Conversion API: the only way to optimise your digital advertising

Conversion API: the only way to optimise your digital advertising in 2024

For as long as people have been buying and selling, businesses have tracked their customers.

From the bustling forums of Ancient Rome to the great bazaars of the East, and in every marketplace since, merchants have kept a close eye on the people frequenting their stalls. Striking up conversations and tuning into their behaviour and preferences enabled them to provide a better experience, inspire loyalty and ultimately, make more money.

But times have changed. Unlike the merchants of the ancient world, many of us will never see our customers face-to-face. 4 in 5 people now make online purchases, and over a quarter of all sales are done online. And these figures are only going to grow in the coming years.

Why is online customer tracking crucial for businesses?

With so much business now conducted online, the idea of not tracking such a huge volume of customers is frankly ludicrous. Tracking online customer behaviour gives you insights into how well your digital marketing is working.

This enables you to target the right customers and deliver more tailored experiences, increasing the chances of loyalty to your brand.

What’s more, it helps you optimise your social advertising spend and reduce the amount wasted on ineffective marketing.

In short, online tracking keeps your business competitive.

And the tracking tool you need to be using in 2024 is a Conversion API (CAPI).

What is a conversion API?

Staff at a physical store interact with customers and pay attention to their behaviour and which products are selling well. This enables them to tailor their service and deliver a better customer experience. 

A CAPI simply allows businesses to do this with online customers who click on their digital ads. This could be through Google or a social media platform. Meta (Facebook and Instagram) is the most popular social platform for social media advertising, so we’ll focus on that in this article.

CAPIs allow you to track all manner of events on your website. These range from purchases, form-fills and sign-ups to smaller events such as searches, adding an item to a cart and page views. 

Now, this sort of thing is nothing new. Online tracking has been around almost as long as the World Wide Web, and it first began when cookies were invented in 1994. And since then analytics tools have developed and become more sophisticated.

What is the difference between a CAPI and a tracking pixel?

For the last ten years or so, tracking pixels have been a popular and effective way for online advertisers to track conversions and customer behaviour. Meta pixel, for example, has been in use since 2012 and can track 17 different on-page events.

It is a tiny, invisible image embedded in a website. When a user clicks on your social media ad, the pixel embeds in the website and sends a request to a server, allowing the tracking of user interactions. 

Now, the problem with this is that they rely on a user’s browser, and privacy controls such as ad blockers and cookie settings are now more sophisticated. They can inhibit a tracking pixel so that information retrieved from it is incomplete or inaccurate. 

A CAPI, however, doesn’t need to interact with the browser – it retrieves data directly from your website’s server via HTTPS requests. It then sends this data directly and securely to Meta’s servers. 

Meta actually recommends that advertisers use both the tracking pixel and the CAPI as this is the best way to ensure the most complete and relevant data.

Why are CAPIs useful?

Since CAPIs bypass a client’s browser, they’re unaffected by any ad-blockers, cookie settings and other restrictions the browser has in place. This means the data you gather from your website on each client is likely to be more accurate, complete and relevant.

This enables you to optimise your advertising on a granular level. 

But CAPIs also enable you to gather data from anywhere in the customer journey, including events in your physical store. This gives you greater insight into the wider customer experience and can show how your online marketing is driving in-store customer actions.

What’s more, CAPIs are actually more secure and compliant with privacy regulations. Because they send data securely from server to server, they’re less vulnerable to data manipulation through the client’s browser.

Who should use CAPIs?

Quite simply, if you are doing online advertising, you need to be using conversion APIs.

If your website offers any form of purchasing, registration, subscription, form-filling, or downloads, you should be using them. 

Any and all business types benefit from CAPIs.

Whether you do e-commerce, provide online services, run a subscription service, provide e-learning or any other sort of online platform, CAPIs make your marketing more efficient and your business more profitable.

How do you set up CAPIs?

How you setup a CAPI depends on your business. If you’re an eCommerce business and your already using a platform like Shopify or WooCommerce, integrating your CAPI is quick and easy and doesn’t usually incur extra cost.

However, if you’re not using these platforms, things get a little more complicated. Many businesses opt for the Conversion API Gateway. It doesn’t require any coding knowledge, but the setup does get a bit technical and could be quite difficult to get to grips with for people who aren’t IT-proficient.

Some businesses with plentiful IT resources opt for more bespoke integrations using specific code. This requires a high level of developer knowledge and infrastructure, and isn’t appropriate for many small-to-medium businesses.

We can help…

Of course, as a Milton Keynes social marketing agency, we can assist you in setting up your Conversion API. We can help you track your online customers effectively so you can optimise your advertising spend.

Get in touch for a chat about your marketing needs.