The hard truth about customer acquisition is that trust in businesses has been eroding over time. HubSpot recently reported that 55% of consumers don’t trust the brands they buy from as much as they previously did. 65% of consumers don’t trust advertisements, and 71% have no faith in sponsored posts on social media.
This clear lack of brand trust has made the job of marketing and sales teams infinitely more challenging. What’s worse is that most companies are failing to recognize the problem. They end up throwing more money into “push” marketing tactics, hoping they will help them win over new customers.
But that’s never the right solution.
Then what is?
Your best point of leverage is to invest in “pull” marketing tactics and customer service. But before we dive deeper into some of these evergreen tactics, let’s talk about customer acquisition first.
What is Customer Acquisition?
The process by which you bring new clients or customers to your business is customer acquisition. The goal, for any company, is to create sustainable and systematic customer acquisition strategies that keep up with industry trends.
Regardless of the size of your business, this is a very important aspect of running a business besides helping you turn a profit. It also acts as evidence of traction for your business to the outside world of partners, investors, influencers, and prospects.
Mind you, customer acquisition shouldn’t be confused with lead generation. In the world of business, we often visualize the customer journey in the form a funnel, as shown below.
Image via Marketing Funnel
As part of their journey through the funnel consumers:
- Gain awareness about your brand and interest in your offerings
- Add your products or services to the list of alternatives they’re considering, and
- Decide to become a paying customer of your business
Lead generation makes up the top part of the sales funnel. Lead acquisition is the middle section. And lead conversion is all the way at the bottom. Customer acquisition, however, is the entire end-to-end process that involves all of these stages.
Customer Acquisition Strategies
We’ve already touched upon some of the key challenges that brands face in trying to acquire new customers. A lack of trust in brands being key. But that’s not to say that there’s nothing you can do to improve your customer acquisition.
Here’s a list of some evergreen customer acquisition strategies that you can leverage to ensure you’re always gaining new customers.
1. Define Your Target Audience
The first and foremost step you need to execute is to identify the right users or potential audience for your company.
Chances are your product is the perfect solution to a problem a certain demographic of consumers are facing. It’s only a matter of discovering who they are and focusing your customer acquisition efforts, primarily, on them.
If you don’t have a target customer in mind, it’s likely you are limiting yourself from marketing your brand effectively. Unless your offerings meet a universal need, you’re better off finding a niche market for yourself.
Conduct complete market research and try to figure out who and how you should market your product to win over new customers. For instance, according to Invesp, SaaS companies can double their paying customers by simply offering a free trial without asking them for their credit card info.
Such knowledge can only be gained by doing your due diligence of market research. It forms the foundation without which any of your other customer acquisition strategies wouldn’t work.
2. Use the Right Acquisition Channel
Building upon what we discussed above, it’s not enough to know who your ideal customers are. It’s equally important to know the right channel to use to acquire said potential customers.
Now, there are a number of different frameworks that can help you identify the best channel to use for your customer acquisition strategies. But for the most part, it takes a lot of experimenting to find the right channel.
To make things easier for yourself, you should set clear goals for yourself and your campaign. Even having rough goals will help you understand whether your tactics are working or not. Once you’ve tested different channels, you will be able to compare individual successes relative to each other.
3. Leverage Video Content
Video marketing is on the rise. 81% of businesses leverage it, up from 63% from last year. That’s because 97% of marketers have found video content useful to increase customer understanding of their offerings. Another 76% have found it helpful to increase web traffic and sales.
People tend to be visual learners and videos are one of the best ways to inform prospects about your brand and your products. You should try to find a good balance between informative and interesting videos. Leverage influencers to create such videos, share on social media, and on your website.
Explainer videos and customer testimonials are another good way to go about this. Not only are they engaging but also provide users the information they need to make that final purchase decision.
Companies like Okta have benefited a lot from customer acquisition strategies like video marketing.
Image via Okta
4. Do Giveaways
Often, customers need more than just words or promises to convince them to pay for your products and services. Some of the more persistent consumers won’t even be swayed by influencer or word-of-mouth marketing.
In order to win over these consumers as loyal customers, you should consider doing giveaways. Offering them a chance to experience your products, first hand, is a great way to give them that extra push they need to seriously consider you as an option.
