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Connecting with New Customers

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Browse And Buy Keys For Online ShoppingMore and more customers are shopping online … and being more and more careful about doing it. The good news is that email subscriptions are up, as people who previously shopped at upscale department stores move to the internet to look for deals and to save travel costs.

When you receive new subscribers, especially this late in the selling season, it’s critical to connect with them right away. Why?

  • The more time that passes between sign-up and the first regular delivery, the greater the chance that subscribers will forget that they subscribed and will flag the email as spam.
  • Those subscribers who actively sought out your newsletter and subscribed may become annoyed at not receiving email within a week or two, and may feel like they have to take the time to resubscribe. The delayed or failed delivery will hurt the customer’s impression of your brand and cast doubt on the reliability of your website and IT systems.
  • You’re missing out on possible sales. Subscribers who start receiving emails earlier are more likely to make a purchase earlier, because they were already in the mode of shopping or interacting with the retailer.

E-shoppingA study by MediaPost on new subscriptions indicated that retailers who took longer than two weeks to deliver—or failed to deliver—had problems with delays or non-deliveries.

The study showed that mega-retailers were just as likely as smaller retailers to have these delays and failures. And, disturbingly, more than 55 percent of those who took more than 14 days to begin sending regular email had previously sent welcome emails. So a quickly delivered welcome email was no guarantee of a quickly delivered regular email.

Make sure that you take advantage of the recent lift in online sales for the holidays by quickly bringing new customers into the fold!

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Holiday Shopping and New Customer Retention

Pile of red Christmas gifts,snow on grey wooden background.We all talk about holiday customer acquisition, and of course the holiday season is when a whole lot of new customers come on board. That’s exciting, sure. But many of them are not customers who are going to stay around once January’s returns and sales are over, and that has to be figured in to any acquisition strategy.

It’s easy to lose sight of customer acquisition as a goal, when the dollars are adding up in December. There’s surely enough to do already—special sales, special offers, targeting this or that demographic, tweaking the campaigns … but the smart marketers are also launching campaigns aimed at retaining these new customers and increasing the likelihood of a lifetime relationship.

Portrait of a young teenager tourist visiting the city and carrying paper shopping bags while leaning on a fashion store window, using her smartphone device and smiling.By creating a transition window comprising a set period of time, and a program of strategically designed transition messages, you can optimize the return on your acquisition budget and collect data that will ensure long-term results and define the value of acquisition programs and sources. It begins with specially designed mailings that introduce customers to the company, give them a sense of who the company is and how it does business, makes sure that customers know how to access more information, etc. Prospects and new customers are also offered special benefits: a new-members-only sale, for example, or a series of coupons or special discounts for new members.

The emphasis is on making these prospects and new customers feel special and appreciated so that they value the company and are ready to be taken to the next level. And isn’t that what you’d really like for Christmas this year? Why not make holiday shopping a point of departure as well as an end in itself?

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Who’s Giving Gifts?

Gift boxes with bokeh background of Christmas lightsAs we pass the halfway point of the holiday selling season and continue to press for more new customers, it’s important to remember the holiday part of that equation. People aren’t just buying, they’re buying gifts.

So if you’ve been continuing to target only your primary demographics—i.e., your typical buyer—you may want to expand that focus somewhat as you tweak your customer-acquisition campaigns, because gift-givers are probably coming out of a different demographic. Even though a particular paid search campaign or SEO keyword  might not be profitable during the non-holiday period, gift-givers might be relying on them for their holiday shopping. They may hang out on different social media sites, see advertisements in different publications, and belong to different mailing lists.

Remember the golden rule of customer acquisition: it costs a great deal more to acquire a customer than it does to retain one, and that figure is even higher during the season. So once you’ve gotten that gift-giver to sign on and make a purchase, make it worth their while to stay on as well with special promotions and welcome messages.

Christmas shoppingRemember, too, that gift-givers may not be familiar with your product or service. This is a situation that calls for patience. Imagine that you’re explaining your business to your 80-year-old grandmother, and create a webpage just for that person. You’re far more likely to retain your new gift-givers if you can present a good case for them to buy from you for themselves as well as others.

