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Biggest Value in Customer Acquisition

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shopping cart 3Most marketers regard customer relationship management as something that starts once the customer is, in fact, a customer: someone with whom the company plans to create a long-lasting connection. But if you’re thinking about CRM only once the customer has started purchasing from you, you’re already a few steps behind and may find yourself running to catch up—not a great way to begin anything!

The truth is, CRM starts even before there’s an identified customer in view., and we call it CAC—customer acquisition management. There’s an expression that goes, “start the way that you plan to go on.” The way that companies handle their acquisition process tells you a lot about the way they will handle their customers right down the line.

Think of it for a moment in human terms. Everybody remembers how they met their significant other, lifelong friends, even colleagues and business acquaintances. The way that we meet someone influences the later ongoing relationship that we have with them.

Are customers so very different?

I’d like to suggest that they aren’t. You can implement an acquisition process that makes prospects and possible customers feel like they’re part of a cattle-call, or you can give them the sense from the beginning that they will be valued and respected by your company. The choice is clear.

So what is a responsible, efficient, and “good” acquisition process?

It’s a process that begins by automatically evaluating each individual lead source, rather than lead quality and performance in the aggregate. Aggressive acquisition practices can harm a company’s inbox delivery rates and even get it listed on email reputation sites; so proceeding with traditional acquisition processes not only makes your company assume a good deal of risk, but also tells potential customers that they are of little value to your company.

What happens if you implement this process is that you will automatically identify the sources of any risky leads and eliminate those sources, as well as identifying your best-performing lead sources and subsequently increasing budget to those sources. How? By turning off lead sources that provide a disproportionate number of high-risk leads before they injure your ISP reputation, and automatically throttling to receive more leads from your best-performing, clean, low-risk lead sources.

shutterstock_130809365Many acquisition processes implement auto-responders for new-customer signups. That’s all well and good, but it’s time that we went beyond auto-responders. What that means is setting up a system to immediately nurture leads, and that system includes a cascade of behavior-based promotional emails. In other words, not every lead gets the same cascade—it depends on what the person did, requested, commented on, or filled out, just as once they become customers, people get cascades that react to the actions they take.

From that initial cascade you can move your customers neatly into a series of transition marketing cascades; but, again, it’s essential to go beyond the obvious. While you want to begin with the traditional mailings that introduce customers to your brand, this is the best time to incorporate live data into the mix. We used to think of transition marketing as introducing the company to the customer, but now it’s also about introducing the customer to the company, as you keep track of where and what your customer is doing, saying, clicking, sharing … and respond to all that data immediately.

Like all really great CRM, this concept isn’t just good for customer relationships, it’s also good for business. When it’s implemented correctly, you can see amazing results: using this process, companies have tripled their conversion rates while protecting their inbox reputations; and that makes everyone happy.

Essentially what this CRM-oriented acquisition process does is treat leads as valued customers even before they become customers. Which may be the biggest value of all.

Black Friday sale

Best Offers for Best New Customers

special offer stampThink of your online offer to a prospect as a first impression, the digital equivalent of your opening greeting. That 160-character introduction to your brand can make—or break—someone’s notion of who you are and what you sell… and could determine whether or not they buy from you.

An offer can perhaps be the most important part of customer acquisition, the beginning of the whole customer acquisition management process, and it’s frequently overlooked or only given limited attention. Yet that first subject line and that first offer must capture and hold your prospect’s attention … and motivate them to make a purchase!

So you may want to start with a few questions. What are you currently saying to your clients, in store or online? What marketing messages have worked for you in the past? What are your competitors doing and saying?

The real issue lies in the fact that every prospect source requires different messaging, and messaging is the key to customer acquisition. Messaging is not one-size-fits-all, and here as in the rest of email marketing, there’s only one way to find out what offers work: test, test, test.

Start by looking at your various customer acquisition tools, which may include banners, co-registration, email, trade publication ads, third-party emails, and others. Each will require a different offer. And to improve results further, you’ll want to create different offers for different customer segments from within each channel, so you may end up with sublists of appropriate offers.

