Customer acquisition strategies to grow your business
The success of a business relies on its ability to consistently bring in new customers and retain its existing ones. But in today’s hypercompetitive and saturated marketing landscape, acquiring customers has become increasingly challenging — and expensive.
A recent report by SimplicityDX showed that customer acquisition cost (CAC) has increased by 60% in the last five years, and it continues to climb. Given the increased cost to get new customers, you need a robust customer acquisition strategy to make the most of your investment.
Diversification is a good foundation. Try a few customer acquisition strategies, test results, and keep what works. To help you get started, this post will cover 15 of the most effective tactics you can start with.
- Search engine optimization
- Content marketing
- Defining your audience
- Email marketing
- Social media
- Video marketing
- Paid or sponsored content
- Testimonials and customer highlights
- Gated content and freemium models
- Deals and promotions
- Offline marketing
- Mobile optimization
We’ll also cover:
- The cost of customer acquisition
- Benefits of creating a customer acquisition strategy
- Customer acquisition tools
The cost of customer acquisition
Before developing a customer acquisition strategy calculate your business’s current customer acquisition cost (CAC). There is a marketing cost that comes with acquiring each new customer. Those costs can include money spent on ads, social media posts, billboards, and more.
To determine whether or not your efforts are profitable, you need to calculate your CAC by dividing the total cost of a marketing campaign or time period by the number of new customers you’ve acquired as a result. For example, if a social media campaign inspired 100 customers to click through and make a purchase from your site last month and you spent $1,000 creating that campaign, your customer acquisition cost would be $10.
Once you have your CAC, you can take that number and apply it to your audience’s spending habits. If each customer spends an average of $50 on their first purchase and your gross margin per order is 50%, your profit would be $15 on each order placed.
These figures can help you decide how much to spend on a marketing campaign, if a completed marketing effort was a good investment, or if your pricing needs to be adjusted. You can also compare your customer acquisition cost to your industry’s average CAC to assist you in making these decisions.
Benefits of creating a customer acquisition strategy
A customer acquisition strategy is a method used to reach new audiences, grow your customer base, and increase your company’s profits. The way your organization defines acquisition will determine your customer acquisition strategy. Some organizations might call an email collection campaign an acquisition strategy, since they can use those emails for marketing. Other organizations only consider a purchase a true acquisition.
By implementing a customer acquisition strategy, you will be able to:
- Better identify your target consumer base. Collecting and analyzing consumer data, studying your competitors, reviewing market research trends, and building customer profiles, enables you to identify the behaviors and qualities of your highest value customers. Then you can invest in the right customer acquisition channels like social media, SEO, or paid ads to bring those prospects to your website.
- Connect with your customers. The work of optimizing a customer acquisition strategy gives you the insights needed to develop more meaningful connections with customers and increase conversion rates. Sending a timely message to a strategic segment of your audience or a highly personalized one to an individual lead engages your audience and drives brand trust.
- Increase ROI from marketing efforts. Defining your target audience for a customer acquisition strategy allows you to focus your marketing efforts so you’re not wasting resources on campaigns that won’t reach your target audience. Focusing your marketing spend will increase your business’ overall ROI from marketing efforts.
- Gain customers, not just views. While gaining views on an ad or campaign is an important part of a marketing strategy, it doesn’t increase ROI. A successful customer acquisition strategy involves converting potential customers into purchasing customers. This is done by providing value to your audience via a product or service they need, based on data like where they live, how they shop, and more. If you can provide a new customer something of value and a great shopping experience they can then drive referrals and conversions.
- Grow your brand and increase profits. To grow your brand and increase profit, you need to grow your customer base. With the right customer acquisition strategy, your business can attract high-value audiences and convert them into purchasing customers.
Customer acquisition strategies
With the right data and insights, your marketing team can develop a customer acquisition strategy for any channel. Identify which platforms and tools your target audience prefers and start with the acquisition strategies that apply. Set goals and measure results so you can make data-driven decisions about what to keep and what is not worth your time.
