting pixel, ads-that-stalk-you pixel, etc.).

I don’t care if you’re running ads or not – you NEED to get this one your website now. Why? So that when the time comes and you want to show ads to everyone who has visited your sales page in the last month, Facebook already has a collection of those people stored in your advertising account. (You won’t get their actual names, but you will be able to target them with awesome ads that’ll help you make more sales. AWWWW YEAH.)

How It’s Done

It’s actually really simple to create and place this pixel – click here for instructions: Create and Place Your Facebook Remarketing Pixel.

Don’t put this on your to-do list; DO IT RIGHT NOW. You can curse at me all you want, but you’ll thank me with chocolates and flowers later when you realize you’ve already got a whole slew of people you can retarget with your ads.

Why You Need to Get It Right

This pixel is the one thing that will allow you to show ads to very specific groups of people. For example, you might show everyone who saw your sales page an ad that directs them to a blog post that addresses objections to your product or service. (More on that strategy here.) But you can’t do that if you accidentally put this pixel on one specific page instead of your entire site. It’s a common mistake; check out the video below to make sure you haven’t done that yourself.

2. Your conversion tracking pixels.

OK, technically you don’t need to have your conversion tracking pixel in place if you’re not running ads. This is the bit of code you put on your “thank you” page that sends Facebook info about who lands there. If I came to your site from a Facebook ad and eventually landed on your thank you page, Facebook knows to count me as a conversion. This helps you identify which of your ads works the best in actually getting people to sign up and/or buy, not just which one has the prettiest photo or the most click-bait-y copy.

How It’s Done

If you’ve got a site on WordPress or you’re using Leadpages for your opt-in landing page, you’re all good. The conversion tracking set-up is easy as pie.

Here comes the smackdown. If you’re using something that doesn’t allow you to set your own thank you page for your opt-in, or doesn’t let you add code to the backend of that thank you page, YOU NEED A NEW WEBSITE.

Yup, I said it.

Wix and Weebly maybe be cheap and/or easy to use, but they will not let you track your conversions. Squarespace may be crazy user-friendly, but that ends when you try to put some code on your thank you page. (Regarding Squarespace, there are a number of people in the Absolute FB Ads Support Group who use it and have managed to add conversion tracking pixels to their thank you pages. They are geniuses in my book, and hopefully they can help you too if you join us.)

Why You Need to Get It Right

This one is simple: if Facebook can’t track your conversions, it can’t optimize your campaigns for more conversions. When you choose Website Conversions as your objective, Facebook’ll show your ads to people who are most likely to take the action you’ve set in your pixel (sign up for something or buy something, for example). So you need to show Facebook that people are converting by putting this pixel in the right place!

Common mistakes are to put the conversion tracking pixel on your landing page, but viewing your landing page is not a conversion, you see? Same with putting it on the page people see after they confirm their email. I know that seems like it would make sense, but trust me when I say that every time I’ve done it, Facebook underreports conversions. You don’t want that, do you?

Frequently Asked Questions About These Pixels:

  • Which page should I put my conversion tracking pixel on?
  • I put my retargeting pixel on my sales page and on my thank you page – is that right?
  • How do I know if my pixel is placed correctly?
  • Is it cool if I have more than one pixel on one page?
  • Where do I find my retargeting pixel again?

One of the great things about having a Facebook group connected to a digital product is that you get crystal clear on what people are still struggling with. I got these questions pretty often, but my initial reaction was to direct people to specific chapters inside Absolute FB Ads for them to review the instructions.

Guess what? Some people were still confused! Turns out not everything can be perfectly explained in a PDF. And that realization prompted me to act fast.

A few months ago, I created a few videos on the fly to help clarify this whole pixel thing a little better. I’ve laid out most of those explanations in this post, but if you’re still not clear on where exactly your pixels should go and how they may or may not interact with each other, this video is for you:

YouTube video

Mentioned in this video:

Facebook Pixel Helper Chrome Extension

Instructions for Setting Up Your Remarketing Pixel

Instructions for Setting Up Your Conversion Tracking Pixel with WordPress or Leadpages

Still got questions? Leave ‘em in the comments!