Customer acquisition is difficult. And having the right strategy to acquire the right customers to purchase your product or service is an ongoing challenge that every business faces.
Given how critical winning new customers is to growing your business, we reached out to 21 experts and asked them each the following question:
“What’s the single most important ingredient of a successful customer acquisition strategy?”
We compiled their responses into this guide on strategies for customer acquisition. See what our panel said below.
Meet Our Panel of Customer Acquisition Experts:
At Bop Design, Jeremy Durant builds relationships with businesses in need of a marketing and branding strategy, helping them to develop their unique value proposition and ideal customer profile. Prior to joining Bop Design, Jeremy spent 10+ years developing tailored solutions for Fortune 500 companies in the wireless, biotech, electronics and food and beverage industries. Jeremy received his BA from Merrimack College and his MBA from California State University, San Marcos.
“The most important ingredient to a successful customer acquisition strategy is…”
I utilize my company’s thought leadership content to help prospects find me and then utilize content to nurture the lead from a general inquiry into a committed relationship. Content marketing is an ideal companion to B2B sales.
There are two reasons:
1. The B2B sales process’ inherent nature (a longer sales cycle, smaller potential client pool, higher priced purchases and multiple decision makers) requires multiple touch points with a prospective client.
2. The traditional B2B “sales funnel” is evolving from a predictable linear model to a much more diverse and jumbled path—requiring marketers to consistently remind prospective clients of a B2B brand through relevant, new content on an infinite number of platforms. We utilize blogging, white papers, checklists, buying guides, etc. to guide from discovery to consideration to the decision.
President and Founder, Write2Market, a tech public relations agency ranked by Hubspot as one of the Top 10 Agencies for Startups in the United States
“The #1 ingredient of a successful customer acquisition strategy is…”
Measuring a broad array of marketing media.
Customers change patterns as they develop –today YikYak, tomorrow Instagram. Think of your own preferences and how they shift over time. The only way marketers can create a customer acquisition layer that succeeds is by testing. Constantly float trial campaigns in new media. As you do, measure the results. Outliers are easy to spot, but keep in eye on incremental gains as well. The biggest mistake I see marketers make is to overly invest in one or two strategies, like tradeshow exhibits and email marketing or blogging and Tweeting.
Bhavesh Vaghela is Chief Marketing Officer at ResponseTap, a market leader in call-based marketing automation. With more than 15 years’ experience in Marketing IT Software and Services, Bhavesh has worked extensively across EMEA, APAC and North America.
“The #1 most important strategy to a successful customer acquisition is…”
Omni-channel customer acquisition strategy.
One of the best ways to attract people to your company is with an omni-channel customer acquisition strategy, i.e. a strategy that connects online and offline touch points.
In a recent ResponseTap report, in association with E-consultancy, almost half of company respondents considered it very important for businesses to join online and offline activities. Yet in the four years between 2011 and 2014, it’s been discovered that marketers have made little-to-no progress in joining the dots across customer touch points. In addition, call centers are one of the most relevant offline channels for businesses, cited by 66% of responding companies as important, yet only 37% agreed that they are using this call center data to improve the overall customer experience. Customer expectations have moved on, but customer acquisition strategies, it seems, have not.
If companies want to stand out from the competition, they need to start collecting customer data more efficiently, from all relevant channels. But, more importantly, they also need to begin effecting changes and improvements to the customer journey based on these data insights. Only by making customer data widely available within your company (so that it can be analyzed by various departments) and by understanding the customer journey from a holistic point of view, can companies begin to create the kind of personalized, omni-channel experience consumers have begun to demand.
Liam Brown is the founder of Sidestep Coaching. He’s built 3 successful companies and spent over 8 years as a professional speaker. Seeing a gap in the Service-Based sectors Liam applied his unique programs and coaching systems to address these challenges and fill the gaps in those markets, and Sidestep Coaching was born. Since 2013, Liam has now been focused on the growth of the Sidestep Coaching Franchise and has Sidestep offices in Canada and the United States.
“With customer acquisition, the most important strategy is…”
Identifying your target market.
Who are your customers? It may sound boring or perhaps even an overstated sales 101 response but let me back it up with some further thoughts.
