Facebook Custom Events – A Beginner Guide [in 2021]

Does a user action frequently occur on your website that is not covered by the 17 predefined Standard Events on Facebook but it is still very valuable for the success of your business? Facebook made Facebook Custom Events exactly for this purpose so that you can track any kind of user action and micro or macro conversions on your website.

Don’t worry, although using Facebook Custom Events is an advanced Facebook advertising concept and technique, we wrote this beginner guide to explain the most essential things you must know about Facebook’s Custom Pixel Events. We will cover things such as:

  • What is a Facebook Custom Event?
  • Why you might need to set up Custom Events?
  • How does a Facebook Custom Event look like?
  • What kind of Custom Events could you set up?
  • How to create Facebook Custom Events on your website?
  • How to leverage Facebook Custom Events after you have set them up.
  • The difference between Facebook Custom and Standard Events.

At the end of this guide, we will also share the most frequently asked questions related to Facebook Custom Events.

What is a Facebook Custom Event?

Facebook Custom Events

A Custom Event is a Facebook Pixel Event that describes user actions on your website that are not covered by the 17 Standard Events predefined by Facebook. Facebook gives you the opportunity to create your own Custom Events and also define custom parameters within the events that can provide more information about the user action that is described by the Facebook Custom Event.

Your Custom Event can have up to 25 parameters and you can create up to 1000 Facebook Custom Events per Ad account, so basically there is no limit on the number of customizations you can make to your events.

Why you might need to set up Custom Events?

You might have already set up the relevant Standard Events and you send a lot of Standard Events data to Facebook, so you might be wondering why you should set up Facebook Custom Events also. Is it not too much?

Well, you don’t need to have to set Custom Events necessarily, but for a lot of businesses there are certain user actions on their websites that are not covered by the 17 predefined Standard Events. If you still want to track that particular user action, your only option is to make a Facebook Custom Event that will be able to log and track those actions on your website.

Example for Facebook Custom Events

To give you a specific example, let’s say, you have a website where you collect leads for a consulting service. And as a part of the leads collection process, you have a video on the central part of your landing page where you explain what kind of consulting you do, how you work with clients, and what kind of results a client can get.

If someone didn’t really watch at least 10% of the video, they could have no idea about what kind of service you do and if you want to do really focused targeting you would only retarget people who really know about your service but they are not sure yet so they didn’t sign up for the call yet.

As there are no Standard Events for watching a video on your website, in this case, you would have to make a Facebook Custom Event where you would track people who watched videos on your website. An then you could make a Custom Audience from people who watched at least 10% of that specific video and use this Custom Audience as a retargeting audience for your retargeting campaign.

Also, if you generally don’t collect a lot of leads as you sell high ticket consulting, the number of collected leads will be always low for you to be able to make Lookalike Audience from them so you can’t really use this Standard Event to make Lookalike Audiences from them.

However, if you still want to try out LAA targeting, you could take advantage of the Custom Event we made for people who watched X percent of your video and make a Lookalike Audience from these people.

Last but not least, you could also make a Custom Conversion from this Custom Event and use this watched 25 percent of the video as an optimization event in your conversion-focused campaign.

Other Common Facebook Custom Events Examples

In a separate article about Facebook’s Custom Events we show the most common Custom Events you could set up and explain them in more detail. Here, we will just mention the most common ones so you can get a better idea what kind of Custom Events you could set up:

  • Scroll tracking
  • Time Spent on Website
  • Watched a video (X per cent, or X minutes)
  • Outbound Link Click
  • Internal Link Click
  • Discount Code added
  • Click on a Specific Button
  • Submit a Form
  • Number of pages per website visit

If you want to know more about how you can define these Custom Events, which parameter should you send with them as well, make sure to check out our articles on the most common examples of Custom Events.

How does a Facebook Custom Event look like?

As you might know, Standard Events are called by the fbq(‘track’) function so Custom Events have a modified syntax as we will show below. Unlike Standard Events, Custom Events have to be placed to the body section of your website where the user actions take place.

Here is an example of a Custom Event from Facebook’s official documentation:

fbq(‘trackCustom’, ‘ShareDiscount’, {promotion: ‘share_discount_10%’});

As you can see Custom Events are called with fbq(trackCustom) function, then the name of the Custom Event is provided, and  the additional parameters can be added in a JSON object just like with Standard Events.

How to create Facebook Custom Events?

We have written a separate in-depth tutorial about how you can create and configure Facebook Custom Events with Google Tag Manager. Make sure to check it out as the technique is one of the most advanced in technical Facebook Ads.

Here we just want to mention that you have basically two plus one options to set up and configure Facebook Custom Events:

  1. Use Event Setup Tool: This is a very limited option you have as it is very prone to errors and there are also some limitations you have to cope with. You could make a button click Custom Event easily with it, but nothing more complexe like an outbound link click, Time spent on the website or scrolling on a page.
  2. Use Google Tag Manager: This is the recommended way of setting up Facebook Custom Events. (and also Standard Events by the way). This way, you have full control over the implementation of all Facebook Pixel Events, you can easily test and debug GTM Tags and you can easily customize all of your Custom Events tab without any kind of compromise.

