Modeling Customer Acquisition Strategy for Your E-commerce Business: The Dos and Don’ts
Looking to create an effective customer acquisition strategy for your e-commerce business? Read this guide to learn how.
Last Updated:  May 24, 2022
Every year, businesses spend more and more money on advertising and customer acquisition. In fact, from 2012 until 2019, ad spending went up by an impressive 50%. And, although 2020 saw a modest dip, advertising spending is expected to increase to 650 billion (a 12% growth) by the end of 2021.
Knowing that getting new customers is getting more expensive – and more difficult due to growing competition – e-commerce brands must find effective ways for modeling their customer acquisition strategies.
And, to do this, they need to have the correct information about consumer online behavior, industry trends, potential space for innovation, and automation.
Moreover, they’ll want to employ as many free (or budget-friendly) customer acquisition strategies as possible to cut through the noise and achieve tangible results.
So, if you’re looking to develop an effective marketing plan for your e-commerce business, you might want to become acquainted with the basic rules of modeling a customer acquisition strategy.
This article looks at the main dos and don’ts for an easier way to achieve your e-commerce goals.
DO: Define your brand’s unique place in the industry
Do you know what is it that makes your brand different from the competition? Because if you want to model a successful customer acquisition strategy, you have to know your company’s place in the industry. It’s the only surefire way to come up with a relevant value proposition. Moreover, a well-defined unique trait is what’s going to help you target the right audience.
To achieve this, you will first have to do some in-depth industry research.
What are the gaps in the market you wish to stand out in? What are the common pain points of the people buying products from your competitors? Is there anything you can do better than the well-established names in your niche?
Figuring out all of these questions for your eCommerce branding is not just going to help you develop better products and services, but it will also answer big questions related to your marketing strategies, informing you about the features and advantages you want to emphasize.
As an example, you can check out GILI. The SUP manufacturer figured out the exact best phrase to attract user attention and set itself apart from the competition: “limited space.”
DON’T: Ignore marketing research and emerging trends
Achieving e-commerce success in 2022 isn’t possible without the preparedness to adopt an agile approach to customer acquisition. After all, the turbulent times we live in mean that consumer behavior changes much faster than before, with new trends emerging monthly (or even weekly) vs. yearly.
As an example of such rapid changes, take the fact that, in 2020, 75% of consumers tried a new brand, store, or method of shopping. Similarly, 40% of those who ordered grocery delivery for the first time intend to continue doing so in the future.
So, to prepare your e-commerce brand for the inevitable shifts in the market, you must keep up to date on current trends. This can mean anything:
So, you’ve researched your market and are keeping up to date on the latest trends in your industry. That should be enough for planning a great customer acquisition strategy, right? Wrong!
Unfortunately, knowing what your competition is doing and having a marketing plan for setting yourself apart from them won’t be enough. To land as many new clients as possible, you will also have to research those clients.
Where do they spend their time when they’re browsing online content?
What type of content do they like to consume?
Do they have preferences regarding communication methods?
Are there specific needs or pain points you can address (with your products or through your customer service team)?
For an excellent example of how two different e-commerce brands use this type of information in their customer acquisition, check out Bay Alarm Medical and Sennheiser.
On the other hand, Sennheiser is aware that it has a much more tech-savvy audience. So, it doesn’t bother with phones or email addresses. Instead, it uses a dedicated ‘Service & Support’ page with downloadable materials, online service request features, how-to guides, and video tutorials.
DON’T: Set irrelevant or unattainable customer acquisition goals
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when modeling a customer acquisition strategy is going for greatness without defining what great actually means for your brand.
Sure, you might want to achieve 15% growth next year. Or make 10,000 sales to new clients. But is that objectively doable? Or is it just wishful thinking?
When setting your objectives for customer acquisition, you have to understand that it doesn’t just depend on pumping money into your marketing channels. Sure, you’ll see wide reach with constantly running PPC campaigns.
But does your current revenue leave enough money to be spending that much on new customers alone? And can your sales and production teams even keep up with the demands created by marketing?
Make sure to think all of these through when coming up with your e-commerce strategy. It’ll make all the difference.
