Customer Acquisition: The Ultimate Guide to Turbocharging Your Digital Marketing Engine 

Post by 
Kenneth Shen
Published 
February 20, 2021

Finely Tune Your Customer Acquisition Strategies

Here at Half Past Nine, we have a unique perspective on building sustainable digital marketing strategies for highly accelerated customer acquisition.

Just like a meticulously engineered supercar, combining performance-driven design with cutting edge technology and superior execution leaves mediocre digital marketing plans fading in the dust.

With so many moving parts in any robust digital customer acquisition strategy, there’s no substitute for having the most talented engineers. It takes a creative mind with technical knowledge and unrelenting analytical obsession to get extraordinary results.

The aim? A customer acquisition machine that responsively handles any curve the road throws at it. Curious? Let’s pop the hood and take a look at the main components that make a best-in-class digital marketing and customer acquisition strategy.

Customer Acquisition example analogy to a car
How we view digital customer acquisition. Sketch credit: Johhny

Skip to What You Need:

The Basics of Customer Acquisition

All marketing success starts with the product. A good product is just like a car chassis - the strong foundation on which everything else sits. 

So, before you even begin, has your team created or invested in a product that’s fit for purpose? How will your customers feel once they’ve purchased it? Is it able to meet, or perhaps even exceed, your customers needs and expectations?

Here’s a few key elements you’ll need to successfully build a strategy upon:

Product-market fit - Get the fit right between your products and your market niches so you can create or capture viable and sustainable market demand. Have you done your market research first?

Product traits & value - Make sure the product delivers the features your customers need, and has a clear value proposition that’s competitive within your markets. Have you adequately tested and collected feedback on your product?

UI/UX - Ensure your customers have a superior user experience (UX) with your product as far as possible, delivering the benefits they expect to receive. How do customers rate their overall experience with your product? How loyal are they? Make sure to keep track of customer feedback continually.

A digital customer acquisition strategy that can harness market demand while building on the momentum of positive customer experiences is the goal. Your product fit or design will be an iterative process. However, make sure you’re already far enough along with the basics before it’s go-time to execute a sleek digital marketing strategy.

Your Marketing Process - Before we begin, make sure you have a robust process in place for building a digital marketing machine. This includes market research, identifying your channels, understanding your marketing funnels, and more. Read more about the marketing process behind building a digital marketing operation from the ground up.

Installing Your Digital Infrastructure 

Now you need a strong frame in place. Your marketing tech stack is the digital infrastructure that allows your wider acquisition strategy to take shape and function. It also gathers data about how well activities are performing, allowing for continuous fine tuning and optimization. 

Without the correct digital tools, a well-oiled and responsive customer acquisition machine simply isn’t possible!

Your Website 

Metaphorically, your website is the shiny body of the car. It should feature content and branding that catches your customers’ eyes and is easy to ‘digest’. Draw them in and create a desire to purchase that’s easily fulfilled with a quick checkout process. A well designed website is easy to navigate and works well for users on all stages of your customer journey.

A website can often be referred to as a Content Management System (CMS) - the platform used to build and edit your website. Your website needs to be easy for you to edit regularly and search engine optimized (SEO) in its technical set up. We’ll get into that a bit more later.

Some of the most popular CMS platforms include:

CRM 

A great Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is a key cog in your digital infrastructure. It’s not just about capturing the right customer data, but having the functionality to then use that data to further your sales lead conversions (as well as up-sell and retention strategies). You’ll ideally have a CRM system that’s compatible with the rest of your tech stack to help deliver highly personalized, timely and effective acquisition tactics. Use what you know about your customers to build audience personas and understand your typical customer journey.

Some of the most popular CRM systems include:

Landing Page Builders 

It’s important to understanding where your customers are “landing” on your website, as well as which pages are most effective for driving value. It can be very beneficial to have specialized landing pages for your potential customers to convert, depending on where they have come from. 

For example, say a potential customer has clicked on a digital advert for one of your products. They’ll expect to land on a page where they can easily learn about that particular product, and purchase it if they wish. A good landing page will have a simple layout and very focussed information that guides your new customer to complete the conversion action that you want them to. 

Conversion actions aren’t always around completing a sale though. For higher value purchases, you could provide more detailed content to drive your potential customer along into the next stage of your sales funnel. For example, by asking them to fill in a contact form in order to download an ebook. 

Landing pages are generally divided into form-fill pages and product pages. Either way, capturing your customer’s contact information will then allow you to continue nurturing the relationship.

If you really want to nail the digital lead generation and conversion process, rapid A/B split testing is a crucial feature for ongoing optimization.

