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Content Marketing for B2C Customer Acquisition

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people shoppingNew customers are 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.

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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!

 

shoe shopping

Newsletters and New Customer Acquisition

email icon digital backgroundEveryone knows, by now, that email marketing provides the best and most consistent ROI of any digital marketing channel. But we’re all, of course, looking for new customers, people to whom we can send our email specials and announcements. One way that the giant marketer Microsoft suggests you spread the word is by placing your ads in relevant newsletters, newsletters that already reach out to the same demographic you’re targeting, making it budget well spent. But Microsoft Business also suggests creating and distributing your very own newsletter:

So you hadn’t thought of this already? Regular email newsletters provide an incentive for people to stay in touch with you and your business if you provide worthwhile content. What tips, advice, resources, and other information can your newsletter provide beyond simply touting your services? (Yes, you could do that in places throughout the newsletter.) A bigger question may be: Who could you get to write your newsletter, if not you? An employee? A spouse? A friend? A professional writer? Be creative. And don’t be afraid to start small, Weil says. Even peaking at a subscriber base of 500 may be worth your while in terms of customer loyalty and industry visibility.”

newsletter wordcloudNaturally, here at CertainSource we believe in the power of email marketing for customer acquisition and customer retention. But too often we see companies focus on just using their lists to announce sales, to unveil a new product line, or to offer a closeout deal. Oh, yes, there’s usually a small paragraph at the top that is chatty, that makes the customer somehow feel connected to the brand. Usually.

Maybe “usually” isn’t enough. Maybe it’s time to rethink the newsletter as something that can reach out on your behalf and bring in new customers. Content marketing is all about offering something that is of value to the prospect or customer, and offering it for free.

I challenge any retailer out there, whether selling goods or services, to say that their industry doesn’t lend itself to a newsletter. There are “quaint and curious” facts about everything in the world, and finding them and telling their story provides meat for a newsletter. Tips. Tricks. Places to get more information. All of this gives you something in the inbox that subscribers will actually look forward to.

envelope iconMost newsletters today are in the B2B arena, but let’s consider widening our viewpoint. B2C businesses need to think of new and different ways to capture the wayward attention of the public, and a newsletter will get your brand name out and actually “sitting around” on computer desktops as subscribers read first one article, then another.

“Newsletters,” writes Susan Baka, “are a terrific sales tool for showcasing your expertise and professionalism to prospective customers and for disseminating information about your comnpany and its products or services in an interesting and readable way.”

So why not think about an inaugural newsletter to celebrate the holiday shopping season? You have a lot of people’s eye on you during this time; make the most of them!

winter shopping night city

Holiday Email Marketing Tips

Christmas shoppingMostly at CertainSource we talk about customer acquisition—frankly, because we believe that we do it best—but it’s the end of October already, and time to really get in gear for this year’s fourth quarter and year-end email campaigns!

Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Start holiday promotions early! Consumers tend to wait for the last minute (and still want delivery by Christmas!). There are only 20 business days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, so the earlier you can get your customers’ attention, the fewer potential shipping issues you’ll encounter.
  • Provide incentives and create a sense of urgency for early action. There are dozens of ways to do this, and offering a special deal makes consumers quicker to act, especially in slower economic times.
  • Go back and see what worked (and didn’t work) last year. If you have the data, base your evaluation of last year’s mailings on sales generated per email. Opens and clicks are important, but it ultimately boils down to how much money you made. There’s still time to track sales per email for this holiday season – and we can help!

Christmas shopping online

  • Establish campaign objectives. Before you can design an email or decide to whom you want to mail, you need to decide what you want the campaign to accomplish. Campaigns designed to generate sales are very different from campaigns used for building brand equity, new name acquisition, etc. No matter what the desired outcome, the only way to know if a campaign is successful is to establish campaign metrics. We recommend tracking both email and result metrics:
    • Email metrics include emails delivered by ISP, bounces (hard and soft), opens, unique clicks, unsubscribes, forwards, etc. It is also important to track the effectiveness of an HTML email – the relative effectiveness of each link – by tracking clicks per location.
    • “Result” metrics include sales per email, cost per new acquisition, average order size, campaign ROI, reactivations, etc.
  • Review your database (list):
    • Eliminate bad email addresses. This is one of the most important actions you can take. After complaints, the single most common reason for ISPs blocking your emails is bad email addresses (hard bounces).
    • Review your list; any email address that hasn’t been mailed in the last six months is suspect. Create a separate list of these and send a special reactivation mailing to this group.
    • Segment your database. Even if you don’t have a lot of demographic data about your customers, you can still significantly improve your response rate by creating separate segments and mailings for openers, clickers, purchasers, the top 10%, the bottom 20%, and so on.
  • Review your landing pages: Make sure they’re relevant and that all the links work. Consumers who have opened their emails and clicked on a link to get to your landing page are your best prospects. A great landing page goes a long way to converting prospects into buyers! An irrelevant or poorly designed landing page will not only cost you current sales, it will cause these high-value prospects to think twice about opening the next email you send them. In particular, you’ll want to develop your messaging strategy:
    • Personalize your messages. Email provides a unique opportunity to communicate directly with your customers on a one-to-one basis.
    • Make your messages clear, concise, and relevant.
    • Have a visible call to action.
    • Target your messaging by segment. This kind of targeting can have a significant impact on response rates.
  • Review your creative:
    • Is the look and feel consistent with the landing page, your website, and your brand?
    • Is it clear, concise and easy to read?
    • Will consumers know what to do when they open your email?
    • Is it CAN-SPAM-compliant?

