And these prospects need to be high-quality so you can obtain more qualified leads that convert into buyers.
So, regardless of your customer acquisition strategy, your customers’ journey will follow five steps:
That’s the customer acquisition funnel.
This guide shows you how to build a successful customer acquisition strategy to move your prospects seamlessly through this funnel.
We’ll take you through:
- 11 step-by-step pillars to follow
- Real success examples and insider stories
- Pro tips
Keep reading below.
Pillar 1: Targeted Marketing
Solid targeting allows you to reach the right audience with the right message.
Basically, you’re more persuasive, so your prospects take the desired step(s) through the funnel.
But to obtain solid targeting, you need quality data.
1.1. Market Research
Don’t skip the market research stage. Doing it thoroughly will streamline your entire acquisition campaign and prevent wasted time and money.
- Multiple target audiences
- Multiple potential customers from the same segment in different stages of the customer journeys
That’s why you need to:
- Define each audience, creating customer personas to make it easier to build a persuasive message
- Segment each audience to ensure you have personalized marketing strategies for each stage of the customer acquisition funnel
You can get data about your target audience from:
- Your sales team
- Questionnaires and interviews
- Website analytics
- Social media listening tools
1.2. Personalized Messaging
After gathering this data, you need to write personalized messages for each customer segment and for each stage of the sales funnel within that segment.
And to attract your ideal customers, you also need to select the correct customer acquisition channels for those messages.
For example, pay-per-click search advertising on Google can work well in the awareness stage.
In the consideration stage, influencer marketing on TikTok can tip the scales better, pushing people to purchase.
At inBeat, we helped Dormani Group, a dealership in the Outaouais region, refresh its bad reputation by pairing dog influencers with charity.
Results: This tactic led to 50+ unique content assets with 200,000+ unique views and over 250% web traffic MoM.
Pillar 2: Seamless User Experience
If you want to improve your customer acquisition efforts, ensure your prospects have a pleasant online interaction with your brand.
This seamless customer experience is particularly important in the pre-purchase stages, specifically in the awareness and consideration stages.
Your loyal customers might ignore a website with less-than-perfect navigation, but you must still focus on customer support and overall optimization.
Let’s break it down.
2.1. Website Optimization
Website optimization entails improving your website’s content and structure so potential customers can find what they’re looking for faster.
If they can’t find that information or product, they will bounce back to Google.
Remember: You must optimize your website for all target audiences and segments across all sales funnel stages.
That means you must:
- Create specific content for everyone: For example, people in the awareness stage might be interested in “how-to” guides where you can pitch your solutions. Potential customers in the consideration stage might benefit more from product comparisons.
- Organize your content and products: Create specific sections using the search terms your audience is using.
That brings us to the next point:
Pro tip: Consider an SEO tool like Ahrefs and SEMrush to audit your website for SEO and to conduct keyword research.
2.2. User-Friendly Navigation
Good navigation is an essential customer acquisition method because you get:
- More conversions: Prospects can move through the sales funnel faster.
- More referrals: Smooth navigation makes an impression on your potential and current customers. Thus, they’re likelier to recommend your products or share your content.
Again, you need a solid SEO tool to identify navigation issues, from technical SEO difficulties to hosting or server issues.
And remember to double-check the ease of navigation on all devices, specifically mobile phones.
For example, notice how SEO company Breeeze organizes its services in easy-to-find categories:
2.3. Customer Support
Customer support defines your brand arguably even more than product quality.
Pro tip: Quality customer support depends on the type of products/services you’re retailing and your customers’ needs.
If you offer a software solution with a high learning curve, a chatbot might not be useful. Video customer support might be better in this case.
But video calls might not be the most reasonable approach if you have a retail brand dealing with lots of shipping and returns.
Here’s a neat example from Zapier, a software that helps businesses create automated workflows:
Pillar 3: Content Strategy
Quality, relevant content tailored for each stage of the sales funnel increases the number of qualified leads, conversion rate, and retention rate.
