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Troubleshoot Your Faceboook Pixel

General Overview, Common Mistakes, and Pixel Testing Best Practices

There’s every likelihood that you’re currently sitting at the depths of a steep learning curve, hopelessly trying to figure out WHY THIS DAMN FACEBOOK PIXEL WON’T WORK!!!

Let’s face it, discovering new technology is always exciting, but the learning curve…not so much.

For example, here’s how my first crack at Adobe Photoshop went:

  1. I heard about how every designer and creative marketer should know Photoshop
  2. I did a quick Google Search to dig up some tutorials and reviews (thanks Phlearn)
  3. I laid down the blueprint and strategized how I could implement it
  4. I fleshed out some designs beforehand and jumped into Photoshop to make the magic happen
  5. I took a deep breath, wiped the sweat off my forehead, and admired my hard work
  6. It’s ready. I launched the new project I’d been so excited about
  7. I sent it out to the world…then I realized…
Starbucks-Fail
Source: Imgur

The result is not always what you expect it to be.

We see this time and time again with the Facebook Pixel – no matter the size or savviness of the business we’re working with, tracking is rarely implemented properly. It’s unfortunate because the pixel is a revolutionary tool when used correctly.

“In fact, proper Facebook Pixel implementation is a pillar to successful advertising campaigns.”

-Said Every Successful Digital Advertiser Ever

But (and a big but), implementing the Pixel requires close attention to detail, some technical know-how, and patience. We were amazed at how few resources there are out there to answer FAQs and help advertisers avoid common mistakes with the Facebook Pixel. So here’s exactly that!

In this Pixel troubleshooting guide we’ll cover:

If you’re just diving in and looking for a step-by-step tutorial on how to setup the pixel, you’ll want to hop over to our Facebook Pixel Setup Guide first.

What is the Facebook Pixel?

The Facebook Pixel is a tool that tracks the activity of your website visitors who came from a Facebook or Instagram Ad. It then ties that data back to your Business Manager, to calculate metrics like ‘Cost Per Conversion’.

Facebook outlines the three main benefits of using the pixel:

  • Reach the right people
  • Drive more sales
  • Measure the results of your ads

When I read that from Facebook, I want to scream “HOW?!” at my screen. HOW will the Facebook pixel help us reach more people, drive more sales, and measure results? Do we just set it up and watch a bunch of sales and insights pour in?

Not quite. But getting started is pretty easy once you understand how the Pixel works.

The Facebook Pixel is a line of code unique to your ad account that lives on your website. When someone visits a webpage containing the pixel, they “trigger” the Pixel to “fire.” This firing event sends a signal back to Facebook that site visitor completed a desired action or “pixel event”. By default, the Pixel tracks a Pageview event each time someone hits a page containing your Facebook Pixel.

How Does the Facebook Pixel Work?

Facebook provides you a snippet of code to add on to your website, which hosts an invisible 1×1 pixel image file that is automatically downloaded when your page loads on a visitor’s browser. Once downloaded, or “fired”, Facebook can see what page was opened, the user’s physical location, browser info, IP addresses, and devices used.

Facebook then logs the data and tries to match it to a user on their database, identified by a unique Facebook ID number.

Although you can’t target specific individuals with the data you collect, you may take your gatherings to craft more relevant ads, optimize your campaigns, and set up retargeting strategies.

With that being said, if the Pixel is not set up properly, it will either fire too many times or not at all. Both of these instances will skew your data and inhibit your ability to improve your return on ad spend.

What are Facebook Pixel Events?

“Pixel Events” are actions that potential customers take while surfing your website. The Facebook Pixel allows you to track events that are important to your customer’s buying journey, so you, the marketer, can find out how Facebook leads interact with your site. Here are a few standard events you can track:

Custom Pixel Event Description
Search Search query is made within the site
View Content User lands on a specific page
Complete Registration Signup form is filled and completed
Lead User’s contact information is obtained
Add to Wishlist User saves a product to their wishlist
Add to Cart User adds product to shopping cart
Initiate Checkout User begins to check out, but does not complete the purchase yet
Add Payment Info Billing information is saved
Purchase User completes a purchase and is directed to a confirmation page

These events can be installed in the Pixels Tab in your Ads Manager. However, if the Pixel isn’t tracking your events properly, then your data is virtually useless – we’re here to  make sure everything is set up properly.

