Customers are the lifeblood of every business.
If you can’t reliably scale your customer base and retain existing clientele, you will be stuck in place or stagnating.
In this article, we will teach you how to establish your customer acquisition strategy and consistently grow your business.
We will cover:
- Customer Acquisition Strategy Definition
- Difference Between Marketing and Customer Acquisition
- What is the Customer Acquisition Funnel?
- 11 Effective Customer Acquisition Strategies
- 6 Customer Acquisition Metrics (You Should Be Tracking)
Let’s dive right in!
What is a customer acquisition strategy?
A customer acquisition strategy is a comprehensive plan businesses develop to reach potential customers, convert them into paying customers, and grow their business.
This strategy encompasses all the methods and tactics that a company employs to generate interest, drive engagement, and persuade people to buy its products or services.
In practice, it involves a mix of marketing, sales, and customer service efforts. It includes identifying target audiences, understanding their needs and behavior, and crafting messages that resonate with them. For instance, employing creative video production to articulate these messages for heightened visual engagement.
Tactics can range from digital marketing campaigns, such as SEO and social media advertising, to traditional networking or print advertising methods.
What’s the difference between marketing and customer acquisition strategy?
Marketing and customer acquisition are closely linked but not the same thing. Here’s how they differ:
|Customer Acquisition Strategy
|Broad activities to promote the business and improve market presence.
|Specific tactics focused on gaining new customers.
|Wide-ranging, covering all promotional activities.
|Narrow, concentrates on the customer’s journey to purchase.
|To create awareness, interest, and desire for products or services.
|To convert an interested audience into paying customers.
|Market research, branding, advertising, content creation, social media, PR.
|Choosing channels, crafting compelling offers, and streamlining the purchase process.
|Communicates the value proposition and building relationships.
|Drives transactions and increasing the customer base.
What is the customer acquisition funnel?
The customer acquisition funnel, also known as the sales funnel or marketing funnel, is a model that represents the journey of a potential customer from their first interaction with a brand to the point where they make a purchase.
It’s a useful framework for understanding the process of turning leads into customers and can be broken down into several stages. Here’s a general overview:
- Awareness: At the top of the funnel, potential customers become aware of your business and its products or services. This could be through advertising, social media, word of mouth, or content marketing.
- Interest: Once they are aware of the brand, consumers may show interest by engaging with the content, following the brand on social media, or subscribing to an email list.
- Consideration: In this stage, potential customers consider your product or service as a solution to their needs. They might compare your offering with others in the market, read reviews, or engage with sales representatives.
- Intent: The intent stage involves a potential customer demonstrating a more serious interest in purchasing, such as placing items in the shopping cart or requesting a quote.
- Evaluation: Here, the customer actively evaluates the pros and cons of the purchase, often considering the terms, prices, customer service, and other factors.
- Purchase: This is the bottom of the funnel where the actual transaction takes place. The customer acquires the product or service, and the business gains a new customer.
11 Effective customer acquisition strategies (that will work in 2024)
In 2023, there are dozens of different marketing strategies and user acquisition channels you could be using.
Some of the most effective ones are:
- Content Marketing
- Email Marketing
- PPC Advertising
- Social Media Marketing
- Referral Programs
- Affiliate Programs
- Influencer Marketing
- Community Building
- Digital PR
Below, we’ll cover each of these in more detail, starting with:
1. Content marketing
Content marketing is a strategic approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to acquire new customers.
It’s not about selling directly but establishing trust and rapport with the audience.
Key aspects of content marketing are:
- Valuable content: The information provided must be useful and add value to the audience’s life or work.
- Relevant and practical: The content should address the audience’s interests, needs, or problems.
- Consistent delivery: Regular content publication helps keep the audience engaged and the brand top-of-mind.
- Targeted: Aimed at a well-defined audience likely to be interested in the business’s products or services.
