5 mins TO READ
What Does Customer Acquisition Mean In A Digital World?
Digital customer acquisition is one of the key priorities of modern Swiss SMEs. “So, how can we get more customers through the internet?” is a question we hear a lot from Swiss SMEs.
When we develop goals with management and marketing, this question keeps coming up.
When you’re looking to grow your business online you have to rethink your marketing. Digital marketing can help you automate everything from lead generation to customer conversion.
‘Growth Hacks’ are a great digital marketing tool. But they are incomplete without purpose and process.
Digital Customer Acquisition Is A Dynamic & Living Process
Most Swiss SMEs make a critical error at this point. They start pursuing digital marketing channels without a coherent goal or strategy.
Before you dive into the pros and cons of marketing methods, you’ve got to take a step back and look at the big picture.
It’s not about what channels or strategies you’re going to use. Neither is it about what you want to achieve with your online marketing. It’s about making the decision, as an individual and as a business, to make it work for you.
Digital customer acquisition is a dynamic, living process. To misquote Prussian General Helmuth von Moltke:
“No customer acquisition plan survives contact with the customer.”
This is why you’ve got to commit yourself to a customer acquisition plan. A plan that evolves as your business grows online. It has to be responsive, it has to be agile and it has to deliver results.
Why Your Business Needs A Goal-Driven Customer Acquisition Process
When your SME is first starting out with digital marketing, it’s easy to waste money on the wrong things. You’re shooting in the dark and have no idea whether what you’re doing is working.
It doesn’t matter if you’re focused on your local, regional or national Swiss market. You have to acquire customers in a way that sets you apart from the competition. This means building an engaged customers base you can sell to over and over again.
You need a purpose-driven process to power your digital customer acquisition. This means that you need to:
- Establish & clarify your digital marketing goals,
- Develop a strategy that aligns your goals, resources, and brand,
- Break your strategy down into tactics to generate results in line with your goals,
- Review your results and compare them with your goals to optimize your marketing,
- Create a process that does all the above automatically and is cost-effective.
Focusing on specific channels and tactics (e.g. Instagram, blogs etc.) will only take you so far. Most channels will wear off once they become saturated and conditions change.
An on-going, self-correcting process is sustainable and consistent. But you and your business have to commit to it.
Online growth is a long-term game, there are no shortcuts to success.
You win by marketing smartly. Invest in and build up an inbound marketing system tailored to your business.
The Foundations Of Your Customer Acquisition Plan
A solid customer acquisition plan turns your digital marketing into a growth process.
It starts with some important preparation. You need to:
1) Define Your Ideal Customer
Start with creating an ideal customer profile, also known as a marketing persona. The persona is a fictional, generalized representation of your ideal customer.
Defining your persona helps you be more specific about who you’re targeting.
Focusing on the right kind of customer makes digital marketing much easier. But you have to do the background work to figure out what ‘right’ means for your business.
To learn more read this detailed explanation of the importance of marketing personas.
2) Set Your Goals
Goals will make or break your online success.
You have to figure out what your SME’s online goals are, and rank these goals according to priority. This will help determine what to do first. Based on what will have the greatest impact on your digital marketing efforts.
The good old S.M.A.R.T goal-setting formula will help you define your goals, but don’t forget about setting priorities.
It’s easy to try and do too much, especially when you’re new to digital marketing.
Don’t focus on more than 3 goals at a time. You’ve got to give your digital marketing the time and space to generate valid results you can act on.
For digital customer acquisition your goals can include:
- Driving more traffic into your marketing funnel,
- Generating more customer inquiries through your website
- Increasing sales in your online store.
3) Determine Your Key Metrics & Track Them
Once you’ve got your goals clarified, you need to understand how you’ll measure their success.
Digital marketing is measurable, which makes it both transparent and accountable. In the words of Austrian management philosopher Peter Drucker:
“What gets measured, gets managed.”
If you don’t know your metrics, you will end up wasting time, resources and efforts. On channels, strategies, and tactics that won’t give you the results you need.
Metrics will help you understand what you need to measure to achieve your goals.
When you’re starting out with digital marketing for your SME, don’t worry about exact numbers.
Do some online research and see what businesses like yours are tracking in the DACH region. Model them and see how it works for you.
Track your performance on at least a monthly basis. That way you can determine which channels, strategies, and tactics are working for you.
Every step of your sales funnel needs to be tracked and validated.
The easiest way to do this is to segment your funnels based on the marketing persona you created earlier. This also allows you to compare how well your digital marketing is being received.
There are some basic metrics that every business should track and analyze. We’ve covered some key online marketing metrics before on this blog that apply to any business online.
