People shop at Apple shop in Bondi, Australia

4 Ways to Spend Your Customer Acquisition Budget Effectively

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shopping cart on mobile phoneB2C marketers have more choices than ever when it comes to spending their lead-generation dollars, and that means that it’s really easy to spend your budget haphazardly. But you can spend your customer-acquisition budget wisely and effectively if you follow four simple steps:

Measure to ROI. Most marketers get caught up in the nonessentials of customer acquisition: clicks, impressions, even opens are less important than the money that you are making—or not making—from that prospect. You are investing dollars in your customer-acquisition program, so you need to measure its effectiveness in dollars too.

Move quickly. Amassing lists of prospects won’t help you if you are not prepared to move quickly to convert them into customers. This is what will distance you from the competition. Remember that lost time always equates to lost money in lead generation. Launch, optimize … and do it quickly.

Toss garbage data. No marketer likes to throw anything away, but there are email addresses in your database that will never make a purchase. You are looking for opportunities that will move you forward, not useless data that will hold you back. Nate Silver says that “the signal is the truth. The noise is what distracts us from the truth.” In this case, you can equate the “signal” to your best prospects, while the “noise” is the tracked behavior of the other 90% that you’re holding onto.

buying online. E-commerce conceptFollow up. Studies have shown a 45% improvement in lead-generation ROI for companies that nurture leads. With that in mind, make sure that your followup uses the best segmentation available so that you can zero in on your prospects. Remember that personalized emails deliver six times higher revenue per email than non-personalized emails, so segmenting your followup is just as important than the segmentation you’ll be doing once these prospects become customers.

In addition, automating this process is the fastest and most reliable way to spend acquisition budgets efficiently. The B2C ecosystem of customer acquisition is complex, so make sure that the leads you pay for are the ones that will bring you the best possible ROI. At CertainSource, we automate the system while making sure that the best lead sources are used and poorly performing ones throttled. Isn’t it time you found out how we can help you?

Christmas market in Frankfurt, Germany

Holiday Emails: Tips That Work!

Christmas sale let's go shoppingAs we all get ready for the holiday season, we thought it would be a good time to get back to basics and ensure that all of your holiday emails are viewed just the way that you want them to. So here’s what we might call Email 101; tips to bear in mind this holiday season – and all year!

  1.  Only use basic HTML. You know why. That includes JavaScript and HTML layers – messages with scripts can get blocked or stripped by the email client/browser. If you want to use dynamic elements, send recipients to your website instead. Don’t use rich-media functions (like video, inline audio or flash). Keep background images to a minimum and understand that they will not appear in some email clients.
  2. Along the same lines, use caution if you’re using cascading style sheets. CSS can cause rendering problems in some email clients; it may also get stripped out or overwritten. If you are using CSS, choose the inline embedded style, and place it within body tags, not in the header.
  3. Create HTML with a maximum pixel width of 600; this means that your customers won’t have to do any horizontal scrolling; we often forget that the window in which email is displayed is rarely a full screen wide. Make sure that you test your width in as many email clients as you can before sending the email out.
  4. woman hand with smartphone snowCreate separate emails to be viewed on mobile. Mobile calls not just for responsive design, but for clearer and easier calls to action.
  5. Keep the length of your emails reasonable. This will keep the email from being filtered out (viruses live in very large files).
  6. Image issues are important to consider. The more complex they are, the longer they’ll take to load. If an email takes too long to load, the customer may move on without viewing it. Slow loading of images can be helped if you use alt tags to name the image – at least the customer then sees what it is about as it loads, and is more likely to stay with you. Finally, don’t use 1 x 1 pixel spacer gifs (generally used to force widths in table data cells); the spacers are commonly used in spam and so, again, your email could be filtered out.
  7. This may seem obvious, but it isn’t always: design your email to read top to bottom, and left to right.
  8. No matter how well you format your message, it will never be visible to everyone. So make it easy for customers to follow a link from the email to a page on your website where the offer or message is repeated. Put the link at or near the top of your message so it can be seen and clicked right away.