Basically, solid content can optimize your entire sales funnel.
Here’s what to focus on:
3.1. High-Quality Content
High-quality content solves your prospects’ needs.
Therefore, your website visitors don’t bounce back to Google or another website looking for more relevant content.
Here’s how you do that:
- Remember the buyer persona you’ve created in Step 1.
- Imagine this is a real person with a real name.
- Then, create useful content they would need.
Pro tip: Focusing on your customers’ needs is essential, but also look at delivery.
- Choose the best type of content for each customer segment, whether text, video, or audio.
- Use the tone, examples, and advice they would resonate with.
- Disseminate that content on the channels your audience is using.
Monday.com offers neat examples.
They have generic articles that can attract potential customers who don’t yet know about Monday.com but manage teams. So, arguably, they will need to buy or change their management software eventually.
The article below was written for people in the awareness stage:
3.2. SEO Optimization
SEO content has more chances of being found online because search engines like Google understand what your page is about faster.
As a result, your website ranks higher, so more people are likelier to see and click on your website.
To optimize your content for search, use an SEO tool to:
- Find relevant keywords your potential customers are searching for.
- Discover your competitors’ content strategies to reproduce them or find missed opportunities you can leverage.
3.3. Content Promotion
Content promotion makes your content more visible, thus gaining more quality organic traffic according to your sales funnel.
Content promotion entails:
- Disseminating your content on other marketing channels: For example, you can create paid ads to promote a blog post, send it to your email list, or link to it from your social media channels.
- Creating a solid internal link structure: Internal linking is an integral part of SEO, but it’s also a way to promote your content from other pages.
- Create a solid backlink profile: Reach out to potential content creators in your niche who would link to your content pieces, products, or tools.
Pillar 4: Lead Generation
Without a steady stream of leads, your business’s growth potential becomes limited.
That’s why you must test different lead generation channels to zero in on the best-performing ones.
Here are the steps to follow.
4.1. Choose Your Channels
- Organic search: Follow the steps in section 3.
- Paid advertising: Platforms like Google Ads or Facebook Ads allow targeted advertising where you can display your ads to specific demographics or behavioral groups.
- Social media marketing: Use social channels like LinkedIn, TikTok, Instagram, and Pinterest to share content, run ads, and directly engage with potential leads.
- Email marketing: Once you have a lead’s contact information, you can give them additional value and special offers through marketing emails. Basically, email campaigns allow you to nurture and grow your relationship to get more conversions.
- Landing pages: Landing pages are specifically designed to convert visitors into leads. That’s why you must include a persuasive call to action (CTA) and a form to collect lead information.
- Lead magnets: These are valuable offers (e.g., ebooks, free trials) you can exchange for a potential lead’s contact information.
- CRM systems: Customer Relationship Management tools streamline lead management so you won’t miss any opportunities.
For instance, Zendesk uses this guide as a lead magnet:
4.2. Set Clear Objectives
Define what success looks like for each channel.
Goals can include:
- A certain number of leads
- A specific cost per lead (CPL)
- A particular conversion rate
After setting your goals, determine a preliminary budget for each channel.
4.3. Create Content
Ensure the content, messaging, and offers are tailored to the specific channel and its audience.
For instance, what works on LinkedIn might not work on Instagram.
4.4. Implement Tracking Mechanisms
Use tracking tools such as UTM parameters, tracking pixels, and CRM integrations to monitor:
- Where leads are coming from
- How they interact with your content
4.5. Monitor & Evaluate
Keep track of performance metrics for each channel using tools like:
- Google Analytics
- Facebook Ads Manager
- CRM platforms
- And more
After a predetermined testing period:
- Assess the volume of leads from each channel.
- Evaluate the quality of those leads (e.g., how many converted into customers?).
- Calculate the cost per lead and return on investment (ROI) for paid channels.
- Consider the scalability of each channel. Some channels deliver good results initially but may not scale effectively.
4.6. Adjust & Optimize
Based on the initial results:
- Refine your strategies. For instance, tweak ad copy, targeting parameters, or landing page designs.