Where Should I Install My Facebook Pixel?

Install your Facebook Conversion Pixel in the header. Plain and simple.

Although you might think that the tiny pixel image is guaranteed to load no matter where you put it on your site, minimize the risk so no user slips through the cracks.

Your website header is the first thing to load, so be sure to embed the pixel in the header of your site to avoid long load times or timeouts. Facebook recommends pasting your code right before the </head> in your HTML.

For more details on setting up your Facebook pixel from scratch, head over to our Facebook Pixel setup guide.

Is My Facebook Pixel Working?

Trying to optimize your advertising dollars with inaccurate pixel data is like playing Pin the Tale on the Donkey. Imagine creating ads with a blindfold on?

Now yes, without the pixel set up you can optimize your ads to get more clicks, but you’ll have no idea if these clicks actually lead to sales. To make sure you’re driving qualified leads to your site, we’ve put together some resources and exercises you can use to make sure your pixel is set up properly.

Install the Facebook Pixel Helper Chrome Extension

Facebook’s handy extension tells you which pixels are firing on your site (and your competitors’ sites) at a click of a button. It also troubleshoots any major problems going on with your pixel, so this is an easy first-step for anyone using the pixel.

You can download the Chrome extension here to get started.

Check Which Pages are Firing Your Pixels

You can conduct a quick audit by going to your Ads Manager and seeing the list of URLs that host the live pixels. Here’s how:

  1. Open your Facebook Pixel ManagerFacebook-Pixel-URL-Tracker
  2. Under the graph, click on “URLs”
  3. Make sure the pixels are firing on the right pages

Use the Facebook Analytics Event Debugging Tool

You can track your events and debug your pixel through Facebook’s Analytics dashboard. Here’s how:

  1. Open Facebook Analytics
  2. Select your account
  3. On the left column, select Activity then click Event Debugging
  4. Identify which pages are double firing events!

Make a Test Purchase

Once you identify that your site has the pixel conversion code embedded on it, test the data and see how reliable it is. As you’ll see later in this post, it’s very easy to accidentally set up a pixel that double counts your conversions.

The best way to test whether your pixel is counting accurately is by placing a test order on your own site (which is also be a prime opportunity to audit the user experience!). After you place your order, check your Pixel Helper Chrome Extension to see if the Purchase pixel is firing. If it is, you’re on the right track.

Next, go into your Facebook Business Manager and see if you can understand your conversion path by looking at the data provided by the conversion tracker. [Sample Image]

Common Facebook Pixel Questions, Issues, & Fixes

🤞🏻 Our fingers are crossed in hopes that you just ran a test and everything mapped out properly. If not, here are some common issues our account managers see on a daily basis when taking a look at new accounts. Don’t hesitate to shoot us a message (via the call out in the bottom left) if you’re still having trouble after reading this guide.

Why Is Facebook Miscounting My Conversions?

Identifying wonky number patterns is the first step to solving the mystery of where your pixel went wrong.

For example, let’s say you have 8 add-to-carts and 16 purchases, and you’re consistently seeing 2-times more purchases than add-to-carts day after day. There’s a fat chance that your pixel is double-firing.

Another common error signal is if all 300 of your customers are from New York City and 0 from any other location.

Facebook-Pixel-Misfire

…or if 100% of your purchases are from Millennial men.

Definitive figures like these are a clear indicator that your conversions are not being tracked correctly.

Facebook Pixel miscounting is most likely the result of accidentally installing your Pixel multiple times on a single page, driving a lead to the same conversion page multiple times, or not having the pixel set up on the page at all.

While the janky band-aid solution to double-firing is to divide your metrics by two from here on out, here’s a better long-term strategy to remedy it.

Make a test purchase as mentioned before. Throughout the process ask yourself “did I visit a page with conversion tracking on it multiple times?” If so, make sure that the purchase pixel is not firing each time, via your handy Pixel Helper. If it is, you’ve found your problem! The pixel here should just be a page view pixel and not anything else.

