Your Customer Acquisition Budget and ROI

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shutterstock_134128511As we’ve mentioned recently in this space, it’s easier than ever for B2C marketers to spend their customer acquisition dollars haphazardly. After all, we’re spoiled for choice: there are many, many options out there, and those dollars can be spread pretty thin!

How do you make sure you’re spending wisely?

The first thing you have to do, the first thing on which to base your customer acquisition strategy, is to forget clicks, impressions, and even opens. What have they done for you lately? The bottom line has to be the real bottom line, and that’s ROI. What matters is the money that you are going to make when that prospect becomes a customer. If you’re putting dollars into your customer acquisition solution, then you need to be measuring its success in dollars, too.

Collecting lists of prospects, especially qualified prospects, is always a great feeling for any marketer. But don’t let that feeling obscure reality: they’re not all going to be good prospects. If you look right now, you’ll realize that there are prospects in your database who are never going to make a purchase. You know it, they know it, so why are you keeping them there? Better to have a leaner list that performs well and scale it with real options than a bloated one that won’t deliver those dollars by which you’re measuring success.

mailing listSpeaking of those lists, there is a reason people got onto them. Just having names isn’t going to help you, either: if you respond quickly and follow up, you have a much better chance of converting prospects to customers and having your lists deliver those dollars. Remember that lost time always equates to lost money in lead generation. Launch, optimize … do it quickly, and then nurture!

It’s really not rocket science. Stay on top of what’s important, keep your end-goal in mind, and make sure the leads you pay for are the ones that will bring you the best possible ROI. One way of doing this is to automate the process through a company that offers a full CAM (customer acquisition management) solution. CertainSource is one; why not ask us how today?

Customer Acquisition Goes Mobile

shutterstock_121679254As we all know, the marketing experience has changed significantly from the 1990s, when it was still permissible to shout at prospects and customers to get them to buy. “Here I am! Look at me! I have the best widgets!” The now-established trend toward inbound marketing—when you draw in targeted prospects out of their interest in you rather than the other way around—has meant rethinking every phase of marketing, but nowhere more than the changes we see in customer acquisition.

And what the mobile experience is doing is putting those changes on steroids.

The whole goal of content marketing—putting out useful, helpful information that helps consumers see you as both knowledgeable and generous—is intrinsic to mobile. And we’re not just talking about creating a website with responsive design that’s therefore actually usable on a mobile device.

shutterstock_165303233One of the first things you did when you put together your strategic marketing plan was identify your ideal customer, right? Do you still have that information? (We all lose sight of it, sometimes.) Take it out and dust it off. This time, instead of looking at the profile and trying to figure out how to target that demographic with your ads, why not think about it differently? Why not think about what you can provide for that demographic?

For example, if your ideal customer is someone who travels a lot, why not create a branded mobile app that gives quick and easy airport gate information? You’re not trying to sell your travel widgets: you’re trying to help your customer, make their travel easier. If the app is used (and you seriously need to study the profile and the market so as to be both useful and non-derivative), then travelers are seeing your brand every time they open it. They’re knowing that you’ve been generous with your resources in supplying this app—and they’re going to show appreciation by clicking through at some point to your website and buying one of your travel widgets from you.

Mobile customer acquisition is a whole new way of looking at content marketing. Isn’t it worth a look? And if you need help with more customer acquisition ideas and plans, visit us at www.certainsource.com or give us a call!

 

 

3 Tips for Getting New B2C Customers

shopping cart 3Let’s face it: everybody needs new customers. They’re the lifeblood of every B2C marketer, and every online retailer’s priority has to be establishing and maintaining a steady flow of new customers.

How can you do it? Here are a few ideas:

  1. Think about what you’re already sending out to subscribers. If the content is fantastic, and you have a forward-to-a-friend option (you do have a forward-to-a-friend option, don’t you?), then there’s a good chance your email will get shared. This solidifies your current customer base and will attract new prospects and subscribers.
  2. Is there something you can create that potential customers will find helpful? A white paper, an infographic, an ebook? If you can offer something helpful, useful, or interesting for prospects to download from your website in exchange for an email signup, then you’re much more likely to have them become subscribers and customers, since they’ve indicated interest in what you have to offer. If you’re a shoe retailer, for example, a quick fun ebook on anything from the mention of shoes in fiction to a Q&A with a shoe designer would pique your target audience’s interest.
  3. A lot of B2B companies host webinars to generate buzz and obtain additional email captures; but B2C companies can do them, too. For example, if you sell beauty products, host a webinar with a well-known model or fashion expert as your guest.