The easiest way to implement such customer acquisition strategies is to run giveaway campaigns on social media.
Here’s what Forever21, the women’s fashion apparel brand, does in order to drive users through the sales funnel. This way they even to gauge the market, if any, for any new styles they want to try selling.
Image via Instagram
5. Create High-Quality Content Regularly
Content marketing is easily one of the most effective and evergreen customer acquisition strategies there are. Let’s think of it this way: it helps you establish your thought-leadership in your industry or niche. Getting consumers to trust your brand is half the battle and content marketing helps you win that battle.
From a lead generation perspective, content marketing is thrice as effective and 62% less expensive than typical outbound marketing. Starting a blog for your business, sharing content on social media, and publishing white papers are all great ways to establish yourself as a trustworthy expert in your industry.
Consumers are more and more informed these days. By empowering your prospects to make informed purchase decisions, you’ll gain their trust and in all likelihood convert them. Creating valuable, informative, insightful, and engaging content will, ultimately, help drive your customer acquisition.
6. Focus on SEO
After you’ve established your online presence by producing insightful content, you need to work on SEO. Doing so will help improve the rankings of that very content on search engines. Thereby making your content more visible and discoverable by your target audience.
Improving search rankings and your brand’s visibility has a lot to do with the first stage of the customer acquisition funnel. Some of the more basic SEO tactics include using industry-related keywords, backlinks from authority websites, etc.
Another effective SEO tactic you can use to gain more customers is to optimize your site for mobile devices. Close to 50% of the internet traffic last year came from mobile devices. Providing prospects with an excellent mobile experience can prove to the trick in converting customers.
7. Run a Referral Program
Referral programs often serve as the basis of many customer acquisition strategies, especially when you’re a fledgling company. You can offer current users incentives like extra features or discounts to incentivize them to refer your services to others. And you can also offer these new customers similar discounts to give them an extra nudge to leverage your services.
Dropbox runs a pretty sweet referral program where they offer users an extra 500mb of storage when they invite a friend to sign up. The deal is sweetened by the fact that your friends also get an extra 500mb of storage. They maximize the value to be gained from the referral by offering both parties something.Image via Dropbox
8. Create Optimized Landing Pages
Among other customer acquisition strategies, optimizing your landing pages is definitely one of the most effective ones. Landing pages help direct consumers to your product or service. An effective landing page doesn’t just offer up valuable information but also includes a compelling call-to-action that facilitates conversions.
Running A/B test can help you optimize your landing pages and improve them drastically. It goes back to knowing what your customers expect from you. You need to be able to anticipate their needs and then deliver on those.
You can use tools like Unbounce to test your landing page designs. Try pages with no navigation bars, ones that do, try different fonts, CTAs, and elements. This is an iterative process and you should keep experimenting to figure out what is helping win more customers.
Image via Unbounce
9. Improve Website and Email Engagement
While this may be a tactic that’s as old as the internet, it’s still one of the most effective customer acquisition strategies there is. It helps you stay in front of your target audience, promote your content, discounts, and product information. It’s also the easiest way you can connect with and acquire new customers.
A great way to go about this is to send customized emails to people depending on which stage of the customer acquisition process they are. So, someone in the first two steps is probably better suited for content that might initiate that customer engagement.
Ones in that have you in their consideration pool would be more interested in emails with product information. This enables them to make a more informed purchase decision. Similarly, people in the final stages can be tempted into making that purchase with a promotional email that offers them a discount.
Amazon, for one, does a good job of this. They’re always sending out customized emails to their audience. Be it to remind them about the items on their wish list or an abandoned cart. Or perhaps something like this when you’ve just made a purchase.
Image via Amazon
There’s no magical formula that can guarantee your business a steady flow of new customers. While customer acquisition strategies like market research are a must, you need to build from there. It’s an experimental process, trying to figure out which strategies are best suited for your business.
For the most part, though, the nine listed above are evergreen and are guaranteed to work for any business when done right.
Shane Barker is a digital marketing consultant who specializes in sales funnels, targeted traffic, and website conversions. He has consulted with Fortune 500 companies, influencers with digital products, and a number of A-List celebrities.