It’s December 15th, so it’s not over yet: it’s a good time to see what the new gift-givers are buying and target their demographic with more offers. That’s the best gift that you’ll get this season: the gift of new customers!

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It’s Mobile Customer Acquisition for the Holidays

shutterstock_174167894There’s already a generation in place that cannot remember life before mobile devices. Your customers and prospects use smartphones and tablets for waking up in the morning, finding their way when lost, watching business videos, listening to their favorite tunes, sending them reminders … oh, yes, and shopping. So if you’re not mobile-optimized for all of your holiday shopping advertising—your emails, your website, your banner ads—then you’re losing a lot of potential new customers to your competition.

Don’t believe us? Then consider this year’s Black Friday stats: according to the IBM U.S. Retail Black Friday Report, on Thanksgiving, smartphones and tablets accounted for 52.1 percent of all online traffic, exceeding traditional desktop computers and laptops for the first time.

At a recent conference by the Association of National Advertisers on holiday customer acquisition through mobile devices reported by the New York Times, Ron Amram, senior marketing director of Heineken USA,

was also an evangelist for mobile, describing it as “potentially the most powerful marketing platform” and one that ought to be considered “before you think about digital, before you think about television.” Among the reasons he gave for his effusive endorsement were ubiquity (“Mobile is everywhere”), engagement (“Everything is experiential with the phone in your hands”) and personalization (“It is the remote control to your life”).

Mobile ads also provide “targetability,” Mr. Amram said, in that they can be aimed at people through “demographics, what platform they’re using, behavior, time of day, social interest, geo-location, hyper-location.”

Santa with laptop inside shopping cart. E-commerce concept.Moreover, the use of mobile—and marketers’ attention to it—provides what CertainSource CEO Neil Rosen predicted would happen in his book Chatter Marketing: the ability of marketers to follow prospects’ and customers’ current needs and respond to them in real time: here’s what another conference speaker had to say:

“If Netflix had access to my smartwatch, my smart thermometer and a camera in my room, it could offer more robust recommendations,” Mr. DuBravac said, and, “If I’m depressed, it’s cold, I’m alone,” Netflix might recommend a Nicholas Sparks movie he may not otherwise want to watch.

Which means more targeting, and more finely tuned targeting, than ever before. New-customer acquisition through mobile during the holiday selling season is customer acquisition on steroids: your opportunities for acquiring (and keeping) valuable new customers by focusing on mobile campaigns and the data available through those campaigns are there for the taking.

 

Holiday Search Tips for New Customer Acquisition

Holiday PackageThe holiday season is a competitive one. But there’s still time to get a little extra mileage out of your campaigns before all the money’s been spent!

  • Focus on your paid advertising now. This is the route to the quickest results in search marketing, and it will get you the most bang for your buck throughout December. Pay close attention to your creative: that’s where you’re catching (and holding!) consumers’ attention.

 

  • Decorate your website for the holidays! If you haven’t already done so, make sure that your website has specific pages for holiday specials. Provide anchor links from your home page and backlinks from other sites as possible.
  • Xmas PresentThis isn’t the time to neglect content! One of the adages of SEO is that your site should not only sell, but be a resource in your industry. So take those special holiday-specific pages and fill them with tips! Everyone’s looking for extra help at this time of year: make sure that you’re there for them. (Don’t make the tips useful exclusively for your products, however: consumers want to trust you to give them real information, not something that directs them into the sales funnel.)

 

  • Check out what people are searching for in your industry and take notes: everything you learn this year can be put to good use in 2015!

 

 

 

 

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The Holidays Are a Great Time to Gain New Customers!

holiday shopping cartYou’re partway into the holiday shopping season, and you’re probably already looking at your analytics to see how you’re doing. If they’re not where you want to be, there are some things you can still do to tip those figures in your favor!

1. Offer free shipping: A recent study from Retention Science showed that people are twice as likely to make a purchase when offered free shipping versus being offered a percentage markdown.

2. Watch your subject lines: The holidays are no time to be sloppy about your A/B testing of subject lines. The right ones will get your emails opened (and the right offer inside will get them acted upon). Test your subject lines and make sure that only the most effective ones are going out.

