What the hell is a Facebook conversion?

This is the second in a blog series about the Facebook pixel. I will be building on concepts that we established in the first post, so I recommend reading that one before.

In the last post we established what a Facebook Pixel was, and what it does. We are now going to look at Facebook conversions — what are they and how do you use them?

A Facebook conversion is just a way to define when someone who has gone to your website has completed the action you wanted them to complete. For example, if you were running an advertising campaign trying to sell shoes, you want to measure how often someone bought shoes. That would be your conversion for that campaign. Facebook has two ways of doing this — Standard Events and Custom Conversions.

Standard Events

Standard events are small pieces of Javascript that you put directly on the web page that you are measuring. Here is a list of all the Standard Events that Facebook can track.

Things are getting pretty intense again, like the first time we saw the Facebook Pixel base code. However, like then, it’s all quite straightforward when you get into it. In fact, the more eagle eyed of you would have noticed that we have already come across a standard event before.

When we looked at the pixel code in the previous blog it included a standard event code.

<! — Facebook Pixel Code -->
<script>
!function(f,b,e,v,n,t,s){if(f.fbq)return;n=f.fbq=function(){n.callMethod?
n.callMethod.apply(n,arguments):n.queue.push(arguments)};if(!f._fbq)f._fbq=n;
n.push=n;n.loaded=!0;n.version=’2.0';n.queue=[];t=b.createElement(e);t.async=!0;
t.src=v;s=b.getElementsByTagName(e)[0];s.parentNode.insertBefore(t,s)}(window,
document,’script’,’https://connect.facebook.net/en_US/fbevents.js');
fbq(‘init’, ‘1234567891011’);
fbq(‘track’, ‘PageView’);

</script>
<noscript><img height=”1" width=”1" style=”display:none”
src=”https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=1234567891011&ev=PageView&noscript=1"
/></noscript>
<! — DO NOT MODIFY -->
<! — End Facebook Pixel Code -->

Every Facebook Pixel base code contains one standard event — fbq('track', 'PageView'); . This tells Facebook to record one Page View every time that someone visits that page. If you remember from the previous blog, this translated roughly as “I’ve seen that this dude has had a look at this page on your website. Know him?” Knowing that, we can translate that whole list of Standard Events.

Simple right?

Like the Pixel code, these standard events just need to go somewhere on your web page in order to talk to Facebook and let them know that a certain conversion has happened.

<script>
fbq('track', 'Purchase', {value: '10.00', currency: 'GBP'});
</script>

I know that by now you will be absolutely buzzing about Standard Events, and you’re right to be excited — they’re pretty groovy.

However, some of you out there might be thinking “Yeah that’s cool and everything, but it’s a nightmare to try and get the developers to do anything” or “Yeah whatevs, our clients won’t give us access to their website, so what have you got for us?”

I have another trick up my sleeve.

Custom Conversions

Custom Conversions come into play in those exact scenarios.

Custom Conversions allow you to tell Facebook that if they record a visit to a certain URL, then they should mark that down as a specific conversion. For example, if they record someone going to www.bornsocial.com/shop/checkout_complete then they should record that as a purchase. To carry on the conversation that we were having with Facebook earlier.

Which should you use?

If you can, Standard Events. Standard events are more specific and allow you more flexibility. Custom Conversions are a good stand in for when you can’t, for some reason, put code directly on the site very easily, but they rely on having clear URLs for the different actions that you are trying to achieve. Furthermore, they won’t work if you have a one-page site as there are no different URLs to track against.

There you have it! A Facebook conversion is just a way to record whether someone has done a specific action on your website. There are two ways of recording it, Standard Events and Custom Conversions. Standard Events are preferable if you can implement them.


If you have any questions, or have any ideas for more blogs, then just grab me on Twitter.