The more you can segment, the more your offers can target the most likely group of consumers for your services or products.

black Friday sale 2There are myriad options and you need to nail down a strategy for testing. It’s important that you don’t just stick to one method: multivariate testing will yield the most information. But remember, the more knowledge you have about what works and what doesn’t, the better position you’ll be in to attract targeted customers who will actually make a purchase. So also try A/B splits and test the offer itself—should it be free shipping? Discounts? Coupons?

Be sure that you have a plan behind the testing and aren’t just throwing out random changes. Determine what you want to test based on what you want to learn, then track results, and tweak as necessary.

Whatever you test, there are a few constants: keep the copy light, and keep the call to action large. No matter what customer acquisition tool you’re using, you still have only a few seconds to catch and hold a prospect’s attention. Make those seconds count for you by presenting something relevant and targeted—and by presenting it in such a way that it clearly seems irresistible to the consumer.

Want to learn more about customer acquisition? We’re here to help: CertainSource Acquire offers real customer acquisition management to fill your sales funnel and deliver valuable new customers. Why not ask us how today?

email on computer monitor

Test, Rinse, Repeat

flying envelopesA marketing strategy is the best first step that you can take when you want to acquire new customers: that’s not exactly rocket science. You think about how to market your business, your product, or your service. You look at where your ideal customer is most likely to connect with you, and you optimize your presence there and plan your acquisition budget accordingly. You launch your campaign and hope for the best.

Wait—hope for the best?

The only way to know whether or not your plan is working is to test it. Analytics are your friend: they tell you who is responding to your outreach, when they’re responding, and where they’re doing it:

  • Where is traffic coming from?
  • What outside factors boost traffic (blog posts, tweets, offline networking events, etc.)?
  • What pages are viewed most often and for how long?

 

Envelope e-mail Flat icon with log in buttonThink about your ultimate goal for converting prospects into customers and evaluate your marketing tactics accordingly. If your initial assumptions were way off-base, you have an opportunity to change your next campaign and use that information to your advantage.

There are so many metrics, however, that it’s easy to feel like you’re drowning in data. Big data might be a terrific thing to obtain and use, but for day-to-day customer acquisition, you need something more compact, easy to interpret, simple to use.

Where do you begin? We’d like to suggest that you start by evaluating what your current customer acquisition campaigns are doing through our free Source Efficiency Index consultation. It can give you a score that tells you where your budget is being spent effectively, and when it is not. Testing is only effective when you have a baseline to which you can compare your ongoing efforts.

Make sure that your marketing plan for customer acquisition is working as hard as you are. We’re happy to help you see where you need to make changes, and help you increase your lead-to-customer ratio. Why not ask us how today?

shopping cart abandoned after usage

Don’t Let Your Potential Customers Leave Empty-Handed!

Simple green shopping cartWhile shopping cart abandonment is well documented as a powerful driver of revenue for online companies, 95% of email subscribers visiting your website never get to the shopping cart. They leave before selecting any items. And we’d like to suggest that that is the very definition of leaving a lot of money on the table.

Working with over 50 companies to reengage subscribers who visit their website using email, whether or not these subscribers ever visit the shopping cart, we have seen significant results.

Here’s the thing: Website abandonment emails typically make up less than two percent of the total volume of email each of these companies send in a month, and yet these emails deliver over 25% of the total revenue driven in direct response from email.

Two percent of the volume of email sent, 25% of revenue. Do the math: that’s fewer emails and more money. Fewer emails, fewer inbox delivery challenges, more money. It’s not rocket science.

How does it work?

Marketers identify their email subscribers as soon as they show up at their website; they keep track of the pages they visit. They also track when these customers leave the website without making a purchase.

Twenty minutes or so after leaving the website, the customer receives an email postcard. The postcard lists current sales and offers. If there is a current discount code, it’s included. If there is a current coupon, it’s included. If there is free shipping, the customer is told of that offer.

envelope iconAnd it all links back to the website to make a purchase. It’s as simple as that.

These emails include current offers, coupons, and/or discounts. They “never” offer elevated promotions which might simply train buyers to leave the website to get the company’s best offers.

