As most performance marketers will tell you, knowing your audience and how they interact with your brand is crucial to help you measure and optimize your campaigns. While advertisers used to rely on guesswork in devising strategies to reach more prospects, they can now confidently make informed decisions based on real-time data, thanks to tracking pixels.
Tracking pixels are crucial when you’re thinking about campaign planning, targeting, and optimization. Although pixels are simply small snippets of code on the backend of your website, they have the power to transform your entire marketing strategy. In this article, we’ll break down the basics of pixel tracking, how it works, the different types, and how you can start using pixels properly for any kind of marketing campaign.
What is a tracking pixel?
Simply put, a tracking pixel is an HTML code snippet embedded in a site or email. Although it’s a nearly invisible component of the site, it contains a tag that tracks user behavior—things like the pages they’ve visited, the actions they’ve taken, and their purchasing history. This is powerful because it can capture important information that reveals consumer interactions with advertising and other marketing efforts.
How does a tracking pixel work?
A pixel code is added to your site’s HTML code or email.
A user’s browser processes the HTML code when they visit your website.
The browser then follows the link stored in the code and opens the graphic.
The server registers this activity within its log files.
The data is then available to analyze.
What are the different types of tracking pixels?
There are a few different types of tracking pixels:
Conversion pixels focus on what happens once your targeted audience interacts with your ads. They inform you of the products customers added to their cart, which contact forms they completed and submitted, and what they bought, among other things.
Impression pixels measure the number of times an ad unit displays on a customer’s screen. The goal of these pixels is to provide you with a precise number of impressions that have been served so you can determine whether an ad is successful.
Retargeting pixels track the behavior of your site’s previous visitors so you can tailor ads to suit their particular interests.
Click tracking pixels allow you to see the exact number of clicks on your URL, email links, ads, or text links, which helps you understand which sites are generating the most clicks.
What’s the difference between a pixel, a cookie, and a tag?
We could spend a great deal of time on the distinction between various types of tracking codes. For those just trying to get a basic understanding, however, here’s a brief overview.
Pixels allow you to follow users on all their devices, linking marketing efforts across your mobile ads and website. Because they don’t rely on an individual’s browser, users can’t disable them. Pixels are useful for tracking conversions on your landing pages, partner sites, and even affiliate networks.
Cookies, on the other hand, are saved in a user’s browser. Unlike pixels, users can disable, block, or clear cookies as they choose. Cookies are most commonly used to create an easier login experience and also for adding multiple items to a visitor’s cart for a single checkout.
Tags are often used interchangeably with pixels. Defined loosely, tags are the keywords that describe elements on a page and all their attributes.
While all three are different, they are all used to capture user information so you can deliver a more customized web experience for your site’s visitors.
When I am planning a new campaign, which things should I pixel?
Key landing pages: Adding a pixel to key landing pages such as a “contact us” page can make a difference to your conversion lifecycle.
Home page: A pixel here will help you figure out which visitors are coming to your site.
View product: This pixel will help give you insight into who is looking at your products but not actually purchasing them.
Add to cart: Adding a pixel further down the funnel at the “add to cart” phase of the lifecycle is intended to track your high buying potential audience.
Lead forms: Placing a pixel on the start button of your lead form will help you determine the percentage of users who complete the form. You can also add one to the confirmation page. This pixel placement will also help you understand any upper funnel interaction from your campaign or different tactics.
Before getting started, here are some helpful tips to consider.
Be intentional. Be selective with your pixel usage. You don’t need to attach a pixel to every single web page. Rather than casting a wide net with your tracking data, work on refining your focus, which will result in more accurate user data. Quality over quantity is key here.
Track pixel frequencies cautiously. They can make your site slower—and slow load times will make users more likely to leave. Keep in mind that users can’t see a tracking pixel, so if it’s the last item to load on a page, that’s quite okay.
Don’t lose sight of your targeted campaigns. Stay focused on your target audience. Don’t waste tracking pixels on demographics you’re not aiming for.
Respect users’ privacy. While you may not like the idea of users opting out of tracking, respect their choice. Even though you have good intentions, some users prefer that their movements go unwatched.
Monitor ad performance. Identify which ads are resonating best with your audience. Tracking pixels can help determine which ads perform well so you can create content that your audience responds to and optimize your online ad spend.
Use a platform that provides detailed reports. To track your marketing performance and analyze information such as digital ad impressions, email responses, social media conversion rates, and other types of activity related to your campaign, choose a platform that can do it all for you. Eliminating the guesswork from your tracking pixel strategy will enable you to see real-time results and also allows you to make adjustments quickly.