3. Think mobile: We’ve been saying it for some time—responsive design is no longer simply optional. If you want to reach all possible prospects this holiday season, make sure that they can read and act on your offers easily from mobile devices. Try putting out some special offers for mobile-only prospects and customers.

Woman holding colorful shopping bags in snowy night4. What’s coming up? In your emails, include a small “sneak peek” of an upcoming special or sale a couple of days before the offer goes live. People are all about planning this season: help them do it, and make them feel special in the process by including a promo code they can use for an additional percentage off.

5. Don’t stop in December: Everyone breathes a sigh of relief in January, but that’s a great time to lose all the new customers you’ve acquired if you don’t continue to be attentive to them. Plan now for a January 2015 campaign!

Add these simple strategies into your holiday marketing mix for best results.

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Stop Qualifying in the Aggregate!

lead generationThere are any number of lead-generation platforms out there, all of them promising the impossible: better customers, more active customers, customers who will become brand advocates. They’re all saying the same thing, and nearly every one of them is doing the same thing: buying customer lists in the aggregate, and hoping that there won’t be too many duds in the lot to generate risk.

“Hoping,” I’d like to suggest, is possibly not your best customer-acquisition tool.

Amassing email lists—that may or may not be relevant to and generate income for your company—can backfire and hurt your online reputation. ISPs may stop delivering your emails. You could get blacklisted, marked as spam.

We’d like to suggest another way of thinking about new-customer acquisition. Rather than thinking about leads (that is, going for numbers, what we’ve all been conditioned to do), we think it’s important to think about qualified prospects.

What makes a prospect qualified?

Well, the common way of thinking about qualification has always been in terms of demographics: if that individual or company fit into a certain list of qualifiers (financial, verticals, geography, etc.) then the prospect was qualified.

row of lightbulbsBut demographics are static and, at the end of the day, not of much real use. What qualifies a prospect today is live data—in other words, something that they did. They clicked, they opened, they filled out a form, they asked for information: this constantly moving stream of data culled from websites, social media sites, and email is how companies today determine who is a qualified prospect.

The live data, when received, should trigger an immediate response from you, and that’s the beginning of chatter marketing: companies responding to the actions taken by prospects and customers, rather than telling prospects and customers what it is that we think they need.

Forget about leads and think about lead sources: when the source is qualified, the lead is likely to be as well. Qualifying at the source lowers your risk, raises your deliverability, and ensures that the quality of your prospects remains high. Not many companies do it; we do. Why not give CertainSource a try today?

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Customer Acquisition and Your Own Social Media

social-network_110002551-012814-intWith more and more people are spending their online leisure time actively participating in social communities of one sort or another, these communities represent a terrific opportunity for online marketers — who have, however, typically found them difficult to penetrate and monetize.

Yet there’s a great deal about these social communities that could benefit marketers. A study by the Howard Rheingold Associates notes four distinct assets:

  1. creating an early warning system (social network sites are the first places that problems with products or services appear)
  2. connecting people and building relationships
  3. creating an ongoing shared social space for geographically-dispersed individuals
  4. amplifying innovation (groups that are excited about something generally want to help it improve).

One model that provides all of these identified assets is a private branded social network that uses a social networking portal to enable community members (customers, prospects, subscribers) to set up personal social networks akin to private discussion groups — but with clear branding and easy access back to the marketer’s website.

What happens inside these social communities?

  • members share content, photos, and files
  • members give the emarketer feedback on products and services via forums
  • members click on links at the community homepage that generate revenue for the emarketer
  • as they become more involved in and committed to the network, members invite their friends and family to join their discussion group(s), providing viral growth and content development that enhances search engine optimization mileage as they link back to the emarketer’s site.

And once they are involved, members become customers.

social media world in your handsAllowing subscribers to create their own personal social networks or discussion groups related to your company’s products or services creates the social aspects of community that consumers are looking for within a theme they can and want to relate to:

  • A company in the fashion industry could enable subscribers to build personal networks relating to fashion shows, fashion do’s and don’ts, what’s hot and what’s not, great deals on the latest clothes, and so on.
  • A pet-supply company might encourage networks in which members share pet photos and stories, grooming and health tips for pets, an “ask the veterinarian” forum, run member contests, etc.
  • A company providing content and supplies to diabetics could enable members to share diabetic recipes with one another, with another “ask the doctor” forum option.

