When used properly, pixel tracking can be a valuable digital marketing tool. Unfortunately, not many marketers know how to conduct pixel tracking or even what it is and how it works.
What Is Pixel Tracking?
Before you can understand what it means to track a pixel, we must first define pixels. What is a pixel? Simply put, a pixel is a 1×1 graphic that is hidden within web pages and emails. The pixel loads when a user opens an email or goes to a web page.
Because these pixels are typically transparent or colored to blend well with their background, people don’t usually notice them — and that’s part of the point. Pixels are not designed to be seen; instead, they are intentionally embedded and camouflaged and later used for digital marketing purposes.
Other terms used to describe a pixel are 1×1 pixel, tracking pixel, or pixel tag.
Pixel tracking is simply the act of using pixels to collect user data such as their behavior and activities. In digital marketing, pixel tracking is a helpful tool used to understand users and shows them relevant ads. For website developers, on the other hand, this insight into user behavior and thinking allows them to make pages more user-friendly.
How Does Pixel Tracking Work?
Now that you have a basic idea of what pixel tracking is, you may want a look behind the curtain. How do pixels work? To use tracking pixels, you must attach the pixel to your email or website by using an HTML code. This HTML code should contain a link to the server of the pixel. Once a user visits the web page, their browser loads the HTML code and follows the external link.
This then activates the hidden graphic and records the action within the server’s log files. For those behind the scenes, this means acquiring a wide range of information on the user.
But, what sort of data can a tracking pixel help you obtain anyway?
- The type of device the user used (desktop or mobile)
- The type of operating system the user used, including mobile OS
- Activities performed during the session
- Screen resolution of clients
- The client the user used (browser, mail program, etc.)
- IP address
- What time the user opened the email or visited the website
Tracking Pixel vs Cookie: What’s the Difference?
And while there are many similarities between cookies and tracking pixels, there are also differences. The main distinction between cookies and tracking pixels is how they deliver and where they keep data. Cookies save information in a user’s browser, which means they lack the ability to follow users from one device to another. Users can also choose to block or clear their cookies, essentially rendering them useless.
How to Create a Tracking Pixel
There is no single, all-encompassing method to create and insert a pixel tag. It really depends on the system at hand. You can typically install a pixel tag using your content management system (if applicable). For website pixel tracking, you can directly insert it into the source code. The same thing goes for pixel-tracking email users.
Here are some examples of what a pixel tag might look like within your source code:
<img src=”“Tracking” width=”“0”” height=”“0””>
<img style=”“display: none”;” src=”“Tracking”>
<img style=”“position: absolute;” src=”“Tracking”>
Pixel Tracking Google Analytics
Many marketers and developers also use pixel tags with the help of Google. Google pixel tracking helps you track your impressions and adjust your strategy based on the data collected. You can use pixels for individual articles or for entire publications. Google’s Help Center offers step-by-step instructions on how you can use tracking pixels.
Pixel Tracking Facebook
A user performing an action on your website will activate the Facebook pixel within the page. This will then report the action taken and let you know when a customer responded to your Facebook ad by taking an action. Facebook pixels also allow you to target the customer again with the help of a Custom Audience. After all, customers who have previously taken a specific action on your website are more likely to do it again.
Additionally, Facebook pixels help with conversion optimization. When a lot of conversions take place on your website, Facebook learns and improves at ad delivery. In other words, Facebook will present your ads to users who are more likely to take certain actions.
If you need more information on Facebook pixel tracking with specific instructions on how to do it, click here.
The Case Against Tracking Pixels
While pixel tags obviously pose several benefits, many have criticized their role in data privacy. Because pixels gather in-depth user data, typically without them knowing, there have been complaints concerning data protection. Critics have contended that the use of pixels breaches user privacy since it is done without the consent of the user.
Spammers also love to use pixel tags. They attach the pixels into spam emails with the goal of determining whether or not an email address is authentic. Once a user opens the spam mail with the pixel attached, it alerts the spammer that the email address is active. This then leads to the spammer sending more spam mail to the user.
Call on the Professionals
Pixel tracking has earned its fair share of naysayers, but that does not diminish the tool’s usefulness to developers and marketers. These tiny images help gather user data, which you can then use to inform your marketing strategies and decisions. Not a lot of people, though, know how to create and add pixels to their emails or web pages.
If you want to take advantage of pixels but don’t know where to begin, give Tanner Grey a shot. We offer excellent web design and digital marketing services. Call us today at 844.500.1339 or reach out to us online to get a free estimate.
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