Every brand’s growth depends on its ability to attract new customers and drive sales from existing customers.
Attracting more first-time buyers requires a customer acquisition strategy that accounts for shifts in consumer behavior and the need for an omnichannel presence to continually engage those customers using Google, Facebook, and Amazon advertising.
Here’s a brief look at what customer acquisition is, and how today’s successful wave of digital brands leverage advertising to attract a steady stream of new customers.
Successful brands have a strong understanding of what uniquely attracts new customers to each channel and that all of these channels work together to drive overall customer acquisition for the brand.
-Jostin Munar, Senior Manager of Retail Search at CPC Strategy
What is Customer Acquisition?
Customer acquisition is the ability of a business to attract first-time buyers.
The good news is that although today’s digital landscape is more complex than ever, there are more advertising tools than ever that empower your brand to reach customers on today’s digital platforms.
Whether it’s Facebook prospecting, owning high traffic keywords on the Google SERP, or carving out your space on Amazon’s marketplace — there are many channels for businesses to leverage to reach new customers.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution, but there is a marketing funnel that all businesses use as a foundation for customer acquisition strategy.
Attract Customers With An Idea, Not A Product
Ever heard of the marketing adage, “People buy better versions of themselves, not products?”
It’s true — and it’s reason why people will pay $40 for a water bottle that has the same functionality of a $10 water bottle.
Let’s take Strong Water Bottle Co (yes, it’s a fictional brand).
They don’t just sell water bottles. They sell a lifestyle.
Their message appeals to our better instincts of wanting to be an adventurer. To get out. Be healthy. Stay hydrated. You get the idea.
Like many other fast-growing digital brands, SWBC is going to acquire new customers only if it manages to get its brand offering to the right audience.
The first-party data offered by platforms like Facebook and Google enables brands to hone in on an audience they know will engage with their message.
Even better, today’s new and improved targeting can help advertisers know when a consumer is in-market for a particular product before the consumer knows themselves.
From Stranger To First-time Customer
So how does it all work?
It’s a familiar formula — because we’ve all experienced it ourselves.
1. You’re part of a Facebook prospecting audience for people that have purchased outdoor gear in the last 30 days.
Because two weeks ago you purchased a trendy pair of Men’s outdoor camo Crocs for that upcoming camping trip your in-laws keep bothering you about.
2. You’re browsing your Facebook feed when you stumble upon an ad for Strong Water Bottle Co.
A beautiful stainless steel water bottle, complemented by adventure lifestyle imagery and messaging that somehow speaks directly to you.
“Wow, how did they know I have a camping trip coming up next month?”
But you already have three other bottles stashed somewhere in your kitchen. You disregard and continue browsing your Facebook News feed.
3. Days later, you see Strong Water Bottle Co’s ad again — this time it’s video.
It features the cool design and functionality of the bottle, plus a healthy adventurer guy resembling Bear Grylls that you once envisioned yourself to be.
“I should drink more water. Then I could be healthy like that guy. I’d go on more adventures. I’d carry it around and even take it on that camping trip.”
4. Now you’re engaged. You search their branded keywords on Google to see what comes up.
“Look, they’re at the top of the SERP. This brand looks legit.” Click.
You visit their website and browse, but don’t purchase — yet.
Strong Water Bottle Co now has you in their retargeting pixel with a 500% bid modifier — ensuring that you see their ad again.
5. It’s Friday, and you see the Strong Water Bottle Co ad again — with a discount.
The messaging is perfectly tailored to get you back in the store — and now it’s 20% off for a limited time.
You add it to cart with 3 other products you never knew you needed and check out.
Strong Water Bottle Co just acquired a new customer, and they did so by leveraging multiple digital channels to reach you at various points of the journey.
It’s just one (yet very common) example of how brands attract and acquire new customers in today’s omnichannel digital landscape.
How To Improve Your Customer Acquisition Strategy
Beyond developing your unique brand and product offering, there are three areas that digital marketers can improve upon that will directly impact their customer acquisition performance.
1. Leverage Internal and External Data For Audience Prospecting
Like the beginning of our Strong Water Bottle Co example, audience prospecting is an important foundation for any customer acquisition strategy.
