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Top 12 Ecommerce Customer Acquisition Strategies for 2020

Top 12 Ecommerce Customer Acquisition Strategies for 2020

What is the customer acquisition process for eCommerce? How to attract more people to my online store? Here we have 12 strategies that may come in handy.

Liz Kasian

Mar 25, 2020

Customer acquisition is as basic to a business, as a foundation to the construction process; and as never-ending as the job of the lifeguards in Baywatch with the all-year-round summer. 

Did you know, that 52% of online shoppers start their product search on Amazon first (as compared to just 26% choosing Google for it)? Yep, now Amazon gets twice the preference to Google for the people with the highest purchasing intent. Let's delve into the topic and get you more actionable tips.

What is the meaning of customer acquisition

What exactly is customer acquisition? What does the term imply?

Customer acquisition is a set of activities in the realm of off-line and digital marketing [SEO, SEM, content marketing, e-mail marketing, etc], customer service, PR, which are directed at gaining new customers for a business. The process aligns with the first 3 phases of the sales funnel: awareness, education, conversion. 

Simply put, customer acquisition is any activity by a business, that is directed towards acquiring a new client. Be it making some quality product photos for an ecommerce store, preparing a series of emails to the list of subscribers, setting up Google Ads or posting company news on social media. 

Is there a recipe for a sure-fire customer acquisition process set up? 

Absolutely not. Everything depends on everything. 

Say, a SaaS product cannot approach the mission with the same tools, as a hi-end jewelry ecommerce store. Say, a clothing store in a small town in India will hardly use the same techniques, as a small clothing boutique in Notting Hill. The multi-million car retailer will use other tools to those of a local car dealer. 

Everything depends on everything. 

Even though we don’t have the one-fits-all recipe, let us familiarize you with the main ingredients of the killer customer acquisition strategy. Mix and match them in your own marketing boiling pot per your taste and business needs.

What is healthy customer acquisition?

  1. To start with the obvious one will be to claim, that an increasing customer acquisition rate over the comparative period is a healthy trend. This is a very ballpark statement with lots of “but”s to it. 

Let's consider a scenario, where you are a diner in a rural town of 5K people. However much you invest in Google Ads or SMM promotion, you are not going to increase your customer base much. There are simply not enough people and they all are your customers already.

Let's consider scenario number 2: your ecommerce store sells best dog clothing for a very specific breed of dogs. You own a Facebook group too devoted to the upbringing of this breed and everybody who has these super expensive dogs knows your brand and buys from you. Your online store name, in fact, coincides with the name of the breed. But there's only as much demand to go by.

In both cases, customer acquisition is a minor mission for a business and its growth is next to impossible in the long-term, while for the short period of time you may be 100% happy with the dynamics.

  1. The second assumption will be to suggest, that customer acquisition is healthy when the revenue is growing through the growth of the average check. Which is a good parameter to take into account.

Say, you managed to master the channels, that brings you a more affluent customer, who tend to buy more items or the premium line, that allows for a greater margin.

In this case, even in the situation, when the number of new customers per month or year does not see a positive change from one period to another, the growth of the average check let this scenario be beneficial to business and healthy.

  1. Another sign of a healthy CA process would be when a business manages to bring in as many new clients as to balance off the lost ones. This argument can be true under the following circumstances:
  • your addressable market is not unlimited
  • you are happy with your margins 
  • your manufacturing production is limited in volume, not scalable: 
    - due to manual skilled work [there are only X people who can make 1 item per day in your state] or
    - rare resources items are made of [coffee Luwak, a rare type of wool, antiques, collectibles]
    - due to time restraints [years to grow grapes vines, years to mature cheese, etc]

In this case, as long as you attract enough new customers to zero out the ones your business didn't manage to retain, you are fine. The same margins are coming that you are prepared to cater to.

  1. You are acquiring more new customers than your competitors do. Even though you may be seeing a decline in YOY figures of new customers. Even though you may be seeing a decline in conversions in all stages of the funnel. Even though you may be seeing a smaller average check compared to the previous period. This may still mean a healthy customer acquisition.