DO: Track marketing strategy performance
Don’t think that, once you’ve set the right goals, you are good to go. To ensure your customer acquisition tactics are working for you, you have to have a robust tracking system in place.
Set up your objectives in your analytical tool of choice (Google Analytics is always a great start) and check your results at least once a week.
By having up-to-date information about your ongoing campaigns, as well as your top and bottom-performing pages and channels, you can make agile adjustments to your strategy.
And, even more importantly, you can prevent unnecessary losses that could have been avoided by modifying your approach on time.
DON’T: Stick to a single marketing channel
When developing strategies to boost e-commerce sales, you need to understand that every person belonging to your target audience has a unique position in the sales funnel. Moreover, every one of these people behaves differently when shopping online.
So, you can easily conclude that acquiring new leads requires a flexible and wide-reaching strategy.
For this reason, you must explore all the relevant marketing channels open to you. For example, techniques like content marketing and automation have high success rates at 17.4%.
But that doesn’t mean that paid search, SEO, or social media aren’t relevant. On the contrary, they’re crucial for acquiring new customers.
To get a better grasp of how you can optimize multiple marketing channels, check out Real Thread. This company utilizes entirely different strategies on its Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter accounts. They work because they’re perfectly adapted to reach and engage the people who use these social networks.
DO: Use automation and outsourcing to reduce costs
There is a lot of available statistical data regarding the average customer acquisition cost for e-commerce. With numbers ranging between $10 and $65 in marketing spend per new buyer, it’s clear that marketers must consider all possible ways to minimize that spend, especially if they want to have enough to invest in customer retention (which can have a much better ROI than acquisition).
Fortunately, there are excellent ways to make customer acquisition affordable.
Automation, for example, allows you to move potential customers through the sales funnel easily and affordably.
If you check out the Margeret Howell website, you’ll see that new visitors who view more than a single page get an automated pop-up suggesting that they subscribe to the brand’s newsletter.
From there, the brand can set up automated welcome/onboarding emails. Then, it can target subscribers with specialized campaigns. And, it may even be able to use retargeting to reach those subscribers over a variety of distribution channels.
Of course, you can also choose to outsource some of these tasks. Yes, it will cost more (at least if you want it done well). But, it will also ensure that your resources go to the best use possible, automatically giving you the biggest bang for your buck.
If you look into how consumers make purchasing decisions, you’ll soon find that the best person to be persuading them about the benefits of your brand isn’t you. Or even your marketing team. On the contrary – it’s your existing clients.
You’re probably already aware that 9 out of 10 consumers read online reviews before shopping, the online reviews reflect the digital customer experience. Moreover, you might have heard that 83% of consumers advocate for brands they already follow on social media. So why not harness the power of social proof to speed up customer acquisition?
You can do something along the lines of Rain or Shine Golf, with a dedicated testimonials section on your homepage.
There are excellent ways to enrich customer acquisition with social proof. Whether you do it in the awareness stage of the sales funnel or the conversion stage is entirely up to you. But rest assured that it’s a strategy enhancer that’s guaranteed to work.
DON’T: Be afraid to give things time
Finally, the last thing you have to understand about planning a customer acquisition strategy for your e-commerce business is that sales cannot happen overnight.
Sure, you might get the odd purchase after a single brand touch. But more likely than not, you’ll have to put in the work to non-intrusively lead potential customers through the sales funnel.
According to Salesforce, it takes six to eight touches just to generate a viable lead. And that’s without them becoming a paying customer.
Therefore, when modeling your strategy, make sure that it accounts for this delay in results. Prepare a general timeline and plan your budget accordingly. That way, you won’t be surprised by the lack of instantaneous results. Instead, you’ll have all the resources required to work up to your goals without getting ahead of yourself and burning out without having achieved what you set out to do.
Efficient customer acquisition is an irreplaceable part of running a successful business. And it requires a well-prepared strategy.
But the thing is, there is no such thing as a 10-step guide to getting people to shop with your brand. Instead, the right tactic takes research, analytical thinking, individual adjustments, and originality.
So don’t be afraid to experiment. The dos and don’ts described in this article are just a start. To see success, you’ll have to enrich them with the unique essence of your e-commerce brand.