Whether they are self-employed, freelancers, SMEs or large enterprises, they all face the same problem. It doesn’t matter how good the offer is, how innovative the product is or how useful the service is: to establish itself on the market you need to find customers who are willing to pay. Customer acquisition determines the success or failure of a project. Since acquiring clients is so important in professional life, promising methods have evolved over time, but there are still some misunderstandings on the subject. Let’s clarify them.
- What is customer acquisition?
- Tips and tricks for acquiring new customers
- 5 winning methods to acquire new customers
What is customer acquisition?
Customer acquisition is an integral part of sales. It is therefore not a question of defining the target group. The concrete objective is rather to transform a potential customer into a paying customer. In principle, it doesn’t matter what type of customer you have and what you sell. The transition from customer acquisition to marketing is smooth . It does not matter if it is B2A, B2B or B2C : the activity that self-employed workers, freelancers or large companies carry out to find new customers for their products or services is always called customer acquisition.
There are several procedures for acquiring customers that depend on the relationship the supplier has with the customer.
The cold acquisition is characterized by the fact that the company has had no previous contact with the person, company or entity in question. Proactively, you start communicating with the potential customer, present your offer and try to convince him to make a purchase or start a business relationship. The means used for this are manifold: letters, e-mails, flyers and even telephone calls are among the tools used for cold acquisition.
The cold acquisition is definitely a method widely used in marketing, especially to advertise and expand the audience of a company or professional activity among new people. An aspect to keep in mind is, however, the new regulatory context of the European Union, dominated by the new Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) , which entered into force on 25 May 2018, which has the aim of better protecting the privacy of natural persons within the Union. In general, it is good practice to ensure that you only use data from public sources, such as telephone directories, and to ensure, in the case of telemarketing, that natural persons are not registered in the Public Register of Oppositions.
In the case of the hot acquisition there had already been contact with the person or company previously . In most cases, these are former customers who have not bought for some time and who now need to be incentivized again. This method is often easier than cold acquisition, because it is enough to remind customers of their offer. After all, the customers surveyed had chosen the company’s products already in the past and, if they have not had negative experiences, there is a relatively good chance that they will opt for the company’s products or services again.
There is talk of hot acquisition even if you have already had previous commercial contacts with a person without actually having become a customer. For example, if you met a contact person at a trade fair and sent him an email a few days later with further information on products or services that may be of interest to him, this is a hot acquisition.
Tips and tricks for acquiring new customers
Those who target people indiscriminately and then try to convince them of their product will rarely be able to conclude a deal. To avoid relying solely on luck , certain principles must be observed when acquiring customers.
It is particularly important to avoid, as far as possible, operating without having a well-defined strategy. Therefore you absolutely must define your target . Ideally you need to determine how to proceed with the acquisition and what means to use to succeed in the intent based on the target. You have to distinguish between commercial customers and end consumers and also take into account the target’s age group. An older audience is, for example, more difficult to reach online than a younger one.
The better you choose your contact persons, the lower the risk of losing your strength, making your customer acquisition more profitable.
A more accurate target definition allows you to more easily determine how to approach it, but without a well thought out system your efforts will be messy and inefficient. With an acquisition system, on the other hand, it is possible to control exactly who performs the acquisition activities, how many they carry out and at what time. Continuity is fundamental: those who are not constant in the customer acquisition business and proceed without a precise plan will inevitably be disappointed. If, on the other hand, you have considered in advance how many resources you can devote to customer acquisition and have created a work plan, the chances of continuous growth of the customer base are good.
A CRM software can help you maintain control and an overview of customer acquisition activities. These software allow you to manage long-term customer data and record the activities you have carried out both for acquisition and for customer assistance.
Regardless of the target you are targeting, always remember the so-called KISS principle : keep it short & simple. The time available is always short, both for you and your customers, so it is important to transmit messages quickly and concisely. Even if the medium, the target and the situations always have a certain influence on how to set up the contact, the motto always remains the same: be as short as possible. Those who manage to summarize the advantages of their offer with a few significant keywords generally give themselves a more convincing image. Long explanations, on the other hand, tend to quickly dampen the initial interest of the potential customer. If, on the other hand, you convince him initially with a first brief and concise contact, additional information can be provided at a later time.
Another valid tool for customer acquisition can be the so-called AIDA model . Awareness (Interest), Desire (Desire) and Action (Action): these are the stages that your message should go through to acquire new customers. So start with an element that catches your attention, then arouse interest and desire and conclude with a clear call to action (like buying). It is a structure that can be easily assimilated even by potential customers and which is more likely to succeed than confused and rambling explanations that do nothing but turn around the same theme.
In customer acquisition, however, one should not only think about the concrete facts, but also about the emotional side of the potential customer. Sometimes decisions are also made instinctively, therefore they are tied to the feelings that the product, the supplier or the seller arouse. This is why it is essential to always be available and courteous. Authenticity and honesty are important. If you cannot inspire confidence in potential customers, they will never be willing to invest money in your business.
