Facebook Pixels and UTM Codes, A Love Story

By Marek Cornett

This blog originally appeared on Koch Communication's blog.

If you are working on your own to show success, we know understanding the return on your social media advertising can be as confusing as it is important.

There are a few tried and true methods we use to look at the success of social ads. To have a holistic view of ad performance, utilizing different analysis tools is essential. Together, Facebook conversion pixels and UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) codes tell a more complete story for Facebook actions than either tracking method tells on its own. We use these tools to develop ways to optimize moving forward and ultimately lead to social media success.

Analysis tool: Facebook Conversion Pixels

A Facebook pixel is a piece of code inserted on every page of your website and is made up of two main elements, the base code and the event code. The base code tracks activity on your site, giving you a baseline of events, i.e., which pages users are visiting. The event pixel tracks actions, like a completed purchase, a search or the addition of an item to a shopping cart, that are the result of your Facebook ad or organic Facebook content. Facebook pixels are able to track customers who come back to your site after their initial visit through an ad or promoted post.

As an example, one of our clients has purchase conversion pixels set up on their website for a seven-day attribution. We hold on reporting that information until the seven days pass since we regularly see purchases creep up long after the initial visit to the website. We’re able to see the customer’s journey over that period and use that information to improve our client’s ad strategy moving forward.

Analysis tool: UTM Codes

UTM codes are additional parameters you can apply to the destination URL of an online advertisement or call to action leading back to your site. You’ve probably seen them before and not even realized it. They’re added to the end of a URL and usually look something like this: ?utm_campaign=Social&utm_medium=SocialMarketing&utm_source=Facebook.

UTM data gives us information about how successful an advertisement may have been in regard to users fulfilling a desired action. We can correlate the click-through traffic from any URL or group of URLs to paint a larger picture about the type of people attracted to our client’s website, as well as how they behave once they land there. We analyze this information and then optimize based on learnings to attract more click-throughs or enhance the user experience on the site.

Facebook conversion pixels tell us one piece of a customer’s story – the story of the person who returns to a website several days later to purchase X, look at Y or submit their contact information. UTM codes tell us another piece, including information on what brought the customer to the site and how they move through it. Together, these tools can be used to not only better understand your audience, but also to help increase conversions or sales.