Using Micro Conversion Goals to Optimize Your First-Touch Channels

Engage prospects with first-touch channels like Facebook ads. Convert them with remarketing and email marketing.

Image via AZ Quotes.

As I pointed out in last week’s post, almost all business owners think that macro conversion (i.e. sales of products/services) are the only metric that matters, especially those that are new to digital marketing. It makes sense why — after all, the bottom line is all business owners really care about at the end of the day.

But this conventional wisdom isn’t just an oversimplification — it’s a dangerous myth. This myth is especially misleading for companies just venturing into data-driven marketing. Let me explain why.

As I explained, a macro conversion is the ultimate goal of your website (think an online purchase — they’ve “converted” to a paying customer). Micro conversions, on the other hand, represent engagement actions that bring a prospect closer to the macro conversion on their customer journey (think of a lead clicking through to a product page).

Yes, one important reason your micro conversions are so critical is that it’s the only way to identify friction points where in the funnel prospects are dropping-off on their way to the purchase.

But an even more important reason every business should track engagement-related micro conversions is to measure the effectiveness of “first-touch” acquisition channels such as Facebook ads and Google Adwords campaigns, and to optimize them.

Without the right micro conversion goals, you’re going to put more ad spend in the wrong channels, which means you’re literally burning money. This can be a huge blind spot for companies that are only looking at their macro conversions.

By first-touch, we mean that these ads are often the first exposure a consumer has with your brand. Based on our experience with the 100+ companies we’ve interviewed, this is true for almost all businesses with a digital presence, but it’s especially true for ecommerce companies.

That’s why today, we have a short post on using micro conversions to better understand your first-touch channels.

Why macro conversions are not enough for first-touch channels

The primary problem with only tracking macro conversions for first-touch channels boils down to this: these days, you can’t expect prospects to macro convert on their first visit to your website.

Especially if they don’t recognize your brand, you have not yet established credibility and trust. Besides, with the average human attention span hovering around 8 seconds, they may simply get distracted by something else and leave your site without converting.

Image via Digital Dealer

For example, the Association For Consumer Research found that consumers are more likely to purchase as a result of an ad after three ad exposures. Other experts claim that even more exposures — seven or more — are the sweet spot (you may have heard of Dr. Jeffrey Lant’s rule of seven).

And with more and more targeted digital ads competing for consumers’ attention on the internet, the length of time between a consumer’s first impression and their purchase will most likely only increase in the coming years. To this point, about half of shoppers spend 75% or more of their total shopping time doing online research. Not only that, the number of these research-oriented shoppers have doubled from 2010 to 2011.

That’s why tracking micro conversion metrics (such as bounce rate, pages/session) is especially crucial for ecommerce businesses to understand the real value of each channel, because they tend to have an involved checkout process with a lot of friction points.

Let’s take an example scenario that we encountered in one of the ecommerce companies we are working with (they sell menswear on their website).

This company looked at their “All Channels” report on Google Analytics, and found that their Facebook ad campaigns had a relatively low conversion rate. At first glance, they thought, “Facebook ads must be the wrong acquisition channel for our audience. Let’s try other channels like Adwords or Twitter ads instead.”

But we decided to take another look. Yes, their Facebook traffic was not immediately converting on a macro level, but how was it converting on a micro level? As it turned out, a large segment of their Facebook traffic was showing a high interest in their product — clicking on several high-performing product pages before leaving their site.

So what did we (and they) learn?

Facebook ads are actually an effective first-touch channel for them. This Facebook traffic is highly engaged and demonstrates observable interest in their products. What they should do is to focus on the Retention stage of the digital journey.

But if you don’t first check your micro conversion metrics for your Facebook traffic, you might jump to rash conclusions like our client did.

Use Remarketing & Email Marketing to Reengage Unconverted Prospects

So if you don’t macro convert an interested customer on the first-touch, how can you get them to buy your product (or sign up for your email newsletter, etc)? They may simply need more exposure, more information, more time, and/or more reminders to follow through with their intent to purchase.

In other words, you may need to “re-market” to them. Here’s how that works.

Businesses like the client we mentioned earlier can use remarketing campaigns (with Facebook ads or Adwords) or email marketing to reengage with these interested prospects. They may simply need more exposure, more information, more time, and/or more reminders to follow-through with their intent to purchase.

If you’re not familiar with remarketing with platforms like Adwords and Facebook ads, remarketing is simply retargeting users who have been exposed to your ads or your website. In Adwords, for instance, you can retarget visitors who have engaged with your website (e.g. spent a certain amount of time on a product page).

In talking to more with a few dozen companies, we’ve found that remarketing campaigns have much higher ROI than first-touch campaigns with cold prospects. In fact, one of our clients simply tries to break even with their first-touch Facebook ads (or in certain cases, even lose money on them), and they get more than 90% of their conversions from remarketing campaigns.

To learn more about remarketing, check out this Adwords remarketing guide by PPC Hero, and this Facebook remarketing guide by Sprout Social.

Alternatively, you may also want to set up a micro conversion goal for newsletter signups. By using pop-ups and prominent sign-up forms early on in a user’s session, you can make sure you get more prospect emails.

Free embeddable forms on Mailchimp. Go to Lists >> (Click on Your List of Choice) >> Signup Forms >> Embedded Forms.

That way, if the prospect is interested but leaves your site without purchasing, receiving an email from your company about a new product or a promotion will direct them back to your website for a potential conversion.

To install a pop-up newsletter signup form, you can use free tools such as Mailchimp’s embed form or AppSumo’s free “List Builder” plugin.

AppSumo’s free “List Builder” plugin to add a newsletter signup popup to your website. Image via AppSumo.

If you’re a content-driven company who wants to re-engage your content readers, consider using Upscribe’s free embeddable newsletter subscription forms. They can embed into Medium and Squarespace, and it’s what we use at Humanlytics.

This is what the embedded Upscribe form looks like:

To give you an example of what a re-engagement email looks like, just this week I was shopping for glasses on Warby Parker’s ecommerce store (they sell stylish eyeglasses and sunglasses). I had added a pair of glasses to my cart, but I couldn’t make a decision then and there, so I created an account with my email and left the website. Within a few hours that night, I received this email in my inbox:

Warby Parker’s remarketing email.

This was the perfect reminder I needed to get back on the site to complete my purchase. The email was not pushy or presumptuous or annoying. It was just a simple, elegant nudge to translate my original intention to buy into action. We can all take a page from Warby Parker’s excellent example of re-engaging prospects with automated yet well-designed emails.


  1. These days, with first-touch channels such as Adwords and Facebook ads, you can’t expect online prospects to purchase your product or service the first time they visit your page. That’s why it’s important to track engagement-related micro conversions to truly understand how your first-touch channels are performing.
  2. Use remarketing campaigns to re-engage your website users and bring them back to your site to reconsider buying your product or service.
  3. Use AppSumo’s free “List Builder” plugin to collect email addresses from your website prospects. Then send them weekly or biweekly newsletter emails to re-engage with them, and remind them of your value proposition. Also consider sending them a timebound discount or promotion to add an extra incentive.

This article was produced by Humanlytics. Looking for more content just like this? Check us out on Twitter and Medium, and join our Analytics for Humans Facebook community to discuss more ideas and topics like this!