 

As people in these discussion groups share information and chat, they do so within the branded portal of the sponsoring company. In addition, they participate in forums posted by the sponsoring company and interact with the company through feedback and other links tied directly to the company’s website.

Branded social communities build brand awareness, improve search-engine ranking, keep customers engaged for a longer period of time, and add a powerful acquisition program to any company’s overall marketing strategy.

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What Are Your Customer Acquisition Resources?

moneyThe cost of acquiring a new customer can be broken down many different ways, and companies/brands are usually pretty good at figuring out what financial outlay goes into customer acquisition.

But there are other costs as well, costs that aren’t always figured into the spreadsheets. One of your greatest resources is time, and time is the easiest resource to lose track of! Just consider for a moment some of the time factors in customer acquisition:

  • The time your sales team spends on getting people onto your sales pipeline
  • The time you spend on social media outreach
  • The time you spend networking
  • The time you spend converting a customer from warm to paying
  • The time you spend on supplier calls or deals (with minimums to help provide you with the necessary inventory to sell onto your new customers)
  • The time you spend on sales channel calls or deals

 

time is money hourglassAnd then, of course, there’s the money. The cost to acquire new customers is generally higher than most companies assume. Some years ago David Skok did an interesting analysis that still, by and large, holds true.

One of the more interesting things that this model shows is how rapidly cost of customer acquisition climbs If your leads require human touch to convert them. This human touch can be as light as email follow ups, or as much as inside sales people doing multiple sales calls and demos. I have seen this cost vary from around $400 to $5,000 per customer acquired, depending on the level of touch needed.

One of the things that CertainSource does is eliminate that very expensive need for human touch: CertainSource Acquire automates the process, so that you’re not only getting the best possible leads from the best possible sources, but you’re also automating the process, lowering your CAC dramatically.

We’d love to show you more. Want to know how you stack up in terms of your current acquisition efforts? Try a free demo of our Source Efficiency Index today!

 

content flowing into shopping bag

Understanding the Dynamics of Customer Acquisition

buying online. E-commerce conceptUnderstanding consumers’ buying patterns is essential all year long, but especially during this, the holiday buying season. You can learn a lot through studies that show how, when, where, and why people make purchases, and align your customer acquisition management strategy with that information for best results.

  • Understand who you’re selling to. Consumers’ spending patterns fall into three general types: tightwad, average, and spendthrift. Each type needs a different marketing approach. We generally know how to approach a spendthrift or an average spender; but give some thought to the tightwads you want to approach, and infuse more added-value into your sales pitch when you’re targeting them.
  • We all know that the concepts of urgency and frequency spur prospects and customers to action, but a Rutgers study found that they only work when there’s an immediate follow-up showing the consumer what action to take. Clear action steps are essential to capture the energy of that urgency.
  • In a paper published by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, researchers found that setting a minimum amount when soliciting donations made it more difficult for people to decline and in fact a small defined amount request was more likely to be successful than not putting any amount on the table. Marketers can use this to their advantage in a number of ways: offering a special shipping price for “three or more items,” giving a discount when an order goes over a $50 minimum, etc.
  • Competitive advantageWork the competition. No, this doesn’t mean stealing their customers, but be very aware of what differentiates you from your major competitors. Think of the Mac versus PC commercials. Differentiating your brand from the competition through a similar either/or proposition will get more people on board and build brand loyalty. Read some of Henri Tajifel’s work for more information on this impulse toward social differentiation.
  • Keep it simple. Another study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that when people can recall something easily and quickly, they’re much more likely to have positive feelings about it. This speaks volumes to the power of content marketing: having your brand’s name in front of your target audience will help them with this recall—and associate positive feelings about your brand.

 

Understanding how, when, and why consumers are most apt to purchase your services or products is essential to getting them to sign on as customers. Keep an eye on your competition, keep your name in front of people via content marketing, pay attention to studies that show how people interact with brands, and keep it simple—and your 2014 holiday customer acquisition will be the best one ever!