All of these considerations should help you present clean, workable emails that will get your message across during the busy holiday season!

content flowing into shopping bag

5 Tips for Customer Acquisition Through Content Marketing

Twitter bird on smartphoneFor many people, the term “content marketing” is roughly equivalent to the term “blog.” Right? But it isn’t so: the reality is that blogs are a very small part of content marketing. In fact, content marketing refers to any digital communication: a well-written email is content, a video is content, a great landing page is content, and social media posts are content.

So what kind of content marketing will help you with customer acquisition? There are five pieces of content that can be particularly useful in promoting your brand and attracting followers, visitors, and prospects… and then turning them into customers.

  1. Blog posts: Yes, of course, you probably could have guessed that we’d begin with blog posts, since they are indeed what first comes to mind when most people think content. What blog posts can become customer-acquisition tools? Posts that are helpful, useful, informative, posts that show your brand to be aware of what’s going on in their world and has prepared a thoughtful response to it, these are blog posts that people will read, think about, and eventually act upon.
  2. Micro-content: Tweets, LinkedIn, and Facebook posts can’t go into the same detail that blog posts do, but they can point new audiences to your blog, your website, and other longer content that you have on offer. On their own, your micro-content can intrigue, engage, and interest potential customers.
  3.  White papers: Blogs and micro-content pieces are conversational in tone, easy to read, and generally pull prospects in. Once at your site, however, you have to deliver the goods—that is, some more serious and useful information. White papers written on the subjects that are important to your prospects and customers deliver in-depth information that clearly shows you as a thought leader.
  4. blog on typewriter keysIndustry articles: Speaking of being perceived as a thought leader, writing articles that are placed in industry publications also indicates that prospects can trust your knowledge—and your generosity in sharing it for free. Make sure that your bio points them to a landing page where they can sign up for your email list.
  5. Sales page: The the most important of all the content marketing that you do is your sales page: presenting exactly the right content after your prospect has read all your other content is what finally will make the sale.


Content marketing is as important for B2C marketers as it is for B2B marketing firms, and will lift your customer acquisition significantly when used as an integral part of your overall marketing strategy.

infographic concept of purchasing product via internet, mobile shopping communication and delivery service. Buy Online.

Artificial Advancement for Customer Acquisition

car being washedHere’s an interesting story:

Two researchers, Joseph Nunes and Xavier Drèze, conducted a customer loyalty experiment with a car wash and they found that “artificial advancement” increases customer loyalty by 82%. On two consecutive Saturdays, they gave out loyalty cards to car wash patrons. Half of the cards required eight car washes to earn a free car wash. The other half required 10, but instead of requiring the full 10, the car wash gave a two-car wash head-start as a free bonus. This bonus is known as artificial advancement.

During the next nine months, 28 out of 150 people earned a free car wash when they didn’t receive artificial advancement. However, 51 out of 150 people earned a free car wash when they received artificial advancement.

Screen Shot 2014-11-14 at 8.09.12 AMWhy does it work? People are more likely to complete tasks when they’re closer to the finish line. When you start with a loyalty card, and you only have one car wash punched, that means you’re 12.5% complete. But when you start with a loyalty card that has three car washes to start, you’re 30% complete. Even though the patrons need the same eight car washes, in one instance they’re 70% away from the finish line… whereas in the other case they’re 87.5% away.

So you can do a lot with that concept in email marketing. Make an offer to your current subscribers that will earn them something free, and then give them some artificial advancement toward that goal. Especially in the holiday buying season, this can be a powerful inducement to keep consumers’ shopping in one place—your website!


lead generation

Want Better Customers? Get Cleaner Leads!

recruitment, hand holding human, blue background, flat and shadow themeEveryone wants clean leads. It’s the law, for one thing. It’s cost-efficient, for another. It helps with your company’s ROI. But as you already know, lead cleansing can be a problem. Your brand’s reputation, your customer-acquisition budget, and your final ROI are all on the line.

Co-reg has somehow become a dirty word in marketing, and many marketers are not taking advantage of an important lead and prospect generation tool. Co-reg simply means that the lead has signed up for more than one offer or agreed to have third-party offers sent to them. That’s it. Nothing evil lurks below the surface. In a sense, these are “shared” leads, leads that are getting emails from other people. There’s nothing inherently wrong with doing co-reg. The issue lies in the increased possibility of having some impure data collected along the way.

