Image credit: Social Spice Media

Roadmap Towards A Winning Acquisition Marketing Effort

You can spend months working on a great idea, tons of energy into crafting the perfect marketing strategy, but without customers, your business will cease to exist. All future growth hinges on one thing – customer acquisition and the strategy you deploy.
By Kaley Nguyen | 19 min read
on October 1, 2019
Image credit: Social Spice Media

In our ever-evolving marketing landscape, there is one hard truth is that customers’ trust in businesses has been eroding over time. According to HubSpot’s report in 2018, it was strikingly revealed that up to 55% of consumers no longer trust the companies they buy from as much as they used to, 65% do not trust company press releases, 69% do not trust advertisements, and also staggeringly 71% have no faith in sponsored ads on social networks.

Marketers’ tasks get harder and harder as the math behind most companies’ acquisition marketing strategy is simply unworkable.

Acquiring new customers these days is awfully challenging – no doubt – however, it is completely possible. And if you're longing for ways to improve your customer acquisition, fortunately, you're not alone! We’re here with some noteworthy insights into such a marketing challenge, together with a couple of handy practices to craft a winning acquisition marketing strategy.

Before discovering the “real picture” of our acquisition marketing world, it’s important to first take a look at some fundamentals.

Acquisition Marketing: Its Definition and Methodology

Acquisition marketing is the process or a set of activities that businesses use to bring in new customers or clients. Smart customer acquisition marketing strategies are ones which adopt a systematic and sustainable approach that can evolve with new trends and changes.

No matter how simple this may seem to be, it can be incredibly challenging to find new opportunities for growth and customer acquisition in such an increasingly crowded marketplace. To be the winner in the business game of acquiring paying customers, you have to differentiate yourself from the crowd and build an enthusiastic customer base that sticks around. This is the fine art of acquisition marketing

To master this art, it’s more than essential to know it inside out, starting off by understanding its methodology.

Roadmap Towards A Winning Acquisition Marketing Effort - Fig 1
Image credit: Swoop

Now, you must have gained some basic understandings as to acquisition marketing, right?

Great! Let’s dive in its fantastic real world, beginning with acquisition marketing’s challenges.

Acquisition Marketing: Emerging Trends and Challenges

1. Customers’ Picture in The Modern Era

The Skeptical Customers

As above-mentioned, customers are becoming more and more skeptical.

They used to trust salespeople, seek out companies’ press releases, get excited with products’ advertisements or directly contact the companies for previous customers’ testimonials. But not anymore!

The rapid spread of misinformation as well as concerns over how online businesses collect and use personal data or a deluge of branded content – they all contribute to a fundamental shift - customers just don’t trust the businesses anymore!

The Impatient Customers

Speed is everything to today's buyers, and surprisingly, their patience wears out at only 30 minutes.

Plus, according to Google’s report on consumer insights in late 2018, it was suggested that people are making decisions faster than ever before. In fact, they expect to be able to act on those decisions instantly.

“Customers today are impatient, and their standards are unforgiving. Increasingly, consumers expect brands to intuitively know what they need, when they need it, and deliver it instantly. Tackling those challenges has meant rethinking the way our business operates.”

Dennis Maloney, Chief Digital Officer of Domino's.

Roadmap Towards A Winning Acquisition Marketing Effort - Fig 2
Image credit: Retail Week

The Curious Customers

Another striking finding is that modern consumers get to be more and more curious.

With the unfettered access to a wealth of information, people are researching before every single decision they make, no matter how small this decision is. Because of this, each decision is an informed one.

“What consumers want has changed dramatically thanks to the devices in our pockets. Consumers now research even the smallest daily decisions. It's not a surprise to us that some of our customers research a bottle of water as deeply as they research an expensive bottle of wine.”

Antonio Sciuto, North America Executive CMO of Nestlé Waters.

The Demanding Customers

Furthermore, when people go online searching for information, they expect every digital experience to be tailored just for them. Such demanding individuals expect brands to understand their intent, even when they include few details and don’t explicitly spell out their request.

“Customer expectations and the customer evolutionary cycle are definitely going through a step change. Our customers, in a good way, continue to be more demanding day by day.”

Amit Shah, Chief Marketing Officer of 1-800-Flowers.com.