+1 Option: Send the instructions to your Developer: If you don’t want to deal with this at all, you could ask your developer to do it for you. But even in this case, you should be able to explain to him or her what exactly she should do with the code so that you can track Custom Events.

If you need professional help with creating and setting up Facebook Custom Event, you can also contact us here as we will be able to help you.

What to do after creating Facebook Custom Events?

Once you have set up Facebook Custom Events, you basically can use them for two very important activities of Facebook advertising:

  1. create Custom Audiences from Custom Events so that you can use those audiences for:
    1. running retargeting campaigns and targeting only users who triggered a specific Custom Event
    2. making Lookalike Audiences from Custom Audiences made from Custom Events
  2. or create Custom Conversions from Custom Events and then
    1. use them as an optimization event in your campaigns with conversion objective so Facebook can optimize your FB campaigns for this Custom Conversion
    2. use Custom Conversion data to evaluate your campaigns and optimize your ads manually

Let me explain both of them via an example as well.

As you hopefully know, Custom Audience is one of the best targeting options Facebook provides. Let’s say you are running a high ticket affiliate marketing business,  then you could make a Custom Audience from people who clicked on a certain outbound affiliate link. Then you can run a remarketing campaign targeting this new custom audience and promote them the offer one more time with a coupon or something similar to increase the likelihood of a conversion.

You could also take this Affiliate Link Click Custom Event and make a Custom Conversion from it and set the optimization event to Purchase, so Facebook also knows how to optimize for this particular campaign.

Test and Debug Facebook Custom Events Issues and Errors

Once you have set up Facebook Custom Events make sure to always test the Custom Events so you can double-check if the Custom Events are working as expected before using them for a retargeting audience or use them to create Custom Conversions.

In our beginner guide about Facebook Pixel Events, we have explained the four ways how you can test and troubleshoot your Facebook Pixel Events implementation. So be sure to check that guide out. In this tutorial we will just briefly mention how you can test and debug your Custom Events:

  1. Use the Overview tab of the Data Source page by choosing the Facebook Pixel where the Custom Event has been set up, where you will see all Pixel Events that fired in the last 28 days and any implementation error Facebook can detect.
  2. Use the Diagnostics tab on the same Data sources page where you will see all the errors and warnings (including issues with Custom Events) listed out and get more information about these issues and how you can resolve them.
  3. Use the Test Events Tool (that can be also found in Events Manager) to test Custom Events by simulating the user actions that should trigger the Custom Events on your website. This is the best option out of all three available in Facebook Events Manager that you can use right after you created a Custom Event. (the first two options need to get data first.)
  4. Our favorite option to test and troubleshoot Facebook Custom Events that is available outside of Facebook Events Manager is using the Facebook Pixel Helper Chrome Extension. You can easily install it on your Chrome Browser, and all you have to do is visit the website where the Facebook Custom Events are located and simulate the user action that should fire the Custom Event.

If the Custom Event is fired, you can also check if Facebook detected any issues with the Custom Event code and what parameters and values were sent in to Facebook.

Custom Events vs Standard Events

The most important difference between Custom Events and Standard Events is that Custom Events are not predefined by Facebook so you can customize them in any way you want, you don’t have to consider any kind of Facebook specifications.

You can use Custom Events the same way as Standard Events to create Custom Audiences and then use those Custom Audiences to create retargeting or lookalike audiences.

One thing you can’t do with Custom Events is to use them as optimization events, as obviously Facebook has no idea what kind of user action a specific Custom Event tracks. That’s the reason we can create Custom Conversions from Custom Events where we can specify also which type of conversion event is the most applicable to our Custom Event.

Frequently Asked Question – Facebook Custom Events

Can you optimize your FB ad campaign for a custom event?

No, this is one of the things that differentiates Custom Events from Standard Events that you can’t use them as an optimization event when you are running a Facebook ad campaign with a conversion objective. However, you can create a Custom Conversion from your Custom Event, and then use that Custom Conversion.

How many parameters can you add to a Facebook Custom Event?

You can add up to 25 parameters to a Facebook Custom Event.

How many Custom Events can you have per Facebook ad account?

You can have up to 1000 Custom Events per Facebook Ad account, so there is almost no limit on them.

How to delete FB Custom Events?

How you can delete Facebook Custom Events will depend on which method you used to set up your Custom Events. If you used the Event Setup Tool in Facebook Event Manager to create the Custom Events than you have to also go there and delete the Custom Events you don’t need anymore.
If you used Google Tag Manager, then you need to delete the GTM tags that fire the Facebook Custom Events in order to get rid of your Facebook Custom Events.

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