Customer acquisition is one of the most important elements of your eCommerce marketing strategy and a key driver of revenue.
But what are some of the options available to you? And what are the pros and cons of each?
In this blog, we’ll cover everything you need to know:
- What is a customer acquisition strategy?
- What are some examples of customer acquisition strategies?
- What role does attribution play in effective customer acquisition?
What is a customer acquisition strategy?
A customer acquisition strategy brings together the best techniques and media channels into a mix that is designed to deliver new leads and customers by targeting them on their digital and offline journeys.
7 examples of customer acquisition strategies
Customer acquisition strategies differ markedly in terms of the time and resource needed to implement them, as well as the potential upside of each.
Here are some examples of the types of customer acquisition strategies that you might want to consider (including pros and cons):
1. Taking a content marketing driven approach
Content marketing is a highly effective way for eCommerce marketers to attract, engage and convert prospects right across the customer journey. Including retaining, supporting and upselling them once you get them onboard.
This is typically driven by developing key personas for your audience – and the types of buyers who typically buy your products. Then, creating a structure programme of content that you can share with them that addresses their key needs and issues in an engaging way.
- Brand development and awareness – creating good content is a great way to develop and enhance your brand and show brand personality
- Positions you as an authority – in your space and enables you take stances that resonate with your audience
- Creates traffic – by its very nature it feeds your SEO strategy and drives traffic to your website as you build out content over time
- Drives conversion – content can have a particularly powerful conversion impact, particularly when you combine it with other approaches like email marketing
- Has an evergreen element – that doesn’t exist with many other paid options as content that is optimised continues to bring in and build traffic month-on-month and provide support right across the customer journey
- It can be a steep learning curve – with a heavy investment of time and effort to get things off the ground in the early stages
- It is a slower start strategy – by its very nature it takes time to build momentum in your content over time
- Access to high quality writers and creators can be a bottleneck – for your strategy and affect delivery times and content quality
- Measurement can be a challenge – particularly on higher funnel content although improvements in attribution modelling are making this an easier process
2. Improving your visibility via SEO
With 59% of shoppers using Google to research purchases they plan to make instore or online, ensuring that you rank well really matters for eCommerce brands.
SEO is about taking a structured and systemic approach to developing and optimising the content on your website to ensure you do exactly this.
Traditionally, a good SEO strategy had three core strands –
- technical optimisation
- keyword optimisation
However, increasingly Google has asked brand owners to focus on delivering content that provides Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness (as laid out in their E-E-A-T guidance, which internal marketers and SEO agencies are using as their ‘north star’ for optimisation now).
- Creates high quality, targeted traffic – as highly targeted keyword queries and questions on the web are often the first port of call for prospects looking for products and services
- Is a sustainable strategy – which builds up traffic over a sustained period of time which continues to perform from you brand (unlike paid marketing which stops as soon as you stop committing budget)
- Has a better conversion rate – in fact, according to Search Engine Journal, SEO has a conversion rate as high as 14.6% which outstrips many other approaches
- Takes time to create momentum with SEO – so, it isn’t something you can switch on and off overnight
- Your competition is doing SEO too – and it can be a constant battle for keep your products and services ranking ahead of them
- It is not a guaranteed results strategy – as it relies heavily on interpretation of guidance from Google which is a bit of a moveable feast and constantly changing
3. Running paid advertising campaigns
If you are looking for a strategy that can help scale your business quickly, providing rapid and easy access to online audiences, Paid Advertising has to be a key consideration for your brand.
It incorporates a number of different opportunities from Paid Search to Paid Social, including digital display advertising, and it offers marketers with budget to spend a powerful option for boosting traffic and driving growth.
One of the key benefits of this type of advertising is that, in principle, it is seen as more measurable and controllable channel relative to more traditional forms of advertising.
The rise of Google and Facebook has provided the opportunity for brands to target vast audiences using relatively sophisticated profiling capabilities.
- Quick to get up and running – versus other approaches like Content Marketing and SEO. Paid Ads are relatively quick to create and get live which means they can start to impact traffic, conversion and revenue quickly
- Offer powerful targeting capabilities – platforms like Google and Facebook can offer targeted audience profiling and behavioural data that can improve the effectiveness of your ad spend
- Can offer quick results – particularly for activity at the bottom end of the funnel like re-targeting, although competition here is fierce and has driven up CPAs in some sectors as much as 89% on Facebook marketing campaigns, according to Forbes
- Competition for space is fierce – which has traditionally only been associated with niche search terms but is increasingly part of the mainstream as the impending impact of the end of cookies sees Google being to evolve its paid search and targeted ad offerings
- iOS 14.5 has blunted the effectiveness – on platforms like Facebook where advertising targeting and measurement were severely impacted by the changes
- Doesn’t offer longevity – or ongoing benefit because when you turn spend off traffic and activity drops off right way
4. Leveraging influencer marketing
When you are considering your options around acquisition, access to audiences that suit the profile of your business is key and influencer marketing could well have role to play.
In this model, influencers effectively agree to promote your brand or products and services in return for a fee.
In a sense, influencer marketing in a certain form has always been around in that celebrities have been happy in the past to endorse brands in return for some form of payment.
However, the key difference now is that influencers (who include celebrities but other professional network builders) have built up a huge digital following across channels like YouTube, TikTok and Instagram.
