How to Refine Your Customer Acquisition Strategy
As digital technology continues to evolve, customers now have a plethora of information at their fingertips through the internet — including business reviews, cost comparisons, and historical performance data. Increased competition between businesses also gives buyers the competitive edge, leading many buyers to be extremely choosy in their buying habits and keeping brand loyalty in many industries at record low levels.
To thrive in this cutthroat environment, businesses must have a plan for helping customers through the initial buying process (and hopefully cultivating repeat patronage). Fortunately, learning the ins and outs of online customer acquisition strategies can help you clearly communicate the value your business offers over the competition.
What is customer acquisition?
Customer acquisition is the collection of strategies a business uses to proactively find new customers within its target audience. Even the most well-liked businesses will experience some customer attrition due to a variety of factors, so businesses must have ways to refill and grow their customer pipeline. Your customer acquisition process must include the who, what, where, and how of your plan to find and keep new customers.
Key online acquisition channels
Although there are literally hundreds of marketing channels that can be used to acquire new customers, a few key channels have proven to be particularly effective for acquiring new customers.
Social media marketing
With over 3.8 billion people actively using social media, it's hard to ignore this channel as a tool for getting in front of your target audience. Social media usage has increased dramatically as a result of the global pandemic, and social platforms are seen as fun and entertaining, which puts your potential customers in a positive mindset.
Before you jump on the social media marketing bandwagon, get clear on your target audience and where they prefer to socialize. Certain platforms are known for their typical demographics, such as Pinterest being largely associated with middle-aged women or TikTok and Instagram associated with trendy millennials.
As search engines continue to corner the market on all things search-related, people routinely flock to the popular search engine for everything from "Where to buy clothes for my dog" to "Popular Thai restaurants near me." By taking steps to ensure your business ranks near the top of search engine’s results list when customers search for things related to your product or service offerings, you can build a pipeline of prospective customers that runs 24/7/365.
While search marketing can be done organically — that is, your web-based content is built with common search phrases in mind — business owners are increasingly paying for prime positions in search results to help speed up the process. Collectively known as SERPs, or search engine results pages, your business can use paid advertising campaigns to improve your visibility on the main page of Google for specific keywords.
Email marketing was one of the first ways to reach your customers since the widespread use of the Internet, but it's far from dead. Email can also be one of the least expensive marketing techniques since many email providers offer free unlimited email; however, it still takes time, effort, and a targeted approach to avoid wasting marketing dollars that could be used elsewhere.
Although video marketing was originally one of the most expensive customer acquisition strategies, access to low-cost freelancer sites and do-it-yourself video platforms like YouTube have made it cheaper, faster, and easier for even novice business owners to promote their offerings via video. This strategy is especially helpful for brands with visually appealing goods, such as culinary specialties, or services that are hard to capture in written form.
Video marketing is also a great supplement to other forms of customer acquisition, as a single video can easily be repurposed into multiple emails, blog posts, or other forms of marketing content.
Marketers often overuse the term "content" to refer to any form of information for nearly any business purpose, but true content marketers focus on creating and delivering in-depth, high-quality information that provides immediate value to audience members. This can include eBooks, white papers, tutorials, plans, guides, training courses, or other forms of compiled information that's generally found only through extensive personal experience or research.
This content is typically "gated," meaning audience members must give something of value — money or information such as an email address — in exchange for access to the content. Content marketers can then use customers' information to build a long-term customer relationship and sell higher-dollar value products and services.
Tips for your acquisition strategy
Trying several disparate customer acquisition strategies is likely to be about as effective as throwing at a dartboard while blindfolded. To have a truly effective acquisition strategy, you'll need to get clear on your end goal by using the following steps.
Remain dedicated to your unique value proposition
Strategies change, but the purpose behind your established business shouldn't. Ask yourself these questions to determine your value proposition:
- Can I say with absolute certainty why customers choose my products or services over those of my competitors?
- What benefits do I provide that others don't?
- What makes these offers more attractive and credible than the competition?
Reaffirming these answers lays the groundwork for any changes in your future customer acquisition strategy.
Get actively involved with prospective customers' buying cycle
If you can assist prospects with identifying their performance gaps and educate them on the value of your products and services, you begin a relationship that could prosper into full-scale customer acquisition and retention.
Be prepared to help your customers at each stage in the buying cycle, including:
- Awareness: In the first stage, your customer needs to be aware that your product or service exists as a potential solution to their problem.
- Consideration: When customers are in this stage, they need to have a clear understanding of how your product or service is uniquely positioned to solve the problem at hand.
- Intent: During this stage, customers are comparing and evaluating the potential options to ultimately decide on one choice. Make it easy for them by highlighting why your solution makes the most sense to meet their needs.
- Purchase: After convincing your customer to purchase your product or service, at this phase you want to affirm their purchase decision and show them why they made a good choice; customer service and support will be critical here.
- Repurchase: Building a good relationship throughout the buying cycle may help you lead your customer to purchase additional products and services from you in the future.
Create or refine your brand story
In an era where consumers can be quick to ignore paid advertising (or at least not pay attention as much as in the past), having a clear and appealing brand has never been more important. Would-be customers respond to brand stories that are engaging and clearly describe how the brand can benefit them. Unfortunately, this is often where businesses fall short.
To develop your compelling brand story, start by considering the message you want to share with your customers. Then incorporate this message in various aspects of your business, from your brand name and logo to social media, sales, and marketing materials. Even your employees represent your brand. Making sure every aspect of your business consistently delivers the same message will ensure your brand story is understood and well-received.
Personalize your marketing efforts
Today, when complex algorithms can help personalize the marketing messages delivered to customers, look for ways to tailor your offerings to the likes and dislikes of your target audience. As much as possible while following laws related to the collection of data, leverage the data you have on your current customer base to reach out to prospects on your website through:
- Customized dashboards characterized by user behavior
- New data collected through social media, email newsletters, and online surveys
- Targeted discounts and customized special offers
Offer an appealing mobile user experience
With mobile usage at an all-time high, it's safe to assume that more prospective customers will use their mobile devices as part of the purchasing experience. As a result, brands are seeking to capitalize on user behaviors that happen throughout the entire purchase life cycle. Leading brands accomplish this by providing an optimized mobile strategy that allows the brand to stay connected with the consumer at multiple touchpoints throughout the buying cycle while carefully observing opt out requests and ensuring appropriate permissions have been received.
Increasingly, the ability to leverage emerging digital technologies will be a key element in your customer acquisition strategies. By employing these technologies, you could gain a competitive advantage over other businesses that fail to adopt these methods or do so at too slow a pace.