Getting Quality B2C Leads … Creatively!

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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.

 

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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!

 

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.