- Intent to drive profitable actions: While not always direct, the goal ultimately converts readers into customers.
One notable example of successful content marketing is HubSpot.
HubSpot uses a comprehensive content marketing strategy that includes blogs, eBooks, webinars, and courses.
They’ve been highly consistent with their content marketing efforts over the past few years, and it really shows.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the practice of optimizing your site for search engines to drive more organic traffic and eventually convert that traffic into new customers.
Key Aspects of SEO Include:
- Keyword research: Identifying the terms and phrases that people use to search for products or services related to your business.
- On–page optimization: Tweaking elements on your website, such as title tags, meta descriptions, header tags, and content to include relevant keywords.
- Off-page optimization: Building quality backlinks from other websites to increase your site’s authority and ranking.
- Technical SEO: Ensuring the website has a logical structure, fast load times, is secure, mobile-friendly, and provides a good user experience.
- Content creation: Producing high-quality, valuable content that answers user queries and encourages extended website visits and engagement.
Shopify is a notable SaaS company that has excelled in using SEO for customer acquisition.
They target just about every keyword related to creating an eCommerce website so that Shopify will be the first thing they find whenever potential customers look up information about creating an online store.
Shopify drives over 19 million users to their website through SEO.
3. Email marketing
Email marketing is a customer acquisition strategy that involves sending emails to prospects and customers.
Effective email marketing converts prospects into customers and turns one-time buyers into loyal fans. It is a direct and personalized way to communicate with individuals who have shown interest in a company’s products or services.
Key Components of Email Marketing Include:
- Building a bubscriber List: Collecting email addresses from people interested in receiving information from the company.
- Segmentation: Dividing the email list into specific groups to tailor messages to the audience’s preferences, behavior, or demographics.
- Content creation: Crafting emails that provide value, such as promotions, educational content, product updates, or personalized messages.
- Analytics: Tracking opens, clicks, and conversions to refine and optimize the email marketing strategy.
A real-life example of a company using email marketing as its customer acquisition strategy is Canva.
Canva, a graphic design platform, sends out a variety of email types to engage its user base:
- Welcome series: When a new user signs up, they receive a series of welcome emails that guide them through the features of Canva, encouraging them to start a project.
- Educational content: Canva sends tutorials and design tips to help users get more value from the platform, thereby fostering engagement and eventual conversion to paid plans.
- Updates and announcements: Emails about new features or updates keep users informed and engaged with the platform’s latest capabilities.
- Upselling: Targeted emails to free plan users showcasing the benefits of paid features and encouraging them to upgrade.
Looking to use email marketing as your customer acquisition strategy? Try Encharge to automate the process!
4. PPC advertising
PPC (Pay-Per-Click) advertising is a model of Internet marketing where advertisers pay a fee each time one of their ads is clicked. To optimize these campaigns and enhance their effectiveness, businesses often turn to AdTech platforms, which provide advanced tools and analytics for managing and assessing the performance of PPC strategies.
Essentially, it’s a way of buying visits to your site, rather than attempting to “earn” those visits organically through SEO or other methods.
Key Elements of PPC Advertising Include:
- Ad platforms: Advertisers can use platforms like Google Ads, Bing Ads, or social media advertising (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter) to run their PPC campaigns.
- Keyword bidding: Advertisers bid on the perceived value of a click in relation to the keywords, platforms, and audience type they want to target.
- Ad areation: Creating compelling ad copy along with visuals (for display and social media ads) that will attract and persuade users to click.
- Landing pages: Designing effective landing pages that are relevant to the ad content and encourage the visitor to take action, such as making a purchase or signing up for a newsletter.
- Tracking and analytics: Monitoring the performance of PPC campaigns to understand the ROI and make necessary adjustments for optimization.
A famous company that uses PPC as a customer acquisition strategy is Booking.com
As a travel search engine for lodging reservations, Booking.com has an extensive PPC campaign that targets potential travelers all over the globe who are looking for accommodation, flights, and other travel-related needs.
