Setting up your Facebook Pixel to Build Custom Audiences

After initially introducing the Facebook Pixel as a (powerful) way to track people who have visited your website while logged into Facebook, Facebook simplified its pixel process by moving to a one pixel system. The Facebook Pixel allows you to both track and accumulate website visitors into custom audiences as well as track conversions made from your ads. For both tracking tasks, Facebook has you generate code – called a pixel – to paste onto your website.

The Facebook Pixel is free to create and use, and the process of generating your unique pixel takes place inside your Facebook ads account.

To capture visitors to your website with your Pixel, you’ll need to first install the Pixel code on your website. Also called your “base Pixel”, many website platforms (or CMSs) have a designated field to paste your Pixel code (in fact, there’s a WordPress plugin if your theme doesn’t have a good spot to place your pixel in your theme settings). If you want to track conversions from your ads, you’ll need to take an extra step beyond that base Pixel installation.

To track Facebook ad conversions, you can add some additional “event code” to the specific website page where people complete their conversion journey (e.g. an order confirmation or thank you page), or you can setup a custom conversion, which requires no additional code.

This post looks at how to set up the Facebook custom audience pixel with the goal to track your website visitors, but does include some basic information on how to take the additional steps to set up your conversion tracking as well. Setting up your ad conversion tracking is a more involved and separate process, but it would still begin with generating and adding your Facebook Pixel code to your website.

How to Set up your Facebook Pixel for Facebook Advertising

How to Set up your Facebook Pixel for Facebook Advertising

  1. From your Ads Manager account, click on the Business Tools menu –> Events Manager.Facebook Ads Manager menu 
  2. Click the blue Get Started button next to the Facebook Pixel: Track Website Visitors section.Get started creating your Facebook pixel 
  3. Name your Pixel, then click Next. It doesn’t matter what you name it since only you and anyone you might add to help you manage your Ads account will see it. Using your name or your business name works well.Name your Facebook Pixel
  4. Before you will generate your Facebook Pixel code, you need to choose how you’d like to get your Pixel added to your site. The choices are to choose a partner account or to manually install the code yourself.choose how to set up facebook pixel
  5. If you choose to set up your Facebook Pixel manually, Facebook will generate that pixel code for you once you click on “Manually add pixel code to website”. This means you’ll be copying and pasting the pixel code from the screen, and into your website. You can also click to email instructions on your pixel and its installation to yourself or your developer. You can click the Copy to Clipboard button if you are ready to copy/paste the pixel code into your website. If you are able to add the Facebook Pixel code yourself to your website, copy the code and paste it in between the <head> </head> tags of your website. If you use WordPress, you will likely have a section within your theme’s settings to hold the code. Often it’s the same place that you’d paste your Google Analytics tracking code. If you don’t have a built-in field for this, there is a plugin that can be added to your WordPress to hold the code for you.Install Facebook Base Pixel Code
  6. Facebook gives you the option to turn on or off what it calls “Automatic Advanced Matching”. It describes this as: Use information that your customers have already provided to your business, such as their email addresses or phone numbers, to match your website’s visitors to people who are on Facebook. This can help you attribute more conversions to your ads on Facebook and reach more people through remarketing campaigns. Read more about it here. Also on this same screen, you can test to make sure your new Pixel is tracking Facebook traffic correctly. You’ll need to first add the pixel code to your website, then enter your website domain into the field and click the green Send Test Traffic button. You can also test your pixel later if you aren’t able to install your pixel code immediately.Send test traffic to test Facebook pixel 
  7. After clicking Continue, you’ll be taken to the next step where you have the option to setup specific event tracking. If you aren’t tracking conversions right now or would prefer to do so using custom conversions instead of adding a new line of code to a specific page on your website, you can skip past this section. You can access the event codes needed for conversion tracking at a later time, too.setup facebook pixel events trackingNote: To set up conversion tracking later on, either visit Events Manager –> Click on your Facebook Pixel name (in blue) –> Setup New Events or Events Manager –> Click on your Facebook Pixel name (in blue) –> Custom Conversions.Choose Pixel Event Setup typeIf you opt to setup new events, you’ll begin the process of connecting your website to your Facebook pixel. After entering your URL into the field, a new tab opens with your website’s home page and a setup wizard.Setup Facebook Events using your PixelFacebook Events Pixel setup WizardIf you want to avoid dealing with more code, the Custom Conversion option is the way to go! Using Custom Conversions eliminates the need for pasting additional code onto your website. Instead, you give Facebook the specific URL you want to use to track your conversions. 
  8. Once your Facebook Pixel has been created and installed on your website, you can create a custom audience. A custom audience is an audience of people who visited your website while being logged into Facebook, and these people are tracked and accumulated into your custom audience thanks to the Facebook Pixel. To create an audience based on your Facebook Pixel traffic, click on Events Manager –> Audiences (or if you aren’t currently in Events Manager, click on Business Tools menu –> Audiences).Click to create a new Facebook audience   
  9. Choose the type of audience you want to create. In this case, we will choose Website.Select which type of custom audience you want to create
  10. You can create multiple custom audiences, and use your Facebook Pixel for many of those audiences. For starters, create a custom audience of everyone who visited your website within a specified period of time. You’ll want to name your (total) website audience and decide how many days you want to store website visitors in your audience.
    Set Facebook Custom Audience
    Select what website traffic you want to track. Usually people want to track all website visitors, but you can filter traffic.Tracking Website Visitors Set the number of days for which you want to store your website visitor history. The maximum number of days is 180. Your custom audience will always have the most recent 180 days worth of traffic included in it. Older traffic (181+ days) will naturally drop out.Set Days of Tracking for Facebook Pixel Name your custom audience, then click Create Audience.
  11. Now your Custom Audience is ready! You can visit it at any time by clicking Tools –> Audiences from the navigation menu in your Ads Manager. This is also where you’ll head to create other types of custom audiences now that your Pixel has been created.Website custom audience created
  12. Want to check on your pixel audience? Visit the Audiences tab. A red circle means there’s no pixel activity yet. As soon as the red circle turns green, you’re all set! To help that along, visit your website and then refresh the tab where you have your Facebook Ads Manager open. As days go by and your audience grows, you can visit its progress by visiting this view in your Ads Manager.View Facebook Pixel Activity

