What is a Pixel? Conversion Tracking 101

Conversion tracking 101

Data-driven marketing is our favorite topic at DataScore. In order to have meaningful marketing data and visibility of campaign performance, you need to implement conversion tracking. Never launch a campaign without the right tracking in place or you won’t know the results of your campaign. 

A common mistake that many first time marketers and early stage startups make is to launch campaigns without proper tracking. Having proper conversion tracking is a vital requirement to launch a successful online marketing campaign.

We can measure and quantify the performance of an online campaign through pixels. Let’s demystify the process by first explaining what a pixel is:

What is a pixel?

What is a Pixel?

A basic tracking pixel is a 1×1 graphic image that is invisible to the naked eye. Other euphemisms for pixels include “web beacon” or “ad tags”. Pixels could also be another format, such as script or iframe, but let’s keep it simple for now.

When a tracking pixel is placed on a website, we can monitor how many times a certain action or event occurs based on how many times this “unseen” image has appeared on a user’s screen. Pixels stealthily track and monitor audience engagement and behaviors, and no one (outside of marketers, of course!) has to know.

Pixel event tagging

What to Track

You’ll want to place the pixel in the code of every page that you want to track. For marketing campaigns, we often place pixels on pages to track events that are important or relate to the objective that we are trying to achieve. Specifying important actions to track is called event tagging.

Important events include any action that the target audience may take online such as:

  • visiting a page
  • signups
  • purchases
  • adding something to the shopping cart
  • downloading something

Real life example of how to use pixels

Practical Uses for Pixels

Here’s a real-life example of how this works. Consider tech startup called Unicorns Inc. In in their pre-launch phase, Unicorns Inc. wants to generate beta user signups and collect emails to notify people about their official launch.

When Unicorns Inc. sets up its campaign on an ad platform, such as Facebook, they will want to know how many people are signing up from their campaign. Unicorns Inc. should generate a tracking pixel from their Facebook Ads Dashboard. 

Next, Unicorns Inc. should place (embed) the pixel code on important pages of their website, to represent events that they would like to track. At a minimum, they will probably want to tag the signup event to know how many people are submitting their email address as a result of their marketing campaign.

When someone sees and clicks on Unicorn Inc.’s ad on Facebook, they will land on a website that presents an email signup form. If this person submits an email, they process to the “thank you” page where a pixel has been placed. We know that every time the pixel appears, someone has submitted their email to the campaign.

Facebook will track and count how many times this pixel appears and aggregate the total into a reporting dashboard. When Unicorns Inc. views their Facebook Ads dashboard, they will be able to see exactly how many signups this campaign has generated!
Thanks to pixel tracking, Unicorns Inc. will have full visibility about how many people are signing up from their marketing campaign. As a result, the company can make educated decisions about the effectiveness of their marketing efforts.

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