“Mobile is unlocking consumer control, empowerment, and choice to an extent we have never seen before, driving a hyper-segmentation revolution. As we move from mass marketing to massive customization — from focusing on averages to individuals — I believe that in the future we will build brands in segments of one.”

Keith Weed, Chief Marketing and Communications of Officer Unilever.

Besides, modern consumers are unafraid to tell the world what they think. In this digital era, it’s a common practice that people share an experience they had with a company on social media, whether good or bad. Whereas buyers are fairly split between being more likely to share an enjoyable experience vs. an undesirable one, every customer interaction you have is actually an opportunity to generate buzz - or risk public shaming.

In general, a new breed of consumers has arrived – they are more skeptical, curious, demanding, and impatient than ever before. The marketers’ burdens get heavier and heavier when it comes to reaching and pleasing these “tough” individuals. In fact, a business’s ability to leverage data to anticipate and satisfy their needs will define its ability to grow.

2. Worrying Trends in The Digital Landscape

A dramatical change in consumer demand is already an overwhelming problem for businesses to grapple with on its own. But … as if that wasn’t enough, the internet, which has always fundamentally transformed the traditional go-to-market strategy, is moving the goalposts again. There emerge 3 main trends that trigger heated concerns, especially SMBs when it comes to competing with other long-established and better-resourced companies.

Trend 1: Google Is Taking Back Its Own Real Estate

In this day and age, establishing a solid online presence is amongst the most critical steps of modern marketing effort. Without the multimillion-dollar investment in building brand awareness or large advertising budgets of consumer goods titans, the best tactic that a small business can deploy is to create content specific to their niche and optimizing it for search.

Google, the arbiter of online content discoverability, has adopted significant changes in the last few years, which makes it harder for marketers to run this model at scale without any financial investment.

#1. Featured Snippets & “People Also Ask” Boxes

Firstly and obviously, through featured snippets and “People Also Ask” boxes, Google is reclaiming its own traffic.

The Featured Snippet is a snippet of information which is supposed to provide searchers with a concise, direct answer to their questions – right there on the search engine results page (SERP), without the users having to click through to a specific result. Actually, you’ve likely been served such a featured snippet when you were searching for a definition or something that involved a step-by-step explanation.

Roadmap Towards A Winning Acquisition Marketing Effort - Fig 3
Courtesy: EnvZone

As regards “People also ask” boxes, they are a different permutation of a featured snippet. In practice, these display questions related to your original search, live on the SERP.

Plus, these handy boxes are expandable with a single click. Each time you expand a “People Also Ask” section, Google automatically adds 2 to 4 queries to the end of the list.

Roadmap Towards A Winning Acquisition Marketing Effort - Fig 4
Courtesy: EnvZone

So, what should you concern for when it comes to the featured snippets or “People Also Ask” boxes?

Google mechanism is that if your site (whether the homepage or any other pages) ranks first in the SERP and gets featured in the snippet, your traffic is going to increase. In contrast, should you not win the featured snippet, even if your post is ranked at position 1, it’s likely your overall traffic will decrease.

#2. Search Advertisements

Secondly, Google’s changed its SERP in which search ads are moved from a sidebar to the top four slots. Following that, organic results fall much further down the page, and on a mobile device, sometimes, they disappear almost entirely.

The thing is that although search result won’t ever become purely pay-to-play, small businesses need to factor paid tactics into any organic strategy, especially in a world where “screen real estate” is increasingly dominated by sponsored content.

#3. Voice Searches

Voice search adds a third wrinkle to these shifts - the winner-take-all market.

It’s expected that by the year 2020, whoppingly half of all online searches will be made through voice search. No matter how surprising this forecast seems to be, there is every likelihood that voice search will dominate the world of SEO and become a golden opportunity for businesses of all scale to capitalize on.

With the proliferation of voice search, it’s become more and more significant to become the “answer”, as voice assistants only provide one result when asked a question.

On Google, featured snippets are the ones which demonstrate this necessity. In fact, Amazon has already introduced “Amazon’s Choice” products, the first items suggested when consumers order items via voice assistant. There is a foreseeable future where all Amazon’s Choice products are also Amazon-branded, manufactured, and distributed.