How is that? As long as you are increasing your market share in the new customers' segment, this is healthy. Such a situation will apply in 2 cases:

  1. Global or country-wide financial crises, whereby customers have smaller buying power overall.
  2. Industry die-out, for example, coal mining or CDs – whereby despite an overall decline in figures across the industry, you may be managing to attract more, than your competitors do, growing your market share.

Every business is unique, but we have tried to outline main scenarios and metrics, that all you to conclude, that your customer acquisition rate is healthy.

Focus on the right acquisition channel for your ecommerce

Every marketing channel out there may be a perfect fit for the customer acquisition process. But not every one of them is a perfect match for your specific business, GEO and niche.

While choosing a perfect channel for your business, consider the below:

  1. Make sure that your marketing team does due diligence before you invest your resources into a specific channel out there. Research the local competitors, global players and local equivalents in other countries. Pick up their best practices.
  2. Start with lower-cost but high-impact ones. For example, make sure you are present on every major marketplace and price comparison site out there. Ecommerce marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, Play.com guarantee immediate online presence, and when well-optimized, some promising traffic.
  3. Always have at least 3 channels generating new leads for your business at any time. Compare the Cost per Customer Acquisition and keep replacing the least effective one by a new method.
  4. Involve your team into channel & technique selection. Brainstorm monthly, incentivize for best results and put the departments head to head to make the competitive spirit work for you.

What is the customer acquisition process for eCommerce?

Ecommerce customer acquisition has specific features, that have benefits and drawbacks to them:

  • Digital promotion prevails – hardly ever do we see an offline promo for ecommerce. So it’s mostly about SEO, SEM, SMM and other 3-letter acronyms. Only when you’ve gained some weight and cash as a business, you start to build your offline presence.
  • Competition is highly qualified. Digital marketing is a realm dominated by digital natives, fellas who were born with a joystick in their hands and went to bed with an iPad of their own. Now they make thousands a day in affiliate marketing, ecommerce and dropshipping by clicking the right buttons at the right time.
  • Never-ending change of the rules of the game: just consider the final compulsory rollout of the CBO – Campaign Budget Optimization feature by Facebook. The learning curve gets steeper and steeper by the day.
  • CAC is getting more expensive. For example, in this great piece, HubSpot provides a piece of impressive statistics: in the last 5 years, the cost of customer acquisition has risen by a massive 50%.
  • It is getting less credible. 65%+ of the respondents cited, that they don’t trust press releases, ads or sponsored posts on social media!

 The customer acquisition process is traditionally broken down into the following stages, referred to as the marketing or sales funnel:

  • Awareness
  • Interest
  • Consideration
  • Evaluation 
  • Decision
  • Purchase
  • Repeat 
  • Loyalty
  • Advocacy

But once the purchase has occurred, we would consider the acquisition stage as finished, it is now time for the customer retention stage.

12 customer acquisition tactics for 2020 that actually work

The digital marketing scene evolves by the day, which is illustrated by the most recent hot topic of the town: Final compulsory Facebook CBO roll-out in February 2020. So what client acquisition tactics work best in 2020 for etailers?

Keep your old content fresh in the eyes of Google

You may save your old content pieces, that you invested so much time and money into. The matter is that old content gets buried by the new content on your website and gets downgraded with time due to age only. How ageist.

Updating or republishing 3-5 months old blog articles are likely to add few points to them in the search engine rankings. 

You may do it as radically or as symbolically as you deem necessary. You may just change the date of publishing to today in your website backend. Or you may add a fresh relevant paragraph or 2.  Or you may rewrite the article to include 2020 information instead of 2019 and reflect that in the title. You can also go all the way and re-do it considerably, including the title too, and then promote it again across your social media channels.

Influencer marketing is so alive for client acquisition

Influencer marketing sounds expensive and unattainable if your mind automatically triggers an association with the multi-million-followers celebrities.

But many brands find that the small-to-mid following influencers are more efficient in terms of traffic generated and conversions. 

