Nov 18, 2022
Growth Marketing Tips
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 min read

The First Touchpoint Misconception

A user on Facebook clicks your ad. They choose to purchase the item for sale. We’d be in the most ideal world if that happened for 100% of user interactions. However, as you might have guessed, that amount of immediate success is far from reality.

First Touchpoint Misconception. Image courtesy of Jonathan Martinez.

Many startups are hyper-focused early on with the click through rate (CTR) for their ads and the conversion rate (CVR) for purchases. This is good information, but it leaves so much more to be desired.

Welcome to the First Touchpoint Misconception.

A bit of history

As time progressed, it has become increasingly important to invest in amazing copy and creative. A great deal has changed since Google Ads (formerly AdWords) launched in 2000 with a scant 350 advertisers. By 2015, the number of advertisers, and thus competition, in the Google Ads count had ballooned to 4 million, from data in Macquarie Research.

With paid social channels such as Facebook, there was once only one primary ad format that they launched with for advertisers. Today there are dozens of formats. What does this do? It puts emphasis on becoming more creative to get consumers to click on these formats.

Image courtesy of VentureBeat.

This increased competition means that startups have become laser-focused on beating the opposition on initial clicks. As I mentioned above, I am a firm believer that amazing copy and creative can make or break paid acquisition. However, it is also too easy to get lost solely focusing on the first touchpoint. This is something that I have witnessed frequently with early-stage startups.

Common user pathway

Instead of someone converting right after clicking or viewing an ad, here’s what a common journey to purchase looks like:

A common user pathway. Image courtesy of Jonathan Martinez.

I’m always surprised at how much the second, third, fourth, etc., touchpoints are ignored in analysis. I would much rather have a fully fleshed lifecycle than a CTR that is greater than 50%. Below is a graphical example on two startups:

Startup A is focusing only on the first touchpoint. Startup B focuses on all touchpoints. Image courtesy of Jonathan Martinez.

While Startup B had half the overall number of clicks, the CVR percentage was higher for Startup B due to retargeting and lifecycle emails, which lead to the lower CAC.

Now you may be saying, “I’m a startup with low resources and simply trying to figure out my product-market fit.” Great, but even with one or both of those scenarios, you won’t be maximizing your paid acquisition without retargeting, email marketing, and diversified messaging for each touchpoint.

How to tackle all touchpoints

Let’s break down the ways to combat First Touchpoint Misconception. I’ll segment it out by retargeting, email marketing, and diversified messaging.


Every startup should have an “always on” retargeting campaign. In 99% of cases, it will be more cost effective to acquire a retargeted user versus a net-new user. This can be a simple dedication of 5% total paid acquisition towards a retargeting campaign. If it proves fruitful, it can also be very robust with recency nesting and different user segments. A simple recency, user segmented structure for an ecommerce store can be:

  • Last 30-day visitors
  • Last 30-day add to carts
  • Last 90-day visitors
  • Last 90-day add to carts

An important note with this structure is that you’ll want to exclude the audiences in each of the campaigns so that there isn’t any overlap. The beauty of this structure is that it allows you to funnel more spend in higher propensity retargeting buckets that are performing best. It may be 90-day add to carts. Or it may be 30-day visitors. Without segmenting, it’ll be difficult to measure which audience pool is the best performer.

Email (and Push) Marketing

Many will argue that email marketing shouldn’t be turned on until after a predetermined first set of customers, whether 100, 1,000, or a different amount. I believe that email marketing should be turned on instantly. Why try to find product-market fit without giving it your best shot?

This isn’t to say that there needs to be nine fully fleshed-out drip campaign series’ set up on day one. Far from it. When a new lead comes in from a web or app campaign, leverage the emails on sign ups. These users have shown some interest and it may have just been a bad time to complete the sign-up process or they weren’t ready yet. Below is what a simple drip campaign set up can look like:

Simple seven day drip campaign. Image courtesy of Jonathan Martinez.

If a user signs up but doesn’t complete your conversion event, send them an email at D1 (day one), D3 and D7. Each email can have different themes, such as including additional value props, social proof, or discounting. It also doesn’t hurt to ask for feedback on the last message as to why they haven’t finished the funnel for user research purposes early on.

Diversified Messaging

The surefire way to increase conversion rates across all touchpoints is to diversify messaging. The first message should be different from the second, should be different from the fifth, and so on.

Start paying attention to the ways companies communicate during the lifecycle of your engagement with them. I can almost guarantee that you will see very educational sales messaging early on, with more social proof sprinkled into subsequent touchpoints.

Below are some of Headspace’s ads that lean heavily on the promotion of meditation: letting go of stress and being happy.

Example Facebook ads from meditation app, Headspace. Image courtesy of Jonathan Martinez.

In Headspace’s email communications, they push more on discounts and how easy it is to get started (for example: meditation can be conducted at any point in the day).

Example emails from meditation app, Headspace. Image courtesy of Jonathan Martinez.

I’m not saying you can’t have a discount code on a first and last touchpoint. Instead, start thinking about diversified messaging and experimenting with what styles resonate best at different stages. Between the initial ad view, email/push sends, and retargeting, I strongly encourage that all touchpoints have a slightly different flavor.

Leveraging resources

As you start to think about the various touchpoints, from initially attracting users on paid acquisition, to then nurturing them through the funnel, you are not alone. There is a myriad of resources to help extract valuable insights and knowledge. One of my favorites is the Facebook Ad Library, which is a repository of all the platform’s ads that are currently live. Leveraging Facebook’s Ad Library not only provides you with competitor intel, but there’s also valuable intel to extract from others in the same verticals or brands who are simply running a great performance marketing program. Another gold mine is a site called Really Good Emails, which is a repository for emails.

There are hundreds of other resources available, but I won’t start listing them all on this column. Instead, I’ll leave you with one question: as a customer, how often do you purchase something on the first touchpoint?

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