Using a Custom Audience of your Facebook Pixel Traffic

Once you have a healthy custom audience assembled, you can choose to advertise to this audience when you are building your new Facebook ads. Advertising to an audience of people who have already visited your site means you are paying to have your products or services put in front of people who already have some awareness of your business. This often is a more effective approach to sales because you are advertising to a warm audience instead of a cold audience.

When building an ad, click into the Custom Audiences field to see all the custom audiences you’ve built.

Choose a custom audience when building a Facebook ad

Your Facebook Pixel and Building a Conversion Ad

If you use an Event code to track conversions or you opted to setup a custom conversion, you’ll be selecting that Conversion event as one of the first steps when creating a Conversion ad. 

Choose Facebook Conversion Pixel when building Facebook Ads

How to Setup an Allow List for your Pixel

If you receive an email that alerts you that your Facebook pixel is being used by a website domain that’s not yours, you have the option to setup what Facebook calls a “Traffic Allow List”, and add your own domain(s) to that allow list while blocking any other domains that might be trying to use your Facebook pixel on their website.

Setup a Traffic Allow List for your Facebook pixel

You’ll need to be setup in Business Manager before you can control (and protect) use of your Facebook Pixel in this way. To access the Traffic Allow List feature, visit your Business Manager, then click on Events Manager –> Settings –> then scroll down to the Traffic Permissions area.

Facebook Pixel Traffic Allow List

Facebook gives you the option of creating a Traffic Allow list or a Block list. In the screenshot above, you’ll see the suggestion from Facebook to switch to an Allow list. Using a Traffic Allow list lets you set up exactly the URLs that you allow use of your Facebook pixel instead of having to keep adding URLs that pop up of other sites that are trying to use your Facebook pixel without your knowledge or approval. If you’ve already started with a Block list, you can continue with that method as well. Simply click to Add to Block List from the list of URLs currently sending events to your pixel.

Don’t forget about any 3rd party sites or software that you’ve added your Facebook pixel to, like a funnel, landing page, cart/checkout system, or LinkTree.

Add URLs to a Pixel Traffic Permission Block List

Once you’ve completed this step, you can feel like your Facebook pixel is again secure.

*Post updated in 11/19.


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