How I fixed a costly mistake with Conversion Pixels

Facebook conversion pixels

Earlier this week, one of you who subscribed to my weekly email updates said that you wanted to hear honest and good information, especially personal successes and failures that I have had in this field.

So today I wanted to share a particular experience I had a few months ago, where things went wrong for a client during launch and how we fixed it (talk about success and failure!)


The problem: Conversion pixels were over-reporting signups

Marketers often use conversion pixels to track signups driven by Facebook ad campaigns and to optimize conversions. In other words, you and I depend on these conversion pixels to correctly track signups because of two specific uses:

  • They tell you how many people have signed up after Facebook showed them your ad
  • They help Facebook to find and show your ads to similar people who are likely to convert, hence optimising your ad

Because of this reliance, it is extremely important that these conversion pixels are set up properly.

Usually, you would place these conversion pixels in the following pages:

  • ”Thank you” page after registration
  • Receipt page after checkout
  • Confirmation of subscription page after signup
  • A redirect page after an action is taken, such as adding an item to cart

And that is exactly what we did for a client selling event tickets. We reached out to their developers and briefed them to install the conversion tracking code on the “Thank you” page after registration. Everything seemed going to plan up till this point.


The unexpected happened

But as you know, “nothing ever goes according to plan.”

Hours after launching the campaign, we noticed 1000s of conversions although we had barely served over 200 ad impressions.

Something surely went wrong, and we were right.

We verified the figures with our client and after spending the next couple of hours trying to find the problem, we discovered that the developer had installed the conversion pixel tracking code on a “thank you” page that was shared with multiple merchants.

In other words, the e-commerce platform re-directed all merchants’ customers to the same “thank you” page after they have made the payment. Our conversion pixel tracking code was thus picking up conversions from other merchants as well.


How we resolved it

We explored several options, like asking the developer to re-direct all transactions to an exclusive “thank you” page so that we can properly track the conversions.

But due to the short window of the sales period, we decided to run our ad campaign where we could exert control and implement changes quickly.

So we moved the conversion tracking process a step earlier, from tracking conversions to tracking website clicks and visits.

Instead of tracking the number of customers who landed on the “thank you” page, we tracked the number of leads who landed on the registration page.

We also made two other important changes to suit this tactic.

In our initial plan, we targeted a broader base of people because we expected Facebook to quickly narrow the audience based on its optimization process.

But we had to ditch the plan and narrow the audience ourselves to make sure that those who were attracted by our ads and clicked through to the registration page were highly relevant leads.

Second, we also re-worked our ad copies and images to speak to those who would take great interest in the event we were promoting.


What we learned

This problem resulted from an oversight on our part – we assumed that our clients’ customers would be re-directed to an exclusive “thank you” page.

On hindsight, we should have clarified and understood the entire online conversion funnel that our client was using. We should also have insisted that the developer install our code earlier, so that we would have noticed the spike in conversions even before the launch.

But above and beyond all, we learned to find alternative solutions to unexpected situations.

The secret ingredient to a successful campaign is not the initial plan, but the series of follow-up actions you take in response to the data you collect.

What about you? What mistakes did you make and how did you overcome them? If you are experiencing a similar struggle, drop me an email at [email protected] and we can work something out.

P.S. the blog layout is in a mess because I am in the process of re-designing this website so that you can get to know more about me, what I do, and contact me more easily. Sorry for the mess!

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  • Josh Krakauer

    If that’s your greatest ‘failure’ (or even top 10) in Facebook Ads history, I’d say you’re looking pretty good. Thanks for sharing! Look forward to the face lift.

    • Jason HJH

      Hey Josh,

      Thank you for those kind words!

      Although we did resolve the problem partially, I felt that the mistake somehow impacted the results negatively and thus the outcome was not as good as it could have been. Hence I classified it as a failure - a mistake that couldn’t be 100% resolved that had negative consequences.

      I’d love to share more if you have some ideas of what you’d like to see, let me know!

      Working on the face lift now :)

  • Adomas Baltagalvis

    Hey Jason, thanks for sharing this! That’s a strange thing, isn’t it? If I understood correctly, the e-commerce platform has multiple sellers, and all of those sellers’ clients are taken to the same thank you page? Were the conversions attributed to the specific ads or just shown in the Conversions tab in the ads manager?

    And how’s your experience with Genesis so far? :)

    • Jason HJH

      Hey Adomas,

      The figures were those attributed to my ads, but we confirmed our suspicions when we saw that the conversion tab figures were bloated compared to the number of impressions we have on our ad.

      It was indeed strange at first but I figured out why. It had to do with attribution. Facebook attributes conversions to ads within a 28-day window as long as the ad was shown to a user. This sounds great but when you consider brands that advertise to the same users and use the same platform, it becomes a problem.

      That is why I am in favour of Twitter’s decision to allow advertisers to choose their attribution window (I covered it in a post about Twitter’s version of custom audiences) - . It is not a perfect solution but nonetheless better than Facebook for now.

      • Adomas Baltagalvis

        Aah, ok, that makes sense! Have you tried changing the attribution window in the Ad Reports to see if that eliminates the wrong data?

        • Jason HJH

          Hey Adomas,

          Good suggestion! That solves part of the problem but it doesn’t help when the same user clicked through on the ad but buys another product on the same platform. And this was a real pain for us because this client was selling tickets to different events using the same platform.

          • Adomas Baltagalvis

            Oh gosh, I can understand it now.. Glad you managed to work around it though.

            And sure, just hit me up on twitter and I’ll be glad to have a look at the updated design :)

          • Jason HJH

            Thanks Adomas! And I just saw your updates to Allfacebook or Insidefacebook (can’t remember which one) about the changes in Power Editor. GREAT job!

    • Jason HJH

      Not a good experience with Genesis! Seems to require a lot more work than I first imagined but I’m getting some help now. How about you?

      • Adomas Baltagalvis

        Understood. So far I’m using WordPress and I’m satisfied with it. I like the theme and there’s little maintenance that I have to do. I am considering to use Genesis some day, but I’m sure that will require a lot of effort, especially if I wanted to modify the theme design to fit my needs.. So no need for Genesis yet, but maybe in the future :)

        • Jason HJH

          Great to hear! Yes, the basic themes can be quite limiting if you’re looking to develop your web presence further. I think I might be able to push out the new layout later this week, I will definitely reach out to you to hear your opinion if you’re keen :)

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