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Customer acquisition: 6 effective strategies and examples

Customer acquisition strategies: grocery store owner serving customer

Key takeaways

  • Implementing an effective customer acquisition plan can assist with winning new customers and achieving sustainable growth
  • Leverage content marketing to show your brand’s expertise and minimize your sales and marketing spend 
  • Consider investing in ads to boost customer acquisition if free marketing tactics aren’t gaining enough traction 

Every business needs to acquire new customers to grow. Even if you have stellar customer loyalty and little customer turnover (or churn), continually expanding your customer base is the key to growing your business. 

Rather than relying on luck, implementing an effective customer acquisition plan can assist with sustainable growth. Here’s what you need to know to build one of your own.

What is customer acquisition?

Customer acquisition is the term used for getting new customers to buy your products or services. It involves attracting sales leads, persuading them that your business is the right fit, and ultimately closing the sale.

Your marketing efforts should continuously funnel potential clients to your business so your sales team can drive them toward a purchase. Over time, you can improve your customer acquisition process to help your company scale faster.

6 effective customer acquisition strategies

When building a customer acquisition plan for your small business, it’s important to keep your total costs as low as possible. This is key to growing your profits. Each time you make a sale, you should be able to earn back more than your customer acquisition cost (CAC), which is the average amount you spend on marketing and sales to gain one customer.

While a good CAC may vary depending on what you sell and what industry you’re in, some of the best customer acquisition strategies are applicable to every business. Here are six cost-effective strategies you can use to grow your customer base.

1. Email marketing

female entrepreneur setting up email campaign on her laptop

Email marketing campaigns can persuade your leads to make a purchase when you regularly send emails to educate subscribers about your brand or offer sales promotions. For example, a yoga studio could send daily or weekly emails to introduce its classes, highlight testimonials from clients who had an excellent customer experience, feature instructors, and offer 25% off a class when you bring a friend. That’s why it’s important to ask potential customers for their email addresses so you can build your email list.

After shoppers become paying customers, email marketing can increase customer retention (the number of customers who buy again) by keeping them updated on new products, services, and features. As your customer lifetime value (CLV)—the amount they spend over their relationship with your company—soars, your CAC will feel much more minuscule.

Make sure each of your web pages allows website visitors to submit their contact information so you can capture contact information for as many potential customers as possible.

2. Referral programs

When consumers are trying to alleviate a pain point, 93% trust their friends and family for credible recommendations. This is what makes word-of-mouth referrals from existing customers so effective. And when your existing customers promote your company to their network, it can make your customer acquisition process much easier and less costly for you.

When you build a referral program, you can incentivize your loyal customers to promote your business to their networks on your behalf. For instance, you can offer a gift card or a free product in exchange for a referral that leads to a sale.

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3. Search engine optimization

SEO manager sitting at table and using laptop

When consumers have a pain point, they often turn to search engines for solutions. In fact, nearly 30% of all web traffic comes from online searches, which makes search engines powerful customer acquisition channels.

When you enhance your website with search engine optimization (SEO), your site will appear higher in organic searches, which are unpaid results chosen by search engine algorithms. 

For example, if you add relevant keywords to your website landing pages—like “flower delivery” and “floral arrangements” for your flower shop—algorithms will recognize that your business should be one of the top results when shoppers search for these terms. Use a keyword research tool to build a list of relevant terms you can include on your website.

4. Digital advertising

Consider investing in digital ads to make your company more visible to the right audience. Digital ads allow your brand to show up in prime places on a website or search engine results page. For example, Yelp Ads will place your business listing in a number of key places on the site and app, including above relevant search results and on your competitors’ pages. 

Online ads are more cost-effective than traditional ads in TV, radio, or print publications. Typically, you can set your own ad spend and pay only when you receive a click. Plus, you can target a specific audience based on their characteristics so you’re only reaching people who are likely to buy. This can help you achieve a high return on investment from your ad campaigns.

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5. Content marketing

Consider incorporating content marketing into your customer acquisition strategy with blog posts, videos, whitepapers, and podcasts that demonstrate your expertise at all stages of your sales funnel.

For example, you can make blog content (search engine optimized, of course) that adds value by answering your ideal customers’ questions. A cleaning company could write a blog post that describes the best methods for removing different types of carpet stains.

To persuade leads who are further in the customer acquisition process to buy, you can film virtual product demos and write articles that compare your product to competitors’ products.

6. Influencer marketing

With a saturated social media landscape, getting your target market to notice your brand can be tough, especially if you’re a startup or local business with a fairly small following. 

Influencer marketing, which involves paying influential social media users to promote your products or services, can elevate brand awareness and get your company in front of your target audience quickly. Since nearly 40% of shoppers trust influencers more than brands, this customer acquisition strategy can help boost your conversion rate faster.

To keep your influencer marketing costs in check, follow these tips:

  • Partner with industry influencers who have a similar target market. Ask for their audience demographics before pursuing a partnership.
  • Ask influencers for their metrics. Choose influencers with the strongest engagement rate, which is the amount of interactions (including likes, comments, and saves) per follower on each post.
  • Consider working with local influencers who have smaller followings. These small-time influencers can have impressive engagement rates while charging lower commission or per-post rates. Some may even accept free products or services in exchange for promotion.

Speed up your customer acquisition

New customer acquisition is a process that every successful business must excel at. Whether you’re optimizing your website, making quality content, or investing in ads, the goal is to implement reliable lead generation and sales strategies that consistently work. Start building your customer acquisition plan with these ideas and home in on the tactics that bring results.

As new customers start flowing in, you can shift your focus toward boosting your customer lifetime value by selling more to each buyer. Learn how to upsell to further raise your profits and achieve your business goals.

The information above is provided for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice and may not be suitable for your circumstances. Unless stated otherwise, references to third-party links, services, or products do not constitute endorsement by Yelp.