The following strategies can help your team increase customer acquisition.
1. Search engine optimization (SEO)
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of creating and modifying website content to earn unpaid, organic traffic from search engines. SEO can be used to increase the chances of your website being found by customers searching for a specific topic or product online.
There is no one-size-fits-all checklist for improving SEO anymore, but there are some best practices. Get a technical SEO audit to make sure there are no hidden technical problems hindering your site’s performance in search engines. Then, make sure your content strategy includes a steady production of top-quality content that answers your audience’s most important questions and needs.
SEO is one of the most important methods of customer acquisition for any business, because every customer and buyer uses Google. It’s a long-term strategy that builds momentum over time, so it’s also one of the first strategies you’ll want to start.
2. Content marketing
Content marketing is the creation of any type of content that gets audiences to your page, introduces them to your business, or connects with them in an authentic way. A content marketing strategy includes on-site SEO content, on-site sales content, email content, video, social, PDFs, and more. This will involve providing tips, information, or solutions to customers’ problems. Some popular examples are blogs, podcasts, infographics, how-to guides, and videos.
According to SEMrush, 97% of businesses surveyed said content is a key part of their marketing strategy. Content marketing is an effective customer acquisition strategy because it generates traffic to your website, engages audiences on their favorite platforms, and allows audiences to learn about your business in compelling and engaging ways.
Content is also one of the more cost-effective strategies, with SerpWatch showing it costs on average 62% less than traditional marketing efforts like paid advertisements. Further, content marketing generates three times more leads per dollar spent.
3. Defining your audience
Establishing your target audience is how you can be certain that your product or service is reaching the right consumers to maximize ROI. Conduct market research and collect demographic data to pinpoint the buyers you should be targeting.
By collecting information about your audience — like location, age, and browsing and spending histories — you can reach people who are most likely to connect with your business. For example, if data shows that the majority of your audience is parents, tweak the times you send email newsletters and post on social media and focus more of your marketing budget on key annual events like the back-to-school season.
Make sure your customer personas are updated so that your customer acquisition efforts are not wasted.
Referral programs are a popular customer acquisition strategy that involves rewarding customers when they refer your business to others. The more new customers they refer, the more they save or earn.
This is an effective customer acquisition strategy because it incentivizes existing customers to continue engaging with your brand and it introduces your business to others in a genuine way. In fact, a study conducted by SaaSquatch found that referred customers are 18% more loyal, spend 13% more, and have 16% higher lifetime values than non-referred customers.
Setting up a referral program is simple. Decide what kind of reward you’re willing to offer and create a blog post or a page on your site with all the details. Then send a quick email to engaged customers and clients, letting them know about the new program. Remind customers about it regularly and build it into your sales team’s process for closing new business.
5. Email marketing
Email marketing is also one of the most effective customer acquisition strategies for closing new business and making sales. A study by SaleCycle found that 59% of people say that marketing emails influence their purchasing decisions, while over 50% buy from marketing emails at least once a month.
Email is one of the easiest ways to connect with your audience. Assuming your audience has opted in to the email list, they’re already interested and open to hearing from your brand. Mobile-responsive email design puts your brand where your audience is most — on their phones. And email marketing software is sophisticated enough to make every message feel personal.
For example, sending personalized emails based on where a customer is in their shopping journey is an effective way of engaging an audience. A customer who has abandoned their cart without checking out would appreciate emails focused on the product they were interested in and discount codes, while someone who was just browsing might benefit from more informational material about your brand.
6. Social media marketing
An active social media presence is non-negotiable for brands in today’s crowded and competitive marketing landscape. With over 3.6 billion people on social media worldwide according to Statista, and three million businesses on Facebook alone, ensuring your brand has a presence on social platforms is an important part of your customer acquisition strategy.
This includes both organic posts and paid ads.
- Organic posts allow you to connect with new customers via content and comments. Post funny and insightful branded and non-branded content that your audience can share in order to expand your reach and position your brand in front of new customers.