Set up tracking parameters. Implementing tracking parameters can help you discover which channels are producing high conversion rates, which campaigns are successful, which creatives are performing well, and much more.
Ready to get started with pixel tracking?
MarinOne can help. Our Marin Tracker is a conversion tracking solution with optimization tools built into its platform to give you a better understanding of your buying cycle.
We help you make data-driven marketing decisions by unifying your campaign data with sales outcomes and machine learning. Our tracker makes it easy for you to measure your revenue impact from all of your digital marketing efforts.
Save time managing tracking codes so you can spend more time on what matters most—driving your campaigns with rich insights.
Tracking pixels can give you the edge you need if you’re ready to take your online advertising or latest campaign to the next level. Get in touch with one of our experts about how we can help you set up, plan, execute, and optimize your campaigns.
This is a story about people doing bad things on the internet. It’s not the first and certainly won’t be the last. We decided to tell our story to help prevent others from becoming victims. Of course we don’t want people misusing our brand, but the people who have spent their precious time and lost money in this are the real victims and are the ones we are looking to protect.
It started with a DM
We started getting strange messages to our social media accounts and various company email addresses asking “is this project real?” The project: Translation work from somebody who is using a name very similar to ours and our company logo.
This has nothing to do with our company (if you look closely, you can see the misspelled name). We responded to these inquiries letting the email senders know the project was not real and that they should not communicate with these Scammers (I’d really prefer to use a stronger term here, but my editor would not allow it). We also let the platforms where these conversations originated know what was happening.
As we received more messages, some of them became more urgent. Some of these new Victims were panicked because they had done the work and then sent money to the Scammers. One of them had sent $1,500.
How does this work?
We believe that these scams start with a job posting on sites like Freelancer.com and Upwork. The Scammer then asks the Victim to move their communications off the original platform and to communicate directly through Telegram or another messaging platform, including email.
The Victim is given work that seems legitimate, and completes the task. When the Victim seeks payment, the Scammer then requires the Victim to establish an account for payment, which requires the Victim to send an “account registration fee” to the Scammer. This advance-fee scam is not new. Similar scams have been around in various forms for decades or longer, including the Spanish Prisoner and Nigerian Prince scams.
The Scammer promises that the account registration fee will be refunded upon the Scammer’s payment for the Victim’s work. At this point, many of the Victims realize that they have fallen for a scam. But some Victims, having already done some work and not wanting to walk away from a potential payment, go ahead and pay the account registration fee. A behavioral psychologist might refer to this as an escalation of commitment or sunk-cost fallacy.
In a few cases, the Scammer further escalates the commitment by asking the Victim to make an additional payment to link their account.
How can freelancers protect themselves?
According to HR statistics, freelance work in the US has been on the rise, with 53 million registered freelancers in 2014 versus 59 million in 2020. So how can these freelancers protect themselves? The first thing that people can do when working on freelance projects is to always work through the platforms. They have established policies in place to ensure that payment happens once the job is completed and that payment should happen directly through the platform. Being asked to move communication to email or another platform should be a red flag.
Secondly, there is absolutely no reason that we can think of where a legitimate company would ask you to provide payment in order to get paid. If it sounds like it doesn't make sense, it probably doesn't.
Third: watch out for projects that look too good to be true. The pay for the projects that we've seen were quite generous and this of course gets people more interested. If it seems like you are being overpaid for the amount of work involved, keep your guard up.
There are many articles and videos with additional advice on what to watch for.
What are you doing to stop this? What can other companies do?
We aim to work with the freelance platforms and relevant law enforcement to try to prevent these types of scams from happening. Below are some contacts and links that we used so you can use them if needed. If you become aware of a scam online posting, please report the posting and/or the user to the relevant platform.
Also, provide a way for people to contact you. People who have lost money are very resourceful about getting in touch with someone who can help. We have seen direct messages on social networks, emails to every alias listed on our website, and well as personal telephone outreach to team members and their families. By posting a link on our Contact Us page, we have made it easier for people to connect with our legal team and get additional information.
Open request to freelancing platforms
As we discussed how to handle this internally, one of the things that we think could provide a significant Improvement in the freelance ecosystem would be to allow companies to become certified. This would be similar to the blue check on Twitter. This way, a freelancer would know that the job is legitimate and coming from the official company account. It seems like a step in the right direction. It appears there is something similar for individuals, but we couldn’t find anything for companies.
We are not experts in this area, so there may be other things in place or better ways to solve this problem. We'd love to start a discussion about how we can do that. For now, know that Marin's cyber security practices are strong. If we need any freelance assistance, we will not be contacting anyone through Telegram or Whatsapp.
As we live in a world with increasingly remote employees, we expect that we will all face more of these types of threats. We all should keep our guards up.