- Reallocate budgets to better-performing channels.
- Consider A/B testing within channels to further optimize performance.
Once you’ve identified the best-performing channels:
- Allocate more resources to them.
- Continuously optimize to maintain or improve performance.
- Don’t completely abandon lower-performing channels; instead, reassess their strategies or keep them on a lower priority.
Pillar 5: Customer Retention
Customer retention should be a key part of your customer acquisition process because:
- Retaining loyal customers costs five times less than acquiring new ones.
- Long-term, happy customers have a higher customer lifetime value, spending 31% more than the average customer.
- A return customer base who loves your brand is likely to recommend your products to their loved ones.
To ensure your customer retention program goes well, consider the steps below:
5.1. Post-Purchase Engagement
Remaining on top of your customers’ minds ensures repeat purchases and recommendations because existing customers can see:
- Your brand’s values
- Potential discounts and offers
- New products in your line
- Existing products and services that complement their purchases
For successful post-purchase engagement, return to step 1, aka the market research data you’ve compiled.
Based on this data, choose the right marketing channels and messages to interact with your audience.
These can be:
- Email marketing
- Social media platforms
- Direct calls
- Your website
- And more
5.2. Loyalty Programs
Loyalty programs reward existing customers, offering discounts, points, or cash-back options.
Of course, you need to establish:
- Clear requirements, such as having made a specific number of purchases or having spent a specific sum within a certain time frame
- Motivating rewards, which differ according to your customers’ needs and the type of products you have. For example, an airline can encourage return customers with redeemable points. However, a software company might have more success with discounts.
The Marriott Bonvoy Loyalty Program is a good example.
Not only does it show clearly how people can earn points:
But this point-based program allows the brand to gather more useful insights about its customers’ behaviors. And that’s precisely what a travel app should aim for.
5.3. Exceptional Customer Service
Exceptional customer service means going out of your way to cater to your customers.
- Personal notes
- Gift wrapping products
- Complementary products or services
- Phone calls
- And more
For instance, a B2B software company can call its existing customers every month to ask for feedback.
An e-commerce clothing store can include a special accessory their clients need or a personal note.
Pillar 6: Referral Programs
Referral programs bring you more customers with less money.
So you’re not just optimizing your customer acquisition strategy.
You’re also lowering your customer acquisition costs.
Here are the steps to consider:
6.1. Incentivize Referrals
Kickstart your customer referral program with tangible benefits such as discounts, exclusive content, or freebies.
Remember: The best incentives align with your product or service and impress both the referrer and the referee.
So, make it a win-win to motivate participation.
6.2. Track Referrals
Knowledge is power. Tracking referrals ensures your program’s efficiency and helps you make data-driven decisions.
- Use tracking tools or referral codes to monitor referrals’ origins.
- Understand who your top advocates are and which incentives work best.
6.3. Reward Advocates
When someone champions your brand, show appreciation.
Pro tip: Deliver the promised rewards swiftly.
Recognizing and valuing your top referrers deepens their loyalty and encourages more referrals.
Pro tip: Celebrate and acknowledge the contributions of your brand ambassadors on your social media, too.
Pillar 7: Partnerships
Partnerships amplify your reach by tapping into already-established audiences and trusted networks.
Basically, you build credibility through association.
This leads to more efficient market penetration and customer acquisition because you can leverage shared resources and expertise.
These shared resources allow you to enhance value for customers and thus streamline acquisition efforts.
7.1. Identifying Strategic Partners
Choose partners who:
- Share the same audience as yours but aren’t direct competitors.
- Complement your products and services. For instance, a shoe retailer might partner with a sock brand. A keyword research tool might partner with a social media listening tool.
Here’s how to find those potential partners:
Customer surveys: Ask your existing customers which other services or products they use or where they spend their time online.
- Audience overlap tools: Platforms like Alexa or SimilarWeb allow you to identify websites with overlapping audience demographics and interests.
