paying produce at market

New Customers: To “Find”—Or To Buy?

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Indian cornNot many people know this, but when the Mayflower first arrived in America, it dropped anchor in Provincetown, not Plymouth. The Mayflower Compact was written in Provincetown Harbor, and the first difficult winter was spent on Cape Cod.

The Pilgrims were at the brink of starvation when a party sent out to locate fresh water miraculously “found” some corn, which they took and which sustained them until they could set sail for the more hospitable mainland.

Of course, the corn wasn’t just there to be “found.” It had been carefully buried by members of the Wampanoag tribe in anticipation of their upcoming difficult winter. Where I come from, there’s another word for that: it’s called “stealing.” But never mind: finding works just fine for a lot of people.

As George Lakoff has pointed out, how someone frames a conversation makes all the difference in its meaning. We would do well to look behind the framing to what is actually happening.

We all talk about “customer acquisition,” as though “acquiring” a customer were something we do when picking fruit from a tree or wandering through an antique shop. The reality is that we don’t “acquire” customers. We work hard and spend a lot of money to get people to buy from us, and being clearer about that language may allow us to be clearer about the process itself.

paying produce at marketWhen buying new customers, we use a number of different channels: advertising, list purchases, search and social media, and so on. But let’s be clear about what we’re doing: we’re purchasing them just as surely as we hope that they’ll purchase from us.

And once we’re clear about what we’re doing, we can be clearer about how we spend the money we’ve budgeted to buy these new customers. Allocating funds is an important and often confusing undertaking, as B2C marketers are faced with an array of options and not a lot of guidance for navigating through them.

As our recent survey pointed out, marketers who use third-party partners to help they buy valuable new customers with less risk and better results are the marketers who are the most satisfied with their customer acquisition management solution. Why not join them? Be honest about what you’re doing—buying new customers—and partner with a company that will help you spend your budget efficiently and effectively.

These days, most of us can go to the market and buy our corn: there’s no need to steal it. But being honest at all times about what we are actually doing may help clarify both our intentions and our strategies. And that can only have one result: the purchase of high-quality new customers!

 

The Customer Acquisition Event in NYC

FullSizeRender 3 After presenting the findings of the State of Customer Acquisition 2014 report online via our free webinar, presenters traveled last night to New York City to reveal the findings and discuss customer acquisition best practices with event participants at Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse in Manhattan.

Emphasizing the need for a complete customer acquisition management solution, Trendline Interactive‘s Morgan Stewart and CertainSource’s Neil Rosen took participants through the report’s findings, which—perhaps surprisingly—revealed that marketers who are satisfied with their current CAM solution have two assumptions in common:

  1. Third-party vendors are critical to acquisition success.
  2. It doesn’t happen overnight—marketers need to analyze performance and hold vendors accountable.

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Marketers shared their perspectives and asked questions about acquisition, but obviously the major takeaway here is that marketers cannot go it alone in acquisition. Being able to call on the services of a customer acquisition specialist is crucial so that you can do what you do best—and let your acquisition partner do what they do best.

At events such as the webinar and this informal gathering of marketers in NYC, CertainSource works to educate marketers about the need for finding the right acquisition partner—one that offers transparency, that evaluates leads at the source, and that reduces risk. We do all of that, and more, and we’d love to tell you about how we can help you find your next greatest customers! Why not ask us about CertainSource Acquire today?

What Are B2C Marketers’ Acquisition Challenges?

puzzle piecesAs detailed in Trendline Interactive’s in-depth study of 288 marketers that we discissed in last week’s webinar, some acquisition challenges include:

  • A surprising 47 percent of marketers report that they have never used third-party vendors for acquisition purposes
  • Approximately 49 percent of marketers say budget constraints are their main challenge, while 44 percent consider time to be the most difficult obstacle to overcome
  • Approximately 42 percent of marketers say lead quality analytics are a “must-have” in today’s challenging business environment.
  • More than 20 percent of marketers surveyed cite the following additional challenges: assessment of high-value leads versus those that become marginally engaged, assessment of top- and bottom-performing sources, and assessment of vendors’ trustworthiness.