The opportunity is enormous. Tracking over 50 companies with website abandonment email programs in place, the results are impressive:

  • consistently over 50% open rates
  • click-to-open rates over 30 percent
  • conversion rates (sales) of anywhere from six to 70 times those of the companies’ regular promotional email campaigns, no matter how well they are targeted
  • revenue generated is 25% or more of the total revenue the company drives from all its email campaigns

 

This is truly low-hanging fruit. Website abandonment email reminders to use a discount code or a coupon or to take advantage of free shipping before the offer expires, delivered to customers at exactly the right moment, while they are still online and thinking about your company, adds a new dimension to customer convenience that is appreciated and drives sales.

Website reengagement is an opportunity to reach out to customers from every page of your website, and to send tailored messages based on specific pages the customer visited on the site. A carefully designed and implemented website abandonment strategy immediately isolates undecided customers, gives them the opportunity to return and make a purchase, and improves the marketer’s ability to gain additional return on investment from regular customers.

Want better ROI? Forget the shopping cart and optimize your whole website for reengagement!

 

People shop at Apple shop in Bondi, Australia

4 Ways to Spend Your Customer Acquisition Budget Effectively

shopping cart on mobile phoneB2C marketers have more choices than ever when it comes to spending their lead-generation dollars, and that means that it’s really easy to spend your budget haphazardly. But you can spend your customer-acquisition budget wisely and effectively if you follow four simple steps:

Measure to ROI. Most marketers get caught up in the nonessentials of customer acquisition: clicks, impressions, even opens are less important than the money that you are making—or not making—from that prospect. You are investing dollars in your customer-acquisition program, so you need to measure its effectiveness in dollars too.

Move quickly. Amassing lists of prospects won’t help you if you are not prepared to move quickly to convert them into customers. This is what will distance you from the competition. Remember that lost time always equates to lost money in lead generation. Launch, optimize … and do it quickly.

Toss garbage data. No marketer likes to throw anything away, but there are email addresses in your database that will never make a purchase. You are looking for opportunities that will move you forward, not useless data that will hold you back. Nate Silver says that “the signal is the truth. The noise is what distracts us from the truth.” In this case, you can equate the “signal” to your best prospects, while the “noise” is the tracked behavior of the other 90% that you’re holding onto.

buying online. E-commerce conceptFollow up. Studies have shown a 45% improvement in lead-generation ROI for companies that nurture leads. With that in mind, make sure that your followup uses the best segmentation available so that you can zero in on your prospects. Remember that personalized emails deliver six times higher revenue per email than non-personalized emails, so segmenting your followup is just as important than the segmentation you’ll be doing once these prospects become customers.

In addition, automating this process is the fastest and most reliable way to spend acquisition budgets efficiently. The B2C ecosystem of customer acquisition is complex, so make sure that the leads you pay for are the ones that will bring you the best possible ROI. At CertainSource, we automate the system while making sure that the best lead sources are used and poorly performing ones throttled. Isn’t it time you found out how we can help you?

Christmas market in Frankfurt, Germany

Holiday Emails: Tips That Work!

Christmas sale let's go shoppingAs we all get ready for the holiday season, we thought it would be a good time to get back to basics and ensure that all of your holiday emails are viewed just the way that you want them to. So here’s what we might call Email 101; tips to bear in mind this holiday season – and all year!

  1.  Only use basic HTML. You know why. That includes JavaScript and HTML layers – messages with scripts can get blocked or stripped by the email client/browser. If you want to use dynamic elements, send recipients to your website instead. Don’t use rich-media functions (like video, inline audio or flash). Keep background images to a minimum and understand that they will not appear in some email clients.
  2. Along the same lines, use caution if you’re using cascading style sheets. CSS can cause rendering problems in some email clients; it may also get stripped out or overwritten. If you are using CSS, choose the inline embedded style, and place it within body tags, not in the header.
  3. Create HTML with a maximum pixel width of 600; this means that your customers won’t have to do any horizontal scrolling; we often forget that the window in which email is displayed is rarely a full screen wide. Make sure that you test your width in as many email clients as you can before sending the email out.
  4. woman hand with smartphone snowCreate separate emails to be viewed on mobile. Mobile calls not just for responsive design, but for clearer and easier calls to action.
  5. Keep the length of your emails reasonable. This will keep the email from being filtered out (viruses live in very large files).
  6. Image issues are important to consider. The more complex they are, the longer they’ll take to load. If an email takes too long to load, the customer may move on without viewing it. Slow loading of images can be helped if you use alt tags to name the image – at least the customer then sees what it is about as it loads, and is more likely to stay with you. Finally, don’t use 1 x 1 pixel spacer gifs (generally used to force widths in table data cells); the spacers are commonly used in spam and so, again, your email could be filtered out.
  7. This may seem obvious, but it isn’t always: design your email to read top to bottom, and left to right.
  8. No matter how well you format your message, it will never be visible to everyone. So make it easy for customers to follow a link from the email to a page on your website where the offer or message is repeated. Put the link at or near the top of your message so it can be seen and clicked right away.