- Paid ads on most social networks are valuable because they can be hyper-focused. Social networks have a lot of user data, so if you want your ad to appear in front of Chicago Bears fans currently living and parenting in California, you can find that niche.
Social media is one customer acquisition strategy where audience segmentation is extremely valuable. Different demographics prefer different channels, so make sure you know where to find yours.
7. Video marketing
Video content can mean recorded video that is hosted on your website, video that is shared on streaming platforms like YouTube, or live videos via social media platforms like Facebook, TikTok, or Instagram.
Video marketing is an effective customer acquisition strategy because of its versatility. In a study by Wyzowl, 94% of marketers claim video has helped users’ understanding of their business’s product or service and 81% of marketers claim that video has boosted their company’s sales directly.
Use data about your target audience to determine the best platform for your video marketing efforts, as well as the topics your customer base is interested in. You can also turn to influencers for videos that you can share on social media.
8. Paid or sponsored content
Paid ads and sponsored content include paid ads on search engine result pages (SERPs), performance-based content on social media platforms, sponsored blog posts on relevant websites, and more.
The benefit of paid ads and sponsored content for customer acquisition is that they generate results almost immediately, creating traffic, leads, and sales post-launch. Paid placements help spread brand awareness and introduce your business to new audiences.
Paid and sponsored content can quickly become expensive, so it’s important to employ best practices and smart tools to maximize the ROI. For example, Google Dynamic Search Ads pull ad content from your site based on what an individual user was shopping for to keep your ads relevant, save time, and increase conversions. Another example is Facebook’s automated chatbots that can start a conversation with potential customers who come from paid ads.
As you get started with paid or sponsored content for acquisition, be sure to keep an eye on your CAC.
Giveaways are a great customer acquisition strategy because they encourage new users to try out your products or services. And if you structure the contest well, it will provide visibility for new audiences as well.
An easy way to run a giveaway is on your brand’s social media platforms. Offer a popular product or service and make sure that the process of entering the content requires users to share the brand in some way. You might encourage followers to tag a friend in a comment, share the post to their networks, or create their own content based on your brand or product. Sharing content is easy for users to do and it gets your brand in front of a big new audience.
10. Testimonials and customer highlights
Testimonials and reviews from happy customers are incredibly valuable marketing tools that can be used to improve customer acquisition. Testimonials and reviews tap into the power of word-of-mouth marketing and lend authority to your brand.
Gather testimonials by asking existing customers for positive stories or reviews and then put them to work.
- Present them as independent case studies, interviews, or product reviews.
- Include quotes and star ratings on product pages.
- Feature user stories in email marketing campaigns.
- Share short testimonials on your social media channels.
You can also ask customers to leave reviews on third-party sites like Google or on marketplaces where you meet customers. The first impression many potential customers have of your brand comes from Googling the name of your business and scanning the details on the SERP sidebar.
11. Gated content and freemium models
Gated content and freemium models both offer value to a potential customer in exchange for some of their information. Gated content is any kind of PDF, webinar, or other content that the user fills out a form to access. A freemium model offers limited access to a digital tool.
If your business considers a form fill an acquisition, gated content is a great strategy. Publish a blog post or article on the same topic that will target SEO traffic and can be promoted in an email campaign. The on-page content should cover a portion of what is in the gated content, and direct readers to the form to get the full information.
Similarly, a freemium model can convert views into customers. This involves creating content that is free to access with ads or with limited capabilities. For a subscription or fee users can remove the ads or unlock additional features. This is a great way to let hesitant customers try out a product before committing.
An alternative to the freemium model is a metered paywall where you offer customers free access to a certain number of content pieces per month with the option to pay for unlimited access. You may have users who only take advantage of the metered pieces, but those who find value in your content will make the jump to paying for full access and tend to have a greater lifetime customer value (LCV).
12. Deals and promotions
In a saturated marketplace, discounts and promotions can make your brand stand out and help you acquire new customers. These strategies garner engagement since buyers want to save money, and people love to feel like they are getting access to something limited and exclusive.