4) Build Your Funnel (This Is Where Strategy Comes In)
Now you’re ready to build an online marketing funnel for your SME. Marketing funnels are automated marketing systems that turn prospects into customers.
The funnel is simply a way of visualizing the steps your customer takes to buy your product or service. It starts with awareness (Attention) and ends with a purchase (Action) at the end of their engagement.
A marketing funnel takes your ideal customer through several stages of awareness. Until they take a pre-determined action at the end of the funnel, e.g. sign up for your e-mail list.
This model helps you think through this process to identify obstacles and inefficiencies. It’s a great way to identify opportunities that you can leverage to quickly get real results.
Your marketing funnel is the framework on which to build your digital strategy.
This is why it has to align with your digital marketing goals. Which is how you can track the performance of your customer acquisition system.
Keep in mind that your digital customer acquisition is made up of several funnels. Each one will need their own strategy.
Your content marketing, PPC ads, and SEO are there to drive traffic to website and landing pages. Each of these channels is a marketing funnel in its own right. And you can’t use the same strategy for all three channels.
Once all these parts are in place, you have to automate them.
To learn more about funnels, check out our article on marketing funnels.
Build Your Growth Process
Now that your digital customer acquisition plan is ready, it’s time to turn it into a growth process. Every digital marketer has a different way to run their growth process. But the underlying steps are the same and include:
1) Brainstorm Growth Ideas
Start by writing down all the tactics you’ll use at every stage of your marketing funnel.
Tactics are methods through which you’ll execute your funnel and channels strategies.
It doesn’t matter if these are tactics that you’ve seen work for competitors or ideas from marketing gurus. Write them all down. Just ensure that they align with your strategy.
What you’ll want to come up with at the end of this process is a specific list of tasks that will execute your strategy.
2) Organize & Rank Your Strategies
At this point, you might be getting overwhelmed. There are a lot of elements of your digital customer acquisition system. Lots of bits and pieces that need your attention, this is why you need to rank your ideas.
Look at the growth ideas you brainstormed in the previous step and select the best one for execution.
Research has shown that the human brain can only focus on 2 goals at a time. If you’ve got more than 3 people working on your digital marketing you could push it to 2 but that’s the limit.
3) Test Your Ideas
Here’s the fun, simple bit. You’ve got your funnel in place and your top-ranked tactic has been selected. Now you go out and apply it.
Pro Tip: At SDM we’ve learned that the first time you try a new tactic you’re unlikely to see a big impact immediately. Aim for small victories while you validate. And, based on results, optimize your tactics and funnel.
4) Analyze & Validate Your Results
After you’ve run your system for a reasonable amount of time and gotten enough traffic – it’s time to study your data.
During this step, you validate your tactics and funnel. Based on the results, you’re going to either keep a tactic or throw it out.
We can’t overemphasize the importance of this step! Your digital customer acquisition depends on it. This is the part of the process that even experienced digital marketers fail to stick to.
5) Optimize Your Funnel
You have to know what works and doesn’t work in your niche to grow your SME online. This means looking at the results and learning from them. Then make the necessary changes where required.
Swiss SMEs don’t just compete with each other online. You’re often up against some of the largest companies in Europe when it comes to products and services.
Optimizing your tactics and funnel through data is key to staying competitive.
As part of this effort, you might want to create a reporting dashboard for your management and team.
A good dashboard will help you focus on your key metrics and help explain results to the rest of your business.
Large businesses, which have a lot of traffic, can track their metrics on a weekly basis. But SMEs don’t have to. Once a month is fine at the beginning.
6) Automate The Process
Okay, you’ve built your customer acquisition plan. You’ve implemented your process and validated your tactics and funnel. Now it’s time to put everything on auto-pilot, sit back and watch your business take off… right? Wrong.
Before you automate, you have to document your system.
Documentation helps you to systematize your customer acquisition. This is an awesome way to develop digital marketing Playbooks for your team. Playbooks build the foundation for automating your funnel.
Once you’ve got your Playbook setup, you can automate your growth process.
It will still need human intervention to create valuable and relevant new content. But there is plenty that you can hand over to apps. And there are plenty of services that can help you with that. The secret lies in knowing what to automate, not how to do it.
Bonus: Strategic Digital Marketing Workshop
SDM is passionate about helping SMEs to automate their lead generation, close more sales and grow their business online.
You don’t have to build your digital customer acquisition by yourself! Join our strategic workshop and we’ll help you build a clear digital customer acquisition plan. We’ll help you dig deep, define your goals, and develop a plan to achieve them. All in one, half-day workshop.
When it’s done, the plan is 100% yours – unique to your business needs and goals. You can use it to get started with digital marketing right away.