 

All of these considerations should help you present clean, workable emails that will get your message across during the busy holiday season!

content flowing into shopping bag

5 Tips for Customer Acquisition Through Content Marketing

Twitter bird on smartphoneFor many people, the term “content marketing” is roughly equivalent to the term “blog.” Right? But it isn’t so: the reality is that blogs are a very small part of content marketing. In fact, content marketing refers to any digital communication: a well-written email is content, a video is content, a great landing page is content, and social media posts are content.

So what kind of content marketing will help you with customer acquisition? There are five pieces of content that can be particularly useful in promoting your brand and attracting followers, visitors, and prospects… and then turning them into customers.

  1. Blog posts: Yes, of course, you probably could have guessed that we’d begin with blog posts, since they are indeed what first comes to mind when most people think content. What blog posts can become customer-acquisition tools? Posts that are helpful, useful, informative, posts that show your brand to be aware of what’s going on in their world and has prepared a thoughtful response to it, these are blog posts that people will read, think about, and eventually act upon.
  2. Micro-content: Tweets, LinkedIn, and Facebook posts can’t go into the same detail that blog posts do, but they can point new audiences to your blog, your website, and other longer content that you have on offer. On their own, your micro-content can intrigue, engage, and interest potential customers.
  3.  White papers: Blogs and micro-content pieces are conversational in tone, easy to read, and generally pull prospects in. Once at your site, however, you have to deliver the goods—that is, some more serious and useful information. White papers written on the subjects that are important to your prospects and customers deliver in-depth information that clearly shows you as a thought leader.
  4. blog on typewriter keysIndustry articles: Speaking of being perceived as a thought leader, writing articles that are placed in industry publications also indicates that prospects can trust your knowledge—and your generosity in sharing it for free. Make sure that your bio points them to a landing page where they can sign up for your email list.
  5. Sales page: The the most important of all the content marketing that you do is your sales page: presenting exactly the right content after your prospect has read all your other content is what finally will make the sale.

 

Content marketing is as important for B2C marketers as it is for B2B marketing firms, and will lift your customer acquisition significantly when used as an integral part of your overall marketing strategy.

infographic concept of purchasing product via internet, mobile shopping communication and delivery service. Buy Online.

Artificial Advancement for Customer Acquisition

car being washedHere’s an interesting story:

Two researchers, Joseph Nunes and Xavier Drèze, conducted a customer loyalty experiment with a car wash and they found that “artificial advancement” increases customer loyalty by 82%. On two consecutive Saturdays, they gave out loyalty cards to car wash patrons. Half of the cards required eight car washes to earn a free car wash. The other half required 10, but instead of requiring the full 10, the car wash gave a two-car wash head-start as a free bonus. This bonus is known as artificial advancement.

During the next nine months, 28 out of 150 people earned a free car wash when they didn’t receive artificial advancement. However, 51 out of 150 people earned a free car wash when they received artificial advancement.

Screen Shot 2014-11-14 at 8.09.12 AMWhy does it work? People are more likely to complete tasks when they’re closer to the finish line. When you start with a loyalty card, and you only have one car wash punched, that means you’re 12.5% complete. But when you start with a loyalty card that has three car washes to start, you’re 30% complete. Even though the patrons need the same eight car washes, in one instance they’re 70% away from the finish line… whereas in the other case they’re 87.5% away.

