Marketing Takeaways

In this post I explain what the Facebook Pixel is, and provide a list of tactics you can use to leverage the power of the Pixel. Here’s a couple of the big takeaways:

1) Careful observation leads to thoughtful action. Thoughtfulness is the father of loyalty.

2) Spend a bit of time setting up your “Follow Up” advertising (called retargeting). Focus on EFFICIENCY before you focus on TRAFFIC. Don’t turn on the hose until you have the right type of bucket ready. Don’t turn on the fire hose until you’ve dug a pool.

The Power of Careful Observation

Last year, my daughter’s 3rd grade teacher (the amazing Scott Flox) met with me and my wife during the obligatory parent-teacher conference. I was quietly impressed when, without any notes or gradebooks, he gave an in-depth review of her progress and a detailed analysis of how she was doing.

He not only knew her grades and demeanor but had also picked up on Claire’s chicken obsession, and knew that she loved to draw more than anything in the world. He understood her, and he also recognized some of her struggles.

I share this about Claire’s teacher to help illustrate the power of observation of Facebook’s Pixel. The Pixel is a tool that helps you—as a web-based business—learn about your website visitors. Like Mr. Flox, you can pay careful attention to all of your web visitors and learn important details about their behavior and interests.

One of Claire’s bird drawings, featuring her favorite zebra finch, Cobber

What Is a Pixel?

Before we get any further, let me define what a pixel is (if you already know, then just skip to the next section).

The Facebook Pixel is a snippet of code that you insert into the header of your website. Then, when someone visits your website, the Pixel gets activated and does two things:

  • The Pixel shakes hands with the web browser of your visitor and asks for information
  • The Pixel passes that information along to Facebook, who uses it to help you build custom audiences (more on that in a later section of this article).

Why Should I Care About This?

A HUGE PART of successful marketing involves delivering the right message at the right moment. The Facebook Pixel is one of the most effective tools in accomplishing this, because it helps you divide up your website visitors into meaningful groups. Let me explain that a bit more.

For a typical ecommerce website, about 1-3% of your website visitors will actually make a purchase. This is called the Conversion Rate (and BTW, 3% is a REALLY GOOD conversion rate). So what about the other 97-99% of your website visitors?

Well, the Facebook Pixel watches your website visitors and takes careful notes on which pages they visit. It then separates them into groups of website visitors such as:

  • General
  • Abandoned cart
  • People who looked at a specific product
  • Customers (Best. Humans. Ever.)

Setting Up Ads

Now that the Pixel has separated your website visitors for you, you can now run ads and target those ads to a specific group.

Here’s a few examples of what you can do because of the Facebook Pixel:

  • Show “purchase now” ads to people who browsed your website but didn’t buy anything.
    • This is known as “retargeting” or “remarketing”
    • Retarget = show follow-up ads to someone who has shown interest
  • Recover abandoned carts: You can show ads to people who added something to their shopping cart, but never checked out.
    • Facebook integrates really well with Shopify and WooCommerce, so this sort of thing is really easy–easy like, “I’m going to eat that whole bar of Dove Chocolate” kind of easy.
  • Show branding ads to people who have already purchased (you know they are customers, so just work on strengthening loyalty, not selling)

The Absolute Best Way to Spend Marketing $$$

For a couple of years I managed the digital ads for an insurance company, and we routinely spent over $10,000 per month on digital advertising (Google, Facebook, & other platforms). Out of that huge spend, we only dedicated around $150/month on Facebook retargeting. That’s just 1.5% of the budget.

And guess what? We got more direct conversions per dollar with that $150 than we did with the rest of the $9,850. I’m serious, we converted at $1-3/conversion, compared with $80/conversion with other channels. That’s around 3.5% of the cost of the regular marketing channels. 3.5%! 

Here’s why: with the retargeting we knew that the audience was interested, and we knew that they were almost ready to buy—they just needed a little nudge. So here’s the takeaway:

The best dollar-for-dollar spend of your marketing budget is with retargeting ads

Practical Ideas

Idea 1: Before you drive a lot of traffic to your site, get your pixel set up so that you can track visitors. In other words: focus on the EFFICIENCY of your site before you focus on the TRAFFIC to your site.

Idea 2: Have a retargeting ad campaign that you can turn on/off

  • I never run retargeting ads all the time. Instead, I run them for 3-4 days, let them rest for a week or two, and then run them for another spell.
  • I also like to run retargeting ads during a big campaign. Remind people to buy while you are still fresh on their minds.
  • Pro tip: keep an eye on the frequency of the ads. Keep the frequency below 4.
    • Frequency = average # of times that an ad has been shown to each person
  • Pro tip: If you are a smaller shop, set your daily budget to $1-3/day. I promise, that is more than enough ad spend if your audience size is less than 1,000 people.

Idea 3: Set up abandoned cart recovery! Trickle ads to people who were about to purchase, but decided not to for some reason. Keep your daily budget really small for these ads. Probably $1-2/day for smaller shops. For larger companies, tailor your spend to the size of your abandoned cart audience. I use the rough guideline of $10 per 1,000 people (but that will change over time, and depending on the cost of reaching your audience).


Mr. Flox was a great teacher because he observed details and had meaningful ideas on how to use those observations. He knew Claire loved birds, so he tailored one of his art lessons to drawing owls (and then gave her his drawing). She now uses his art techniques every single day (she won’t stop drawing!).

And the result? Claire grew more and learned more that year than she has in any other.

And my life is filled with bird drawings. Here’s a few of them.

Using the Facebook Pixel is one way that you can begin to pay close attention to your customers, and deliver timely, personalized information to them. Use that power to make a difference.


The Owl drawing that Mr. Flox gave to Claire

Share Your Comments

Do you have the Facebook pixel installed on your website? If you do, how are you using it? What custom audiences do you have, and what types of ads do you run?

If you don’t have it installed, what has kept you from setting it up? Have you run into any roadblocks that you need help with?

Share your reactions in the comments below, and I’ll answer any of your questions.

-Mike Blakesley, Pattern Drop Co-founder