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5 Customer Acquisition Fundamentals Every Marketer Needs To Know

1: Before anything else, attain product/market fit.

Customer acquisition is meaningless until you do.

“Do whatever is required to get to product/market fit. Including changing out people, rewriting your product, moving into a different market, telling customers no when you don’t want to, telling customers yes when you don’t want to, raising that fourth round of highly dilutive venture capital — whatever is required.”  –  The Only Thing That Matters, by Marc Andreessen

The market is always evolving. This might seem like advice for people who are starting new businesses, but it’s also a hat that seasoned marketers have to wear from time to time. Henry Ford initially achieved product/market fit with the Model T, but subsequently lost to competition from General Motors. Why? His original vision for the first durable mass-market automobile resonated with the market, but people eventually wanted something different.

Know yourself. What is your product? What is your market? What is the problem that the market has, and how does your product solve it? What does your craziest, most obsessed customer look and sound like, and why does she rave about your product that much?

If you can’t answer all these questions, you probably need to iterate, or go back to the drawing board.

2: Content marketing: Focus on solving your customer personas’ problems.

Don’t fiddle with peripherals. It’s very tempting as a marketer to fuss about all the random collateral: Your logo, your tagline, your slogan, your site layout’s color scheme. These things matter, but they’re rarely the things that matter the most. Fiddling with them is almost always busy work that we do to distract ourselves from doing the harder, scarier work that actually matters.

Develop a superior understanding of the customer. You should always be in contact with customers and potential customers. You should always be writing and thinking about your customer’s problems. This requires figuring out how to create content that your leads care about, and figuring out how to convince them to make the leap to your landing page. This is almost never a clean, clinical process. Potential customers typically have to encounter your brand positively several times before they consider doing business with you.

3: You’re leaking money: Landing Page Optimization + Conversion Rate Optimization.

Got leads? Now convert. The simplest central insight is that you’ll have to learn to see things from your customer’s point-of-view, and eliminate all the friction between them and the signup. Simple concept, but it gets incredibly intricate in practice.

Literally map out your customer journey. What is the most important decision you want your potential customer to make? You have to prioritize, or risk being robbed of customers… by decision-paralysis. Map out all the entry points into your funnel, and figure out the best way to get them there.

Here’s some of my favorite literature on the subject.

4: Get your numbers in order: Measure all the things!

Measure costs and value. The central math problem of customer acquisition is figuring out how to acquire customers for less than they’re worth to you. The jargon used for this is “Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)” and “Customer Lifetime Value” (LTV). If you want to sound really smart, through these acronyms around and say things like “I highly recommend a CAC to LTV ratio of at least 1:3”. Practically speaking, this just means figuring out how you can acquire higher-value customers more  cheaply.

Measure the effectiveness of your acquisition efforts and channels. Specifically: Where are your customers coming from? Which are your best channels of customer acquisition? Do you get more customers on Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest? Where do your customers hang out, what do they read? How is your PPC doing? You have to measure these things as much as you reasonably can.

Of course, you also have to avoid getting overly caught up in the data. It’s never completely possible to tell if something is a trend or an anomaly until on hindsight, so factor that into your interpretations.

5: Read, learn, execute, reflect, iterate.

Challenge #1: Complexity. Customer acquisition is merely one part of marketing, but there are so many variables and moving parts that you can dedicate years to mastering it. The best way to get better at it, of course, is to learn from the experiences of the people who’ve done it best, and then apply those lessons to your own customer acquisition practices. And then repeat until you’ve achieved your goals.

Challenge #2: Balance. Reading and study can become a form of escapism from work, but non-directed busywork won’t help you very much, either. Study, implement, learn, teach, share, grow. It’s a lot of fun, really!

Further Reading:

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Visakan Veerasamy

Visa is ReferralCandy's Blog Editor. He also co-founded Statement.sg, a fashion ecommerce label selling witty t-shirts. He's been thrice named a Top Writer on Quora. He hopes to enjoy a glass of whiskey onboard a commercial space flight someday.

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