 

All of this points to the need for customer acquisition management, an organized approach to acquisition that includes strategies, evaluation, and analytics. Is that what your acquisition solution is doing for you now? What are your greatest acquisition challenges? Where are your pain-points around B2C customer acquisition? Share them with us here as we continue to explore the complex and changing landscape of customer acquisition.

Know Your Customer For Great CAM

people shoppingCAM—customer acquisition management—is only as effective as the profile you have of your ideal customer. Otherwise it’s just a bunch of resources tossed into the wind, hoping that something might magically stick somewhere.

We talk a lot in this column about the various different channels available for customer acquisition, but the reality is that none of them will be effective without that profile. Who do you target with your list acquisition, your social media marketing, your SEO? Even if at one time you had an idea of what your ideal customer looked like, that may have changed over time. When was the last time you revisited the profile?

You may be unsure of how to create an accurate profile.

A good place to start is to identify the different segments among your existing customers, which you do by looking for groups with similar characteristics. Segmenting your market should help you identify the similarities (and the differences!) between your different customer groups. This is turn will enable you to identify what aspects of your offer appeal to each of the groups, and adapt your approach to what it is that group responds to.

shutterstock_174167894The more you know about your current customers, the better you’ll be able to reach out to new ones. Have you ever tried doing market research? If not, you may want to consider it: research can reveal the needs, tastes, and spending habits of different groups of customers. The information you glean will indicate which customer segments are most likely to respond to which offers, marketing approaches, and sales activities.

Once you have a handle on your best customer groups, then check out how your competition is handling them. This will round out your customer profile by showing you how they respond in real life to real-life offers, and will help you craft your own approach to them.

Know thy customer is probably the first of any marketing rules, and it doesn’t hurt to refresh it from time to time. Segmentation by age, gender, economic status, device used, and more can help you reach the right new customer at just the right time for conversion. And who isn’t looking for that?

 

CAM Through Channel Diversification

woman shopping onlineIn customer acquisition, channel diversification isn’t just a good thing, it’s the only thing. Using one channel only for acquisition is like reading one book: it gives you something, but not everything. Your customers probably come in all shapes and sizes, with differing needs and interests: why confine them to only one method of approach?

Diversification in customer acquisition is necessary because:

  1. It reduces risk—you’re not leaving anybody out
  2. It provides data for analytics
  3. It allows you to leverage every possible avenue

 

shutterstock_51955312Customer acquisition management sets up an overall strategy for your acquisition methods and can create a synergy among them. Social media can bring prospects to a landing page that in turn can feed them into an email marketing cascade. Thinking creatively about how one channel can complement the others will help you save resources and plan an effective overall campaign strategy.

Remember to consider, if not include, the following channels:

  • Public relations
  • Organic and paid search
  • Content marketing
  • Lead generation lists & programs
  • Affiliate programs
  • Social media marketing
  • Direct mail marketing
  • In-store specials
  • Events
  • Mobile
  • Direct sales
  • Referral programs
  • Traditional advertising
  • Add-ons for existing customers

 

Whatever channels you decide on, make sure that they’re part of an overall customer acquisition marketing strategy and that at all times you keep your ideal customer in mind.

 

Risky Business? It Doesn’t Have To Be!

man jumping chasmIf you’re taking your marketing dollars and betting them on acquisition, you may need a crash course in associated risks and rewards. Both can be plentiful, but without a solid understanding of the space’s intricacies, your brand and budget could be on a collision course.

Let’s talk risks, which can include click fraud, autobots, and lead schemes:

  • Click fraud occurs in pay-per-click online advertising when a person, automated script, or computer program imitates a legitimate user of a web browser clicking on an ad. This is generally automated, though one hears of sweatshop human alternatives as well. The point of click fraud is to generate a charge per click without there being any legitimate interest in the target of the ad’s link.
  • Autobots (no, not the Transformers kind!) are in fact the technology behind click fraud: they auto-click settings on a computer timer to make it look like an email file is performing — i.e., consumers are actually on the receiving end of a campaign, interested and clicking away.
  • In lead schemes, the potential leads receive an email saying they’ve won a prize or a contest. Such companies get leads from the bulk mailing of entry forms with an easy question to answer, or by clicking on some moving object. Instructions tell the person to respond to the promoter with certain information. Such leads may get a followup call because the company now knows the target is prone to such gimmicks.

