If you want to see impact and tangible results from the social media marketing you run for your Shopify store, (and let’s face it, who doesn’t?), then the pixel is one of the most essential tools to help you achieve this.
What is a pixel?
A pixel is a tiny snippet of code which is added to your website and is designed to show the actions people take on your Shopify site as a result of your ads. Having this clearer picture of your consumer activity allows you to better understand how your customers are behaving as a result of your ads, which then allows you to advertise more effectively, and make wiser budget decisions based on actual data.
Once installed on your Shopify store via the partner integration, your store will then communicate the actions your customers take on your site back to the social media platform - this data will show as results in your campaigns so you can see how many people have added an item to their cart, how many people have made a purchase, the total revenue driven by purchases, and so on and so forth.
There are standard tracking events for pixels when initially set up, which normally cover most metrics you’ll want to keep an eye on, however, there is an opportunity to create custom events if required.
The standard events (with some slight variations from pixel to pixel across social platforms) are:
Add payment info The addition of customer payment information during a checkout process
Add to cart The addition of an item to a shopping cart or basket
Add to wishlist The addition of items to a wishlist
Complete registration Information submitted by a customer in exchange for a service provided by your business
Contact A form of contact between a customer and your business, such as email, chat or SMS
Initiate checkout The start of the checkout process
Lead A submission of information by a customer with the understanding that they may be contacted at a later date by your business as a result of submitting the information
Purchase The completion of a purchase, usually signified by receiving order or purchase confirmation, or landing on a ‘Thank You’ page
Search A search performed on your website, for example for a particular product
Submit form/application The submission of a form with information, for example for a job, or enquiry about one of your products or services
Subscribe The start of a paid subscription for a product or service you offer
View content A visit to a web page, for example a specific product or collection
If you would like to track a different event not shown within your social media pixel code, you can usually add specific code or parameters to track things such as a specific button click, downloadable form, or something similar. Custom events can only be managed when you or a developer directly installs the code to your Shopify website.
Are pixels across all social platforms the same?
Essentially yes - or they’re very similar. Here you can see a Meta pixel code set up example, and TikTok pixel code set up example for comparison:
Pixels for all social media marketing platforms, such as Meta, TikTok, Pinterest and LinkedIn all have similar snippets of code which (in the early days of social media marketing) had to be installed somewhere in the header code of your Shopify website to allow the code to appear on every page so it could track data accurately across the full site.
They all also track the same sort of metrics, such as landing page views, add to cart activity, initiate checkout activity, purchase activity, and record revenue and return on ad spend. The only main difference is that the terminology varies between platforms, for example Meta and TikTok have pixels, Pinterest and LinkedIn have ‘Tags’ or ‘Insight Tags’, however they’re all basically the same thing and perform the same functions.
How do I create and install a pixel?
The great news is, nowadays pixels can be added to your website via a developer implementing the code, however, many social platforms offer easy to use integration services with partners such as Shopify.
Firstly, you’ll need to create your pixel, normally in the ‘Events Manager’, or ‘assets’ sections of your social platform’s Business Manager.
In these sections, you’ll normally need to click ‘add new’ to create a new pixel or tag, and give it a name. Once the pixel/tag is created, you’ll be able to then choose the installation method. Most social platforms offer:
- Email instructions to a developer
- Manually install the code yourself
- Use an integration partner
If you’re looking to integrate your pixel with your Shopify store, we’d recommend using the ‘integration partner’ method, and following the instructions detailed.
What if I have recently migrated my site to Shopify?
If you already have a pixel installed on your website, however have just migrated over to Shopify, you can also add the pixel very easily via the Sales Channel set up for different social platforms - for example, Meta, TikTok and Pinterest.
(NB: LinkedIn is one of the few primary social media platforms that doesn’t maintain a simple partner integration method with Shopify. To install the insight tag you’ll need to implement this manually on your site, or use a compatible tag management system such as Google Tag Manager. More information on that can be found in this article).
Firstly, connect your Business Manager/Center with your Shopify Store
Connecting your social Business Manager/Center with your Shopify Store is relatively straightforward. Firstly, you need to make sure you have admin access to your Business Manager/Center and all related assets.
Then you simply go to Sales Channels and select the social platform you’d like to add. Follow the on screen instructions to connect up the individual assets such as your social page(s), catalogue, ad account and pixel, via a one-click integration for each.
Data Sharing Options
For your pixel, in the data-sharing settings on Shopify you have three levels to choose from: Standard, Enhanced, or Maximum.
We’ve included a general summary here of how each option shares data, however these do vary somewhat for different social platforms, so take care to check exactly what methods each of the options use for sharing for different social channels.
If you select Standard, then a pixel collects data from customer behaviour in your online store, at a browser level. Browser-based ad blockers can prevent the pixel from sharing this data with the platform.
If you select Enhanced, then your store uses Advanced Matching, which shares personal information about your customers, including things like email, location and phone number to match users on the social network, as well as the pixel. Pixel browsing information can still be blocked by browser based ad blockers.
If you select Maximum, then your store uses the Conversions API, or a custom API as well as Advanced Matching and the pixel data. The Conversions API sends events between Shopify and platform servers. Data sent from server to server can't be blocked by browser-based ad blockers.
For the most dependable data sharing, we would recommend you use the Maximum data sharing setting so your Shopify store can communicate the highest level of consumer browsing data with your social platform, which will lead to more effective remarketing campaigns, as the social platforms then have more data to work with.
The additional benefit of setting up the data sharing using your Shopify integration, is that when setting this up manually - for example, when on Meta platforms and installing a pixel and the Conversions API directly on your website, you would need to add specific event parameters in to the code to avoid your Meta platforms recording the same event twice when the data is shared - such as the same purchase communicated by the pixel at browser level, and then via the Conversions API at server level.
This is known as ‘deduplication’ whereby Meta understands the events are the same, so one is kept and the rest are discarded. However, when you set up your data sharing using the Shopify store integration, this is all actioned automatically when your Shopify store shares data back to the social platform, so no specific action by yourself is needed.
Once you have everything integrated with Shopify, you’re good to go!
How do I check the pixel is tracking my Shopify site’s campaigns?
This again differs slightly across platforms, however if you’re running a campaign that doesn’t have a website event optimisation (awareness, video views or traffic) you can select the pixel you want to use to track at the ad creation level - you can see Meta and TikTok screenshots of pixel setting at the ad level to give you an idea of what that looks like:
You don’t actually have to track website activity for these optimisations, however it’s always best practice to do so where possible.
However, if you’re optimising for a specific website event on your Shopify store and you choose the sales/conversions campaign optimisation, you’ll choose your pixel and the event you want to track at the ad set level as well as at the ad level:
Once you’ve set up and started running your campaigns, you’ll then be able to see the number of consumers who have performed a specific action once they land on your Shopify website in your ads manager. You can then utilise the data shared to develop your strategy more effectively and make efficient budget decisions to scale more effectively in the long term.
If you'd like support when it comes to managing your social media campaigns, whether that's organic or paid, drop us a line and find out how we could help.