Customer Acquisition for Start-Ups

Customer Acquisition for Startups

How do you plan to acquire customers? It may sound like a simple question, but your answer could make or break your business. Developing a well thought-out and detailed customer acquisition plan is one of the key fundamental components of a successful start-up.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking “if you build it they will come”. While it’s true that providing a great product that meets a demand gives you a massive advantage, there’s much more to building an audience then simply opening your doors and waiting for the money to pour in. That’s where customer acquisition comes in.

Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing

Customer acquisition is all about two similar but distinct things: bringing people to your product and bringing your product to the people. This is the fundamental difference between inbound and outbound marketing.

Outbound marketing primarily involves what we think of as more “traditional” forms of marketing, including paid advertisements, cold calling and direct mail. Essentially, any time you directly engage consumers regarding your products, you’re performing outbound marketing.

Inbound marketing, on the other hand, refers to activities that bring customers to you. This includes such activities as content marketing, building a subscription-based e-newsletter and social media marketing. These activities encourage consumers to expose themselves to your brand and products willingly, whether or not they intend to make a purchase. You’re still engaging consumers, but you’re not forcing yourself on them.

There is certainly a role for outbound marketing in the modern marketplace – especially when marketing to baby boomers, one of the most valuable demographics – but the industry is turning heavily toward inbound marketing for one simple reason: that’s what most consumers are responding to.

With outbound marketing, customers stop coming when you stop paying into it, but with inbound marketing you can build a loyal and committed community around your businesses. When developing a customer acquisition strategy for your start-up, inbound marketing should be at the heart of it.

3 Steps to Creating Your Customer Acquisition Plan

1. Identify your goals

Everything starts with identifying your goals. Whether they are monetary, traffic or conversion based, the goals you initially set define what qualifies as “success” for your business.

Begin by deciding which kind of customers you want to attract. Millennials or baby boomers? High or low income? Single or family-oriented? Once you’ve identified your ideal customer profile, everything else becomes so much easier, from finalising the tone of your content and branding to having the confidence to know that when a customer comes to you, they’ve come to the right place.

Then you need to identify how valuable each customer is to you and how that’s going to affect your acquisition strategy. For example, if you’re dealing in high-cost luxury items, you can probably afford to spend a lot of time, money and marketing efforts to converting a single customer. If your business sells a low-cost, high-volume product, then you’ll need to cast a wider net.

In this way, your goals are going to shape your marketing, because whether your goal is to attract more visitors, convert more visitors into leads, or convert more leads into paying customers, the value of each of these customers is going to affect which types of acquisition strategies you should invest in.

2. Define your growth strategy

Now is the time to reverse engineer your customer acquisition plan. Look at your goals and ask yourself how you are going to get from point A (now) to point B (achieving the goal), then develop campaigns, tactics and strategies that align with those goals.

Use your customer profile. Will they respond well to email blasts and paid advertisements, or do they prefer to learn which businesses to trust through word-of-mouth and high quality content? The hard sell has gone out of style, so the growth strategies you develop will need to be built on inbound marketing tactics and reveal a deep understanding of your product, industry, and most of all, your target customers.

It’s important to constantly analyse your current strategy and test new campaign to identify just which tactics your target audience responds well to and which ones are having a negative effect on your growth. Use these tests to optimise your customer acquisition plan.

growth processImage source: http://ryangum.com/customer-acquisition-plan/

 3. Control your customer acquisition rate

As important as it is, customer acquisition is just one component of a successful start-up and should work in tandem with the other pillar of small business: product development. If you’re not careful, you could spend too much time working on one and not the other, and if your customer base growth is too quick (or not quick enough) for your product development, it could throw your entire business off-balance.

By developing more leads than your product can keep up with, you’ll risk developing a high churn rate and a negative reputation for providing sub-par or insufficient products. Conversely, by investing too much in product development, you’ll risk losing the revenue stream needed to pay for the development and waste precious resources working on products that suffer flaws due to insufficient consumer feedback.

Ultimately, advertising isn’t the be-all and end-all it once was. Large, wealthy companies used to be able to provide a poor-quality product and make it successful by pouring huge amounts of marketing money into it. Today, because people rely heavily on word-of-mouth and because news can spread faster than ever via social media, product and marketing are two sides of the same coin. A successful start-up can’t have one without the other.

A solid customer acquisition plan needs to respond to this reality. You need to be aware that consumers aren’t listening to you, they’re listening to what other people are saying about you. You need to be prepared to shape that conversation by providing good content, good product and good service. Customer acquisition isn’t about finding your customers, it’s about making sure your customers find you.

To learn more about how to locate and market to the right audience for you, subscribe to the DalPay Blog. For news and updates from around the industry, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Appealing to Millennials

Appealing-to-millennials-good

Year after year, the buying power of millennials grows and the importance they have to the economy, and your business specifically, becomes more undeniable. Millennials are set to make up half of the total workforce by the year 2020, so it’s important to start building brand loyalty within this demographic now. Appealing to millennials could be the best thing you ever did for your business.