If you don’t know who your target market or niche is – how do you create customer acquisition marketing strategies that are going to pull that customer in and engage them about your products or services?
A few examples:
I want to get mortgage brokers as some of my customers. I send them a promotion about an upcoming seminar “Learn How to Generate More Customers for Your Business.”
No one responds. Why? Because it’s too generic. I don’t understand my target market, so I don’t know how to make it engaging and appealing for them.
In my next seminar I promote this to them: “Learn how to Generate More Customers for Your Mortgage Business Through Profitable Relationships with Realtors.”
Now I get engagement because my customer acquisition strategy has a defined target market and I can create strategies that resonate with the customers I want.
Ben Jorgensen is the founder of a content marketing company called Klick Push. Klick Push been in business for 2 years, raised $500k to date, completed a Forbe’s Top Ten Accelerator Program (Tech Wildcatters) and won best-emerging ad technology for Ad:tech NYC 2014.
“The #1 factor of successful customer acquisition is…”
Lifetime value (LTV).
It could easily be stated that the single most important METRIC of a successful customer acquisition strategy is the lifetime value (LTV) of the acquired user: How much revenue does the customer you acquire produce for the brand over a given period of time. One could thus argue that the single most important INGREDIENT is a metric of the cost of user acquisition that is correlated to the LTV of the user.
I would not argue that these are incredibly important factors. However, we are in an era of consumer capitalism, where consumers voice their marketing experiences, in both positive and negative ways, across social channels online. Marketers are thus susceptible to consumer feedback throughout the lifetime of the consumer, and this has a drastic effect on customer acquisition. The relationship with the consumer requires effective and engaging communication throughout their lifetime. By focusing on ENGAGEMENT and COMMUNICATION as key ingredients in the customer journey, it will bring to light a quality customer experience. These quality experiences are then translated into positive word of mouth, exacerbated by social networks, thus attracting new customers in a cost-effective manner. Effective engagement and communication create a perpetual cycle of customer acquisition and customer retention, which become interdependent on one another.
Mark is the founder of The Hawaii Project, a prelaunch startup in the books space. Prior to The Hawaii Project, Mark was Head of Product for Telenav (NASDAQ:TNAV), a leading provider of GPS Navigation apps, after their acquisition of goby, where Mark was CEO and co-founder. Goby is a mobile recommendation engine for finding fun things to do and at one point the #1 Travel app in the iTunes store. Prior to goby Mark led R&D at Endeca, a search and information access platform, since acquired by Oracle for $1.1B.
“With a customer acquisition strategy, the most important aspect is…”
“If you can’t measure the output of your campaign, you can’t improve it or know if it worked. So an article in the New York Times about your company will have limited value if you have no way to tell whether it helped you acquire customers.”
Digital channels are usually trackable (for example click thru rates on emails or URLs in online articles), whereas print press is notoriously difficult to track. Every campaign should have clear measurability techniques laid out early on, and campaigns that can’t be tracked shouldn’t be undertaken.
Jeff Kear is Founder and Chief Marketing Officer of Planning Pod, online event management software for event professionals. He has worked in the marketing and advertising industry for 24 years in roles from copywriter and creative director to brand manager and CMO.
“The #1 ingredient for customer acquisition strategies is…”
Identification and assessment of your target audience.
Developing the strategy and properly identifying and assessing your target audience is key. Put it this way … if you do not properly identify, assess and profile your target audience, everything you do afterward is wasted effort and money as you try to reach the wrong audience with the wrong message and the wrong tactics.
This component starts with research in which you determine where the demand for your product or service lies, who specifically needs it and what exactly those needs are. Once you have collected this customer data (including their demographic information and media usage tendencies), then you can start to put together target audience profiles to truly flesh out the characteristics and desires of your audience; these profiles will guide you from here on out.
Then, you can start to develop basic messaging points that will carry out through all your marketing communications; identify relevant media venues and places where you can best reach your target audience; and start developing effective tactics.
Antoinette Forth, entrepreneur, mentor and strategic advisor, is the co-founder of Walkabout Collaborative LLC a private talent cloud for executive independent workers and management consulting firm preparing mid-size companies to scale. She has over 25 years of corporate sales leadership experience in business process outsourcing (BPO) and customer relationship management (CRM); and a solid 8-year track record as an independent consultant.
