In the digital marketing world, you hear the words “tracking pixel” or just “pixel” thrown around a lot, and oftentimes it is not well explained. So, before we talk about strategy let’s cover the very basics. We can start with a scenario:
Have you ever been scrolling through Facebook and an ad shows up for something you were literally just talking about?
While Facebook isn’t actually reading your mind (yet), they are using what we call a tracking pixel.
What is a Tracking Pixel?
Marketing pixels (aka tracking pixels) are essentially these tiny snippets of code that allow you to gather information about visitors on a website—how they browse, what type of ads they click on, etc.
This behavior data helps your company send the user paid-ads that are likely to be most interesting to them. This means, they have already been primed for the content or service and are much more likely to express interest or convert. On a high level, tracking pixels are also used to measure a marketing campaign’s performance, track conversions, and build an audience base.
Now that you have a general overview of what a pixel is, let’s talk about the different types of pixels. Don’t stress too much though, there are only two that you really need to worry about.
- Retargeting Pixels
Retargeting pixels are focused solely on the behavior of your website’s visitors.
For example, let’s say you’re shopping online for new furniture and then you go onto an entirely different website, like Facebook, and notice that all of the pop-up ads are furniture related.
That’s how retargeting pixels work. They’re basically monitoring your behavior in order to tailor paid ads they think will catch your attention on other websites.
- Conversion Pixels
A conversion pixel comes into play once a purchase has actually been made. They are responsible for tracking sales from a specific ad campaign.
In order to gather correct data, conversion pixels need to be placed within the code of an order confirmation page such as an automated “Thank You” you typically find in your inbox after buying something.
Conversion pixels also allow marketers to identify the source of their conversions and measure the success or failure of specific campaigns.
Why are Pixels Valuable?
As we mentioned before, pixels allow you to better understand your users’ online behaviors and shopping patterns.
By using pixels, marketers are able to track useful metrics like digital ad impressions, email opens, sales conversions, and pretty much any other type of activity related to their campaign.
They also extend the impressions on a potential customer by showing them related paid ads even after they’ve left your website. A win-win situation.
Unfortunately, the use of tracking pixels isn’t popular with everyone. Data protection advocates frown upon this marketing tool because it gathers extensive information about a user without their knowledge.
Critics argue that pixels violate user privacy and allow spammers to more easily access personal data. That’s why always giving your users or customers the option to opt-out will prevent a whole bunch of legal drama (just in case).
Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the function of tracking pixels, it’s important to have some key strategies in place before going ahead and taking things into your own hands.
- Be selective and intentional with your pixel usage. Quality over quantity is important here. Attaching pixels to every single user for every page they visit is overkill
- Be cautious of tracking pixel frequencies. They can slow down your site, and slow load times are the best way to ensure users will leave your page
- Keep your targeted campaigns in mind. There’s no need to waste tracking pixels on demographics you’re not aiming for
- Respect a user’s privacy and allow them to opt out of tracking if they choose
That’s it! That is the crux of tracking pixels. While they seem complex, they are actually the simple bridge of code between letting potential users go, and converting individuals who are primed for your service.
Want to learn more about how to make pixels work for you and your marketing? Contact Neil Okun and the My Social Biz team to work on customizing your ideal pixels and getting your marketing back on track.