Trend 2: Social Media Sites Are Walled Gardens

Far gone are the days when social media sites were the promotion channels that served as a “path” between users and the poster’s site. Around a decade ago, the borders between different sites were still fluid, which means people would discover content on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, then click through to content (usually hosted on another site).

These days, social media sites are walled gardens. Algorithms have been rewritten in a way that favors onsite content created specifically for that platform. For instance, Facebook Messenger and evolving paid tools such as Lead Ads are becoming a table-stakes marketing channel, meaning businesses can’t just “be on Facebook” - they must recreate their marketing motion in a second place.

Plus, Facebook and LinkedIn have deprioritized showing content that links offsite in favor of family and friends’ content (on Facebook) and onsite video and text (on LinkedIn). Those changes have posed some challenges. Not only does your branded content have a harder time competing with other brands, but it will also have to compete for attention with your prospects' personal network.

As one of the most dominating social sites, Twitter has adopted some strategy changes. In fact, Twitter has hugely invested in streaming video partnerships with entertainment and news networks, which is regarded as a “nod” to bringing consumers content they’d watch anyway in a platform-owned experience.

Roadmap Towards A Winning Acquisition Marketing Effort - Fig 5
Image credit: HubSpot

So, how do these kinds of stuff matter to you and your business?

These algorithm changes reflect the desire that every single business has to keep the audiences they own on their own sites. As long as they can capitalize on their traffic, they have no incentive to move back to the old passthrough model.

Increasingly, Facebook is a destination, Twitter is a destination and LinkedIn is a destination. It’s no longer enough to just create a piece of content for your own site, then it’s essential to schedule out promotion across channels that point back to that content.

An outstanding marketing team is the one who knows that their ideas must be both channel-agnostic and channel-specific. To get the most mileage out of a piece of content, it’s imperative that its core concept performs well across multiple channels. This also means that the businesses have to do more upfront work to craft separate versions of this content, making it best-suited for the channel on which it’s appearing.

Trend 3: It’s Getting More Expensive to Do Marketing

Not only have major online titans have moved their goalposts to create a more competitive content discovery landscape, but there also exist more barriers to entry on these platforms – which does result in a costlier marketing endeavor.

#1. Organic Acquisition Costs Are Soaring

Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) is up across the board for both B2B and B2C companies, which has climbed by nearly 50% over the past five years. Whereas paid CAC is still higher than that of content marketing, organic CAC or CAC for content is actually closing the gap very quickly.

Let’s cast a glance over these figures for a better understanding!

Roadmap Towards A Winning Acquisition Marketing Effort - Fig 6
Courtesy: ProfitWell

#2. Content Marketers Are Commanding Higher Salaries.

It's not only harder to get value from content, but it's becoming more expensive to create it. ProfitWell’s study has indicated that compared to five years ago, we're publishing over 300% more per month, we're writing blog posts that are nearly 100% longer in word count, and we're also paying content marketers and creators nearly 25% more.

Speaking of content marketers’ salaries, it’s suggested that median salary has risen by around 24.9% in metropolitan areas as well as approximately 18.9% for remote employees in the last five years.

So, what is the driving force behind this trend?

Actually, such an increase in the acquisition marketing cost is partially explained by changes in the content marketing profession. Google’s changing algorithm requires more specialized knowledge than ever. In addition to the fact that there are specific optimization best practices to “steal” featured snippets, Google’s current algorithmic model favors sites which are architected using the topic cluster model.

To be more specific, this model works in a way that a single “pillar” page acts as the main hub of content for an overarching topic and multiple content pages (which are related to that same topic) link back to the pillar page and to each other. Such a linking action signals to search engines that the pillar page is an authority on the topic, and over time, the page will possibly rank higher and higher for the topic it covers. The topic cluster model, at its very essence, is a way of organizing a site’s content pages using a cleaner and more deliberate site architecture.

Whether you prefer or not, these trends are actually prevailing, which does mean that:

  • It’s incredibly much tougher to differentiate yourself and stand out in an overcrowded online marketplace
  • It’s much more expensive to recruit the right talent and craft value-added content
  • It requires serious investments in a multichannel marketing strategy to handle with algorithmic updates and changes

Customers get tougher to please. Marketing gets costlier to do. It turns out to be nothing short of an awful future, right?