“With a customer acquisition strategy, the most important aspect is…”
The Customer on a macro and micro level.
Creating a persona for the individuals who make up your target market is a great way to understand your audience at the macro-level. Who are they? How do they learn? What entertains them? What is their motivation? What are their aspirations? What are their fears? Intimately understanding your target market will help you create relevant products, messages and marketing which are the first steps in a successful acquisition strategy.
The human-to-human connection is the way to understand your customer on a micro-level. Engage with people on social media. Join their conversations. Care enough to study their profiles, published content, network connections and social media interactions. Understanding where your individual customers are coming from, will help you start a meaningful conversation to deliver something of value. Only by knowing your customer can you have an acquisition strategy that will attract the right customers.
Steve Zeitchik is a serial entrepreneur, and is co-founder and CEO of Focal Point Strategies, a global business development and sales consulting firm for companies around the world looking to bring their proprietary solutions to the global marketplace.
“The key ingredient to successful customer acquisition is…”
Social Media? No. Discounts to referral source? Nope. Percentage of sales from referral to referral source? Not for long term growth.
For the correct answer, we need to go back top the basics. At the end of the day, word of mouth is the warmest way to get a client, and increase client retention. The best way to do this, is simple: excellent customer service.
People tend to confuse components of execution of a strategy, with actually having a strategy. You can use social media and discounts as methods of increasing value to existing clients, but not in place of customer service.
Nothing else is as effective in getting new clients than providing value to your existing client base. Ultimately, client referrals will increase significantly – both in quantity and quality.
Rob Watson is a freelance marketing consultant with over 20 years’ experience across a variety of in-house and freelance marketing roles. He holds the Chartered Institute of Marketing postgraduate diploma and has been a tutor on the Chartered Institute of Marketing Diploma since 2005.
“The single most important aspect of any successful customer acquisition strategy is…”
Customer Acquisition can be a difficult and expensive exercise, so it’s vital that you have a detailed, rigorous plan if you want to succeed. For me, one thing always lies at the heart of that plan – the numbers.
Your senior management will know what they want you to add to the bottom line and how much marketing budget they’re willing to give you in order to achieve it. In return, you need to respond with a detailed plan of what each piece of marketing activity will deliver. Sometimes you need to use a lot of guesswork – let’s say you’re a start-up, or you’re launching a totally new product, or you’re using a medium you’re not experienced with to market your product. Regardless of any unknowns though, an educated guess is better than no plan at all.
Over a period of time, you’ll build up more experience and confidence in your ability to plan and predict results. The end goal is that you’ll have a clear picture for each individual marketing medium of how many people you can reach, how many enquiries you might generate and how many you can convert to a sale. You will know your most cost-effective media in terms of cost per acquisition, and look to use the most cost-effective ones first.
As well as the financial performance of each medium, you should get to know the limitations and restrictions of each media as well. For example, let’s say you do a lot of PPC activity and it’s one of your best-performing media. If you need to find extra sales one month it may seem obvious to step up your PPC activity, but you’re ultimately limited by the number of people that key a relevant search query in to Google, and you might already be at the maximum level of traffic you can achieve.
Another reason that it’s important to get into this mindset from day one, is its only the first step. Over time, you will build up a more detailed, nuanced understanding of your marketing effectiveness. In the early days, you will get to know how each individual channel performs. Nowadays though, we live in a multi-channel world, where very few people buy at the first marketing communication. So as you progress further you need to learn how media complement one another – for example you might find that you get more organic searches during periods when you’re advertising on TV.
Recent years have seen a move towards multi-channel attribution, which recognizes the roles that all marketing media play in converting prospects in to customers, rather than simply attributing all sales to the most recent piece of marketing – the so-called ‘last click wins’ mentality. However, you won’t get to this level of detail without first understanding and measuring the basic elements of your marketing plan, and then refining it over time.
Modern-day marketing is part-art and part-science. Whilst there will always be things in marketing that are hard to measure – such as creativity and perception – it will always be important to measure those things that you can. As Peter Drucker once said, If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.
David Waring is the co-founder and editor at FitSmallBusiness.com, which helps small business owners choose the right software and services for their business.