Effective landing pages also use highly focussed keywords that are correlated with linking digital adverts, improving Cost-Per-Click (CPC) efficiency. Depending on the size of your website or product range, it might make more sense to do this on a landing page rather than an evergreen page on your website’s navigation menu.

Some of the most popular landing page builders include:

Retention (Email + SMS) 

An email or SMS marketing platform comes into play after you’ve captured those all important customer contact details and communication preferences. 

You’ve now got a direct line of communication that offers the most cost-effective digital marketing possible. It’s easier and much more cost-effective to convert a warm lead than it is to find a new one. It pays to give this method of content marketing the level of thought, investment and expertise that it deserves.

Here’s where a good CRM system that’s integrated with your email (or SMS) platform really helps. It will allow you to deliver highly personalized content at the right time for your customer’s individual journey, and track the results for optimization. 

Use these platforms to nurture and convert your leads using automated email marketing flows tied to specific customer scenarios and preferences. Build a lasting relationship using individually relevant and valuable content or offers.

Some of the most popular email and SMS systems include:

Analytics Tools 

Once you have your customer acquisition tactics running, it’s important to know how well the various elements are performing so you can optimize for effectiveness, cost efficiency and ROI. 

At Half Past Nine, we emphatically emphasize the need to have robust analytical tools and practices at the centre of your digital marketing strategy. Analytics is the crux of any modern digital marketing operation. 

Acting as the headlights, your historical data allows you to read the contours of the road to see where you’re currently at and make informed decisions about moving forward. All of your digital marketing activity needs to be properly tracked and measured in order to do this.

  • Website analytics - Google Analytics or similar tools are used for measuring webpage performance, conversions, and drilling into your audience demographics and opportunities. You can understand how individual pages and the whole site are performing, as well as how customers are using your website.
  • Search engine marketing (SEM) analytics - Tools like SEMRush are for undertaking any meaningful SEM research and execution, whether that’s search engine optimization (SEO) keywords or Pay-Per-Click (PPC) keywords.
  • In-platform analytics - These are channel-specific advertising managers - such as those within Facebook, Google or LinkedIn - allowing you to track how well your digital advert content is performing on that particular platform.

Some of the most popular analytics platforms include:

Data Visualization 

Working in tandem with the data that your analytics platforms are capturing, there are numerous third party data visualization tools that you can use like power steering. 

Marketing dashboards are a visual means to quickly assess and easily communicate how digital campaigns are performing - whether it’s live A/B split testing or iterative campaign results. Decide on your advert or activity KPIs, then create corresponding dashboards that work with the relevant data insertions to populate charts summarizing performance.

In a dynamic and competitive consumer market places, dashboards are invaluable. Once set up, they’re great for assessing and comparing data at just a glance. You can instantly see how the ‘road’ of your customer journey is curving, allowing you to react quickly and adjust the ‘steering’ when you need to.

Some of the most popular data visualization tools include:

Paid Customer Acquisition 

Paid acquisition is digital advertising that either FINDS or CAPTURES product demand. Finding demand means displaying adverts to relevant target audiences who aren’t searching for your product, oftentimes, creating demand. Capturing existing demand means displaying adverts to target audiences who are already searching for your product at the time.

The two best-known platforms for finding and capturing demand are Facebook and Google respectively. Both platforms boast huge regular user bases and offer excellent advert targeting and reporting functionality. This makes them the most effective platforms currently available for these two types of lead generation.

Advertising on Facebook 

Facebook is used to FIND and create demand. That’s because people haven’t come onto Facebook with the aim of searching for specific products with a pre-existing intention to purchase (unless they are using Facebook Marketplace within the user community). However, this platform is still the best way to get your product or brand in front of new prospects. As we write this in early 2021, the Facebook Ads platform is being affected by Apple's new App Tracking Transparency Framework. Read more about it here.

It works by showing people adverts in their newsfeed while they’re scrolling. You get to choose who you show your adverts to with high-level targeting tools. Facebook then selects who to display the advert to at an individual level based on the data they have about them. 

Facebook adverts for customer acquisition work on a CPM model, which means Cost-Per-Mille, or cost per thousand impressions. So you pay based on the number of people who see your advert appear in their newsfeed. 

As an advertiser, you’ll be bidding for advert placements within your target audience against many other businesses, whether they are direct industry competitors or not. The price you’ll need to bid to get an advert shown isn’t fixed. Your timing, creative quality, bidding strategy, ad placement selection and volume of competing ads for your selected audience will all affect the final cost. You can set a campaign budget and length of time you want an advert to run for, and Facebook will manage the advert delivery as optimally as possible. 

