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What is a Customer Acquisition Strategy?

by Jordan Ehrlich, on April 19, 2019

What is a customer acquisition strategy?

Customer Acquisition Strategy refers to the approach a business takes to reach new consumers and convince them to buy their product or service.

A good customer acquisition strategy leverages data to understand consumer behavior and identify marketing opportunities - then attempts to reach consumers with a coordinated series of marketing touch-points.

Knowing consumers navigate a variety of digital channels daily, your customer acquisition strategy will likely use a combination of marketing channels to engage with them.

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These channel approaches may include:

Also See:

Advice for Customer Acquisition Strategy:

  • Try a mix of marketing tactics & approaches
  • Gather sufficient data to understand what’s working
  • Follow the numbers & invest in your most influential efforts

Try New Marketing Mixes

While you should always research as much as possible to find out the best approach for your business, you’ll never know what will work until you try something new. So it’s okay to cast a wide net as long as you have a hypothesis of what might work. You may start with any mix of the marketing tactics highlighted above without knowing which audience or targeting method is best. In this phase, just make sure you can benchmark performance with control groups in order to understand which changes to your efforts resulted in increased engagement.

Gather Sufficient Data

In your net-casting phase, keep an eye on impressions, clicks, and any site visits that you can correlate with your marketing efforts. Here, simply ensure that your reporting mechanisms are set up to make sense of all your customer acquisition trials.

Follow the numbers

Always keep your efforts dynamic, and react to what’s working. As you’ve gathered data around engagement (watching CTRs, View-Through Conversions, Increases in Branded Search Traffic or direct website traffic), continually iterate and act upon what these metrics tell you. If you see a lot of site traffic coming from emails or if you’re gaining followers on social media platforms, dive into that. Try to figure out which posts or emails generated engagement and how one might influence the other.

It may feel like a long and tiresome process, but each failure teaches you something new about your future customer acquisition strategy.

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Common Customer Acquisition Approaches

Display Advertising

Display advertising refers to placing visual advertisements on websites to attract new customers. It can be done either programmatically (an automated fashion in networks such as the Google Display Network) or through direct purchases of ad space from websites.

When it comes to Display Advertising, the audiences you target and the websites you place your ads on matter. Focusing on the websites that drive the greatest performance is a key component of any successful display advertising strategy.

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Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing has many uses as part of an overall content marketing strategy. When you’re considering social media marketing, you should keep in mind there are two main methods: organic and paid.

Organic social media helps you showcase your business’s voice and personality, and it gives you an outlet to share other content you’re using as part of your customer acquisition strategy. “Organic social media” simply means that you’re posting to the audience you’ve built and not using paid advertising to expand the audience further. Instead, you’re relying on your followers to help you get your message out by liking, sharing, and engaging with your posts.

When you start to turn your posts into ads, you’re looking at paid social media advertising. Paid social media advertising helps you to reach your target audience through ads on your social media network of choice. Without a doubt, your future customers are already out there hanging out on one of the main social media networks, and through targeting social media ads, you can help them learn about who you are and turn into paying customers.

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Search Marketing

Search engine marketing (SEM) is one of the easier methods to identify consumers who have clear interest in checking out products like yours. Because SEM allows you to target specific keywords, you can show up when very specific queries are entered into Google and other search engines. The key is to know what topics people are searching for at different stages of the sales process, monitoring search data as your guide.

Let’s say you’re an outdoor retailer that sells hiking shoes. Someone who is just becoming interested in hiking might search for – beginner hiking shoes. Someone who has been looking into shoes for a while, knows exactly the type of shoe they need, and is ready to buy might search for – narrow slick-rock hiking shoes size 11.

There are two main ways you can reach these audiences: through organic search engine optimization (SEO) and through paid search marketing.

With organic SEO, there is no exact science to getting your website or content to rank first for a search term. But most best practices focus on making your content as easy as possible for search engines to read, decipher, and index. So if you were that outdoor retailer, you might create a page dedicated to “Beginner Hiking Shoes” and use techniques like including that phrase (also known as a keyword) into the title, adding alt-text to your images, and linking internally to other pages on your website to help boost your organic SEO

With paid search marketing (also known as pay-per-click or PPC), you target keywords and your paid ad shows up alongside other organic search results.  In addition to creating content around beginner hiking shoes, you could create a PPC advertisement for that search term. It’s almost like a Fast Pass at an amusement park. You get to the front (or reach the top of the SERP) faster, but you have to pay for it.