“The #1 ingredient to a successful customer acquisition campaign is…”
Coming up with the proper metrics to measure success and then making sure that a system is in place for tracking those metrics. Common mistakes besides not having metrics are having the wrong metrics, too many metrics, or metrics that are impossible to accurately track.
Idan Shpizear is the owner and founder of 911 Restoration.
“The most important factor in a successful customer acquisition strategy is…”
People have a strong inclination to follow advice – or in the case of sales – make a purchase from someone who they feel they can trust. For everything from buying gas that is a few cents more because you like to chat it up with the gas attendant to buying up whole franchises – trust is a crucial factor. Building trust is a slow process, but well worth the time of investment because what you get back out is a loyalty that can’t be purchased.
Andrew Spence is an author of several social media marketing books, and a marketing coach and trainer for individuals and businesses. He is also the co-creator and Head of Digital and Brand Strategy at the digital agency Jiggle Digital.
“The #1 ingredient for successful customer acquisition is…”
If you’re building a business and wish to acquire customers, then it’s essential that you establish competence in your field. You should have in-depth knowledge about your product or service: the benefits, prices, and service. Every business revolves around providing useful and helpful information to their target audience.
You have to gain the ability to answer their queries genuinely, meet their wants and needs. Learn everything there is to know about your niche, trends in your industry, and your competitors. Subscribe to magazines in your industry to keep up with the latest happenings. It’s your competence in every aspect of your business that’s going to set you apart from your competition. Consider what makes you unique and figure out what you can do to build on that. Challenge yourself to learn everything possible about your business. Your customers will respect and trust you. You’ll have big rewards waiting in the end.
Author, speaker, Barry Maher, @barrymaher, has appeared on the Today Show, NBC Nightly News, CBS, CNBC, and he’s frequently featured in publications like the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the London Times, Business Week and USA Today. His client list includes organizations like ABC, the American Management Association, Budget Rent a Car, Canon, Cessna, Fox Cable Television, Fuji, Hewlett-Packard, Lufthansa Airlines, Merck, the National Lottery of Ireland, the Small Business Administration, the U.S. Government, Verizon and Wells Fargo.
“The top factor for having a successful customer acquisition strategy is…”
Satisfying the customer.
As a keynote speaker and a workshop leader, I’m in a business where it’s easy to spend six figures a year on marketing. And initially we were doing the same thing. Then we completely changed our strategy. Today, as I said, we spend almost nothing. We generate business the old stodgy, old-fashion way: We simply concentrate on doing the best possible job for each one of our clients. There’s no marketing anywhere as powerful as a satisfied customer.
And customer acquisition cost us virtually nothing, we can price my services to position me as the most affordable speaker of my caliber and credentials available. Since we initiated that strategy, referrals and word of mouth generate more business than anything else we do.
Ben Landers is the president of Blue Corona, a three-time Inc. 5000 online marketing company that helps business owners use the web to generate more leads and sales as well as improve their overall customer experience.
“For successful customer acquisition, the #1 ingredient is…”
Next to have a truly remarkable product or service, comes a clear, consistent, and compelling message. That message must be laser-focused and consistent throughout every channel and tactic within the acquisition strategy.
Maile Cabral is a successful brand publicist, who helps brands develop their message, grow their audience and tell the public their story in the best way possible. Her body of work is in the niche PR market of celebrity placements, endorsements and celebrity social media brand support and engagement. Her former and current clients include Hudson Jeans, Sole Society, C4 Belts, Kixies Thigh Highs, Bel Fiore Couture Hair Accessories, Lattice & Ivy, Strideline Socks and Rich Kids Brand.
“The #1 ingredient for successful customer acquisition is…”
Making sure you’re setting your brand up for long term success. In my experience, splash marketing to the wrong demographic may give you some short term hits or website views but you’re only giving yourself a short-term success. Make sure you are concentrating your efforts to the right demographic that won’t just come back to your page once, but will become a repeated customer or fan for life. It’s much harder to reach the right demographic, but when you do, it is worth all the effort it takes to reach them.
Sean Si is the CEO and Founder of SEO Hacker and Qeryz. A start-up, data analysis and urgency junkie who spends his time inspiring young entrepreneurs through talks and seminars.
