Full Guide to the Facebook Conversion API

It’s been big news for a while now that Apple is making some waves in the digital marketing world with their iOS 14 privacy updates. In summary, the update is giving users the ability to opt out of data tracking abilities from things like pixels.

This is great news for individuals concerned about privacy. This becomes a hurdle for those that rely on this data for optimizing their digital ad campaigns. The biggest player being Facebook.

For years, Facebook has empowered companies to use extremely advanced targeting and conversion-based algorithms to make advertising campaigns efficient and profitable. With iOS 14, users will be opting out of the tracking that enabled all of that. Now Facebook and advertisers have been scrambling to figure out what’s next.

Conversion API is the answer.

What is the Facebook Conversion API and How Does It Work?

The Facebook Conversion API is taking the data tracking method that traditionally has been at the browser level, and instead having the web servers send the conversion data via API.

Historically, the pixel in the web browser would send events back to Facebook. Facebook would then use this data to help advertisers optimize their campaigns. With iOS 14, that pixel is no longer going to work for users that opt out of data tracking.

The Facebook Conversion API is going to completely bypass the web browser. Instead, it’s going to have the web server send the events over to Facebook. No pixel needed.

Why Use the Facebook Conversion API?

With people opting out of the normal pixel data tracking, Facebook will be losing a lot of information on interest users. The interest targeting will not be as accurate or complete. User behavior predicting will not be as accurate. As a result, Facebook’s algorithm will not work as well as it has historically and advertisers will see a dip in their overall performance.

The Conversion API is the cure. It will use the data that is sent to your web server and send that data to Facebook instead. Apple can block data from the web browser, but they can’t stop your web server.

Shortcomings of the Facebook Conversion API

Since the data is sent at the server level instead of the browser, the event tracking with the Conversion API requires that you collect user identification information. That means you’ll need to collect data like their name, email address, phone, etc. The more data you can collect, the better the event tracking will work because it will give Facebook more information about the user to try and match them to a Facebook account.

That means tracking “softer” conversion events that do not collect user data is not going to work. This is especially challenging for those that are not eCommerce that typically use those “softer” conversion events to optimizations. 

For example:

  • Clicks to call
  • Get directions
  • PDF downloads
  • Button clicks
  • Or any other softer conversion event that does not collect user data. 

Because of this, advertisers will have to rethink how they utilize Facebook advertising for “top of funnel” advertising. Since you can’t track top-of-funnel events, you may have to restructure your campaigns to focus more on awareness driving, engagement, and general website traffic. 

For bottom-of-funnel events like transactions, lead forms, and others, the Conversion API is definitely the way to go.

The “glass is half full” outlook is that this currently only affects those in iOS devices. According to Statista, that is currently ~56% of the mobile market share. That means the other ~44% of mobile users are unaffected. Not to mention that there are still people who use desktops and laptops, which are also not affected by the iOS privacy updates. That being said, it’s very likely this is the beginning of the end for web browser pixels. Expect to see Android follow suit, and also for desktop / laptop operating systems to see this change as well.

How to Set Up the Facebook Conversion API for WordPress

If you have a WordPress website, here is how you can set up the Conversion API for your lead forms.

First, Install the Facebook for WordPress plugin. It installs just like any other plugin. Once you have it activated, you’ll find it in the “Settings” admin menu dropdown. Go to the settings and click on the big blue “Get Started” button.

You’ll get a popup window with some instructions and to confirm you agree to the connection. Make sure to select the correct Business Manager, Ad Account, and Facebook Pixel. Definitely toggle on the Automatic Advanced Matchmaking option. Hit continue and follow the rest of the on-screen prompts to make the connection.

This completes the setup. Pretty simple really. One key component is to make sure you’re using a form software that is supported by the plugin. At the time of this writing, here are the WordPress form software that is supported by the plugin:

  • Caldera Forms
  • Contact Form 7
  • Easy Digital Downloads
  • Formidable Forms
  • Gravity Forms
  • MailChimp for WordPress
  • Ninja Forms
  • WP eCommerce
  • WPForms

Any of your website forms will now send submission data to your Facebook Pixel through the Conversion API method. That way if a user has opted out of data tracking, you’re still sending that conversion data over to your Facebook Pixel for optimization.

How to Set Up the Facebook Conversion API for WooCommerce

If you are WordPress and you’re running WooCommerce, the process is almost nearly identical as above. The only difference is that you’ll be installing the Facebook for WooCommerce plugin instead.

Once installed and activated, you’ll find the settings in your WooCommerce admin menu.

You’ll get on-screen instructions for connecting to your Facebook Business Manager, Page, Pixel, and Catalog. Agree to the terms and conditions and complete the connection. Once connected, all of your standard eCommerce events will be sent over to Facebook via the Conversion API.

This includes:

  • View Content
  • View Category
  • Add to Cart
  • Initiate Checkout
  • Purchase

How to Set Up the Facebook Conversion API for WooCommerce

If you run your website on Shopify, here’s how you can get your Conversion API setup.

First, make sure you have the Facebook Channel added to your Shopify store. Once added, you’ll connect it up to your Facebook account, Page, and Pixel. After connecting, you’ll want to navigate to the “Data Sharing settings”. Here you’ll select the “Maximum” option.

This is what enables the Conversion API connection for your Facebook Pixel and will send your customers shopping activities to Facebook as events that you can optimize around.

How to Verify Your Domain Name on Facebook

Once you have the Conversion API setup on your website, the next step is to make sure your domain name is verified in your Business Manager account. To do so, you’ll first navigate to the domains section in your Business Manager.

From there, you’ll click on the blue “Add” button.

You’ll get a popup window to enter your domain name. After submitting your domain, you’ll need to go through and verify your ownership of that domain. 

The first option to verify is by adding a TXT record to your domain’s DNS settings. You’ll need to add the TXT record to your DNS and then wait for those changes to propagate.

Alternatively, you can add a meta tag to your website’s header. This is pretty easy to do in WordPress and Shopify and usually works a lot faster than the DNS option.

Once you’ve added the DNS or the meta tag, click the Verify button to confirm ownership of the domain name.

Optimizing Your Facebook Ads for Conversion Events

The entire purpose of going through this process is to make sure that you are tracking valuable events on your website and pushing those events back to Facebook.

Once Facebook is able to see these events, you’ll want to optimize your campaigns around them. That means that you’ll want to be using the “Conversion” objective when setting up your campaigns and selecting your most valuable conversion activity in your ad sets. This tells Facebook to serve your ads to the users that are most likely to convert and take those actions on your website that are valuable to your business.

As you run ads, you’ll see these events attributed to your campaigns. You can test different audiences, ad creative, and copy to see what helps drive the most conversions for your campaigns. A/B testing your campaigns measuring your success with these conversion events is how you can optimize and scale your Facebook advertising efforts.

Of course, if you need help with your Facebook advertising program, we’re here for you.

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