There are a few ways to offer deals and promotions as part of a customer acquisition strategy.
- Run coupon ads on your social media accounts. This makes your followers feel like they are getting an exclusive deal and encourages those who have yet to make a purchase to complete a transaction.
- Offer deals for email subscribers. Target customer acquisition emails to contacts who have never completed a purchase. For example, you might send welcome emails that provide a discount code for a customer’s first purchase or an abandoned cart email that offers a deal on an item a customer has left in their shopping cart.
- Sweeten the deal. A popular way of engaging customers and increasing customer acquisition is by including a “free gift with purchase” when customers spend a certain amount. These freebies can be products that are low in stock or have been discontinued. Giving a new customer a freebie helps push them to make purchases if they are on the fence.
13. Host an event
In-person events may have been put on hold during the pandemic, but experiential marketing is becoming increasingly popular for customer acquisition once again. The type of event you host or attend depends on your industry or niche, but can include opportunities like store openings, book signings, panel discussions, and more.
Hosting your own event or attending other relevant events in your industry can be an effective way to introduce your business to new audiences and connect with potential customers. This is also a great way to engage with customers unfamiliar with your brand in a more intimate setting and build a connection that feels less anonymous and more personal than digital interactions.
14. Offline marketing
Offline marketing includes print advertising like magazines, newspapers, and out-of-home (OOH) advertising such as billboards, signs, murals, and more. While digital marketing is a significant part of any business’s customer acquisition strategy, traditional offline marketing techniques can still have a place in your strategy to attract new customers.
A study by Insider Intelligence shows that print, television, and radio ads are considered the most trustworthy form of advertising — 46% of US adults trust print and TV ads and 45% trust radio ads. In comparison, 30% consider website ads trustworthy and only 19% of consumers trust social media advertisements. The divide between consumer trust in offline versus online marketing is clear, so investing in traditional marketing can be an effective customer acquisition strategy and a way to stand out from the crowded digital marketing landscape.
Offline marketing should still be data-driven. Use customer data and publicly available demographic data to find the right neighborhoods for signage and the best publications for print ads.
15. Optimize for mobile
Mobile marketing refers to any type of marketing that reaches customers on their smartphones. This includes short message service (SMS), Facebook Messenger, push notifications, mobile apps, and more.
A report by Insider Intelligence showed that by 2025 mobile sales will make up approximately 45% of the total US ecommerce market. And a report by Statista found that nearly one-third of internet users in the US made a purchase on their mobile device every week. Optimizing for mobile is a worthwhile effort for attracting new customers.
- SMS and messaging. Users generally opt-in to receive text or messaging updates, so your audience is interested. However, private messages still feel very personal to most users, so be careful to use these channels sparingly. Segment audiences into prospects and customers, and be especially sensitive to not annoy people who have never made a purchase.
- Mobile apps. To use a mobile app for customer acquisition, it needs to offer unique value to audiences that have not yet made a purchase. Most mobile apps are for existing customers, but if you include relevant tools, features, or games that do not require a purchase, you may have a customer acquisition tool.
Make sure your app and mobile site offer an automated, cohesive shopping experience across different customer touch points. If your target audience visits the site from mobile — or attempts to purchase through another mobile app or marketplace — the process should be simple and seamless.
Customer acquisition tools
A well-defined customer acquisition strategy helps you find and connect with the audiences most likely to buy, increasing marketing ROI and overall revenue. Retaining existing customers is important, but those efforts need to be balanced with a data-driven approach to finding new customers as well.
When you’re ready to start or improve your acquisition strategy, choose one or two of the tactics above to start with. Establish clear, measurable goals from the start and evaluate progress and CAC after a set period of time. If a strategy is working, keep going. If one is not, move those resources to a new one.
Adobe Experience Management Platform is the solution you need for smart customer acquisition strategies. It leverages customer data for granular retargeting, omnichannel campaigns, and hyper-personalization. Accelerate customer acquisition by quickly engaging high-value customers, no matter where they are.