After deciding on and developing the product or service you want to sell online, it is ready for the market. This market has to include targeted customers who will purchase the product.
Hence, the next efforts should be geared towards bringing in new customers or clients to your business. How do you figure out the right customer acquisition channels?
The goal is to create a sustainable, systematic acquisition method that evolves with new trends. This process helps keep your business healthy and growing — you can make money to cover expenses, pay your team and reinvest.
The customer acquisition journey has different stages in the buying process that highlight when the consumer;
- gains awareness of your business or brand (lead generation)
- adds your product to their consideration pool (lead acquisition)
- makes decision to be a buying customer (lead conversion)
Steps to Identifying the Right Customer Acquisition Channel
The right channel depends on the audience preferences, industry, and product or service you are selling. If you have no historical data, identifying the right channel for your audience, resources and business involve a lot of trial and error. When starting out, it’s better to do one channel exceptionally well than several terribly. Attempting to drive growth on multiple customer acquisition channels divides your resources and dilutes your focus.
Just because a channel worked for your friend does not mean it will work for your kind of business. You should, therefore, set goals beforehand to measure and compare which channel is more successful than the other.
Below are the steps to finding the right customer acquisition channels:
Understand common customer acquisition channels and the strategies you can use for each channel.
Identify your competitive advantages by looking for gaps you can fill in channels your competitors are winning. It can be as simple as lowering the price.
Run the numbers on available channels to tell which ones can deliver the highest value in terms of high-quality customers. Then compare the results against the resources you have in terms of cash and time.
Pick your top channel first then as it is working, you can start working on optimizing another. This enables you to extract the full potential of a single channel.
As mentioned, develop your method over time. Embrace change, adapt, and build new processes around it.
The primary customer acquisition channels to start with
1. Word of Mouth
Word of Mouth encourages customers to talk as much as possible about your brand or product. Traditionally, word-of-mouth marketing was based on recommendations from a friend or someone you respect. These referrals have driven sales like a charm. In this method, your current customers bring in new ones without spending extra money.
The modern word-of-mouth marketing involves both structural and targeted efforts by marketers to accelerate the buzz and naturally occurring situations where customers declare their satisfaction with a brand and share their enthusiasm and support. Viral referral loops enable existing customers to bring on more new customers. Structured referral schemes such as those used by Uber and Airbnb have led to amazing results.
Word of mouth increases growth sales without ad spends, builds a community of highly engaged customers eager to recommend your product, creates a buzz around your product, and boosts brand loyalty and trust.
To maximize this form of marketing;
- Exceed expectations with consistent and exceptional customer service. Show appreciation using these highly effective and creative methods.
- Ask for referrals and provide for every information they may need — for example, contact information, business cards, relevant links, etc.
- Identify social media influencers and ask for their support in generating buzz to your business.
- Refer your clients to others. Mutual referrals can benefit both of you.
- Develop meaningful relationships with your clients or customers.
2. Organic Search
The first place to go to when facing a problem is Google. Any service or product that will solve your problem will most likely pop up in Google search results. Organic search is still a reliable channel despite its decline in importance and prominence on Google.
Organic search marketing is also known as search engine optimization (SEO). This process involves optimizing your content, so your highly targeted audience quickly finds it. SEO is very popular because it’s easy to implement and is zero-cost or near zero. The idea behind SEO is to create content that ranks up high in the search engine results page (SERP) so that searchers may want to click on it.
For effective SEO, need to know what type of interests your ideal customer is searching for. Then use those main keywords in several areas on your website – most importantly on your URL slug, subheadings, and on alt text in the images.
There’s no way to crack Google, but the following factors have worked when businesses want to determine their chances to rank on Google.
Ranking Difficulty = On-page factors + Incoming links
- On-page factors – Relevant indexable content, helps searchers, loads fast, optimized for mobile, provided excellent user experience and visuals.
- Behavioural factors – How long do people stay, do they browse deeper, do they refine their search because they didn’t find what they wanted?
- Incoming links from other sites get you to the front page. Think of links as votes. The more websites link to your page, the higher it will rank on Google.
All this to say, complement your products and services with relevant and informative editorial content as well as investing in search engine marketing.
3. Paid Advertisements
Advertising is an old and proven way to get a product in front of prospective customers. Customers don’t pay much attention to tv commercials these days. Hence most businesses have moved to pay for ad placements online.
Paid ads lead to high conversions if used correctly if it feels more authentic, like a conversation instead of pure advertising.
Paid search marketing is also referred to Pay-Per-Click (PPC). It is advertising on a Google Search Results Page itself instead of organically optimizing your content.
Google AdWords is the largest advertising network for this reason. It allows you to create a search result and pay for the ad to show up alongside organic results, theoretically increasing your chances of being found by searchers.
This means you are paying for a customer to click on your website or make calls to your business.
Social Media and Display Ads
Engaging Social Media content has shown excellent results in driving potential customers to your sales pages or websites. One way of increasing conversions is to boost the already engaged post with engagement ads that drive sales.
Facebook ads have become Goggle Ads strongest competitor. They allow targeting a more specific target audience (demographics, page likes, interests, etc.) using their newsfeeds.
The ads should communicate what you’re about, show why your product matters and how it will make the customers lives better.
In this method, you first identify customers who have already bought something from your pages and create their look-alikes as a potential customer base. Target them with highly relevant ads.
In the Micro Split Test, you select a target audience and test the ads. If the conversion roll in, you split the test with a similar audience. Then you rerun the ads to see if it works. You should Segment the ads by demographics and location, test the ads for about a week and only keep the ones that perform well. Then create look-alikes.
Blogging comes highly recommended as a customer acquisition channel for all businesses and audiences. It helps you share knowledge on different topics and build authority among your readers. Your primary goal for starting a blog should be to drive customers to your business.
Therefore, treat your blog as a customer acquisition channel and not a traffic acquisition channel. There’s no point going viral and bringing thousands of visitors if none will buy from you. Primary KPI should be the number of orders or sales per month unless you are selling banner ads.
Engage more with your audience, it becomes easier retaining highly targeted visitors and converting them into customers. Ensure your website is well maintained and up to date before sending potential customers. Why run a blog if the other channels work? The answer is simple; creating a blog can expand your reach on the three main channels.
Content marketing can drive customers to your blog through these channels:
- Search – Potential customers search, find the optimized article, read and enjoy, dig deep on the website and eventually buy.
- Word of mouth – you can generate word of mouth or buzz to your page with your content. It’s not just a positive experience with a product or company that can generate word of mouth. Your content does that too. If an article you posted teaches cool and unique ways to do something, people tend to share it on social media. If their friends ask for a tutorial, they will most likely send a link to your website.
- Advertising – you can spend money to promote the content that talks about your product instead of the product itself. It may sound counterintuitive, but most times the content that promotes your product will have a much higher conversion rate that the sales page of the product.
While you have to keep on marketing to new customers, Customer retention is the new customer acquisition. When you lose customers, you want to find and acquire new ones.
Instead of investing in expensive acquisition strategies to address customer churn and replace the forgotten ones, it is smarter to take care of unsatisfied customers. This includes improving customer service methods to delight and retain current customers.
How do you acquire and retain customers for your business? Let us know in comments!