“Ignorance is bliss” isn’t an effective strategy when you’re running a Facebook ad campaign.
Your team and stakeholders rely on you to create the best marketing possible to drive website visits, leads, and sales. To do this, you need insight into what customers do after interacting with your ad.
Changing privacy rules are making that harder and harder for marketers, however. It’s not time to throw in the towel, though, because there are ways to work around iOS updates and ad blockers with the server-side Facebook Conversions API.
Privacy and iOS 14 changes have thrown a wrench in conversion tracking
Be honest—when the Apple iOS 14 news dropped, did you have a mild panic attack? If so, you’re not alone, and, to be honest, there is reason to worry if all of your campaigns rely solely on the Facebook pixel.
To properly track conversions, you need a way to track what a person does at each step in the marketing funnel, and each of those elements needs to “talk” to one another and send events between platforms. There’s no negotiating that.
“If you’re not using a third-party advanced tracking system, then your data is not accurate. But you want to be able to trust what you see so that you can turn ads off that aren’t performing, keep ads running, or scale ads up.
And if that information is bad, you’re making decisions that are probably hurting your business, or maybe just stifling the potential that you could have.”
-Allie Bloyd, Allie Bloyd Media
Previously, if you wanted to understand the conversion rate of a Facebook ad, you needed to install a Facebook Pixel on your site and tell your Facebook Ad Manager account that certain URLs meant a purchase event or conversion had occurred.
The Facebook pixel would then report back each time a user visits one of those URLs, thus triggering a conversion. You could then review everything in your events manager.
The Facebook Pixel conversion data essentially came “off the top” because it was all URL based. This was never a perfectly accurate system (thanks, ad blockers), but it worked well enough.
You know what happened next—the iOS 14 update that shook the marketing world.
As it stands, Apple will ask users upfront if they want to let apps track their data. Technically, the option to opt out was already there for users, but now, when automatically faced with the option, more people are likely to opt-out.
That means after updating to iOS 14, your customers will need to actively choose to be tracked by the Facebook app.
Early research shows that only a dismally low rate of 15% of people choose to opt-in.
Facebook Conversions API—what marketers and agencies need to know
For every cliche post about X channel or tactic being “dead,” there are marketers that learn to swerve. It’s just what smart folks like you do. That’s why, despite the rollout of iOS 14, there are ways to track Facebook ad conversions using the server-side Facebook Conversions API.
Here’s a quick review to get you up to speed.
What is the Facebook Conversions API?
The Facebook Conversions API works by letting you share customer information and conversion data from “the bottom” (a.k.a. server side) to Facebook for performance tracking.
If Facebook has customer permission to collect data, they use a browser pixel to track website events themselves to integrate with ad reporting.
But With the Facebook Conversions API, your website server or a smart marketing tool can say, “I got this,” by sending events from the server side to Facebook.
Measuring conversions via server-side events isn’t a new option. Facebook’s Conversions API used to be called the Facebook Server Side API. It’s just that now that more people are opting out of having data tracked, rendering your Facebook Pixel useless, Server Side API conversion tracking is looking a lot more enticing.
In addition to the Facebook Conversions API being a handy workaround for iOS 14 updates, server-side API tracking to measure events is also more reliable.
Jason Smith, the Founder, and CEO of Spotlight Social Advertising, recently shared his experience running world-class Facebook ads. In the discussion about conversion racking post-iOS 14, he shared that,
“Tracking customer activity is super important, and the server side API makes it more accurate and easier for us to get [events] data.”
-Jason Smith, Spotlight Social Advertising – a Facebook Marketing Partner
Is the Facebook API free?
Yes, the Conversions API, also known as the Facebook Server Side API, is free. Setting it up manually will cost you time, though, unless you go with tools that allow you to easily send web events and conversion tracking back to Facebook like HighLevel Workflows, which we’ll talk more about below.
When will iOS 14 updates start to affect my ad tracking?
The iOS 14.5 update rolled out to Apple users on 4/26/2021. The further we get from that date, the worse your Facebook Pixel data has gotten, so it’s time to adapt your strategy.
