Digital Customer Acquisition Strategy: 2022 Guide

Over the past decade, customer acquisition has largely moved online, and the knowledge set required to succeed with it has changed fairly dramatically. Those looking to either (a) learn about digital customer acquisition strategy at a high level, or (b) ensure they have an up-to-date understanding of its concepts, will be well served by this guide.

We’ve divided it into 5 parts:

  1. Understanding Customer Acquisition
  2. Building Your Acquisition Strategy From Your Existing Customer Base
  3. Choosing Digital Marketing Channels for Short and Long-term Customer Acquisition
  4. Optimizing Close Rates with Multiple Personalized Touchpoints
  5. Measuring Success With Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)

We’ll begin with the most basic concept in customer acquisition–the digital marketing funnel.

Understanding Customer Acquisition

To properly grasp digital customer acquisition, you must become familiar with the digital marketing funnel, an abstract representation of the journey website visitors take to become leads. It’s actually the first stage of the two-stage customer acquisition process (the second being the sales funnel). Here is how it’s visualized:

Understanding how your prospective customers view your company at each stage of the funnel is an important component of an effective strategy. You will need to use different channels, create different content, and address different concerns when targeting prospects at each stage.

For example, a prospect in the Discovery stage of the funnel may be learning that a company like yours exists for the first time, coming across your brand through an ad on Google or LinkedIn, or perhaps a cold e-mail. And a prospect in the Interest stage may realize they have a problem and that companies like yours exist, but not know exactly where to start. They’re likely to find you through an exploratory Google search, or perhaps via a webinar on how to solve a particular problem. The first prospect might be targeted with ad creative that speaks to an issue they didn’t realize could be solved, whereas the second would be targeted via an organic landing page comparing the major companies in your space in an informative table and explaining the strengths and specialties of each.

A complete customer acquisition strategy targets prospects at every stage of this funnel, which not only allows first-time prospects to learn about your company wherever they are in their process, but also gives prospects who have already interacted with your company to rediscover it down the road, when they’re closer to making a purchase. Further, it will enhance your sales team’s win rates by creating content that optimizes their chance of closing customers at every stage of the pipeline.

Before you can go about creating such a complete strategy, you need to understand exactly what your prospective customers care about at each stage. As it turns out, the best way do that is to interview your current customers.

Building Your Acquisition Strategy From Your Existing Customer Base

Your existing customers are an ideal resource for planning out your future customer acquisition.  To do so, you need to know about their role at their company, objectives, and pain points, as well as how they ended up becoming a customer. Here are some potential questions to ask an existing customer:

  • What are your job responsibilities, and what constitutes success?
  • Who do you report to, and how is your performance evaluated?
  • What are the biggest challenges you run into in your day-to-day?
  • How did you first learn about our company?
  • What online research did you perform before committing to us?
  • What unexpected problems do we solve for your business?

A thorough process would pose these questions to customers across several industries, segmenting them by lifetime value (LTV, sometimes also abbreviated CLV). Doing so allows your marketing team to better prioritize their efforts.The table below depicts one result of such a process, a table that a SaaS company might create for their marketing team featuring two key personas:

Persona Expected LTV Description 
1 $160,000 C-suite executive (likely COO) responsible for managing a large sector of a mid-to-enterprise level company. They are looking for department-wide solutions to meet specialized staffing needs and are judged based on total revenue generated from their respected sector.
2 $50,000 Mid-level manager/app developer responsible for department efficiency. Looking for creative ways to apply skills to generate revenue for their department and are judged based on departmental performance.

Once you’ve established your target audience and developed your customer personas, it’s time to start thinking about what marketing channels best suit your campaign.

Choosing Digital Marketing Channels for Short and Long-term Customer Acquisition

A good digital customer acquisition strategy contemplates both short and long-term lead generation channels. They serve different purposes for your business:

  • Short-term lead gen channels can be used for testing new markets, branding, and immediate lead infusions, but are expensive and are best used in supplemental roles.
  • Long-term lead gen channels make for excellent centerpieces for sustainable growth due to their lower CACs and higher ROIs, but are slower and take longer to recoup their initial investment.

