What the heck is a Facebook Pixel and how can it improve book sales?

Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.

Many authors are skeptical about the effectiveness of Facebook ads. They’ve spent hundreds, maybe even thousands, of dollars on Facebook ads and other than a handful of likes, comments, and clicks, haven’t seen the return on investment. This is why most authors are surprised when I share the success of our Facebook ad campaigns and want to know how we’re able to see such a high conversion rate.

The answer: We utilize Facebook Pixels.

What is a pixel?

A pixel is a piece of code that is pasted into the header of your website and feeds data to Facebook. By adding the pixel, Facebook is able to target users who have visited your website and track what they did once they got there. This data allows you to create audiences based on whether or not they’ve visited your website, which specific pages they visited, even if they’re currently subscribed to your newsletter list. Rather than relying on Facebook’s interest targeting (serving ads based on their hobbies, occupations, and locations, a pixel allows you to target (or exclude) specific people in your network. You can also track what users do once they get to your site and track actual conversions. You may run an ad that results in 100 clicks to your website, but how many of those clicks resulted in actual sales? If you sell books through your website, the pixel will tell you how many people out of the 100 landed on the checkout page.

Why is it important?

If you’re familiar with Facebook ad guru Andrew Hubbard, he talks about the concept of hot, warm, and cold audiences. Your hot audience is your existing customers. These are the people who have already bought your books and are likely to buy again. Your warm audience is made up of people who have heard of you (they’ve visited your website, they follow you on Facebook, etc.) but have never bought from you. Your cold audience is made up of people who have never heard of you. To get a cold audience member to buy from you is nearly impossible. You must first warm them up. The majority of your new customers (i.e. readers) will be coming from your warm audience base.

When you use interest targeting – serving ads to people who like similar authors or list “reading” as one of their hobbies – you’re targeting a cold audience. That’s why interest targeting seldom results in sales. When you use a pixel, you have the ability to target people who are on your mailing list or who have already visited your website. You have the ability to focus on converting your warm audience, which has a far higher success rate.

Let’s get started!

In your Facebook ads manager, follow the instructions for installing the pixel base code on your website. If you know a little bit of HTML, it’s fairly straightforward, but if you’re unsure, I recommend using a web developer to install the code. Once the base code is installed, you should let it run for at least 90 days before you begin targeting ads. The longer the pixel runs, the more data you’ll collect, the more people you’ll be able to target in your advertising.

Once your ad has been running, you can start to create different audiences to target your ads. One of my favorite ways to convert our audience is to target users who have visited our website, but have not subscribed to our newsletter, using an ad that encourages newsletter sign ups. This helps me capture more people’s email addresses and not waste ad money on people who are already subscribed. The best part is that once people subscribe to our email list, they’ll stop seeing the ads (and I’ll stop paying for them!)

There are many more ways to exploit your Facebook pixel and get more out of your advertising budget, but as authors, you don’t want to spend too much time away from your writing; leave the split-testing and multi-tiered targeting to the marketers. Just by using this simple technique, you’ll see a dramatic increase in conversions from your Facebook ads.