Whether you’ve just launched a business or are spearheading the marketing department at an established company, one thing we have in common is that we all need to find new customers, all the time.
It really is the essence of customer acquisition isn’t it; attract new customers.
Now I might be wrong but I don’t think sitting around chatting about what customer acquisition is or why it’s important will be much help.
What can be helpful is pow-wowing about HOW you can attract new customers, which is why we’ve decided to compile this 10-step guide on how you can improve your customer acquisition marketing strategy to drive results.
Why do you need a customer acquisition marketing strategy you ask?
Well, in short, the cost of acquiring new customers has gone up by 50% over the last 5 years according to our friends at Profitwell. That coupled with a rise in competition means that the days of shoot-from-the-hip, knee-jerk marketing plans are pretty much over.
Today, you need a clear strategy to steer you (and your marketing budget) to success. That means crafting a considered strategy to target, engage and convert clients and deliver real results.
A strategy will also help you align all your goals (sales, marketing and service), and provide an actionable roadmap with measurable deliverables.
Ready to improve your customer acquisition efforts?
Let’s get started.
10 Ways to Improve Your Customer Acquisition
1. Define Your Customer
The first step to building a customer acquisition marketing strategy is profiling your ideal customer.
For this, we highly recommend you create buyer personas and then dive into researching each of these semi-fictional characters that represent the customers you ideally want to attract:
- What are their demographics and psychographics?
- What are they interested in?
- What social media platforms do they use?
- How and where do they consume information?
- What products or services are they looking for and why (or what are their challenges or aspirations)?
All of this will help you create a strategy – and message – that targets them with relevant info at the right time and the right place.
You can use HubSpot’s free online Make My Persona tool to create buyer personas like the one above. It’s super quick and easy.
You can also run surveys or use chatbots to find out more about your customers.
“Facebook had so much data, such a large audience and such a sophisticated algorithm that it was able to laser-target audiences automatically.
In fact, they have this much info 👇
In other words, you didn’t have to do as much work to define your persona because Facebook could find those people for you. But recently, new privacy policies — particularly Apple’s iOS 14 update, which restricts Facebook’s ability to track users on an iPhone — have severely hampered Facebook’s ability to find your ideal customers for you. As a result, many advertisers have noticed decreased results from their Facebook campaigns”.
2. Use Big – and Small - Data to Your Advantage
Data drives companies. Even in its most rudimentary form, every business has an idea of what’s what in terms of sales, expenses and ROI.
If you dig a little deeper, your business’s data can also provide you with insights into your customers and their journey: sales data can tell you where customers are converting; transactional data can help you learn about your customers’ buying behaviour; social media stats can tell you which of your platforms are attracting the biggest audience.
From small data (a customer’s email) to big data (insight into your customer’s buying behaviour and what product you could target them with next), each piece of information you have can be used to your business’s strategic advantage.
“Data makes it easier to connect each of your efforts to dollars. Whether you’re a marketer or business owner running all of your own marketing, understanding exactly how each point within your marketing strategy connects to that revenue helps identify the value of that point in the big picture. This is one of the ways in which data becomes so powerful in the realm of social media marketing because it lets you see exactly where you’re leaking money”.
Data gathered from your own social media platforms and website, as well as third parties such as Google Analytics can help you understand and decide where you want to spend your marketing bucks and efforts.
Listen to Brie’s podcast here 👇 to learn how data can inform and shape your marketing strat.
3. Check Out the Competition
“Knowing who your competitors are, and what they are offering, can help you to make your products, services and marketing stand out. It will enable you to set your prices competitively and help you to respond to rival marketing campaigns with your initiatives,” notes Info Entrepreneurs.
A SWOT analysis is a great way of scoping out the playing field and finding out not only who your competitors are and what they are doing (or not doing) but also where there are opportunities in the market.
Understanding what your competitors are doing can also help you establish your USP and brand values and highlight frustrations or delights customers are currently experiencing. All of this information can be leveraged to create highly-targeted marketing campaigns that speak directly to your target audience.