- Industry events: To enhance your network, attend trade shows, seminars, and industry events.
- Competitor analysis: Tools like Ahrefs or SEMrush can show which websites link to your competitors. These sites might be potential partners for you, especially if they don’t directly sell competing products.
- Trade associations: These trade groups often have member directories, which can be potential partnership opportunities.
- Social media: LinkedIn is particularly useful for B2B partnerships. You can identify and connect with decision-makers in complementary businesses.
- Your distribution channels: If you’re a product-based business, explore distribution channels or retailers that align with your product.
- Research publications: Industry-specific magazines, journals, and websites often feature stories about companies in your niche, which can be potential partners.
7.2. Co-Marketing Initiatives
Once partners are onboarded, brainstorm joint marketing efforts. These can range from webinars to content collaborations or bundled offers.
At inBeat, we helped Nordstrom x Wildfang promote their non-binary collection, the result of a tight collaboration between the two brands.
Side note: We used influencers to ensure representativity across the board.
Pillar 8: Influencer Marketing
Influencers have the power to shape perceptions and drive buying decisions.
Collaborating with influencers means you can leverage their trustworthiness and reach. Nano- and micro-influencers specifically have engaged communities, and you can tap into them.
Basically, it’s a cost-effective way to become more persuasive to a broader range of potential customers.
That means you’re increasing your conversion rates exponentially at lower costs.
Here’s how to leverage influencer marketing correctly:
- Define your business goals: Determine whether you aim for brand awareness, direct sales, website traffic, or another objective.
- Build your creative strategy: Use data about your company, competitors, and audience to define your creative strategy. This should include the type of social media content, channels, and your creative brief.
- Identify the right influencers: Choose influencers whose audience matches your target demographic. Also, remember that high engagement rates matter more than large follower counts. Make sure these creators publish genuine content and have close interactions with their audience.
- Negotiate: Reach out with a clear proposal. Discuss deliverables, compensation, and content guidelines.
- Collaborate: Allow creative freedom. Influencers know the intricacies of sharing content that resonates with their audience.
- Implement tracking: Use UTM parameters, affiliate codes, or custom URLs to monitor the performance of influencer campaigns.
- Evaluate and improve: Track campaign metrics like engagement, conversion rates, and ROI. Adjust strategies based on performance data.
At inBeat, we regularly use nano- and micro-influencer marketing to accelerate customer acquisition.
For example, our influencer marketing campaign for inbox decluttering app Unroll.me helped the brand fight ad fatigue.
And we also helped them cut CPAs by 75% across all channels.
The strategy was simple:
Different nano and micro-influencers showed their audiences how the app works, broadening the brand’s reach and persuading people in the consideration stage.
- Build long-term relationships because continuous collaborations lead to more genuine endorsements and better audience trust.
- Stay updated with regulations, adhering to platforms’ guidelines and legal requirements.
Pillar 9: Social Engagement
Social engagement is essential because studies show over 90% of consumers crave authentic brand interactions.
And it can also improve your customer acquisition strategy because it:
- Fosters relationships and builds trust.
- Amplifies your brand’s presence.
- Allows you to encourage organic shares and recommendations.
All of these elements – trust, visibility, and referrals – influence customer acquisition. And they also reduce churn rates.
9.1. Social Media Advertising
To harness the power of targeted ads on social media:
- Choose the right social media channel: Consider platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn.
- Customize ads: Use data from Step 1, such as user demographics, behaviors, and interests.
- Use the right messages: Social media ads need hooks, compelling visuals, and concise CTAs.
Pro tip: Monitor and tweak campaigns regularly for optimized reach and conversions.
9.2. PPC Search Advertising
Platforms like Google Ads allow you to appear atop search results. Therefore, you become more visible to the right audience.
But to achieve that:
- Research and bid on relevant keywords.
- Craft enticing ad copy and direct clicks to optimized landing pages.
- Continuously analyze performance metrics, adjusting bids and strategies for maximum ROI.