The reality is that any company is also a possible victim of such fraudulent behavior from lead sources, so it’s more important than ever to stay alert to them. But how can you be sure that you’re getting quality leads from quality sources?

There are a few things you can consider doing.

  1. Hire a lead-gen representative or company.
  2. Put in some back-end analytics to give you solid metrics on what leads are performing and what leads aren’t. 
  3. Look at conversions, not clicks. Use cookies and pixels to tie offers to campaigns.
  4. Always know your cost per sale.

The important thing, as we’ve stressed elsewhere, is to always know how much you are actually paying to make this lead into a customer. This will keep you from paying for leads that go nowhere—but will also give you a good handle on whether the leads you’re getting are good ones.

Don’t ever put yourself at the mercy of third parties: if your list broker isn’t giving you the kinds of leads you need, then it’s time to tell them so … or risk losing ROI and reputation.

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An Unusual Customer Acquisition Idea

funkyicon_video_cameraMost online retailers are already doing customer acquisition management… well, if you weren’t, you wouldn’t still be in business! As we learned during yesterday’s webinar, most retailers are dissatisfied with their current customer acquisition tools, strategies, and results. There’s a lot that can be taken from that information, and we’ll be exploring it in the days and weeks ahead.

But for today, let’s review what most marketers are currently working with:

  • online advertising
  • search marketing (paid and organic)
  • social media marketing
  • list purchasing
  • PR and content marketing
  • word of mouth from satisfied customers

It’s finding the right mix of these tools that’s at the heart of creative customer acquisition management.

One possible tool that’s not used enough by online marketers is the demonstration of the products or services being sold. You see product demonstrations at the mall all the time, and it’s effective. But in a digital world, it’s more difficult to grab a passer-by and ask if they’d like to see how your widget works.

Or perhaps not.

Video Play Sign On Mobile For Playing Media On PhoneB2B businesses are constantly offering demos, especially of software products; it’s one of the steps in their prospect pipeline. But why shouldn’t it work for B2C marketers? The reality is that YouTube is fast rivaling Google as a search engine, and if you don’t have a presence there, you’re missing out on exposure to and interaction with prospects.

So take a minute to see what others in your retail space are doing on video, and consider hiring a crew (no, don’t do it with your iPhone!) to create a demonstration of what you sell. You may just have opened up a new customer acquisition channel!

Take-aways from today’s Customer Acquisition Webinar: Challenges and Opportunities

The free webinar offered by CertainSource and Trendline Interactive was terrific, as we’re sure you agree if you were with us!

Just a reminder, first, of the questions that prompted this research:

Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 2.01.56 PM

The first takeaway is the level of dissatisfaction marketers feel around current customer acquisition efforts: only 34% of the respondents were pleased with their current solutions.

Marketers who are satisfied with their current customer acquisition have two assumptions in common:

  1. Third-party vendors are critical to acquisition success.
  2. It doesn’t happen overnight—marketers need to analyze performance and hold vendors accountable.

 

The most common acquisition tactics currently used are online display to online registration (41%) and paid placement on social media sites (33%).

Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 2.16.30 PMLooking more closely at the tactics delivering the best customers, we found that paid search driving to an online signup form, mobile media, and online display have a “secret sauce” that makes these tactics successful.

How are successful marketers measuring the effectiveness of their acquisition? The top three data points are campaign performance, source performance, and vendor performance.

Challenges, perhaps not surprisingly, are all about resources: budget, time, and people. In order to get those resources, marketers need the analysis to show positive ROI.

Must-haves in terms of tools include:

  • emphasis on optimizing leads
  • analysis
  • cleansing and protection

 

JASON  SIMON’s PRESENTATION ON HOW CERTAINSOURCE IS APPLYING THE SURVEY FINDINGS:

Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 2.32.27 PMThere’s an acquisition dilemma: pressure on marketers to keep growing acquisition but there’s also a reluctance to take risks. Marketers spend more and more time optimizing house files but see acquisition as rented or purchased, and as an activity that doesn’t involve using a single platform.