 

These are steps that almost any B2C company can take to increase its subscriber list with qualified prospects. Think about them, see what might work for you—the more imaginative your thinking, the better your results!

And if you’re interested in learning more about customer acquisition and how CertainSource Acquire can help, take a moment to give us a call at 888.655.0464 today!

 

Your Best Customer-Acquisition ROI

new customers signIf you do digital marketing, then you know that the best ROI ever comes from email marketing, and you probably have a reasonably good email marketing solution in place. But how do you find customers to feed into your email-marketing cascades?

Finding valuable new customers and keeping them is an engagement that starts from your very first contact with the prospect. No one wants to receive emails that they didn’t sign on for, but getting that first signup can be tricky, and sometimes it’s difficult to set up and maintain the constant testing that’s required to sanitize email lists.

And yet data, and learning from that data, may be one of the most critical jobs of any B2C marketer today.

Performing list hygiene after the fact can be time-consuming and resource-intensive. A far better idea is to pay more attention to how those lists are obtained at the onset.

shutterstock_102676493Excellent list-acquisition is a process that begins by automatically evaluating each and every individual lead source, rather than lead quality and performance in the aggregate. Aggressive acquisition practices will harm your inbox delivery rates and may even get you listed on email reputation sites; so proceeding with traditional acquisition processes is not only risky, it also tells potential customers that they are of little value to your company.

But if your customer-acquisition solution performs this evaluation at the source, 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.

Many acquisition processes implement auto-responders for new-customer signups, but isn’t it time that we went beyond auto-responders? Why shouldn’t marketers use a system that immediately nurtures leads?

shutterstock_107479076That system would deliver a cascade of behavior-based promotional emails, so that the same cascade would not be delivered to every single lead that comes into the system. Instead, the cascades will respond in near-real time to prospect actions. What cascade is received depends on what the person did, requested, commented on, or filled out. And that continues once the prospect has become a customer and begins to watch for your emails: once they become customers, people get cascades that react to the actions they take.

Combining the best list hygiene with the use of live data is the best way to grow your email lists, convert prospects to customers, and maintain high customer lifetime value.

The Cost of Customer Acquisition

image_thumb3Creating a customer-acquisition budget and making it work is something of a balancing act. How much money will you need? How much can you spend to acquire a new customer? How does that get calculated? And how will you know where your money is best spent and which sources aren’t performing as well as you need them to?

In many cases, marketers don’t know the answers to these questions. They know they need to keep customer-acquisition costs down … but aren’t really sure how. They know that they need a handle on how much each customer is costing them, but they don’t have a good system to calculate it… much less understand what sources are delivering valuable customers—and which ones aren’t. So decisions about budget spend are too often made on the business equivalent of a wing and a prayer.

David Skok has observed “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.”

business profitsThat’s a significant amount of money per customer! The solution, obviously, is to remove the requirement of too much intervention by people and move into an SaaS solution that automates the process. When you do that, you find that costs go down and acquisition becomes less of a drain on overall budgets.

But simply automating the process isn’t enough.

It’s essential that the solution also give you the analytics you need, and display them in ways that are both understandable and actionable. A good solution will tell you where to best spend your acquisition budget; a great solution will automatically shut off poorly performing sources and move to better ones.

Take a long look at your customer-acquisition process and budget… and consider scheduling a demo to see what CertainSource Acquire can do for you.

 

Looking at New Customers Differently

people shoppingSo you’ve decided to invest time and resources into your customer acquisition program—congratulations! That’s exactly where you should be putting your best efforts, because it’s every B2C marketer’s need: a constant stream of new individuals purchasing what you have to sell.

What’s tempting, however, is to look more at your program and less at the people you’re trying to entice. And people—as opposed to a generic sense of “consumers”—are at the core of any business or brand.

