Customers. They’re the be-all and end-all of any business.
Everything you do, from product development to customer service and support, should revolve around who your customers are, what they need and how your product or service can fulfill that need.
But before you can delight and retain your existing customers, you need to close new customers in the first place. You need a customer acquisition strategy.
What is Customer Acquisition?
Customer acquisition refers to all of the steps, processes and resources involved in attracting a first-time customer to your business.
Brand awareness, lead generation, product marketing, nurturing and sales strategies all fall under the umbrella of customer acquisition — but the concept of customer acquisition stops as soon as your prospects officially close as a customer.
“The way I think of it,” says Guido Bartolacci, New Breed’s Head of Demand Generation Marketing, “[customer acquisition] has nothing to do with retention or keeping a customer. But it does have to do with gaining a net-new customer and ideally, ensuring that’s going to be a happy, successful customer in the long run.”
The process of customer acquisition can occur very quickly — as is often the case with freemium SaaS models — or it can happen over the course of weeks, months or years.
At New Breed, for example, we’ve nurtured prospects for several years before they finally closed.
Why Are Buyer Personas Important to Successful Customer Acquisition?
The most important thing you need to successfully attract and engage new customers is a good definition of what a “good-fit” customer looks like for your company.
“There are plenty of customers we could sell to that would become terrible customers,” explains Guido. “They might want to become customers, but they wouldn’t be a good fit for our company.”
If there’s a disconnect between how your marketing team and your services team define a good customer, then you’ll likely start acquiring customers with a high likelihood of churning and, therefore, a low overall lifetime value.
What Are the 4 Components of A Good Customer Acquisition Strategy?
According to HubSpot, “a solid customer acquisition strategy should be four things: sustainable, flexible, targeted, and diversified.”
“When I hear sustainability,” says Guido, “I think of something that’s scalable and planned for the long term.”
In other words, a sustainable customer acquisition strategy is one that can be repeated successfully even as your business grows.
“Automated workflows are a great way to make that happen,” says Guido.
For example, HubSpot has automated enrollment triggers that “push” leads through specific workflows based on their behavior on your website. If a lead takes a top-of-the-funnel action like subscribing to your blog, the system automatically enrolls them in a nurture stream to guide them to a middle-of-the-funnel action like downloading a guide or checklist.
This feature helps you nurture leads into customers without the repeated effort required by your team.
In other words, after setting up the workflow, your only job from there is “to make it better, rather than make it happen.”
A flexible customer acquisition strategy is one that can account for variations in buyer behavior.
So in the example of email nurture workflows, what happens if someone converts outside of your usual workflow?
“You’re going to build out the ideal steps that someone could take [toward becoming a customer],” says Guido, “but rarely is that the exact path that a customer will take, so accounting for the different routes a person could go down is the way to make it flexible.”
Usually, this flexibility is programmed into the enrollment triggers of your workflow.
For example, let’s say you have two workflows set up. One triggered by conversions on Content Offer A, and the other triggered by conversions on Content Offer B.
If a prospect downloads Content Offer A, then they’ll be enrolled in a nurture track encouraging them to download Content Offer C. However, if they happen to download Content Offer B in the meantime, your workflow should automatically switch to the nurture track for Content Offer B.
This way, you can capture all of the different paths a prospect might want to take into becoming your customer. No matter what path they want to take, you can make sure you’re always guiding them to the next reasonable step in your customer acquisition strategy.
A targeted customer acquisition strategy is tailored to the needs, challenges and goals of your unique buyer personas.
This targeted approach forms the basis for inbound marketing: it’s a customer-centric approach that aims to provide relevant, helpful and engaging content to leads at every stage of their buyer's journey. Because the buyer’s journey may look different for each of your personas, setting up different workflows for each is crucial to targeting them all effectively.
By creating content, workflows and other customer acquisition strategies designed to target your personas specifically, you’ll be more successful at attracting and acquiring good-fit customers.
Once you have at least one customer acquisition strategy planned out for each of your personas, you can diversify those strategies by building out more relevant content and serve it through different channels.
In other words, a targeted customer acquisition strategy doesn’t only need to look like this:
For the same persona, it could also look like this:
By building out multiple offers for each persona, you give prospects the option to choose the path that is most relevant and resonant for them.
If you have a business with an established revenue model, then you’re already using a customer acquisition strategy. The more targeted you can make that strategy, the more successful you’re likely to be in the long run.
With well-developed buyer personas, seamless marketing automation systems and a wealth of relevant content to nurture your prospects through the funnel, you have a good foundation for a successful customer acquisition strategy — now, rinse, repeat and revamp as needed.