We see this happen too frequently post-purchase, when a customer opens their purchase confirmation email and clicks through to the order confirmation page, which they’ve already visited after submitting their order. To fix this, either redirect your customers to different pages or use Custom Conversion events.

Custom Conversion events fire dynamically based on where a site visitor is coming from.

If you don’t find yourself revisiting the same pages with conversion tracking, you probably have the code embedded multiple times on your page. To fix this, use the Pixel Helper on each page to check if this is in fact true. If so, hop into the code, hit “command f”, search for [common Facebook conversion code], and delete any redundancies. It’s best practice to place the tracking code in your header, so it’s easy to find.

Why is Facebook Double Counting Conversions for My Shopify Store?

shopify ecommerce logo

There are two ways to implement your Facebook Pixel on Shopify. However, many people make the mistake of doing both, which causes the pixel to double fire and inflate your data.

Method 1: Enter your Facebook Pixel ID in your online store preferences

  1. Log into Shopify
  2. Click Online Sales Store and click Preferences
  3. Scroll down to the Facebook Pixel section
  4. Enter your Facebook ID Number and Save

Method 2: Paste HTML snippet in the “Additional Scripts” Section

        1. Log into Shopify
        2. Click Checkout
          Additional-Scripts-Shopify
        3. Find “Additional Scripts” text box
        4. Paste your Pixel code in the Additional Scripts box
        5. Click save

Other Common Facebook Pixel Solutions

If you haven’t simply placed the Facebook Pixel code on your page too many times, there are some other possible issues that could lead to miscounting…

Check and Disable Conflicting Apps or Add-ons

There are a ton of 3rd party apps, extensions, and add-ons like Pixel Perfect that help you manage your Facebook pixel. Many of these extensions will add pixel code to your page, and cause double firing if you’ve also setup your Facebook Pixel manually.

You might’ve installed one a few months ago and completely forgotten about it, which is why this is the perfect time to double check to see if you have any conflicting apps or add-ons.

If you have multiple pixels firing, the Pixel Helper extension will say “Pixel Activated Multiple Times.”

Fix Your Invalid Pixel ID

Typing in the wrong number or letter is a negligible mistake that the Facebook Pixel Helper can help identify. If this is the case, head back to the HTML Pixel Base Code that you’ve inserted and make sure your ID number is the same as the one on your account.

Facebook-Match-Pixel-ID

Disable Your Ad Blocker

A common error on Facebook Helper is “The Facebook Pixel code on this page didn’t load, so no information was sent to Facebook.” Ad Blockers and Script Blockers stop the HTTP request to retrieve information about your pixel on Facebook helper, so be sure to disable them!

Opt in for Facebook Tracking

Facebook gives you the option to opt out of tracking in their settings. If you’ve opted out in the past, opt back in for every device you’ve chosen. You can do so by toggling the yes/no options on the preferences page.

Transition to the New Facebook Pixel

There used to be two types of Facebook pixels to achieve conversion tracking and website behavior:

  • Conversion Pixels: used to track conversions in order to measure the effectiveness and ROI of your advertising campaigns
  • Audience Pixels: used to create new Facebook Ads custom audiences based on people who visit your website. These custom audiences can be made up of people who performed some action on your website, people similar to your existing customers, and much more

Facebook already stopped supporting the old pixels as of October 16th, 2016. So even if your old pixel works properly, any future errors will not be addressed by Facebook developers. Facebook will terminate conversion tracking for the Conversion tracking pixel on February 15th, 2017. In other words – it’s time to make the switch to the Facebook Pixel. 

If “it works and will continue to work” isn’t reason enough to switch, here are some clear advantages of migrating to the updated Facebook Pixel:

  1. The new Pixel is 3x faster: Faster performance means improve SEO ratings and a better user experience for your customers.
  2. All your pixels in one: The base code remains the same on all of your website pages, making tracking much easier to track for website owners and developers alike.
  3. Full access to robust tools
  4. Track multiple events at once

Learn how to transition from using your old setup to the newer, consolidated pixel.

Have Any Questions or Suggestions?

Please don’t hesitate to drop us a comment or tweet at us @AdHawk. We love hearing from you!

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About the Author

Journeyman of the wild wild west of Digital Advertising. Also doubling as an unofficial Taco Bell ambassador. Tweet at me @JonJmPark