Most marketers spend resources on demographic data, trying to narrow down the targeting of their “ideal consumer” and forgetting that behind that consumer is a person, one who deserves respect as well as attention. In fact, many marketers are disguising advertising as content and making offers that they don’t follow up on.  Dave Martin, SVP of media at the ad agency Ignited, says that ”If the consumer clicks on something that promises a $100 discount, and they get to the page and it’s actually a buy-one-get-one offer, they’re gone. It’s the same if they think they’re going to read an article or watch a video and instead they get thrown to a sell page. Tricking the consumer is a big mistake. You’ll lose them before you ever had them.”

Engaging new customers who will become not only repeat customers but brand enthusiasts who will help your customer-acquisition efforts means treating them the way that you would like to be treated, and doing that from Day One. The acquisition process (CAM—customer acquisition management) should be no different from the CRM that you’re probably already practicing: an affirmation that your brand cares about its customers. Start the way you mean to continue, look at your new customers differently, and you will experience success.

 

 

Enter CAM: Customer Acquisition Management

numbers1 2B2C marketers have a problem. It’s a good problem, of course, but a problem nonetheless. There is such a wide range of choices in acquisition that it’s often difficult to see where to best spend the budget.

The reality is that if you’re not putting the same care and attention into managing your relationships with potential customers as you are with current ones, you are missing out on a lot of significant opportunities.

Management expert Peter Drucker has said that the sole purpose of a business is to create a customer. That may be true, but as B2C businesses have understood and acted on the importance of retaining customers, they’ve tended to take the emphasis off Drucker’s customer creation.

Solid customer acquisition requires, first of all, a financial commitment. A study by Buttle Associates found, surprisingly, that only 34% of companies in its survey had dedicated customer-acquisition budgets, and that, contrary to the assumptions companies make, merely putting a process in place and dedicating a person or persons responsible for acquisition was not enough to create a robust customer acquisition management program. Shifting both money and prioritization to the customer-acquisition campaigns was what the researchers found worked.

red emailThe Management Study Guide notes (as advocates of customer relationship management have always known) that “acquiring a customer depends on how effectively the organization is able to build a comprehensive relationship with that customer.”

CAM—customer acquisition management—should be a total solution streamlined into your company’s customer-lifetime-value efforts. It starts with the front end of obtaining a lead, and takes you through the process of creating a customer out of that lead, then finally passing the customer on to CRM people so they can move forward with the ongoing customer experience and relationship, just as a runner might pass the baton on to the next person on the team.

At its best, this experience will engender such loyalty that the customer will eventually become a brand advocate or evangelist, steering other potential customers into the company’s CAM and beginning the cycle over again.

Moreover, all of this makes good financial sense. Customer-acquisition strategies can help determine where you spend your promotional money, but only if you have a CAM solution that affords you excellent metrics so that you can strategize campaigns and tweak them as results come in.

Getting well-qualified leads from trusted sources and nurturing those leads into customers cannot happen if you don’t have a way to measure your progress, to see what works and what doesn’t, and to change strategies if one isn’t working. The results of these metrics will be different for every company, but the most important factor is being sure that the changes and adjustments you make in response to what you learn are on the back-end … not in the customer experience area. That needs to be smooth, clear, positive, and consistent.

More on CertainSource: Benefits and Results

42213300-resize-380x300CertainSource provides B2C marketers with enterprise-level SaaS customer acquisition and email marketing solutions to grow email lists and maximize lifetime customer value. The CertainSource suite offers solutions to attract, acquire, engage, and retain high-value subscribers.

The Benefits: The CertainSource suite offers a shared set of features and benefits:

  • Data analytics and reporting for greater insight and intelligence.
  • Dashboards amalgamate all data in one, easy-to-read (and interpret) visual overview of performance for analysis and adjusting activities.
  • A SaaS platform that is both reliable and secure, developed by security and compliance experts with servers on multiple continents, so business-sensitive data is secure and privacy is ensured. CertainSource is accessible, easy to use, and lightweight (no software to install) for lower costs, scalability, and greater control and manageability.
  • Real-time data allows marketers to see and respond to prospect and customer actions immediately. View and monitor subscriber behavior for accurate targeting and increased customer engagement
  • Big Data is leveraged to analyze and interpret customer behavior, allowing businesses to become more agile. Flexible systems and automation take advantage of newly identified opportunities and rapidly scale to meet growth demands.
  • Seamless integration with your existing ecommerce and CRM systems.
  • Enterprise-level support by experienced customer-service and technical teams support mission critical activities
  • Automated triggers and processes eliminate manual pain points from lead gen, campaign management, etc., saving time, boosting efficiency, and improving productivity.