5 winning methods to acquire new customers
To acquire new customers, companies can use several methods that have proven to be particularly effective. Others, however, have more or less disappeared from daily commercial practices. Telephone acquisition may still be common in some sectors (particularly B2B), however the legal provisions related to telephone acquisition have led most sellers to abandon this method.
Send by mail
One of the oldest methods, besides the classic door-to-door selling, is probably sending letters. In the days of the Internet, the shipment of paper letters has become, in some ways, even more important: since most people no longer receive as many letters as a few decades ago, the paper material manages to better capture the attention. In addition to letters, postcards are also suitable for this type of acquisition. However, shipping costs are also associated with the increased attention.
With Internet shipping, you can still save on postage. An e-mail is cheap and fast, but there is a greater risk that unsolicited e-mails will end up in spam, immediately putting you offside. Again, make sure not to use addresses from unverified sources for two reasons: on the one hand, as with hot phone acquisitions, this is absolutely prohibited. Natural persons must give their consent before they can be added to your mailing list. Furthermore, e-mails that respect these principles certainly receive a higher level of acceptance , increasing the chances of success in acquiring customers and not contravening the provisions of the law.
If a natural person has already agreed to receive e-mails from you (for example by subscribing to your newsletter), then they will also be more interested in deepening your offer . Consumers or commercial customers who choose this option are in themselves already interested in the company or the products offered and this interest, if stimulated correctly, can quickly turn into a concrete purchase decision.
Internet marketing provides many tools for acquiring customers, far beyond just sending e-mails. While sending letters or e-mails is one of the so-called push strategies (since you actively send the message to the recipient, “push” practically on the market), there are many other Internet marketing methods that are part of the pull strategies. . Potential customers decide more or less independently whether they want to receive more information about an offer or not.
In the case of advertising in search engines , for example, the user himself influences the thematic areas for which he receives information based on the terms he uses for his searches. In the case of a SEA campaign , your ads are displayed only for certain searches, increasing the probability that the user has a concrete interest in the respective topic and can find more information through your ad. The SEO initiatives and landing pages work similarly. The latter are also a source of information for potential customers who search for certain terms in the search engines, while for entrepreneurs they represent an excellent opportunity to place their sales messages.
Passive customer acquisition
With the right strategy, much of the customer acquisition can easily be accomplished through third parties. According to the concept of word of mouth marketing , your business partners recommend you to others and then turn to potential customers for you. This has two advantages: first of all, it saves you time and money and concentrates on other activities. In addition, most consumers usually attach more credibility to others’ recommendations than to “self-celebration” in direct advertising. The fact that a company decants its product is in fact linked to economic needs.
The positive experiences of other people, also willing to actively advertise them, therefore greatly facilitate the acquisition of customers. Those interested will turn to you, the roles will reverse. In order to be recommended by others, however, one must of course convince with good products and services that they must outperform those of the competition. An available and courteous attitude towards the customer further increases your chances.
Of course, you can also offer monetary incentives for your customers to recommend you to others. In addition to the bonuses granted under programs that reward customers who attract new ones, another option may be affiliate marketing , which has established itself in recent years. Content providers distribute the links to your products on the Internet and in return receive a share of the sales generated from these links. If you select your partners well and make sure that their contents adapt thematically to the product offered, you can often achieve surprising success.
If you do not have the skills to acquire customers successfully and do not want to rely on the possibilities of word of mouth marketing, you can also hire specialized companies to dedicate themselves to the acquisition for you.
The personal acquisition of customers is particularly important for long-term business relationships in the B2B sector . In order for a business partner to invest large sums in your product or service, he must be convinced not only of the offer, but also of the company as a whole. The unannounced visit of a representative is a strategy that is used less and less and can make potential customers uncomfortable who, on the one hand, want to be educated and on the other want to get rid of the unwanted visit. This method is also too time consuming and expensive.
On the other hand, participation in fairs and conferences continues to be more important than ever. Here you will meet entrepreneurs and buyers who visit the fair with a concrete interest. Instead of indiscriminately approaching people, on these occasions, potential customers will practically turn to you. On such occasions you also have the opportunity to speak personally with potential customers and seriously focus on their wishes. Hardly any other method of customer acquisition allows such positive personal contact.
Even in the times of Internet marketing, traditional print, radio or television advertising has not become completely irrelevant, even if its usefulness depends heavily on the sector. Again, the target plays a fundamental role: an older audience is certainly easier to reach through offline channels. If you operate in the B2B sector, you can also take advantage of specialized magazines, which allow you to target your competent audience directly and in a more targeted way with a well-positioned advertisement rather than with a blanket campaign on the Internet.
Don’t limit yourself to just one method of customer acquisition, a good combination of strategies is more promising. But don’t make the mistake of starting too many projects at once. Choose some methods (based on your offer and target). If certain channels have proven successful and your system has achieved its first successes, you can optimize and integrate it gradually.