The reality is that almost all purchased leads end up being co-reg leads, since most lead generation services sell their leads to more than one retailer—who then may sell them to several customers. How much have you been paying for “exclusive” email leads? How much have you been paying for clean ones?

There are four easy steps you can take to ensure clean leads:

  1. Don’t start out too big! Some companies begin with an overwhelming 10,000 leads per day, most of which will need to go into the gutter. Go slowly, and be patient.
  2. Use all available technology. Technology can tell you at the front end—where it’s the most important—whether or not an email address is valid.
  3. Target the right places.
  4. Know where your name is being used. Blind networks don’t tell you where they’re placing your offers. Some affiliate networks and reputable publications will tell you.

shoppingOnce you’re sure about your leads being clean, you can think about activity on those leads.

It may seem like common sense, but many companies fail to contact leads in a timely manner. (By “timely,” I really mean “immediately.”) The Harvard Business Review audited 2,241 U.S. companies, measuring how long each took to respond to a web-generated test lead.

Although 37% of these companies responded to their leads within an hour, and 16% responded within one to 24 hours, 24% took more than 24 hours—and 23% of the companies never responded at all. The average response time, among companies that responded within 30 days, was 42 hours.

You can do better than that!

social media, communication in the global computer networks.

Customer Acquisition Starts At The Source

nighttime city BeijingCustomer acquisition: every marketer’s headache and holy grail. It doesn’t have to be mysterious: obtaining high-quality new customers with a minimum of risk to your reputation and to inbox deliverability starts at the source.

That’s right. It’s a process that begins by automatically evaluating each individual lead source, rather than lead quality and performance in the aggregate. Aggressive acquisition practices can harm a company’s inbox delivery rates and even get it listed on email reputation sites; so proceeding with traditional acquisition processes not only makes your company assume a good deal of risk, but also tells potential customers that they are of little value to your company.

What happens if you implement the process is that 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.

And then we come to live data.

Many acquisition processes implement auto-responders for new-customer signups. That’s all well and good, but it’s time that we went beyond auto-responders. What that means is setting up a system to immediately nurture leads, and that system includes a cascade of behavior-based promotional emails. In other words, not every lead gets the same cascade—it depends on what the person did, requested, commented on, or filled out, just as once they become customers, people get cascades that react to the actions they take.

Shirahama Hot Spring FootbathFrom that initial cascade you can move your customers neatly into a series of transition marketing cascades; but, again, it’s essential to go beyond the obvious. While you want to begin with the traditional mailings that introduce customers to your company, this is the best time to incorporate live data into the mix. We used to think of transition marketing as introducing the company to the customer, but now it’s also about introducing the customer to the company, as you keep track of where and what your customer is doing, saying, clicking, sharing … and respond to all that data immediately.

This isn’t the only route to customer acquisition… but it’s one of the best!

soldiers at war

What Does Veteran’s Day Have to do with Email Marketing?

American soldier with flagToday is Veteran’s Day, the one day on the calendar when we stop our complicated lives to think about the people who aren’t busily marketing services and products, the people who have volunteered to step up and say, “Nothing will hurt you tonight. Not on my watch.”

Nothing to do with marketing, right? Except, of course, for the tired assumption that Veteran’s Day somehow, just by virtue of being there, makes people want to buy more things. Presumably that’s one of the reasons people fight and die for this country—so we’re free to shop.

There is, however, a deeper connection.

It’s true that marketers are about goods and services, goods and services that are out of the reach of two-thirds of the world’s population. Those of us who live in first-world countries have first-world problems: we worry about which shoes will look good with that dress, about which dishwasher has the most settings, about which car comes with the most gadgets. We’re lucky to be able to think about those “problems.” We’re able to do it because there are people willing to forego them and address real ones: Will I stay alive today? Will one of my companions get killed? Will I have to shoot anyone?

Yes; by all means, use Veteran’s Day as an opportunity to market your product or service. But why not do something meaningful with your sale? Why not offer the deepest discounts to veterans, to serving military personnel and their families, to those who enable us to sell our wares?