5. Social media marketing
Social media marketing is creating content and engaging with users on social media platforms to build your brand, increase sales, and drive website traffic.
This involves publishing great content on your social media profiles, listening to and engaging your followers, analyzing your results, and running social media advertisements.
Key Aspects of Social Media Marketing Include:
- Content strategy: Develop a strategy that encompasses the creation and distribution of content that’s relevant to both the brand and its audience.
- Brand voice and engagement: Establishing a consistent voice and regularly engaging with comments, messages, and mentions.
- Advertising: Using the platforms’ paid advertising options to reach a wider or more specific audience.
- Analytics and reporting: Tracking performance metrics to gauge the success of social media activities and using insights to refine the strategy.
Airbnb is a powerful example of a company that has harnessed social media marketing for customer acquisition and brand growth.
Some examples of how Airbnb effectively used social media marketing are:
- Storytelling: Airbnb’s social media profiles feature compelling stories of hosts and travelers worldwide, celebrating the diversity and uniqueness of experiences available through their service. This narrative approach helps prospective customers envision themselves in those experiences, which can influence them to book an Airbnb for their next trip.
- Hashtag campaigns: They use hashtags like #AirbnbExperience to encourage users to share their own stories and photos, which Airbnb then features on their own channels. This creates a sense of belonging among users and motivates others to join in on the experience.
- Visual content: Given the travel-based nature of their service, Airbnb’s use of high-quality imagery and videos of destinations and accommodations is particularly effective in capturing the imagination and interest of potential customers. For better video content, you must have the best video editing tools to enhance video quality. You can create professional-quality social media ads, promo videos, and more for your business with a video editor.
6. Referral programs
Referral programs leverage existing customers to acquire new ones by offering referral incentives.
These programs create a win-win scenario where existing customers get rewarded for bringing in new clients, and the new clients often receive a first-time benefit as well.
A strong referral program turns a company’s customer base into advocates and can significantly lower the cost of customer acquisition.
Key elements of a successful referral program include:
- Incentivization: Offering rewards that are valuable enough to motivate customers to make referrals, such as discounts, service upgrades, or free products.
- Ease of use: Make the referral process as simple as possible, often through personalized referral links that customers can share with their network.
- Communication: Informing customers about the referral program through various channels such as email, social media, or directly within the product experience.
- Tracking and fulfillment: Implementing a reliable system to track referrals and ensure that both the referrer and the referred receive their promised incentives.
- Viral Potential: Designing the program in such a way that encourages the sharing of the referral beyond immediate circles, potentially leading to viral growth.
Dropbox is renowned for its referral program, which has been a cornerstone of its customer acquisition strategy.
Dropbox’s referral program rewards both the referrer and the referee with additional storage space, which is a core value proposition of their service.
7. Affiliate programs
Affiliate marketing is a performance-based marketing strategy where a business rewards one or more affiliates for each visitor or customer brought by the affiliate’s own marketing efforts.
Affiliates are typically paid a commission for promoting products or services to their audiences via various channels, including blogs, social media, and email marketing.
The key components of affiliate marketing include:
- Merchant: The creator of the product or service.
- Affiliate: The promoter of the product who earns a commission for their efforts.
- Consumer: The end user or customer who purchases the product.
- Network: The platform that connects merchants with affiliates and handles payment and product delivery in some cases.
Amazon operates one of the most well-known affiliate programs in the world, known as Amazon Associates.
This program allows website owners, bloggers, and even email marketers to create links and earn referral fees when customers click through and buy products from Amazon.
8. Influencer marketing
Influencer marketing is a customer acquisition strategy that identifies people who have a strong influence on a brand’s industry or target audience.
In this form of marketing, a company collaborates with an influencer to promote a product, service, or campaign.