 

The Results

  • Improved inbox deliverability
  • Enhanced brand presence
  •  Increased responsiveness
  • Maximized lifetime customer value
  • Email list growth with high-value subscribers
  • Amplified acquisition and retention activities
  • Higher revenue and ROI

 Trust

  • Top B2C brands across various verticals rely on CertainSource for fueling high-value lead generation that drives new-customer acquisition, and for delivering comprehensive email and social tools to complete the process.
  • Companies from all industries benefit from using CertainSource’s platform.
  • CertainSource has received numerous industry awards, including the Online Trust Alliance Honor Roll and the Relevancy Ring’s Client Satisfaction Award.

Why CertainSource?

shutterstock_131545646The Problem

B2C marketers need to balance acquisition activities (obtaining the high volume of leads required to grow email lists) with retention of current customers (extending the buyer journey and maximizing lifetime customer value).

B2C marketers face challenges unique to their business model. They need to drive traffic, effectively target the highest-value prospects, generate customers and revenue, and increase ROI. They face measurement challenges because the multiple touchpoints used in generating leads and retaining customers aren’t integrated, and each channel strategy drives a different analytical initiative.

169affcThe Solution

CertainSource’s enterprise-level SaaS solution is specific to the B2C industry and helps marketers balance these concerns while driving revenue from new-customer acquisition through email marketing and into social amplification.

It comprises three components:

  1. CertainSource Acquire is the lead-source generation component: it finds and identifies top-performing lead sources and manages new customer acquisition across digital channels to drive list growth and optimize acquisition-budget performance.
  2. CertainSource Engage is the email engagement component. It creates, deploys, and manages email-marketing campaigns to maximize lifetime customer value.
  3. CertainSource Amplify is the social amplification component. It empowers brand enthusiasts to attract like-minded prospects through social communities and ignites viral social referrals.

CAM: A Wikipedia Definition

Customer acquisition management is the set of methodologies and systems to manage customer prospects and inquiries generated by a variety of marketing techniques. It can be considered the connectivity between advertising and customer relationship management. This critical connectivity facilitates the acquisition of targeted customers in an effective fashion.

Customer acquisition management has many similarities to lead management. Sometimes missing from lead management definitions, but always included in customer acquisition management, is a closed-loop reporting system. Such a reporting system typically allows the organization to quantify the effectiveness of results of various promotional activities.

This allows organizations to realize continuous improvements in both promotional activities and customer acquisition systems.

Customer acquisition management also often includes the original response to a prospect immediately after their inquiry. This response could come in many forms – a personalized fulfillment letter and brochure, an email response or a telephone call. In each case the initial response is targeted to further the interest of the prospect and simplify the initial sales call for the sales channel.

Like lead management, customer acquisition management creates an orderly architecture for managing large volumes of customer inquiries, or leads. The architecture must be able to organize numerous leads, at various stages of a sales process, across a distributed sales force. In order to understand this process, it is helpful to examine a simplified linear lead flow process, such as the following:
• Advertising and CRM
• Customer inquiry or response
• Inquiry captured
• Inquiry filtered
• Lead graded and prioritized
• Lead distribution
• Sales contact
• Lead nurturing or retention
• Sales result
• Analysis of promotion’s effectiveness

The lead flow process can become enormously complex as customers and sales professionals begin to interact. These various interactions and subsequent actions can create a variety of scenarios, both productive and counterproductive. This exponential number of scenarios can provide for numerous opportunities to mishandle leads in such a way as to reduce their value. Managing these scenarios is the function of lead management.

By creating methods and processes to track key acquisition metrics, organizations can get a more accurate picture of what traffic and new customers result from each channel.