The below table shows the average break-even points, CACs, and ROIs of the 7 most popular channels:

Channel  Break-Even Average CAC Average ROI
PPC 4 months $802 748%
SEO 9 months $647 36%
Email 7 months $510 261%
Webinars 9 months $427 430%
Podcasts 12 months $918 527%
Video Marketing 11 months $559 126%
LinkedIn 5 months $658 229%

A well-rounded customer acquisition strategy will include both centerpiece and supplementary channels in order maximize their marketing reach. This hybrid approach is also particularly effective when beginning or reworking your business’s customer acquisition strategy. Short term channels such as PPC can be used to bridge the gap to the point where long-term channels such as SEO begin producing returns.

Another important benefit of a multi-channel approach is keeping in touch with existing customers and leads. Channels that do this particularly well are email, LinkedIn, and podcasts. While these are rarely the centerpiece of the marketing side of customer acquisition, they are excellent for lead nurturing and providing multiple touchpoints throughout the sales process to optimize close rates.

Optimizing Close Rates with Multiple Personalized Touchpoints

Up until now, we’ve focused on the marketing half of customer acquisition, as it is the most straightforward to improve for most companies. By contrast, sales is very dependent on your business’s specific industry and sales team, but you can improve your close rates by regularly reaching out to your leads with personalized messaging and content. This is particularly helpful for prospects acquired digitally because of how much information is available compared to traditional channels.

The best way to do this is by making use of sales CRM software such as Hubspot or Salesforce that will aggregate all of the information you acquire about your leads. When properly set up, this information will include their click paths, all communications, demographic information, as well as their closest customer persona. This allows you to quickly create personalized sales materials that will speak to their exact situation, answering their concerns preemptively. Sales CRM software will also provide you with automation tools that increase the efficiency of this process, as well as data on which parts of your sales process have the most room for improvement.

Measuring Success With Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)

CAC is the single biggest factor in judging the effectiveness of your digital customer acquisition strategy. It measures the average cost it takes of acquiring a single new customer, and can be calculated with the following formula:

The lowest achievable CAC for your business will depend on several variables—namely your industry, channels chosen, and client types. The below table provides data on the average CAC for each industry:

Industry Average CAC Industry Average CAC
Addiction Treatment $430 Aerospace & Aviation $2,120
Automotive $1,240 B2B SaaS $660
Biotech $1,480 Business Insurance $600
Construction $4,200 Cybersecurity $1,970
eCommerce $85 Engineering $1,780
Entertainment $710 Environmental Services $1,410
Financial Services $920 Fintech $960
Healthcare $1,880 Higher Education $1,420
Hotels & Hospitality $1,340 HVAC $1,040
Industrial IOT $673 IT & Managed Services $1,710
Legal Services $920 Manufacturing $780
Oil & Gas $860 PCB Design & Manufacturing $490
Pharmaceutical $2,780 Real Estate $1,680
Software Development $1,900 Solar $1,640
Staffing & Recruiting $1,690 Transportation & Logistics $2,350

By comparing your calculated CAC to your industry benchmark above, you can evaluate how successful your business’s overall customer acquisition is.

Getting Help with Digital Customer Acquisition

Setting up an effective digital customer acquisition strategy is a complex process. Many companies with substantial budgets attempt this process on their own, relying on their in-house team to manage their campaigns. However, even with a talented team, the number of specialized roles required to succeed can make bringing the entire process in-house an inefficient choice.

For this reason, many companies choose to work with an outside agency that specializes in digital customer acquisition. We’re one such agency, specializing in using organic marketing channels to provide customers at low CACs. Our clients tend to be complex B2B businesses. If you’re interested in learning more, you can contact us here.

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