Kurt Seidensticker, the CEO of Vital Proteins, shared in his video presentation on Customer Acquisition and E-commerce, that micro-influencers of 2-5 thousand followers turned out most efficient for his product. He noted that the engagement rate of such influencers is something such, those big celebrities could not possibly have: 20-40%. Of course, much depends on the type of relationship a brand manages to build up with the influencers.

Customer Acquisition by Kurt Seidensticker
Screen:Customer Acquisition by Kurt Seidensticker, the CEO of Vital Proteins

It is important, that you find the people who would use your product as a part of their personal or professional life cycle and then start building a relationship with them.

Say, you have a product, that people in tech will be most interested in. Some kind of a laptop accessory. The pathway to reach out to such people and convert them into enthusiastic or paid influencers may include the following steps:

  1. Select the professionals in high regard with the industry – speakers, forum old hands, trade union presidents. Find extraverted people, who are outspoken, and highly regarded in your avatar user community.
  2. Reach out to them for a review / free sample test / video / blog post opportunity.
  3. Educate them on the product – pinpoint the top features and advantages, so they know what’s so great about your product and how it can ease their lives too.
  4. Incentivize them – discuss the opportunity and their interest to use their voice to share the love they already should have towards your product with their industry & colleagues.

Influencer marketing doesn’t have to be expensive or low-converting. It’s all about the pertinence of the influencers to your product. Choose wisely.

Agree the Client’s Search Intent with your content upgrade

“Content marketing is the only marketing left” – said Seth Godin. We kind of agree here. This is why optimizing your blog content is an ongoing process.

Google Console is one most underutilized tools out there from Google's huge arsenal of useful tools. When you sit down to tweak and edit your underperforming piece of content, or vice versa, set your head around to further improve your star of a traffic driver, go ahead and check for your top search terms in Google console.

This way you can gauge which keywords get lots of impressions but could convert better, and concentrate on improving your meta descriptions, keywords use in H1 / H2, making your article more readable, etc. 

Delve into your product–channel fit to find the one

Channels are multiple and they are growing by the day – horizontally and vertically. If you have pocket-full of capital, it might be good to try and elaborate a massive marketing plan, that covers pretty much every channel out there. But.

Hardly many businesses out there have the privilege of unlimited resources. And even so, it is still unwise to try and push your product equally across all channels. Snapchat, Pinterest, SEO, Reddit, Google ads and Twitter are different and are not a one-size-fit-all-solution. 

Depending on your budget, choose 1-3 channels to start with and then grow more channels / let the ones that didn't work for you die off accordingly.

Use both short-term and long-term methods at different stages

It is important to distinguish between the short term methods of CA and the long term ones.

Short-term techniques:

  • Do a 50 dollar Facebook promo that brings you first, 2-3 customers.
  • Send a flyer with Open for business introduction to your friends and family.

Long-term ones:

  • Content creation for a blog with SEO-optimized keywords & images.
  • Creating a cold Email marketing campaign.
  • Investing in visual content – right now it may seem okay to accept subpar product photos, still if you get perfect product shots right away, it will serve you as long, as you sell this collection. And if the image is appealing – that could be a looong time.

As your business grows, make sure to cut off the short-term methods in favor of the more scalable and sustainable ones.

The great results for the patient ones: Search Engine Optimization

Sustainable long-term customer acquisition tactics will always entail a long list of SEO practices. SEO will help your website become loved by Google without paying – that is without using Google ads. Good content still costs some investment, so don’t put your hopes up too high.

Make sure you approach the mission of the SEO from every side:

  • On-page optimization & site map – make sure the structure is clear, not too deep – maximum 3 levels and is explained to Google through Google Console.
  • SMM presence – Google now takes into account User engagement with your digital product – make sure your business is represented and is active on major social media.
  • Content marketing – a rocket science in its own right, content marketing is a long run that is almost the only way to sustainable marketing dividends.

Build Engagement

Customers have grown skeptical and are looking to connect with brands on emotional levels. People don’t wanna be looked at like a walking wallet, they appreciate to see a business giving away before it comes to take.

Use social media, YouTube, email marketing, website to communicate and engage with your customers. Invite the guests they vote for in your Instagram for an interview, held contests with silly prizes, be attentive to their comments in your feed. Be genuine and giving to build meaningful rapport with your brand.