Influencers typically have a large and engaged group of followers on social media or their personal blogs and can sway the purchasing decisions of their audience due to their authority, knowledge, or relationship with their audience.
Key aspects of influencer marketing include:
- Selection of Influencer: Find an influencer whose brand aligns with the company’s values and whose audience matches the company’s target demographic.
- Collaboration and Content Creation: Working with the influencer to create authentic content that will resonate with the audience.
- Promotion: Utilizing the influencer’s reach to promote the company’s offerings.
- Engagement: Leveraging the influencer’s ability to engage with their audience and generate interest in the company’s products or services.
HelloFresh, a meal kit delivery service, effectively used influencer marketing as a customer acquisition strategy.
By partnering with influencers across various platforms, such as Instagram, YouTube, and blogs, they’ve managed to reach a broad audience without breaking the bank with direct advertising channels.
9. Partnership marketing
Partnership marketing is a collaborative strategy where two or more businesses work together on a project or campaign that is mutually beneficial. This can include sharing resources, and audiences, or even co-creating products or services.
The idea is that by partnering, companies can leverage each other’s strengths, gain access to new customer bases, and create synergies that are not possible alone.
Key elements of partnership marketing include:
- Complementary businesses: Ideally, partners should have complementary, not competing, products or services.
- Shared goals: The partnership should be formed around common objectives, such as expanding customer reach, entering new markets, or enhancing brand value.
- Co-branding: Joint marketing initiatives can take the form of co-branded offerings that draw on the strengths of each partner.
- Cross-promotion: Each partner promotes the other to their existing customer base through their own marketing channels.
- Resource sharing: This can include sharing data, technology, marketing expertise, or other resources.
A good example of using partnership marketing as a customer acquisition strategy is the collaboration between Spotify and Uber.
Spotify and Uber collaborated in a partnership marketing campaign that allowed Uber riders to play their Spotify playlists during rides.
10. Community building
Community building as a marketing strategy focuses on creating a space, either online or offline, where customers and prospects can come together to share their experiences, knowledge, and passion for a brand or product.
This strategy prioritizes long-term engagement and loyalty by fostering a sense of belonging and mutual support among members.
The core components of community building include:
- Engagement: Creating opportunities for interaction, such as forums, social media groups, or events.
- Value: Providing exclusive content, support, and benefits to community members.
- Feedback loop: Using the community as a source of insights and feedback for product development and improvement.
- Advocacy: Encouraging and enabling members to promote the brand through word of mouth.
11. Digital PR
Digital PR is a customer acquisition strategy used by businesses to increase their online presence and brand awareness.
It involves engaging with journalists, bloggers, and influencers and aims to gain high-quality backlinks, and social mentions, and to improve SEO.
The methods of digital PR include publishing online press releases, social media outreach, content marketing, contributions to reputable websites that accept guest posts, and getting featured on podcasts, webinars, and other digital media.
The core components of digital PR include:
- Engaging content: Creating novel content based on first-hand research or unique company data.
- Content promotion: Reaching out to media websites who’ve covered similar topics before and pitching them your story.
A strong example of using digital PR as a customer acquisition strategy is OkCupid’s data-driven campaigns.
They used their unique data on dating preferences to get media attention and drive new traffic to their site.
Customer acquisition metrics (That You Need to Track)
Finally, before you start putting everything into practice, let’s talk about metrics.
The most important customer acquisition metrics you should be tracking are:
- Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC): The total cost of acquiring a new customer, including all marketing and sales expenses.
- Conversion Rate: The percentage of visitors to your website or landing pages that convert into customers.
- Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV): The total revenue a business can reasonably expect from a single customer account throughout the business relationship.
- Return on Investment (ROI): A measure of the profitability of the acquisition efforts, calculated as the return gained from an investment relative to its cost.
- Churn Rate: The rate at which customers stop doing business with an entity, which inversely reflects the retention rate.
Average Revenue Per User (ARPU): The average revenue generated from each active customer account.