 
Following these tips will help you make the most of the 2014 holiday season’s sales. Happy marketing!

 

vampire in coffin

5 Tips for Better Customer Acquisition

You want more customers. Join the club: there’s not a marketer on earth who isn’t looking ahead to gaining more market share. It sometimes feels like everyone’s doing the same thing to attract the same pool of suspects—er, prospects! And with Halloween approaching, you’d be forgiven to think that the competition can get a little … well, bloodthirsty.

Today, try breaking out of the herd and trying these tips, which dig a little deeper into consumers’ buying decisions and habits:

tightwad- fist with dollars1) 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.

2) 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.

3) 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.

male vampire4) Work 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. Think of Twilight’s “Team Edward” and “Team Jacob.” 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.

5) 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.

 

Getting Quality B2C Leads … Creatively!

wifi symbol on handMany marketers have embraced the need for content marketing as part of an overall marketing strategy. It keeps your company’s name out in front of people, it establishes you as a thought leader in your industry, and it creates a sense of familiarity that comes in handy when people are thinking about making purchasing decisions.

One creative way to use content marketing—one that B2C marketers haven’t been exploiting to a great extent—is via guest “appearances” on other industry blogs or in webinars and podcasts.

Think about these venues for a moment. What we are talking about is, typically, a very focused audience. If the blog or podcast is about designer shoes, then you can be sure that the people reading/listening to it are very interested in designer shoes. If you happen to sell designer shoes, this is your perfect audience.

podcast icon purple smallThere are also minimal distractions to tear someone away from reading a blog post or listening to a podcast. After all, they’ve elected to be there and to listen to or read the content being offered, so there’s an innate resistance to distractions. The interest alone will keep the prospect focused on the content.

And while you are no doubt building your own audiences for your company blog, webinars, and podcasts, being a guest on someone else’s opens up a wider range of opportunities… with an already established self-selected group of prospects!

blog in wooden lettersSo take the time to offer your expertise to others. Be smart about it:

  • have a dedicated page to which you can send the leads acquired (for example, www.domainname.com/podcast-or-blog name)
  • offer a special piece of content (this audience has already indicated that it is interested in learning, so it’s a perfect place to make a great offer)
  • be sure that you mention your call to action at the end of the webinar/podcast or blog post, and request that the call to action be included in show notes, if any

 

Content marketing works best for lead generation when you think creatively about what might work. Have other “out of the box” ideas or suggestions? Share them here!

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20 Channels for B2C Customer Acquisition

customer-acquisition-tacticsLike all marketers, B2C marketers begin with an acquisition budget and need to know where to place the dollars within that budget, where they will get the most return for their money. But B2C customer acquisition is complex—and significantly different from B2B customer acquisition. B2C marketers are spoiled by choice: so many channels, and so many sources within those channels to choose from.

With that in mind, we’ve isolated 20 channels for customer acquisition and asked media service experts to analyze industry data to deliver an average rating for typical results using each of them. We’re looking specifically at the average cost to run the channel, as well as the channel’s potential to grow a customer list. Each scale is assessed on a 1-3 metric, with 1 being the lowest and 3 the highest.

Marketers approach each of these channels with two goals in mind: to get someone to purchase a specific product, and/or to capture an email address to add to a list of subscribers for future purchases. Each of these channels contains specific sources that we’ve scrutinized for cost and growth potential.