An effective prospecting strategy on Facebook includes leveraging internal and external data in tandem with creative testing to best position your brand in front of new audiences that resemble your ideal customers.
HeidiJHale Increases New Users by 131.4%, Sitewide Revenue by 51.78% In 12-month Period
Custom jewelry brand HeidiJHale has seen major success in acquiring new customers by creating demand on Facebook and then sending that traffic to its website for record revenue growth through new customers.
HJH set up Google Analytics to begin collecting valuable visitor and customer behavior data — data then used to build out audiences with bids adjusted by each audience’s performance.
They scaled interest targeting by creating customer personas in line with audience data and optimized their lookalike targeting to find new customers based on best-performing seed audiences.
2. Generate Demand With Top Funnel Initiatives Across Multiple Channels
Once you have established which audiences are going to be the most receptive to your brand messaging, you can afford more time and resources to scale up your demand generation efforts.
HeidiJHale improved their performance on Facebook by improving ad copy and making more engaging creative to go with their organic and sponsored posts.
Coupled with better audience targeting, it improved overall performance on Facebook, which improved CTRs and traffic to the website.
3. Capture Demand By Driving Traffic To Your Store
With Facebook advertising efforts generating demand for HeidiJHale’s brand and product offering, they then established Google advertising campaigns to capture this demand when customers researched the brand online.
HeidiJHale discovered that the more they invested into branding and awareness on Facebook, the more traffic they received as a result of consumers searching their keywords and products on Google Search and Shopping.
It’s another example of why Facebook and Google work so well together, and why your customer acquisition strategy should span multiple channels to engage consumers throughout the funnel until they finally become your new customer.
Munar says that although Facebook works well for some brands, others may do better with upper funnel campaigns on using paid advertising on Search, Shopping, or Display.
Lifestyle brands that sell apparel or supplements tend to do very well with attracting customers on image-rich platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Others may find better performance by generating that same demand on other platforms like Google Shopping, Search, or even Display.
The Customer Acquisition Funnel
Customer acquisition is a process that begins with generating demand through brand awareness and product discovery through top-funnel advertising.
It ends at the bottom of the funnel when customers finally convert on an ecommerce website, social channel, Google Shopping, or Amazon store.
Successful businesses will continue to engage these customers long after they’ve converted — to drive customer retention, lifetime value, and repeat purchases.
“You attract new customers with top funnel initiatives and then drive them to convert at the bottom,” says Munar. “You want to focus in on the customer that is going to make repeat purchases and tell their friends to do the same.”
Today’s rising digital brands build out top funnel advertising campaigns to target broad audiences to generate data and then refine those audiences into smaller, laser-targeted groups that are most likely to become their next wave of new customers.
Once you’ve succeeded in attracting a first-time buyer into the funnel, the real value is in how you can get this person to continue to repeat purchase from your brand directly.
The Final Takeaway
There’s no singular strategy to acquiring new customers.
Today’s growing brands use an omnichannel acquisition strategy that spans multiple upper funnel audiences on Facebook & Instagram, Amazon, the Google Display Network, and Google Shopping..
1. Leverage internal and external data to build out your upper funnel audiences for prospecting
2. Use paid advertising on popular social channels like Facebook and Instagram to create demand with these target audiences
3. Capture demand by driving these audiences to your website or Amazon store
The Formula To Calculate Customer Acquisition Cost
The formula for calculating CAC requires totaling the costs of your paid advertising during a certain period and then dividing this amount by the number of new customers that your business acquired.
For example, let’s say Strong Water Bottle Co spent $1,000 in a single week on Search, Shopping, and Display campaigns.
During that 7-day period they acquired 50 new customers.
Given this data, Strong Water Bottle Co has a customer acquisition cost of $20 per customer.
Want to learn more about how you can engage customers throughout the entire funnel?
Google Shopping | How to Target Every Part of the Funnel
Why Paid Branded Search Matters (Or How To Lose $40k in Two Weeks)
The 2018 Amazon Sponsored Products Guide
The 2018 Facebook Advertising Guide