While there is no consensus on the exact dates, the millennial generation refers to people born between 1980 and 2000. They were the first generation to grow up with the internet and are responsible for the central role social media now plays in business and marketing.Now, the spending power of millennials, a tech-savvy, media-connected and independent demographic, is growing to the point where it has become the fuel driving the digital economy.

E-Commerce is Business as Usual

According to an eMarketer survey, 60% of millennials “agreed or strongly agreed that they looked at items online to buy nearly every day, even if they didn’t actually plan on making a purchase.” This is a generation of people with multiple connected devices and who are accustomed to 24-hour internet access whether at home, at work, in transit, or wherever they may be. E- and m-commerce have been so integrated into their daily lives that browsing online stores has become a pastime.

But just because they may be “browsing” does not mean they are only looking: 52% said they make online purchases they hadn’t planned on, significantly higher than among older generations.

This is the millennial equivalent of window shopping, but it has one key difference: data. Online window shopping allows you to collect unprecedented amounts of personal data about your audience, such as what they’re looking at and for how long, where they’re from, what time of day they’re shopping, and how they’re accessing your website.

Business strategies that worked a decade ago are not going to work on this demographic. By understanding the behaviour and shopping habits of this generation, which can only come through a detailed analysis of the data you collect, you will understand how to market to them, win their loyalty and build a successful brand.

7 Tips for Appealing to Millennials

Be Personal

Data-mining provides you with an abundance of insights about your business and for your business. It can also unlock one of the most important factors in a millennial’s path to purchase: personalised marketing. Millennials know their habits are being tracked and expectyou to market directly to them. Using your data to provide each customer with product suggestions based on their search history is a great way to start the personalised path to purchase.

You can also take personalisation to the next level by maintaining two-way communication, such as those facilitated by social media. An important part of building trust and loyalty is to prove to your customers that you’re paying attention to them. There’s no better way to do that than to participate in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter, for example, by replying to customers’ Tweets and Facebook comments.

Embrace Word-of-Mouth

A recent study found that 95% of millennials cited their friends as the most credible source of information about a business. 98% said they’re more likely to engage in a social media post by a friend about a brand than a post by the business itself.

This is irrefutable proof that you shouldn’t treat every customer like a potential sale but like a brand ambassador. Just as a bad reputation can spread like wildfire, so can word of an exceptionally good experience through social media and word-of-mouth. Your customers will walk away happy and return back with more customers for you.

Go Mobile

Mobile payments are being driven by milliennials. 52% of them have already used their phones to make payments at a point-of-sale, despite it being an emerging payment method still in its early stages. They have a vision of a world where they’ll only need their smartphone, ditching their IDs, payments and loyalty cards, licenses and keys.

Millennials are pushing for mobile payments, and if the success of ApplePay is any indication, with one million subscribers in its first three days, they’re going to get them. So make sure your business is prepared to accept mobile payments both online and in-person.

Be Consistent

Millennials are also at the forefront of omni-channel commerce. Because they have multiple devices with near 24-hour connectivity and are accustomed to taking a multi-device path to purchase, your branding, pricing and features need to be consistent across all channels. The old practice of multi-channel commerce, with separate marketing strategies tailored to each channel, strikes millennials as insincere and lowers their level of trust in your brand.

Be Creative

Don’t be afraid to make it weird. Millennials were raised on absurdist humour and 46% say that random and bizarre marketing is the most memorable. You don’t need to go off the deep end, you just need to be creative. Today, we’re marketed to everywhere we go – doing it a little differently will refresh your message, resonate with your audience and get your brand remembered.

Be Responsible

As revealed in a study from PR firm Cone Communication, specialists in cause marketing, millennials are highly aware of responsible business practices and expect a certain level of social responsibility from brands they are loyal to, to the extent where they will switch from one business to a competitor based on their efforts in this area.

Brands today need to make their social awareness public and emphasise transparency and authenticity. Include in your content the story behind your business, why you started in the industry, why you operate your business the way you do, and why you believe in it. Be vocal about and take action in the causes you believe in and you will attract loyal customers and brand ambassadors. By making a personal appeal that hits home with millennials, you can establish your brand as a positive part of the community.

Hire Millennials

Finally, and this is an easy one, a great strategy for appealing to millennials is to hire them. By having employees who are themselves millennials and listening to their feedback about your products, services and marketing materials, you can eliminate the initial trial-and-error stage of introducing new strategies, products or branding.

This generation is pouring into the workforce as we speak and earning a lot of money that they’re going to turn around and spend somewhere, so why not at your business? Appealing to millennials means getting your enterprise ready to accept the business of hundreds of millions of young, social and independent people with money they want to use. By tailoring your branding to this demographic, you can lay the foundation for an entire generation’s worth of loyal customers.

To learn more about how to locate and market to the right audience for you, subscribe to the DalPay Blog. For news and updates from around the industry, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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