The channels

  1. Facebook. Facebook ads score a 2 in program cost and a 1 in customer-list growth. Two URLs can be captured and analysed here: the ads themselves, and postings on the company’s FB page.
  2. Mobile. Mobile ads score a 2 in program cost and a 2 in customer-list growth.
  3. iAds. iAds score a 3 in program cost and a 2 in customer-list growth.
  4. Display. Display ads score a 3 in program cost and a 1 in customer-list growth.
  5. Contextual. Contextual ads score a 3 in program cost and a 2 in customer-list growth.
  6. Twitter. Tweeting a URL for followers to click on rates a 1 in program cost and a 2 in customer-list growth.
  7. Organic search. SEO scores a 2 in program cost and a 2 in customer-list growth. URLs can originate from the search page, from directories, or from links from other website pages.
  8. Paid search. PPC scores a 2 in program cost and a 2 in customer-list growth.
  9. Google +. Ads on Google + score a 2 in program cost and a 1 in customer-list growth.
  10. Google AdSense. Ads on Google AdSense score a 2 in program cost and a 2 in customer-list growth.
  11. YouTube. Video advertising on YouTube rates a 2 in program cost and a 1 in customer-list growth.
  12. Co-registration. Co-reg rates a 2 in program cost and a 2 in customer-list growth. Giving customers multiple opportunities to raise their hands may increase this ratio.
  13. Blogs. Blogging URLs for followers to click on rates a 1 in program cost and a 1 in customer-list growth. Blogging can feed into viral marketing as well.
  14. Landing pages. Website landing pages capture email addresses and other information, and score a 1 in program cost and a 1 in customer-list growth.
  15. Affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing scores a 1 in program cost and a 1 in customer-list growth.
  16. Webinars. Webinars score 2 in program cost and 1 in customer-list growth. Webinars can feed into viral marketing as well.
  17. Email client advertising. Using emails scores a 1 in program cost and a 3 in customer-list growth.
  18. Point of sale. These large display ads in brick-and-mortar sites score a 2 in program cost, and a 1 in customer-list growth.
  19. Third-party email. Using Groupon or other third-party affiliates will score you a 2 in program cost and a 1 in customer-list growth.
  20. Viral marketing. Getting the word out via satisfied customers scores a 1 in program cost, and a 1 in customer-list growth.

While mobile, SEO, PPC, Google AdSense, co-reg, blogs, affiliate marketing and viral marketing are all even—that is, they score the same in cost and in growth—and Twitter comes in ahead of all of them with a 1:2 score, the clear winner (at a ratio of 1:3) is email marketing.

This confirms what other recent studies have been showing: that email marketing delivers consistently significant results in ROI and customer growth while keeping the cost of acquisition down.

Return on investment

The best ROI comes from selecting the best sources within each channel. So determining which channels perform best and then drilling down further to uncover the best sources within each best-performing channel.

people shoppingIt’s a significant distinction: one channel could, for instance, offer high volume and low cost—but only 10% of its sources might be performing well, whereas another channel could be expensive with low available volume but with all of its sources performing well. So testing and constantly refinement are critical.

It’s important to reiterate that success is driven at the customer-acquisition source level. Every acquisition platform and channel uses multiple discrete acquisition sources—each one of them a unique URL where consumers indicate their desire to become a prospect—and keeping the costs down while identifying the top-performing sources is how marketers use every platform and channel successfully to get the most out of their marketing budgets.

Marketers therefore need full transparency into acquisition performance across channels and platforms to optimise their budgets so that the majority of any marketing budget can be spent on top-performing lead sources.

Gaining the edge on the competition

Spending acquisition dollars on the top-performing channels will remove both the time and the cost of going after bad or under-performing ones, which is for many marketers an ongoing drain on acquisition budgets.

Spending acquisition dollars on top-performing channels will also allow marketers to become wiser with their spends, giving them a sharp competitive advantage over other companies.

When marketers optimize their acquisition strategies, several things then happen. They spend money in the right places and reap a better ROI. They turn off low-performing channels and save time and money. They free up acquisition dollars that can then be directed back into the higher-performing channels. And they know that their acquisition strategy is not based simply on guesswork, but rather on clear actionable data.

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Acquiring New Customers in the Digital World

question markDid you know …

  • The average email list will lose approximately 25% of its email addresses per year through the normal process of attrition. Marketers need to make acquisition a regular, programmatic, and systematic part of their efforts to sustain—let alone grow—revenue.
  • A customer is considered “acquired” when they convert. Conversion definitions vary, depending on the objectives of the campaign. Examples of actions that may render a prospect “converted” include:
    • Subscribes to a communication / is added to the database.
    • Registers for an event, webinar, or other activity.
    • Fills out a form to view content, download collateral, or gain access to the call to action offered.

cartoon figure at computerHow do prospects convert? There are myriad ways, but they all distill down to this: Marketers create compelling offers to engage prospects with a simple value exchange: “Provide us with your contact information, and we will reward you immediately with XYZ.”  Marketers then promote this offer across a wide array of channels, and monitor the effectiveness of each to continually optimize their efforts and lower their CPA (Cost Per Acquisition). Getting a subscriber is the first step toward getting a customer, and keeping the offers enticing for new subscribers who might then convert is at the heart of great customer acquisition.

