Tracking Pixels – What are they and why are they so important?
Posted on March 11, 2021 by Daniel Farrell
Behind every successful marketing campaign and optimised budget spend lies an extensive analysis of behavioural data and demographics. Behavioural data at a pre-click and post-click stage. At a pre-click to segment the audience (and even to create the content for the campaign) & at post-click to close the gap between clicks and conversions.
Pixels are key to successfully measuring and optimising campaigns, especially at the post click stage. Without a pixel we as marketers and each platform as advertisers could be making huge mistakes when optimising a campaign.
What used to take months of testing and data collection, can now be simplified through one line of code tucked away inside every page across your website – a pixel.
What is a tracking pixel?
A tracking pixel is an invisible snippet of code that is loaded when a user opens a webpage and takes a certain action on your website. This hidden tracker allows you to collect data that helps you track conversions from paid campaigns, optimise ads, build targeted audiences and last, but not least, remarket to users who have interacted or taken some kind of action on your website.
What can they track?
It only requires some simple coding, but the amount of information it gives you can become crucial to your marketing strategy. A tracking pixel can help you with:
- Measuring direct conversions and cross-device conversions. Also, to optimise based on conversions CPL – CPA. Cross device conversions in particular have become very popular, as people move between their phones, laptops and tablets to interact with your site (e.g. you see an ad on your phone but decide to complete the application from desktop a couple of hours later)
- Optimising delivery to the right audience – your ads will only be shown to users who are most likely to take action. Delivery is also optimised by copy, ad, format and placements.
- Creating custom audiences from website visitors – which will help you find lookalike audiences or reach out again to people who have visited a specific page, or taken a desired action on your website.
- Learning about your website traffic – these pixels will provide rich insights about how your audience interacts with your website.
We can set up custom events (i.e. specific actions users take on your website) for pixels to track, based on your strategy and goals, as well as standard events, such as ‘Submit application’, ‘Submit an enquiry’, ‘Register for an open event’.
Why are they so important?
Tracking pixels have become extremely valuable to digital marketers nowadays. It allows us to measure the effectiveness of our paid campaigns and make data-driven decisions that will increase your return-on-investment.
Now that you have an overview of what pixels are and what they measure, here are few ways to use them that will boost your marketing results:
A retargeting strategy will show ads to users who have already visited your website, and we can use this data to amend the follow up ads in many different ways. We can create custom ads for specific actions taken on your website, or specific pages visited. For example, we can design a tailored ad for users who abandoned an application on Step 2, or an ad for users who showed interest in a specific course.
Without a pixel, the only conversion you can optimise for is link clicks (a traffic ad). With a conversion pixel, we build ads for specific conversion events on your website, that align with your marketing strategy and goals, like course applications, or open days sign-ups.
How do we work with Pixels?
Every advertising platform has its own pixel code that measures all of the above, which could be pasted on your website through separate codes directly at the back end of your website or by using Google Tag Manager (GTM). GTM centralises trackers across all platforms so that you only have to install one code on your website.
In theory, it’s a win-win situation as marketers can sharpen their strategies, whilst users are shown only relevant ads, tailored to their interests. In reality though, user tracking including pixels and cookies are often criticised for collecting such comprehensive data and is probably one of the reasons why Apple started implementing the changes with iOS14, which will certainly have an impact on tracking and will make it harder for businesses to optimise their ad performance. As a side note at Educate we can help you make sure that you are complying with the current iOS14 changes, especially from the Facebook perspective
To complement pixel tracking at Educate we then create goals and events in Google Analytics, which gives you even more visibility over the campaign performance.
The Future of Pixels
The future of pixels is very much linked to the future of cookies which is a bit uncertain at the moment with Google’s announcement to partially get rid of cookies, a subject that we will cover in another post.
However, as more and more businesses are expanding into the digital realm, we believe this could push the development of new technologies and transform the way we advertise online.