As Relative Insight, a text-analysis data software company, explains:
“By understanding the strengths of your brand, recognising your weaknesses and finding your unique value proposition, you’ll know exactly what it is that you bring to the table. Armed with this knowledge, you can communicate your true value to consumers, adapt your brand and communications strategy accordingly. Just as it is important to find your competitive advantage, if you know your competition’s movements, weak spots, strengths and marketing strategies. Businesses need to know who their competition is, what they are doing or have already tried to do, in order to discover traits and tactics that they can use to their advantage. Often, a real benefit of competitor analysis is learning what your competitors are doing before trying out something new yourself.”
4. Set SMART Goals
Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Bound, SMART goals are concrete targets that you aim to hit over a certain period.
Once you’ve set your customer acquisition goals, you can start defining SMART marketing goals to help you attain these.
For instance, a SMART marketing goal for boosting brand awareness can look something like this:
These goals can help you set sensible marketing-related objectives and provide you with quantifiable customer acquisition metrics such as
- Customer lifetime value (CLV)
- Customer acquisition cost (CAC)
- Churn rate and
- Monthly recurring revenue (MRR)
That you can measure to help you decide if a marketing strategy is worth it or not. In the long run, this can help you increase customer acquisition and ROI as you won’t be spending resources on marketing strategies or channels that don’t pay off.
Check out this SMART 😉 step-by-step video on how to set social media marketing goals:
5. Choose Your Acquisition Channels and Strat
Once you’ve defined your target audience and goals, it’s time to workshop what strategies and channels you will use to attract and convert customers.
These channels will be where you focus your marketing efforts and through which you engage with your audience.
If, for instance, your research has uncovered that organic search is your best-converting channel (see how handy data can be), it would make sense to capitalise on that by improving your SEO and investing more in content marketing (check out point number 6 below for more on how to win over customers with content).
Other channels include:
- Email marketing (which currently returns the highest marketing ROI of all channels)
- Video marketing
- Paid advertising campaigns
- Affiliate marketing
- Social media marketing
- ABM (account-based marketing)
- Influencer marketing
- Direct mail
- SMS marketing
- Print advertising
How many channels or which combination of channels you choose to use is completely up to you, your customer data, marketing budget and, ultimately, the customer acquisition goals you want to achieve. But we would suggest sticking to three or less to start with to keep efforts targeted and make sure you have a handle on everything.
Of course, CAC per channel can also play a role in this decision. For SaaS companies specifically, the CAC per channel looks like this:
You can also make use of models such as the ICE framework to help you decide which channels to use.
Created by Sean Ellis, this simple framework is based on asking yourself three questions when deciding which marketing channels to use:
- Impact: What is the expected outcome going to be?
- Confidence: How confident am I that we can achieve that outcome?
- Effort: How much effort is required?
The answers to these questions will help you decide which tactics and channels to prioritise for the “fastest time-to-value for your product”.
Here’s how Saas company GrowthHackers used the ICE framework, for instance:
“At GrowthHackers, the founding team members completed initial user research on where the target audience went to find and share content. The answer they received was Twitter, which led them to the initial prioritization and test of Twitter as a user-acquisition channel. Their ICE framework might have looked something like this:
Impact: Expect to be able to reach and engage a new audience quickly and drive traffic and engagement back to the site, thus clearly showing the value it offers.
Confidence: Research had shown that Twitter was the medium that their target audience used to find and share new content.
Effort: The only implementation was the creation of a Twitter account and the cost comprised only the man-hours it would take to invest in the GrowthHackers Twitter account.
Beyond this, it would be a relatively straightforward process to test the channel and see how referral traffic from the site converted into new and activated users. With this framework in mind, the team prioritised Twitter. Within six weeks of iteration and testing, they grew a substantial user base.”