The reality is this: Not all offers are effective. Not all content that you produce will convert. Learning from what doesn’t work is as important as learning from what does. And keeping customer acquisition at the forefront of your business will keep you in business.

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Mobile Really *is* The New Black in Customer Acquisition

shutterstock_165303233The increased use of mobile devices by consumers opens up an entirely new and potentially lucrative field for B2C marketers.

Mobile use is up and rising constantly; Mobithinking reports total global mcommerce via tablets and mobile phones to be US $1.5 trillion in 2013 and expected to exceed $3.2 trillion by 2017; and every marketer wants a piece of that pie!

“A significant minority of retailers have yet to optimise their sites for mobile. Unless retailers ensure a seamless, user-friendly mobile shopping experience, they will fall behind competitors who are already using mobile channels to enhance customer relationships.” – Dr Windsor Holden, Juniper Research (June 2013)

Marketing to mobile prospects comprises two channels: reactive and proactive. Reactively, you want to make sure that you have a mobile-accessible website. Simply retooling your “regular” desktop website for mobile is shooting yourself in the foot: you’re forcing mobile to do things it doesn’t do well, while losing the myriad of extras that a mobile-only site offers. Auto-detection tools will enable you to know when the site is accessed by a mobile device and point that device to the mobile site (for a good example of this, check out www.leisurelivinginc.com; when you access that URL from a mobile device, you’re automatically pointed to the retailer’s .mobi site). That’s what we can think of as Phase One.

shutterstock_155376581Phase Two is completely proactive: you’re going out there to turn prospects into customers. Your first move is to interest mobile prospects in your service or product so that they’ll opt in to receiving communications from you. Plan a special campaign that’s aimed at mobile users; think about how they interact with their devices and how you can tie your offer in to that.

While you’re getting permissions, make sure that you include the prospect’s mobile telephone number as well. This will enable you to send them texts, pointing them to instant sales or this-hour-only offers.

Another part of Phase Two is offering an app consistent with your service or product but that gives the prospect added value in their daily life. For example, a sportswear retailer might create and distribute an app that summarizes game scores on a daily basis. Prospects come to associate the brand with the app they use and turn to it when they need the brand’s product.

Customer acquisition, like every other part of digital marketing, needs to be tailored specifically to mobile. Don’t be among the last retailers to get on board!

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5 Things You Can Do In The Next 5 Minutes to Get New Customers

blog-image-11-18-13-001A few years ago, we hosted a weekly webcast called “Tuesdays at Two: Chatter Marketing” in which we shared tips and tricks from experts on everything to do with email marketing. At the end of the 10-minute webcast, we asked the show’s featured guest what the audience could do “in the next five minutes” to improve their performance.

It’s not a bad idea, really. Strategies and campaigns are essential to marketing success; but it also gives you a boost when there’s something you can do right now toward your goal.

With that in mind, here are five things you can do in the next five minutes to improve your customer acquisition:

1. Send out an “incentives” email for current customers to bring in new ones. Offer them a substantial discount off their next order if one of their friends orders from you. It’s quick, it’s easy, it’s trackable.

gift card purple2. Gift cards are all the rage, and for good reason. 20% of all gift certificates are never redeemed, 80% are redeemed for more than their value, and 40% are redeemed for more than twice their value. So right now, while you’re thinking of it, put together a gift card offer and send it to your top-tier customers: “Here’s a little something to help you with your holiday shopping this year—put this in a stocking or two!” The customer then will give the card to someone who is probably not yet a customer, and the $20 you’ve given away will come back to you with more purchases—and more new customers.

3. Check out non-competitive websites that are compatible with your product or service and request a cross-listing: a company that sells bath towels would go well with your business of selling skin-care products, for example. It’s free advertising for both of you.

4. Plan a virtual open house. This is especially relevant for mobile users. Announce that this Thursday, from 5:00 to 10:00 only, special deals will be available on your website, and be sure to make extra-special deals for new customers only. Between now and then send out emails with teasers about some of the deals that will be on offer.

share buttons FB5. Right now, while you’re thinking of it, send out a thank-you email to your best customers and offer free shipping on their next order in return for a post (that you’ll write) on Facebook. It’s probable that most of your customers have “friends” online: they may not be close enough to these people to send them a gift card, but they can certainly share their positive experiences with your brand. (Once the post has been done, make sure you follow up on the free shipping offer.)

These quick-and-easy tips will not only give your customer acquisition a boost, they will also remind your existing customers of why they buy from you—and will help them make the decision to buy again.

 

paying produce at market

New Customers: To “Find”—Or To Buy?

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!