This is done amazingly good by such brands as Chubbies (lots of memes on instagram) and Glossier (using their customers’ photos in their feed – who will ,iss a chance to get mentioned?). And that’s why you know about them already.

Educate Consumers

At the consideration stage of the marketing funnel, your potential clients have already been exposed to and shown initial interest in your product. Make sure you don't leave them stranded here – provide all the information why it is your product is the best fit for their wants.

  • Clear product page information
  • High-quality product photography
  • Embed reviews and rankings into your website
  • Contact detail, chatbots, and inquiry forms
  • FAQ page with detailed explanations
  • Held Q&A Facebook lives
  • Have a catalog of your products available to download in PDF (if your product is a good fit for B2B)

Make sure your Customer Acquisition Cost  is lesser than Value of the Customer 

It is not uncommon to think big when you gain momentum, and not to preoccupy yourself with trifles like profitability. It is all about scaling, customers are coming and sales are going up.

Once too many times entrepreneurs, blinded by the temporery success get carried away with things other than long-term profitability. Like marketing, brand awareness, product quality and so on.

Even if this may not be too much of a concern or a priority in the first couple of months, with the first 100-1000 customers under the belt, it is time to start planning and working towards the value of a customer exceeding the cost of the client acquisition.

The Mightiest Acquisition Channel: Content

It is now almost a universally accepted truth among everybody who is anybody, that content marketing is not only the only marketing that is left, it is the marketing that lasts and keeps bringing ROI over and over again. Just a few reasons why content marketing is THE channel for any business to pay proper attention to:

  • Content marketing drives your traffic today
  • It gives you backlinks, that increase your domain authority in future
  • It provides you data for retargeting
  • It gives you social media content and engagement
  • It helps you build lookalike audiences

Remember: Deals are a win-win

Admit it: we all love a good deal. In fact, we love any deal at all. Sales, discounts, coupons, freebies, giveaways are nothing but the honey to the client’s ears.

There is no wrong way of offering a deal. There is not a bad time of offering a discount. You cannot go wrong with providing the added value to your client. Just make sure your brand can held it at your stage.

Usability vs Funky website design

Glitch effects and sophisticated loaders are all fun and look cool, but they are not what will bring you new customers. They can be what will decrease your page loading speed and deter your customers. Make sure you take care of this when designing your website:

  • have clear descriptions for your products
  • design navigation that leads naturally along the user path and is distinctly visible
  • use breadcrumbs for catalogues with categories – for better navigation
  • button visibility, design, CTAs, quantity is important to be optimized for best conversion
  • optimize images for size, resolution, add motion
  • specify all the product parameters, so that no questions are unanswered
  • consider using plugins and apps to enable chat options – so that users can ask any questions they have not seen answers to.

How do you increase customer acquisition?

When it comes to customer acquisition strategy, it is important to:

  1. Match your product with the right channels.
  2. Constantly focus on 2-4 channels and keep eliminating 1 weakest channel every 2-3 months to free up resources for another technique.
  3. Involve the team in the creation and implementation of strategies, incentivize best performers.
  4. Learn from the competition, local and global industry leaders – keep monitoring few accounts from different continents to see what’s working for them.
  5. A/B test everything. Otherwise, mistakes take too long to be spotted.
  6. Create engaging content — textual and visual alike. When users see such a lot of content every minutes, there couldn't be ignoring of quality product photography for any ecommerce business. Buy the way, that's something we can help you with.

Conclusion

This complete 2020 guide to customer acquisition strategy for ecommerce is based on the decade of experience of Squareshot team in the realm of professional product photography. We speak with tens of clients every month, they share their pains and successes. 

We love ecommerce and we love finding new ways to create more business for our customers. Our photography evolves with the industry and we pride ourselves on taking an effort of being in the know on recent marketing scene developments.

We hope this piece helps you find some new approaches to your customer acquisition strategy. Should your business be on the lookout for a talented product photography crew, feel free to jump on our product photography free trial offer.

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