This question seems to come up a lot. It's easy to find endorsements for both Custom Conversions and Standard Events for Facebook™ Ads. Over the last 5 or 6 years there have been varying opinions on which method is best for accurate data. So, let's chat about the benefits of each, what I recommend, and why.
What's The Difference Between Custom Conversions And Standard Events?
A Standard Event Conversion belongs to a set of Standard Events identified by Facebook™. These events are standard across marketing for most niches.
Standard Events include things like View Content, Lead, Complete Registration, Add To Cart, Initiate Checkout, and Purchase.
Most sales funnels follow the above flow or can adapt to it.
If you have sales calls instead of a fully online process, one of your events could be the 'Schedule' event.
You can see a list of the Standard Events on Facebook HERE.
The term "Standard" here is important, and we'll get to that in a minute...
While a Standard Event is similar across many businesses and niches, a Custom Conversion is literally anything you define.
Online marketers often create Custom Conversions to track specific results. This can be a lead generated from a specific lead magnet for a top of funnel offer. It can be a sale generated from a specific product or offer further down your funnel. It can also be anything in between...a webinar registrant, a blog post viewer, etc.
With a Custom Conversion, you can identify the exact URL you want someone to visit in order to fire your pixel and the custom conversion 'event.'
One Important Things Standard Events and Custom Conversions Have In Common...
One very important thing both of these have in common is when and where you "fire" the event.
So, the back-track just a little...
Any pixel used for tracking, including the Facebook pixel, is just a TINY image inserted on your web page with code. Usually it's just one pixel wide by one pixel tall - a dot so small it's not visible. After the code 'fires' - it loads on the web page someone is viewing - then you can also fire "events" to categorize the actions that occur.
...like someone becoming a Lead or Purchasing a product.
The base Facebook Pixel code should be on every web page you use - wordpress site, blog posts, landing pages, thank you pages, content pages, sales pages, order confirmation pages...
You get the idea!
Then, the Event Codes are added to specific pages when an event occurs.
Now this is super important -
For both Standard Events and Custom Conversion (Events), the event code goes on the page someone sees AFTER they complete the event.
So, it's on a thank-you or confirmation page - not an optin or sales page - think of it as the SUCCESS page when someone completes an action.
So, that's one important thing they have in common - the event goes on the Success Page.
The only real exceptions to this are content category or product category pages. Here you can trigger an event based on the type of content or product someone views. This allows you segment them so you can show them related content in the future via ads or other media. (Ninja - right?!)
Then, just when you thought it was starting to make sense...
But, Wait, Let's Confuse Things More!
Just to make it more confusing for new marketers, Custom Conversions can also have a Standard Event attached.
Yep. You can now tell Facebook that a Custom Conversion is also a Purchase or Lead or whatever standard event it is for your tracking.
I definitely recommend choosing a standard event to categorize your Custom Conversion (if one applies). This can help you avoid duplicate events and higher than actual data reporting.
Let's not dwell on the confusion. The truth is - this is a good thing, because it helps reduce the confusion in the long run.
How, you ask?
Well, that brings me to when to use each of these tools, and why.
How I Use Custom Conversions
Custom Conversions (with or without standard events attached) are excellent for Facebook Ads Reporting.
This helps you segment campaigns and programs to see how many of each product or program you sold.
You can even add columns to your Facebook Ads view to include these Custom Conversions when you want to track sales through a funnel.
You can also add multiple Custom Conversions, Standard Events and even create your own metrics in Facebook Ads Reporting.
This is a very powerful tool and I'll have a separate post about some easy ways to set up reports and how it can save you time (and money).
Did you notice that I didn't say I use Custom Conversions for optimizing my ads? Nope. Almost never.
Now, this is contrary to what a lot of the ad gurus teach, and let me tell you why I do it this way....
Why I Use Standard Events For Facebook Ad Optimization
The notorious Facebook Algorithm wants to help you succeed in your advertising objectives.
And you benefit when you make that easy.
So, do you think it's easier for the AI powering the algorithm to find more "Magic_Lead_Magnet" Custom Conversions,
...or for it to find more "Leads?"
That's a new way to think about it, right?
This is the reason I use Standard Events for my Ads and Custom Conversions for my Reports.
I used to teach the Custom Conversion optimization, too. Then I learned from a mentor (on the way to becoming a Certified Facebook Marketing Consultant) that this wasn't the most effective way.
And I never looked back.
Here's the thing. The AI behind the Facebook Algorithm has gotten A LOT SMARTER over the last 4 or 5 years.
What was a best practice for tracking and metrics a few years ago isn't necessarily what works best now.
And testing is important.
And the truth is, there is no wrong way to do it. If you like tallying those Custom Conversions, keep on doing that. I'm just sharing what I find most effective for my business, my students, and my clients.
We optimize ads for Standard Conversions. This is because the algorithm already knows which people in your target audience are likely to take "Lead" or "Purchase" actions. It may not already know who is likely to become a "Magic_Lead_Magnet" person.
I hope this has helped you. Drop and comment or contact us if you have questions.
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