9.3. Engaging with the Audience (UGC)
User-generated content (UGC) fosters community, acts as authentic endorsements, and often outperforms brand-created content.
- Encourage users to create and share content about your brand through contests or special offers.
- Showcase UGC on your platforms.
- Celebrate loyal customers.
Pillar 10: Customer Reviews and Testimonials
Trust is the cornerstone of decision-making for many consumers.
And customer reviews and testimonials serve as social proof, showcasing real-life experiences with your product or service.
Positive reviews can drive customer acquisition because they:
- Enhance your credibility.
- Reduce purchase hesitations.
Here’s how you can use customer reviews and testimonials step by step:
10.1. Encourage Reviews
Ask satisfied customers post-purchase or after a positive interaction to leave a review on platforms like Google, Yelp, or Trustpilot.
- Consider offering small incentives like discounts or freebies for leaving a review, but always ensure customers are encouraged to be honest and unbiased.
- Implement simple review mechanisms on your site or app.
- Provide direct links to review platforms in follow-up emails or messages.
Pro tip: Avoid the temptation of fake reviews. Authenticity is key. Consumers often discern genuine feedback from fabricated endorsements, and deceit can backfire.
10.2. Showcase Testimonials
Feature standout testimonials prominently on:
- Your website’s homepage
- Landing pages
- Check-out pages
- Marketing materials
- Product packaging
- Social media
- And more
Pro tip: Use various formats, like written reviews, video testimonials, or even case studies for B2B clients.
For instance, Hootsuite showcases client testimonials right on their front page. Even better, website visitors can read full reviews to see more in-depth client opinions.
Basically, Hootsuite understands that it’s important to give potential clients all the necessary data to make informed purchase decisions. That’s how they fast-track people through the consideration stage, leading to a higher conversion rate.
10.3. Engage with Reviews
Respond to reviews, both positive and negative.
Thank customers for positive feedback and address concerns raised in negative reviews. This shows you value feedback and are committed to improvement.
Pillar 11: Analytics and Optimization
In the quest for customer acquisition, data is your compass.
Analyzing performance metrics gives insights into what’s working and what’s not. That means you can:
- Refine your strategies.
- Maximize ROI.
- Ensure you’re consistently moving closer to your acquisition objectives.
11.1. Tracking Key Metrics
Key metrics to follow in your customer acquisition strategy include:
- Customer acquisition costs (CAC): The sum you spend to get a new customer. The formula to calculate CAC is The Total Cost of Sales and Marketing / Number of Customers Acquired.
- Number of conversions: The number of people who purchase for each channel.
- Customer churn: The percentage of clients who stop using your products or services.
- Customer lifetime value (LTV): The revenue you can expect one customer to generate throughout your business relationship. The basic formula is LTV = (Average Value of a Sale) x (Number of Repeat Transactions) x (Average Retention Time in Months or Years).
These numbers provide a snapshot of acquisition efficiency, profitability, and customer loyalty.
Pro tip: Tools like Google Analytics, CRM systems, or previously assigned UTM links allow you to gather and assess these metrics.
11.2. A/B Testing & Continuous Improvement
Don’t rest on laurels even if your customer acquisition plan is successful.
Regularly split-test campaign elements, such as:
- Landing pages
- Ad copy
- Email subject lines
- Hooks for social media posts and ads
Comparing variations allows you to identify top performers and continuously refine your approach to acquire more customers.
If you read so far, you now know how to build an effective customer acquisition strategy, from market research to optimization.
The most important element across all these steps is your customers.
Understand what they need, figure out solid solutions, and communicate them correctly.
Here’s the downside:
Although this plan is simple, that doesn’t make it easy to create and implement. Customer acquisition blends multiple domains, from SEO to content creation, paid advertising, and social media management.
inBeat can help.
We helped brands like NielsenIQ, Hopper, Bumble, Prose, Bluehouse Salmon, DeuxParDeux, and many others gain more quality customers at lower costs. And we can do the same for you.
Let’s schedule a free strategy call, and we’ll build an effective strategy together according to your goals.