Is the Facebook Pixel obsolete, then?
No, Facebook advises you to use Facebook Pixel tracking still since not everyone will opt out. Using a server event for tracking is more accurate, though, since ad blockers could still be working against you in the background by blocking browser pixel events even if the user has ok’d tracking.
If I Use Facebook Pixel And Server Side API Conversion Tracking, Will It Double Report?
No, Facebook has made it clear that your Facebook Ad account is smart enough to see when it receives duplicate user data from the server side and that it will consolidate those instances into a single conversion.
What is Facebook’s Aggregated Event Management?
Facebook Aggregated Event Management is a new protocol to measure a browser event from iOS 14 users. It limits domains to prioritizing eight conversion web events.
Aggregated Events only measure actions that meet criteria, including being a web event you’ve marked as your highest priority, like purchase events.
As a result, totals for Aggregated Events will probably be smaller than Facebook pixel and Conversions API counts.
How to track events and conversions with the Server Side API
Now it’s time to get to work—how will you use the Facebook Conversion API to measure ad conversions accurately? There are two options to access information.
Option A: Set up your own Facebook Conversions API
If you have developer resources to expend, you can manually implement Conversions API for your website.
Facebook has implementation guides and help docs, but it will require hands-on efforts from your team. You’ll need to make sure you meet API prerequisites, create an access token, implement the Conversions API, and test events to ensure everything is in working order.
While setting up the Conversion API on your own is doable, it may take some trial and error. Jason Smith of Spotlight Social, whose Facebook ads are so good that Facebook used them for case studies, admits that Facebook ads are complicated.
He shared, “to be experts, you have to be in there every day. Keeping up with the changes alone, can be a full-time job.”
If you run an agency, you’ll need to set up the Conversion API as a Platform to manage client accounts.
Option B: Use a no-code solution like HighLevel’s Facebook Conversions API trigger in workflows to track server events
We recognize that you and your team have more pressing tasks at hand than learning the intricacies of a Facebook API. So, HighLevel created a Facebook Conversions API trigger in their Workflow builder.
Rather than going through the process of manually setting up the Conversions API and access token, you can automate the sending of conversion events to the Facebook server with just a few clicks.
This no-code solution automatically tracks and sends server events to the Facebook events manager, giving you more accurate reporting regardless of whether a person has opted in or out of sharing user data with Facebook.
How to set up a custom ad conversion workflow in HighLevel
Here’s how it works:
- You build custom workflows in HighLevel and at any stage in the flow, you can add a Facebook Conversions API event. You can also define the type of conversion events and the value in each workflow.
- When a user completes a new event in the workflow, HighLevel sends the information from the server side to your Facebook Ad Manager account, where it gets recorded as a conversion.
- You view accurate data about your conversion rate, cost per lead, and more from your Facebook business manager dashboard.
Tracking conversions is that easy and it doesn’t require a developer to connect event tracking to your ads manager account, which makes it an ideal solution for agencies.
You can see the no-code Conversions API trigger in action in the video below:
We’re excited about this new feature, and we aren’t alone. Allie Bloyd commented that “The [HighLevel Conversions API] has been amazing, and I’m so glad that it came out when it did.
In all honesty, I had spent a couple of thousand dollars before I [heard about the tool].
I was so happy to hear it because I don’t want to use a lot of other programs; I want to consolidate everything where I can.”
Justin Smith shared similar sentiments, noting that “I’ve been working with [the Conversions API trigger], and it is awesome.
If you haven’t looked at it yet, make sure to connect your Facebook to HighLevel, and it’s going to blow you away. I mean, it blew me away, and I’ve been doing this a long time.”
HighLevel lets you efficiently manage your clients’ workflows
Managing client projects and expectations come with enough moving parts—you shouldn’t have to juggle multiple tools just to do your job.
HighLevel takes the place of a whole suite of tools you use to manage every part of your business and client projects, including a CRM, sales funnel builder, email marketing, and more.
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