Definitely not. There's always a bright side to everything. Your ability to leverage your business resources, coupled with the smart strategy to handle the mentioned challenges will define your success.

Let’s go through our best acquisition marketing tactics to settle these concerns and ride the crest of a wave.

Roadmap Towards A Winning Acquisition Marketing Effort - Fig 7
Image credit: Pricing Solutions

Acquisition Marketing: The Strategic Roadmap to Success

Before mapping out your marketing plan, it’s a smart move to first get to know which specific qualities are required for a viable acquisition strategy:

1. Essential Qualities For An Excellent Acquisition Marketing Plan

#1. Sustainable

What does “sustainable” mean in this situation?

Simply, a sustainable acquisition marketing strategy is one that effectively works in the long run. So to speak, no matter how much money, time or human resource you invest in, such a strategy can be upheld for the foreseeable future.

To take an example, if you’re planning to acquire new customers through a blog, make sure that you have the tools and resources in place to ascertain that this content production lives past one or two posts, successfully bringing in organic traffic for months or years to come. This is why inbound marketing is of crucial importance - it generates sustainable traffic and, therefore, a sustainable source of new customers.

#2. Flexible

Besides being strategically sustainable, your acquisition marketing strategy should always be flexible. It's more than essential especially when it comes to constantly-changing consumers' demand patterns and complicated changes of major marketing platforms.

Far gone are the day when salespeople were the trustworthy gatekeepers of information about a product or service. Brand claims or company advertisements are also of little value to them. If you keep relying on sales representatives or one-sided boasting ads, you are going to do nothing but put your business in a tough spot. With that in mind, let’s keep your strategy pliable, and you’ll always be ready to respond to market trends.

#3. Targeted

Remember that all consumers are not your best consumers, and all of customer acquisition efforts can end up a crazy waste of resources if not pinpointed toward the right people. It’s a “must” that you clearly define your targeted customers before jumping into mapping out the detailed marketing plan.

A smart process of creating your target buyer persona can help you to weed out any unnecessary acquisition efforts as well as orient your business to specific needs or desires that some channels may meet. For instance, businesses targeting millennials might consider creating videos as part of a content marketing strategy, given that staggeringly 91% of adults ages 18-29 use YouTube.

A targeted customer acquisition strategy requires taking a step back and figuring out what’s best for your business goals, resources, and audience. Invest your effort into it and you will see the real desired responses to your customer acquisition efforts.

#4. Diversified

Have you ever heard of cross-pollination?

It’s when bees spread pollen among a variety of plants, bringing about variations of species that better withstand the changing time and nature. In this case, marketers can be compared to these well-traveled bees. Once you diversify your acquisition marketing strategy and use numerous acquisition methods (of course, within your allowed budget), there is a better likelihood that your business reaches out new audiences, then generating new leads.

What’s more, diversifying your acquisition marketing strategy strikes a balance between risk and reward, meaning in case one channel begins to fail, it’s easier to reallocate funds for a new yet better-performing method.

Now that you know how to approach and organize this marketing strategy, it’s time to move on the specific practices to acquire new customers.

2. Best Practices for A Winning Acquisition Marketing Strategy

#1. Craft Compelling Marketing Campaigns

No matter how old this strategy seems to be, creating original, exciting, and relevant pieces of content proves to be a highly effective way to grab your audience’s attention and appeal them to your website.

In such a world full of false advertising and dwindling consumer trust, content marketing extends an olive branch, attract new customers as well as retain the existing customer base.

When it comes to content marketing, there are numberless content formats you can apply. Let’s go explore two most popular ones!

Blog Posts

In fact, blogging is a highly recommended acquisition method for businesses of all scales, fields, and audience types. Not only does running a blog empowers you to establish credibility amongst your audiences, but it also grants you chances of exploring different topics and flexing your knowledge in your industry.

More critically, blogging is a great path to engage with your audience, whether through a graphic they can bookmark for later, a question they can answer in the comments, or an enticing call-to-action they can click.

Roadmap Towards A Winning Acquisition Marketing Effort - Fig 8
Image credit: LifeWire

And again, bear in mind that if you set your heart on starting a blog, be sure to have sustainable resources in place. It’s at your best that you manage to have dedicated blog writers as well as a graphic designer and editor on board who optimizes your masterful with aesthetical visual presentation.