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Content Marketing

Content marketing is an effective part of a customer acquisition strategy for almost any type of business. One reason it’s effective is because there are many different ways you can use content marketing; so you can find the best method of content marketing to draw in your audience.

When you’re creating a content marketing strategy, you’ll want to focus on two things. First, make sure that every type of content you’re creating provides valuable, helpful information to your audience spoken with your brand's voice. Second, focus on topics help your business show up in relevant and helpful search queries. This provides organic pathways for consumers to discover your company.

The most popular types of content marketing are blogging, e-books, guides, templates, and videos.

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Affiliate Marketing

With affiliate marketing, you offer compensation to a partner when your partner generates traffic, leads, sales - whatever you decide - on your behalf. Affiliate partners can range from large blogs to influencers to discount websites. Your ideal affiliate partner may differ depending on your buyer’s behavior and where they are in your sales process.

Affiliate marketing can work as part of your customer acquisition strategy by helping individuals move through your sales process. As we mentioned, this could be by paying affiliates to give you leads, who you can then convert into customers through an email follow-up strategy. You could also focus on only paying affiliates when they make a sale and acquire your customer for you.

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Email Marketing

Email marketing has been around for awhile, and there’s a reason. It’s a direct line of communication to consumers and a valuable component of any customer acquisition strategy.

The first step in email marketing is to actually get the qualified individual’s email address and information. You can do this in a variety of ways. You could:

  • Create helpful content that requires an email form submission
  • Offer a discounts to anyone who signs up for your email list
  • Host a giveaway on social media gated by an email capture form

Once you have someone’s email, congrats! You now know that they are interested in your company. As long as you follow US CAN-SPAM laws, you can market directly to them and share information about new products or sales. Through email marketing, you’ll also be able to learn more about these individuals’ interests by monitoring click-through rates on different email components.

Even negative responses (unsubscribes) offer valuable information to your email strategy. By understanding which content resulted in what response, you'll continually improve your own customer acquisition strategy for better future performance. Just make sure you're keeping track of these numbers.

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Online Marketplaces

Online marketplaces such as Amazon and other eCommerce retailers can help you acquire customers in a couple ways. Not only can you sell your products where consumers are already shopping, you can also leverage opportunities to advertise and generate awareness where you might not have before.

Many businesses fear selling on Amazon out of concern that lower margins will cannibalize their overall revenue. While an important concern, the insights you generate from Amazon search behavior and your Amazon ad performance can helpfully influence the ways you advertise in Google Search as well. By understanding how your customers buy on Amazon, you can more informedly run ads in other channels that drive consumers to your site and allow your own eCommerce site to play nicely with these online marketplaces.

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Importance of Cross-Channel Acquisition Strategy

While digital marketing may be executed and reported on in separate channels and platforms, it is important to unify your customer acquisition strategy across all of them. If you’re reaching your target audience on more than one channel, you’ll likely influence their behavior in another.

For example, someone exposed to your marketing email might then search for products like yours in Google. In this case, identifying the search terms these consumers use to discover your site will better inform your paid & organic search strategy. You can then target these keywords with search ads or with specific pieces of content -  guaranteeing they come to your site instead of your competitor’s.

In another case, you may find that you’re getting a lot of website traffic from a few select keywords with your Google Search Ads. You could then use this to craft messaging in your Display or Facebook ads - designed to better resonate with your target audience.

Beyond these insights, it is important to know how many conversions were influenced by your efforts in any one channel - even if an ad didn’t immediately trigger someone to buy. In this case, it’s important to ask yourself a couple of questions regarding to understand the cross-channel customer journey.

Say you’ve gotten 100 people to buy your product:

  • What ad or piece of content did these individuals see right before converted on your site?
  • If an individual didn’t click on the ad you showed them in another channel, were they influenced by it?
  • To understand this, ask how many of your new customers were touched by a Facebook or Display ad along their buyer journey?

Regardless of how you do it, always quantify the value of each of your campaigns with data that helps you decide what to do next, and how to better nurture consumers down the marketing funnel.

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