“With any successful customer acquisition, the biggest piece is…”
If your user acquisition strategy is not increasingly scalable then you’ll have to keep on repeating exerting effort and shelling out expenses in order to acquire users. A scalable user acquisition strategy such as content marketing and SEO is one of the best ways that you can generate perpetual traffic and acquire users from there.
Paige is the founder & CEO of Mavens & Moguls a global marketing firm based in Cambridge, MA. Clients include Microsoft, Colgate, Virgin as well as venture-backed startups and non-profits. Paige is a graduate of Stanford University & Harvard Business School.
“The key ingredient to successful customer acquisition strategy is…”
Your customers are more than happy to tell you about their problems and if you just listen to them you can follow up with ways you can help. I periodically go on a listening tour and it is a great way to fill your pipeline. Politicians do it all the time to find voters, but it is great for business too. Just invite a prospect out for lunch or coffee, ask a few open-ended questions and let them talk. Every time I do it I find more work and ways I can help.
Leeyen Rogers is the VP of Marketing at JotForm, a tech company that specializes in online forms.
“The most important ingredient to a successful customer acquisition strategy is…”
Telling the why is the central component of your marketing strategy. Why should they be interested? This needs to be communicated effectively and efficiently. You should be able to sum up your message, what makes your company unique, in one sentence. JotForm: the easiest form builder. Apple: think different. Bose: better sound through research.
When you feel like you need a couple minutes to explain what exactly your company does, and how it can help, you’ve already lost them.
Digital Marketing Specialist at Fair Point and Google AdWords Certified Professional, Martin has over 6 years of experience in all things digital, from customer experience to marketing and sales. He was 3 years as CFO in a health insurance company, giving him the knowledge to convert large sets of data into actionable solutions, helping both the customers and the company.
“The #1 ingredient to a successful customer acquisition strategy is…”
Finding out who your client is.
Your business can have a unique proposition, excellent landing page, and customer support ready to handle any and all questions, but pitching to the wrong crowd, will make all that effort irrelevant. In the past, it was easier to identify this “perfect client,” because you could see him or her walking in your store or office, every day. However in the digital age, you have “site visitors” and “ organic traffic” and “time on page”. These potential clients are faceless data points on your screen and if you as a business do not put a profile to match them, you will have harder time executing your acquisition strategy, wondering why these visitors, never convert, never click, or simply bounce off your website. And to make it all more interesting, many people have the wrong idea, who their clients are on the Internet!
To include this ingredient into the mix, you can take use a combination of methods. The most widely used are:
1) Ask/poll your current clients. Make client portfolios about them. Divide them in groups and see who your ideal clients are out of the lot. Then focus on potential clients that best fit your ideal profile and work your way from there.
2) Brainstorm and visualize(some companies even make drawings and imaginary “lives” of their perfect clients) the clients you believe will be most interested in your product or service online. This will immensely help your marketing strategy, website design, advertising messages and banners and overall cater to your customer expectations and experience.
3) Test, Test, Test – Few get it right from the first round. You need to be ready to do A/B testing, a lot of it, to make sure you are preaching to the right crowd.
We have used all three of the aforementioned methods to achieve, more than 100% of relevant traffic to our website, and landing pages. Year over Year and we are going strong with new marketing ideas, e-mail campaigns, and exclusive offers to better our customer acquisition funnel.
Slisha Kankariya is the co-founder of FOUR MINE CO LLC, an online jewelry retailer specializing in unique diamond engagement rings and wedding bands.
“The #1 ingredient to a successful customer acquisition is…”
End-to-end shopping experience.
Provide an end-to-end shopping experience that quells all the doubts a customer may have about the quality of the product. Each business is limited in how it can convince people to purchase. For an online business, the aim is to make a customer feel happy before committing to a purchase. By doing that, they must receive personalized help. An online shopper’s experience must be as personalized as an offline experience when someone walks into a store.
For example, linking to a variety of tools to help a customer search, and offering a price estimator that functions like a real salesperson gives guidance and recommendations. In this way, the customer feels they are receiving a full shopping experience like real life. The final step is to show the customer what they are going to receive before they commit to a purchase.
Data-Driven Solutions from NGDATA