That would be a concrete—and necessary—way for our small segment of the population to say thank you.


people sharing risk

Acquisition Sans Risk

managing riskIf 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 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. Google Analytics and/or CoreMetrics can help here.
  3. Look at conversions, not clicks. Use cookies and pixels to tie offers to campaigns.
  4. Always know the cost per sale.

rope to drowning person

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.

Armed with as much information as possible, the guarantee of enjoying the fruits of your labor are directly ahead with:

  • flexibility on offer and creative changes;
  • volume and budget control; and
  • fluid scheduling that makes it easy to make swift decisions on placement, sources, etc.

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.




shopping online

How To Fix Your Customer-Acquisition Problems

voodoo dollWe all know that a lot of marketing (and customer acquisition is no exception) depends on testing. Not everything works for every marketer at all times. In fact, sometimes it feels like voodoo: wow, that worked in our last campaign, it didn’t work this time, why?

Relax. No one’s put a spell on you yet. But when something doesn’t work, you need to find out why before you can fix it. Just saying, “We tried that, it didn’t work, we’ll never do it again” is an emotional response to a data-driven problem.

So uncover the data.

If your customer-acquisition campaign didn’t meet your goals, then the first step is to define what the problem might be. Was the offer not alluring enough? What about the acquisition source you’re using? Finding and defining the problem will take you closer to uncovering the solution.

shopping online 2There are a lot of metrics to examine and test. The first ones are obvious:

  • opt-in rate
  • conversion rate
  • earnings per click
  • sales generated


One metric that you may not have given much thought to is the time the visitor spent on the site:

  • if visitors are spending a lot of time on your site but not converting, it means that your customer-acquisition source isn’t to blame: it’s bringing you targeted prospects genuinely interested in your product or service. They aren’t converting because of something that’s happening on the site, so what you want to do is test your headlines, your copy, and your offers.
  • if visitors are leaving the site immediately after landing there, then you aren’t using the best sources for customer acquisition: your website just isn’t a good match for the prospects being sent there.


CertainSource Acquire makes sure that you are only using sources that deliver the highest-value prospects to you, people who are already interested in what you have to offer. Why not ask us how today?

email deliverability

Deliverability and New Customers

mailboxesBack in the days when we all used to think in terms of lead generation, some pretty bad things happened. Marketers began mailing willy-nilly to lists of names that hadn’t come from the best sources—and often came from the worst. The predictable result? Poor inbox delivery and some brand reputations in tatters.

Fortunately, we’ve moved beyond lead generation know more about how customer acquisition works. And keeping your acquisition in your prospects’ inboxes has everything to do with how your customer acquisition strategy is formulated and implemented.

We all need new customers, but cutting corners isn’t going to do any marketer any good. Good online marketing is—and always has been—permissions-based marketing. Good online marketing is the science of monitoring opt-in customer and prospect online behavior, and the art of translating that behavior in ways that allow marketers to deliver personal, powerful marketing campaigns, campaigns that provide your opted-in prospects with convenience, relevant content, and the least intrusive relationship possible.

And that can only happen through the prospect taking the lead in communicating with you.

For years marketers bombarded consumers with what they wanted to present to potential prospects; advertising still does this. But in the 21st century, that’s just not an option anymore for the online retailer. The shift in power from marketer to consumer that happened dramatically with the advent of social media has put the reins in the hands of the consumer. We can fight it, or we can make it work for us.

Let’s make it work for us.

digital documentsWe do it through giving prospects multiple touch-points where they can indicate interest in a company, a brand, or a product. They may click on a link on their smartphone asking for more information. They may fill out a questionnaire on their computer before accessing some additional content. They may connect with a company’s Facebook page or respond to a tweet. As many ways as there are to communicate, we need to give potential prospects that many ways to indicate interest … to opt-in to receiving more information.

As long as it’s done following best practices—making sure that unsubscribes are easy, making sure that email subject lines are not misleading, delivering what was promised to the consumer—then there won’t be any negative impacts to inbox delivery. Delivery has everything to do with the prospect wanting more, and requesting more.

Start as you mean to continue, and delivery isn’t going to be an issue in your customer-acquisition campaigns.