There is an ‘unlimited’ amount of ad inventory on Facebook. That’s because you can continue showing it to as many people as you’re willing to pay for. Or you could also expand your audience by including wider audience demographics.

On Facebook, you’ll need to optimize the following ad components according to your lead generation or brand awareness objectives:

  • Good creative direction and copy - Your advert copy and creative is really important when the audience has a very short-attention span amidst a competitive and distracting online environment. What gets your audience’s attention?
  • Effective targeting - You need to know your audience characteristics to select those who are most likely to convert, and how best to advertise to them using Facebook’s pricing models and bidding options.
  • Prospecting and remarketing structure - This refers to how you break down your budget between finding new leads, versus remarketing to people who have previously clicked on your adverts. For sustainable growth, prospecting should see more investment than remarketing.
  • Optimized relevance ranking - The higher your ads are ranked by Facebook for their content quality, user engagement and conversion rate, the less you’ll need to bid for your ad to be shown. Facebook has to weigh up UX against revenue, not discouraging users with lots of irrelevant or low quality adverts.
Facebook ads manager alongside an ad example
An example of Facebook Ads & Ads Manager

Google Ads

Google can be used to CAPTURE existing demand with Search Engine Marketing (SEM). This means you advertise to people who are already using Google to research or purchase your type of product. We need these people to find your website in their search results so you can capture that existing demand.

On Google, people type in search queries to find specific content. Google takes the ‘keywords’ they’ve used within the search query and shows them search listings ranked in order of content relevancy, quality and ‘authority’.

Google Ads lets you show search listing adverts for queries relating to your type of product. It will link to your selected webpage for the specific search query keywords you’ve selected. Depending on how well your website ranks organically against all other websites, you’ll most likely need to use Google Ads to be found on the first page of results.

Google Ads for customer acquisition work on a PPC model, meaning you only pay when someone clicks on your advert, not just when they are shown it. 

Inventory on Google is more limited than large social platforms like Facebook. That’s because there’s only a certain amount of people searching for keywords related to your product at any given time. We call this ‘search volume’. 

On Google Ads, its important to understand and get the following components right:

  • Keyword research - Ensure you’ve nailed all the keywords and search terms that potential customers use when searching for a product like yours, so you can capture as much of the available demand as possible.
  • Ad copy - Use concise, relevant and persuasive messaging within the tight text characters limit, getting your listing as many clicks as possible in relation to the search volume.
  • Account structure and set up - This becomes particularly crucial the more products and keywords you have to manage. Setting up your account and settings effectively will let you run more targeted ads with highly specified parameters, run A/B split testing, and gather clearly defined data sets that will allow you to understand variables in performance for optimizing individual adverts.
  • Continued optimization - Work at keeping your advertising costs as low as possible and your conversions as high as possible. Google Ads charge less per click for ads that have a higher Quality Score. Improving the relevancy and authority of individual landing pages as well as your website is an important ad cost reduction and conversion optimization tactic. 

Develop landing pages as closely tied to specific keywords or search terms as possible, and make sure the calls to action are clear. It also helps to list negative keywords you don’t want to appear for, filtering out searches that don’t typically lead to conversion.

Google ads platform and a google ad example
The Google Ads Platform and a Text Search Ad

Organic Customer Acquisition 

Organic acquisition is essentially anything you haven’t paid for, at least in terms of promotion. Key organic customer acquisition strategies include website SEO (where people find your website in unpaid search results), social media, and lead nurturing via email.

Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization is the art of having your website ranked highly for relevant search keywords and terms. It combines content and technical elements, with a bit of time and effort required to build organic ranking performance.

Google (or any other search engine) assesses how well your content fits with search queries and keywords, the quality of your content, how well your website is technically optimized, and how much authority your website has. It then uses that data to rank the webpage listings it shows to users. The higher your website scores against competing websites, the higher it will sit in the organic (unpaid) search result listings. 

It’s often worth the effort, because search engine users are most likely to trust and click on organic search results than they are for paid search results. Here are the most important SEO factors you’ll need to look at:

  • Keywords and content - Are you using the Google keywords that people are searching for in your content? Google will prioritize webpages that use keywords their users are searching for. Create webpages optimized for specific keywords by including them as many times as possible throughout your webpage copy, including in the headings and page meta descriptions. 

Note, it’s important that keywords are used in a way that reads naturally and doesn’t compromise the quality of prose. This so that your content readability score remains high, which Google is also looking at! Google generally prefers focussed content optimized for specific keywords and high relevancy, as opposed to lots of competing keywords.

  • On Page SEO - On page SEO looks at the optimization of individual pages within your website. Firstly, your pages need to be well linked within a clear website navigation structure so Google can easily read your site. 