And brands can tap into this.
- Can be a quick way to build reach – within a defined target audience as it effectively enables you to deliver your message via a trusted intermediary that has an active and engaged following
- Create instant relationships – as the trust generated by the influencers is passed through to you and your brand
- Quick and easy to set up – compared to more structured approaches like SEO and content marketing as infrastructure requirements are minimal by comparison
- It can be difficult to measure impact – because by its very nature the direct impact of influencer marketing isn’t as linear as other options like Paid Advertising for example.
- You can lose control over your brand – which means you should tread carefully as you are effectively aligning your brand with a 3rd party
- It introduces risk into your marketing strategy – because after you reach agreement yours and the influencers brand are inextricably linked. And any negative publicity associated with their brand reflects back on you
5. Harnessing the power of social media
Social media is an option that, done well, can provide scale and reach for your marketing efforts.
However, it is important to be really clear about where your audience is and how you are going to reach them.
For example, 61% of Instagram users are in the 18 to 34 year-old age bracket. Which is an ideal audience for brands offering:
But perhaps less relevant for brands offering senior travel insurance and hearing support products.
The key to success here, is to have a combination of:
- a structured approach to creating and publishing the type of content your audience wants to see
- a quick and reactive approach to engaging with them as they comment and share your content across the web and other social channels
- Social provides enormous reach – and access to a highly engaged audience
- Connect directly with your audience – in way that you can’t on other channels without the distraction of competitive messaging
- Deepen brand loyalty – as increased engagement deepens their understanding and engagement with your brand
- It can be a big multiplier – as individual prospects and customers share your messaging and content with their personal networks
- It can suck up a lot of time – as social is a content hungry channel which needs effective planning and management which all takes time and resource
- Lack of control over negative feedback – while it opens up a direct conversation with the customer not everything that gets said about your brand is positive so that needs to be monitored and managed effectively
- Social results can take time – and it is not a quick-hit strategy, so if you decide to include it in your mix then be prepared to settle in for the long haul
6. Running email nurture campaigns
People have really overstated the potential death of email as a marketing channel.
While it is true that its effectiveness as a pure acquisition tool has been blunted in recent times, not least by some of the tracking challenges created by the iOS 15 update by Apple, it is still a great way to drive prospects down through your marketing funnel.
As you scoop prospects up into your database, from a wide range of channels from paid advertising to influencer marketing, only a small percentage of them are in the lower funnel ‘ready to buy’ category.
So, keeping them warm, and aware of your brand offering, as they consider their options is an ideal job for email marketing.
- Can be a cost-effective channel – if you are able to leverage existing data from prospects and customers inside your business
- Enables a high degree of personalisation – by using powerful list profiling capabilities and marketing automation data to deliver content and offers with a high degree of relevancy
- It is permission based – which means that you are targeting and engaging with prospects who have agreed to share data and want to hear from you
- Can drive conversion – by enabling you to target prospects based on their place in the funnel and deliver targeted messaging
- Email is competitive – so you need to make sure that your content stands out from the crowd and that you get engagement and click-through from the content you are sending
- Building a list takes time – in the past marketers were inclined to buy lists but all the evidence is that this is not effective. So it takes time to build your marketing lists based on interactions with people that actually want to hear from you
- You need technical expertise to do it right – and that can be an expensive undertaking as you put in place the correct resourcing from content specialists, marketing automation specialists and campaign managers to feed the content cycle
7. Starting a referral campaign
People have always relied on their peers for recommendations on products and services.
But the increasingly digital nature of our everyday lives makes it easier than ever to share the type of information that might convince a friend or colleague in your peer network to buy a product or service.
And, for brands, it is easier than ever to push discount codes, vouchers and other incentives out to customers and ask them to share on social networks and other channels.
It is also increasingly easier to measure the results of this type of activity digitally which can make referral marketing an effective choice for eCommerce marketers.
- Can save time and cost – one of the big advantages of this type of campaign is that you do a very limited amount of the work which is effectively delegated to the referrer
- You can scale quickly – if you are able to convince your existing customers to go out to their own peer networks which can have a quick and powerful network effect
- Poor customer experience can hold things back – so this needs to be a connected strategy that is geared towards ensuring high levels of customer satisfaction as a base to ask for peer referrals
- Financial constraints could be a limiter – as very often monetary incentives are need to encourage referral
The role for effective attribution in your acquisition strategies
So, there a raft of options available to eCommerce marketers as they look to boost their customer acquisition strategies.
However, one of the biggest challenges that marketers face, as they build activity across these channels, is how to get a single clear view of the effectiveness of their efforts right across their marketing mix.
Part of the challenge is that marketing is increasingly siloed and data from analytics solutions like GA and Facebook reporting – which rely on cookies and do a poor job of measuring complex user journeys – are telling their own versions of the truth and 80% of marketers are reporting concerns over AdTech Marketing bias.
As the end of third-party cookies looms, and there are questions being asked around the illegality of GA in the EU, marketers are exploring eCommerce attribution solutions, like Corvidae, which effectively rebuilds your marketing data from the ground up and provide a more accurate picture of what is working in your marketing mix.
- An introduction to marketing attribution
- The different types of attribution available
- A quick guide to attribution models
- Some key marketing attribution challenges