Customer Acquisition Strategy: 2023 Guide
Customer acquisition strategy, the art of obtaining customers, can be best visualized as a pyramid similar to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Each successive level depends on the level beneath it. At base level, you generate awareness of your product through various marketing & advertising channels. Afterwards, you educate and remind prospects of your product over time, developing in them an unconscious connection with your brand. Ultimately, as leads trickle in, your sales process turns them into customers.
The Customer Acquisition Pyramid
To make your customer acquisition as successful as it can be, your marketing and sales teams must optimize each level in the pyramid. Many companies are strong at one level but not another, and viewing customer acquisition in this way elucidates their problem. For example, a company that overfunds their lead generation while neglecting their sales team will see many leads but few sales. Likewise, optimizing lead nurturing does little if there aren’t sufficient prospects from lead generation channels to nurture.
Optimizing Lead Generation for Customer Acquisition
In the lead generation stage of customer acquisition, prospective customers learn of your business, begin evaluating your products, and finally, take an action that expresses potential purchasing intent (in other words, take a conversion action). Because lead generation is a prerequisite of both nurturing and sales, many businesses will choose to devote a large part of their customer acquisition budget to lead generation.
Effectively optimizing lead generation for customer acquisition begins with understanding the marketing channels that are available for doing so. The below table compares the 5 most common lead generation channels:
Lead Generation Channels
|Channel||Pros||Cons||Time Until Results|
Finding the right channel for your company’s needs also requires a thorough understanding of your ideal audience. For example, most B2C companies will devote more of their budget to traditional and social media advertising campaigns, whereas B2B companies will instead employ networking and ABM. Most companies should, however, invest in a thought leadership & SEO program due to its high long-term ROI and the simple fact that no matter the industry, most prospects turn to Google when in search of new solutions.
Once lead generation is in place, the next phase of customer acquisition is lead nurturing. Few leads (particularly in higher value B2C and most B2B industries) are ready to make a purchasing decision immediately or even reach out to your sales team. Optimizing lead generation ensures that leads continue along the sales funnel.
Optimizing Lead Nurturing for Customer Acquisition
Lead nurturing is the practice of building a connection with prospective customers through targeted content over time. This content is designed to move interested leads further down the sales funnel, until they eventually are ready to commit. This is the most frequently overlooked stage of customer acquisition—at many companies, lead generation is handled by marketing while the final sales process is given over to sales, leaving the nurturing process somewhat neglected by both.
As with lead generation, the first step to optimizing lead nurturing is to understand the main channels on which lead nurturing takes place. These are:
Lead Nurturing Channels
|Thought Leadership||High quality content written by experts that presents real value visitors, thereby establishing your company’s expertise and building a positive relationship with your brand.||
|Email Drip Campaigns||Regular email newsletters that remind leads of your company, while creating positive associations by sharing useful content.||
|Social Media Marketing||Instagram, Facebook, or LinkedIn updates that present shorter form content on a regular basis, increasing brand recognition among your audience.||
Each of these channels needs content that is tailored to your prospects’ intent. This intent refers to the purpose with which your audience visits those channels, and defines how they will respond to lead nurturing materials. (This concept is very similar to search intent in SEO, but applied to lead nurturing content more generally.) Prospect intent is represented by the spectrum below:
Your prospects on different channels lean toward different stages of this spectrum. For example, on social media such as LinkedIn, prospects are often more research oriented and will be more interested in informational content. Thought leadership demands similarly informational content, but many prospects are seeking to solve a particular problem or address a specific need when engaging with it, and therefore it should be written with a more transactional audience in mind. By sharing highly relevant (and high quality) content frequently—but not so frequently that it annoys your prospects—you build positive associations with your brand over time. This shortens the sales process once these prospects reach out to your sales team.
Optimizing Sales for Customer Acquisition Strategy
Sales is the final stage of customer acquisition, and begins once a prospect is actively working with your team to schedule a sales call. When well executed, the lead generation and nurturing phases will result in prospects who know your product and are serious in their interest to purchase. At this stage, optimizations are intended to ensure that as few prospects as possible lose interest before completing the sales process. This is done through:
- Using sales management software to track prospects. Using tools like Salesforce or Hubspot for lead tracking dramatically increases the efficiency of your sales team through their in-built functionality like automated follow-up reminders, lead tracking systems, and ability to identify low-conversion stages in your sales funnel.
- Producing highly personalized sales content. As with the previous phases of customer acquisition, content is a powerful tool for closing sales. Your sales team should personalize sales materials to each prospect, discussing the specifics of how your product will solve their pain points and address their specific needs.
- Providing social proof. Create a library of references and case studies that can be shared with your prospects. Your sales team should be able to provide any potential customer with a real-world example of a similar business that your products or services positively impacted.
Optimizing all three aspects of your customer acquisition strategy will ensure that your business receives a steady stream of new customers, supporting continued growth.
Implementing a Customer Acquisition Strategy
Because of the variety of skills needed in order to implement an effective customer acquisition strategy, many companies have difficulty implementing all aspects in house. Lead generation, lead nurturing, and sales all require their own dedicated teams with specialized expertise.
As a result, many companies choose to avoid these hardships all together by working with an experienced partner. Our agency specializes in developing tailored customer acquisition strategies for companies with unique business needs. Contact us if you’d like to discuss a partnership.