The reality is that marketers purchasing lists often never know what sources these lists are coming from!

CertainSource Acquire is a tool that manages omnichannel media buys in a systemic manner: it adds CAM (customer acquisition management) to the already existing CRM (customer relationship management).

Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 2.37.39 PMBy allowing a marketer to identify the sources behind a media spend that are specifically contributing the highest-value customer prospects, CertainSource radically improves acquisition spend results. In addition to the technology, CertainSource is inherently media-agnostic, meaning there is no incentive to “blend in” poor-performing sources with better ones to obtain “minimally acceptable” performance metrics.

CertainSource is 100% on the marketer’s side; it is not a media company.

A tool that identifies and “clones” the best-performing and low-risk sources delivers the best new customers. Neil Rosen presented case studies indicating eliminated risk while building the customer database.

Want to see it again? Just click here!

 

 

 

Today is D-Day for the Customer Acquisition Webinar!

social media chatter figuresDid you know that two-thirds of all marketers are dissatisfied with their current customer acquisition efforts? We know: we asked them, and the results of our survey are in.

“With only 38 percent of today’s marketers reporting that acquisition is a priority for their company, this is an eye-opening moment industry-wide,” says our CEO Neil Rosen. “Customer acquisition strategies in today’s marketing environment have become challenging, yet critical, for B2C marketers. On top of that, companies are facing more complex issues as a result of customers’ increasingly higher expectations.”

“The survey results indicate that while a majority of today’s B2C marketers are aware of the importance of customer acquisition, they don’t always have the right tools or resources to effectively manage long-term programs,” Rosen said.

According to co-presenter Morgan Stewart, of Trendline Interactive CertainSource’s new research reveals that, while acquisition can be challenging for companies today, “it’s still a great problem to have.” The key, he noted, is learning how to properly analyze performance to optimize over time.

shutterstock_109406663“The good news is that a growing number of marketers are becoming increasingly comfortable making customer acquisition a focus,” Rosen said. “However, acquisition is not something that marketers can quickly jump into and immediately succeed. It requires dedication, effort and ongoing analysis over time to do it right. The survey results show that while today’s marketers are beginning to get their feet underneath them when it comes to customer acquisition, they need to better understand how to effectively leverage analytics in the long-term.”

Stewart added:Finding the right lead sources to keep the stream of new customers flowing isn’t always easy. What’s preventing marketers from sufficiently acquiring new leads? What are the most effective methods for preventing list attrition? Participants in our upcoming webinar will find out the answers to these questions and other industry issues. They also will gain valuable insight on why analytics is quickly becoming the next key frontier for acquisition marketing.”

Want to learn more? Join us TODAY at 2:00 pm EDT for a full analysis of the data and a sneak peek at what 2015 holds! Just register here and we’ll see you this afternoon!

Your Best Customer Acquisition Opportunity is Almost Here!

puzzle piecesDon’t miss it: this is the week that you will regenerate and re-energize your customer acquisition program, finding just the right pieces to complete your company’s customer-acquisition puzzle. How? By participating in our free webinar tomorrow at 2pm and learning from industry experts what’s been happening in customer acquisition in 2014 … and what’s in store for 2015!

Join our live webinar as we hear from industry experts Morgan Stewart, CEO of Trendline Interactive, and Neil Rosen, CEO of CertainSource, as they share the findings from an in-depth report conducted last month and discuss the future.

We’ll be tweeting throughout the webinar, so be sure to check out #B2CAcquisitionReport—and use the hashtag to ask us questions in advance, too!

Listen: here’s the thing. Everyone talks about customer acquisition. Everyone tries to improve their customer acquisition. We’re offering you a fast and easy way to get on top of the current thinking in the space and make plans for a seriously successful 2015. Join other B2C marketers who have already registered, and we’ll see you tomorrow!

Click here to register for this terrific learning opportunity, and we’ll see you tomorrow!