So you can do a lot with that concept in email marketing. Make an offer to your current subscribers that will earn them something free, and then give them some artificial advancement toward that goal. Especially in the holiday buying season, this can be a powerful inducement to keep consumers’ shopping in one place—your website!

 

lead generation

Want Better Customers? Get Cleaner Leads!

recruitment, hand holding human, blue background, flat and shadow themeEveryone wants clean leads. It’s the law, for one thing. It’s cost-efficient, for another. It helps with your company’s ROI. But as you already know, lead cleansing can be a problem. Your brand’s reputation, your customer-acquisition budget, and your final ROI are all on the line.

Co-reg has somehow become a dirty word in marketing, and many marketers are not taking advantage of an important lead and prospect generation tool. Co-reg simply means that the lead has signed up for more than one offer or agreed to have third-party offers sent to them. That’s it. Nothing evil lurks below the surface. In a sense, these are “shared” leads, leads that are getting emails from other people. There’s nothing inherently wrong with doing co-reg. The issue lies in the increased possibility of having some impure data collected along the way.

The reality is that almost all purchased leads end up being co-reg leads, since most lead generation services sell their leads to more than one retailer—who then may sell them to several customers. How much have you been paying for “exclusive” email leads? How much have you been paying for clean ones?

There are four easy steps you can take to ensure clean leads:

  1. Don’t start out too big! Some companies begin with an overwhelming 10,000 leads per day, most of which will need to go into the gutter. Go slowly, and be patient.
  2. Use all available technology. Technology can tell you at the front end—where it’s the most important—whether or not an email address is valid.
  3. Target the right places.
  4. Know where your name is being used. Blind networks don’t tell you where they’re placing your offers. Some affiliate networks and reputable publications will tell you.

shoppingOnce you’re sure about your leads being clean, you can think about activity on those leads.

It may seem like common sense, but many companies fail to contact leads in a timely manner. (By “timely,” I really mean “immediately.”) The Harvard Business Review audited 2,241 U.S. companies, measuring how long each took to respond to a web-generated test lead.

Although 37% of these companies responded to their leads within an hour, and 16% responded within one to 24 hours, 24% took more than 24 hours—and 23% of the companies never responded at all. The average response time, among companies that responded within 30 days, was 42 hours.

You can do better than that!

social media, communication in the global computer networks.

Customer Acquisition Starts At The Source

nighttime city BeijingCustomer acquisition: every marketer’s headache and holy grail. It doesn’t have to be mysterious: obtaining high-quality new customers with a minimum of risk to your reputation and to inbox deliverability starts at the source.

That’s right. It’s a process that begins by automatically evaluating each individual lead source, rather than lead quality and performance in the aggregate. Aggressive acquisition practices can harm a company’s inbox delivery rates and even get it listed on email reputation sites; so proceeding with traditional acquisition processes not only makes your company assume a good deal of risk, but also tells potential customers that they are of little value to your company.

What happens if you implement the process is that you will automatically identify the sources of any risky leads and eliminate those sources, as well as identifying your best-performing lead sources and subsequently increasing budget to those sources. How? By turning off lead sources that provide a disproportionate number of high-risk leads before they injure your ISP reputation, and automatically throttling to receive more leads from your best-performing, clean, low-risk lead sources.

And then we come to live data.

Many acquisition processes implement auto-responders for new-customer signups. That’s all well and good, but it’s time that we went beyond auto-responders. What that means is setting up a system to immediately nurture leads, and that system includes a cascade of behavior-based promotional emails. In other words, not every lead gets the same cascade—it depends on what the person did, requested, commented on, or filled out, just as once they become customers, people get cascades that react to the actions they take.

Shirahama Hot Spring FootbathFrom that initial cascade you can move your customers neatly into a series of transition marketing cascades; but, again, it’s essential to go beyond the obvious. While you want to begin with the traditional mailings that introduce customers to your company, this is the best time to incorporate live data into the mix. We used to think of transition marketing as introducing the company to the customer, but now it’s also about introducing the customer to the company, as you keep track of where and what your customer is doing, saying, clicking, sharing … and respond to all that data immediately.

This isn’t the only route to customer acquisition… but it’s one of the best!