The 7 deadly sins of customer acquisition
You won’t go to hell for these trespasses, but your marketing efforts just might
Brand marketing is a battlefield. You’re multitasking around the clock to keep your channels, campaigns and initiatives going, racing to reach drop-dead deadlines while putting out the fires that keep erupting around you. You have a zillion balls in the air, loose ends to tie, and an overflowing to-do list. No wonder that you and your team are looking for shortcuts that will keep your marketing tower from toppling over under its own weight. At times, it takes almost superhuman discipline to do the right thing: rework your strategy to accommodate the changing landscape, take back work from agencies to improve your marketing performance, avoid the temptation of straight out copying your competitor’s successful tactics.
But taking the high ground is not just a matter of morals—in most cases, doing things right pays off in a big way in the most down to earth terms: it makes for better marketing results. Here’s a rundown of the marketing sinkholes you're most likely to fall into, but need to do everything in your power to avoid.
Lust: Coveting improved outcomes while relying on old tactics
All marketers desire to improve their KPIs, to see an upward trend, to go beyond their objectives. But hoping to achieve this without putting in the required, ongoing effort of marketing innovation is simply inane. Indeed, there’s nothing more tempting than to keep betting on a winning horse. But in customer acquisition, every campaign, every target segment, is a world unto its own. Still, many marketing teams are sticking to acquisition strategies that have served them in the past despite the overwhelming evidence that the landscape is constantly changing. If your strategy is to implement the same acquisition strategy over and over again, don’t lust after improved results. At some point, your acquisition math will simply break.
Gluttony: Outsourcing your entire customer acquisition strategy and operation
Despite the shift back to in-house marketing, most brands still rely on agencies, at least to some extent. But outsourcing comes with a price, and the belief that someone else can do the work for you while you sit back and enjoy the ride is nothing short of audacious. The "set it and forget it" mentality has been hurting firms for decades. A firm's partnership with an agency is only effective when the firm is heavily involved. You may have hired experts, but to leverage them effectively, you need to take ownership of the projects they're working on (and your ultimate marketing objectives) while staying accountable. Hiring an agency while taking the back seat will see your projects wander off track, and your own goals suffer.
Greed: Trying to sell without building awareness
The funnel is not a figment of the imagination, and trying to short circuit it in order to reach conversion is the sort of opportunism that always backfires. Customer acquisition isn’t a single-pronged investment, so there’s really no use in trying to sell without gathering insights on your audiences and building awareness. Your new audiences need to be warmed up for conversion from awareness, to consideration, to decision, and this process needs to be based on ongoing audience analysis. Nurturing is the heart of customer acquisition, and there’s no way around it. Don't get greedy and try to short circuit the conversion funnel!
Sloth: Siloing your data, channels, or tactics
If there’s one thing that your prospects don’t care about, it’s your professional hardships in trying to create a positive organic experience for them. Acquisition is multifaceted and multi-channel, and operating your campaigns in sync across a fragmented funnel is an ongoing struggle. Failing to create a seamless experience because your data is siloed, your pixels are misfiring, your retargeting is disconnected from other campaigns, etc., will only frustrate and turn off your prospective clients. The onus is on you to get your marketing act together in a way that will appease your audiences’ expectations for responsivity, personalization and relevance.
Wrath: Not developing your expertise
In the marketing landscape, the only constant is change. Publishers change their algorithms. Prospects change their affinities. Channels rise and fall. Technologies advance. Marketing fads come and go. New methodologies and tools sprout like mushrooms in the rain. There’s no law that says you need to sign up for every trend that rocks the internet for a day and a half. On the contrary—you need to focus your endeavors on what works. But—and this is a big “but”—you need to keep on top of your field of expertise and be proactive in testing and validating tools, channels, approaches and formats that may work for you.
Envy: Copycatting your competitors without any adjustments
Seeing your competitors succeed is often a heart wrenching experience. However, this doesn’t mean you should do exactly what your competition is doing. Moreover, if you implement the “If it worked for them, it should work for me” approach, you’re most likely to crash and burn. The reason is that marketing activities work in a given context. Your competitor’s audiences are different, their attributes and make up are unique. Digging into your competition—what they offer, how they operate—will allow you to identify the outstanding moves that give them an advantage. Then, you need to adjust those initiatives to your ends, and roll them out after tweaking them to suit your brand’s specific circumstance.
Pride: Assuming you know your target audience
You may have customer personas, you may have audience analysis data, but your prospects and segments are constantly evolving in a variety of ways. Today’s consumers are always in-flux: from how they shop, to the types of products and services they seek, to their overall expectations of the brands they do business with. Unfortunately, this means that the highly-homogeneous audience segments you’ve worked so hard to develop might not be relevant in the months or even weeks to come. If you simply assume you know your audiences, sooner rather than later your cost of customer acquisition is likely to prove you wrong.
A version of this article has been previously published on multichannelmerchant.com.