6. Create Kick-A** Content that Converts
It almost goes without saying that for your business and marketing efforts to be successful, you need really good, no, great content and lead magnets to engage, educate and delight your audience.
One easy and cost-effective way of doing this is with SEO-optimised content for increased views and engagement.
“SEO is a great customer acquisition strategy because it targets people searching for your products or services. If you optimise your blog content and website to target the keywords they’re using, you can drive traffic and conversions. Doing so will lead to more visitors to your website. Plus, you get the obvious benefits of indirect SEO juice from social” - DataDab
Saas start-up Snappa did just that. By targeting thousands of high-value keyphrases, they grew their organic traffic month by month.
Listen to their founder talk more about how they find SEO opportunities here.
Here’s our cheat sheet for a winning SEO strat that will boost customer acquisition:
- Publish new content regularly to engage visitors and improve the “freshness” — an SEO ranking factor — of your site.
- Update old content on your site for improved search performance, in addition to creating the perception among prospects that your site’s data is current and accurate.
- Build content for your website that answers common customer questions. This can be in the form of blog posts, eBooks or a FAQ page.
- Map your content specifically to buyer intent to improve your search presence for motivated prospects.
- Optimise keywords throughout articles to help Google rank your content. You can use SEMRush, a free online tool for this.
- Link your content across platforms to make Google value it more. Adding backlinks is another great way to boost your content’s performance.
Check out this HubSpot podcast to learn more about how content and profit go hand in hand.
7. Optimise Your Website and Landing Pages
For most customers, their first experience with your company will be via your website, so your website and landing pages must be functioning optimally. This includes being easy to navigate and filled with relevant, informative, user-centric content.
Good landing pages can contribute to increased conversions, turning more website visitors into paying customers.
The better insight you have into your target audience (buyer personas), the more you can customise your landing pages (and other content), to speak directly to them.
It’s also important to make sure all the technical bits are running smoothly such as loading speed (according to Google, the average acceptable wait for a page to load is 2 seconds), ensure there are no broken links, and that copy is free of grammatical errors and typos and that your pages are optimised across devices (in other words, it looks nice and works well on mobile, desktop and laptop).
8. Launch a Referral Program
It’s a well-known fact amongst marketers that consumers are wary of advertising. In fact, a recent HubSpot study found that HubSpot recently reported that 65% of consumers don’t trust ads and 71% don’t trust sponsored posts on social media.
That’s why a referral program is a great way to attract new customers - it won’t be you telling them your product is great but their friends or family who already experienced it and were satisfied. And this type of word-of-mouth advertising is worth its weight in gold - 84% of consumers trust it. Plus, it is relatively easy and affordable to implement.
Take Dropbox for example. The company offers 500MB of free storage to a user when they invite a friend to sign up. What’s even better, the friend also gets an extra 500MB, so both parties win without spending a dime.
It is a super simple yet highly effective concept - it increased Dropbox’s user base by 60% in the first 18 months.
9. Testing, Testing
Regardless of which marketing channels you choose to use, it is important that you run A/B tests for each campaign.
Remember to run these tests on one channel at a time.
10. Keep Adjusting
You should also track and report all your marketing campaigns to gather information about what is working and what is not – and then be ready to pivot. In today’s market, it is all about being agile. If a campaign isn’t working, figure out why and how you can change it to deliver better results.
Important metrics to keep track of include:
- Click-through rate (CTR)
- Conversion rate
- Bounce rate
- Spam complaints
- Number of unsubscribes
- Organic visitors
- Likes, follows and engagement on social media platforms
- Email open rates
- Customer retention rates
- Referral rates
Customer acquisition is no easy task. It requires effort and innovation, and oftentimes a lot of misses before you get a hit. That said, creating a model for sustainable growth is not impossible.
In fact, it is far from impossible. It is very possible with the right tools and strategies, such as these 10 ways to improve your customer acquisition.
By leveraging your channels, content and data, you can create a winning formula for attracting and retaining customers.