How Brands Can Acquire More New Customers for Less

20 Dec, 2016, by James Brown

There’s little doubt as to what’s written atop most marketers to do lists for 2017: customer acquisition.

How can we be so sure? Just take a glance at any CMO survey of the past 12 months.

For example, an April 2016 report from The Economist Intelligence Unit found that 45% of marketing executives worldwide said customer acquisition was a strategic program that defined their marketing department. In addition, a HubSpot sponsored survey in May 2016 found that ‘Converting contacts/leads to customers’ and ‘Growing traffic to website’ topped the priority list for outbound and inbound marketers worldwide.

But customer acquisition can be expensive and most marketers will be working with little or no extra resource in 2017. So what’s the solution?

Well, the traditional approach to acquisition – creating broad customer segments, finding approximate lookalikes for these segments in TGI and then using those as the basis for media selections – certainly isn’t. Segmentation of this type still has value for making strategic brand and business decisions, but not for the specifics of customer acquisition. Put simply, it’s too blunt an approach to be cost effective.

Tweaking your search strategy, both organic and paid for, can play a part. But let’s be frank, the art of search engine optimisation has been around for well over a decade, and there simply aren’t enough new wrinkles to exploit that you and your competitors haven’t already thought of.

No, the solution lies in a new approach – one that epitomises the ‘right customer, right message, right time’ approach. One that has smart data at its heart. We call it Analytical Acquisition.

Its implementation includes four stages.

First, you need to understand your customers. Not understand them in broad demographic terms, or anecdotally from feedback from your sales staff. But understand them in minute detail – detail that can only be provided by a extensive range of data sources. We use data from 30 different providers when creating customer lookalikes for Cream’s clients.

Secondly, you need to create a ‘straw man’ acquisition approach. That involves selecting appropriate channels – usually programmatic display and social media – and creative treatments that you’re going to test on your lookalikes. You’ll also need to put tools and benchmarks in place to measure the performance of this initial ‘test’ campaign.

Next, you need to launch your campaign, monitoring it from the very first second and using an array of measurement tools to judge its performance and optimise it in real time. You might discover targeting criteria that make certain aspects of your lookalike model work better than others. Or creative treatments that help you to achieve your aims more efficiently. Or times of day that your lookalikes are more likely to respond.

By observing and combining all these factors through a series of continual series of A/B tests, you’ll optimise to an approach that acquires new customers for your luxury brand in the most efficient and effective way.

That’s the theory, but how well does it work in practice? Well, we’ve used this approach across a number of Cream clients with very positive results.

Take the example of handmade furniture specialist Arlo & Jacob. We managed to increase their volume of swatch requests whilst reducing the cost of those requests by two thirds. As a result, their campaign return on investment more than doubled.

Of course, we can’t promise you’ll be acquiring two new customers for the price of one but there’s no doubt in our minds that this data-driven approach is the way forward for brands.

So if customer acquisition is sitting atop your to do list, we’re confident we can help you put a tick by that particular box in the coming year.