The readability and quality of your written content is scored, along with how long people stay on your webpage and navigate within your website. Additional scoring is awarded for users clicking on links, demonstrating their engagement with your content. You’ll also need headings properly tagged in a sensible structure, and pages that load quickly with compressed image files.

Your pages generally need to be user friendly, mobile friendly, and contain image alt text in order to score well. Google’s search algorithm can see how much effort and attention to detail you’ve put in, and absolutely rewards that.

  • Domain authority and backlinks - Google gives your website an overall domain authority score, which will impact how well your individual webpages rank in search results. There are over 40 factors that go into calculating your website’s score, with any new website starting at zero. You’ll need to put work into increasing this over time. 

The most important factor is backlinks, which prove that your content has ‘authority’ because of the volume of online references it gets. Google looks at how many other websites or social media posts link back to your content, and the quality (or authority) of those backlinks directing to your website. For example, a link from Forbes to your content would rank high in quality

Wordpress meta description example


Organic Social Media

Organic social media activity is when you post updates to your existing followers, which you obviously don’t need to pay for. Excellent! 

To expand your ‘reach’ organically, the aim is to have your existing followers engaging with and share your social content with their friends and connections, helping you to reach new people that you hadn’t previously. 

We all know these social channels, from Facebook and Instagram to YouTube, Reddit, Quora, NextDoor, Snapchat, and TikTok more recently. Many of these channels also allow you to advertise. However, you can still rapidly acquire new followers and customers without using adverts if you have a strong enough social media content strategy and get high engagement.

Organic social media marketing example

Email or SMS

We consider email or SMS to be an organic channel, excluding the subscription price for your chosen delivery platform itself of course. Email is mostly used for customer retention, but it can also be part of your new customer acquisition strategy. 

If you can capture contact details and communication opt in for sales leads who aren’t quite ready to buy, you’ll be able to nurture them towards a sales conversion. As mentioned already, this is the most cost effective content marketing available, and you can achieve really great results if you do it well. 

You’ll need to devise a suitable email content strategy - obviously without getting into the danger zone of spamming and driving up unsubscribe rates. Focus on content that delivers genuine value and incentive for your sales leads.

email marketing example klaviyo

Earned Media Customer Acquisition  

This type of customer acquisition could be either paid or organic. What it rests on is the strength of your brand, product quality or position as a thought leader. 

This works if you have carved out a reputation for your business and people want to talk about it positively without financial incentive. Or, people are happy to be associated with your business via paid promotion while maintaining their own reputation as a trustworthy and influential authority.

Public Relations

Public Relations is a large part of branding, storytelling and even SEO nowadays for generating those all important backlinks! It comes from understanding who the influential voices are in your space, and having them tell your story compellingly. That can be using various forms of organic and paid online media.

You’re aiming to position yourself as a thought leader for your niche, although this can often take a bit of time and effort with relationship building and raising awareness. 

At the end of the day, you need to have earned that right by creating or doing something that is actually compelling and worthy of talking about. The more unique, innovative, knowledgable or trend setting you can be seen to be, the better. 

Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is a great resource for expanding your brand’s reach to niche audiences. Influencers are a trusted source of information and keep followers up to date with the latest trends or products in their specialist area. An influencer does best if they are known really well for a very specific niche and are driven by their own personal passion on the topic.

This type of marketing usually involves paid promotion for products an influencer feels will be of interest for their social media followers. Maintaining relevancy and authority with followers is key for gathering and maintaining a big following, so your product to niche fit is so important when looking for influencers to successfully work with.

Product promotion by influencers is usually paid for. There’s big money to be made as an influencer today if the following is large enough. However, the possibility for organic influencer promotion is possible if your product is a must-have that’s really hot all of a sudden, or an influencer is still working on establishing their following. 

influencer marketing example side by side youtube

Getting your customer acquisition machine on the road! 

So, we have now reached the finish line of our run-through on the main components in a lean n’ mean digital customer acquisition machine! It’s been intense, and we’re happy to see you here with us.

I hope we’ve helped you visualize the art to setting up and running a holistic digital marketing strategy that’s build for sustained business growth, running on an ever-evolving race track. 

There are many moving parts that need to be individually and continually optimized while also working together in unison. That’s why you need a strong team acting as the tires to carry things forward. There’s a lot to do and get right.

Here at Half Past Nine, it’s what we live for. The art of great design followed by the thrill of the ride and outstanding results gives us such a rush. If you’re potentially interested in teaming up, then we’d love to hear from you.

Get in touch and we’d be delighted to talk through what kind of support you’re interested in, and how things could work.

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