Video

Far gone are the days when the video was considered one of the most complicated and costly forms of content, which was only suited for resource-based firms to produce. These days, with higher-quality cameras becoming cheaper or a plethora of freelancers available, you can get a great video with just a small financial investment.

In fact, video marketing, as part of a broader content strategy, is more about content than technical quality - though the latter does help in the long-run. Except simple handmade clips, video production typically involves script writing, editing, production, and animation - all of which you can outsource through freelancers or production agencies.

Roadmap Towards A Winning Acquisition Marketing Effort - Fig 9
Image credit: Crowd In The Station

The heart of content marketing is connecting with and converting your audience. Because of this, each and every piece of content should be relevant to your readers and include a strong call-to-action. After all, content marketing is partially content creation and partially content promotion. Come up with original ideas and keep exploring to learn more about how to combine customer acquisition methods with highly effective promotion tactics to harvest better results.

#2. Don’t Forget Social Media

Social media marketing stands out as the most useful tactic when it comes to boosting brand awareness, shaping a company personality, and sharing content you’ve published elsewhere (like from your blog or videos). Consider it the “gasoline” for a fire you’ve already started using other acquisition channels!

The art of social media is that through popular social platforms, you can possibly capitalize on the virality factor, inspiring your customers and followers to help you advertise.

There have been some controversies around the real impacts of such channels. To be more specific, around 13% of marketers have reported that social media is the most overrated marketing tactic, and actually, it can be if you don’t develop a solid game plan for its use.

  • Which specific networks are you going to leverage, and which ones are you going to avoid?
  • What’s your social brand voice, and who on your marketing team will be tasked with developing and managing content?
  • Do you have a crisis plan in place?

Even if these questions seem intimidating, don’t fret!

Posting organically on social media may seem like “shouting into a void”, and with 2.3 billion active users, it can sure feel that way. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that you give up your efforts on social media marketing!

Without large marketing budget for running ads on social platforms, you can completely make the cut when adopting the right strategy. The key to success is to access the right networks - and this all comes back to a well-defined audience. Why?

For instance, if you’re targeting an audience mostly comprised of men, Pinterest would have little value for you as only 16% of men use Pinterest. In other cases, if your audience is made up of millennials, you should definitely include Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat in your playbook.

You’re wondering how to get yourself well-informed about such kind of things when landing a decision? Fortunately, it’s simple and completely within your reach. Consider using social media management tools like Hootsuite or Buffer to help you curate and post content on your networks.

#3. Master Email Marketing

Roadmap Towards A Winning Acquisition Marketing Effort - Fig 10
Image credit: Fibernews

If you manage to collect a certain number of customer contacts through other customer acquisition methods, what should you do?

The answer is simple: you should build an email list, then leverage that email list to connect with and convert your “would-be” customers.

Although it might seem like an outdated acquisition method, email marketing is never dead. Rather, it’s actually a cost-effective way to stay in front of your customers and promote quality content, product information, and discounts and events. Sending a happy birthday or a valuable promotional email is a simple yet effective practice when it comes to engaging with the customers.

Besides these mentioned benefits, email marketing comes in handy to keep an eye on list behavior. For example, when you get a new subscriber, it’s fair to assume that this consumer is interested in your company and would like to learn more. Certain link clicks in your email can alert you to what your subscribers are most interested in. Furthermore, people that unsubscribe altogether can give you an insight into how your subscribers view your emails and the content you share.

The Bottom Lines

Customer acquisition is the lifeblood of every single business. No matter how challenging this journey is or how much it takes, don’t ever think of giving up on your acquisition marketing efforts.

Let’s mixing up and experimenting with a variety of acquisition marketing practices to map out the best plan for yourself. Regardless of which strategies you choose, always leave room for analysis, improvement, and changes – these steps are of utmost importance in our modern era of constantly changing customer’s taste and ever-evolving online landscape.

You’re a complete newbie to the marketing world and find those things too overwhelming to handle on your own? Don’t fret! We’re more than willing to lend you a helping hand. Should you need any help with a dedicated team to get your business’s images exposed to the digital world, don’t hesitate to get an online presence manager.

This article is also credited to Michael Redbord as well as page HubSpot and Think With Google.

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