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Growth professionals are unicorns.

You can’t pick up these skills in a classroom or by reading a few blog posts. People who work in growth have an inner hunger to combine data and creativity. They can’t be pinned down and defined by traditional business. They sit at the intersection of your marketing, product and data science teams.

Skills you need:

Programming – Can’t stress this enough if you work at a tech company. Your engineering resources are strained, so the more you can do without bothering them the better. Even if it’s just learning how to work with HTML/CSS/Javascript.

Analytics – Marketing is becoming more and more data-driven every year, so you need to know how to implement and configure tools like GA, KISSmetrics, Mixpanel etc..

Design & UX Principles – Understanding basic visual hierarchy and color theory will keep you moving when your designer is locked up on other projects. A well-designed blog, landing page or piece of content can get you the lifts in conversion and engagement you’re looking for.

Storytelling/Branding/Positioning – This is the difference between startups and established companies. Startups sell features and companies sell a story. Understand the basics and you’ll start to bring in the right customers.

Behavioral Psychology – User behavior and qualitative data let you understand why your users are interacting with your product in a certain way. One of the key factors in effective CRO.

Conversion Rate Optimization The process of finding out where your users are getting stuck in the funnel and how you can improve it.

Copywriting – Learning how consumers interact with your writing is an essential part of working in digital marketing. Landing Pages, Display Ads and Blog Posts are examples of where you need strong copywriting skills.

Funnel Marketing – A framework to understand how a visitor moves through the different stages of intent to ultimately convert and become a paid user. An example would be a path like this blog visitor -> blog subscriber -> trial user -> paid user.

A/B & Multivariate Testing – A process of testing everything from new features, to landing page copy and call to actions. A key reason you need a statistics and analytics background.

Database Querying – Analytic tools only give you some of the data you need. In order to find essential product usage data you’re going to have to learn how to write basic SQL queries.

The true value of a growth professional is found in the combination of skills they offer and the growth opportunities they can uncover. One of the core responsibilities of a growth professional is finding and tracking customer acquisition channels.

The unfortunate truth is that there are only a few scalable customer acquisition campaigns. The rest of your tactics are unscalable by nature and hard to measure accurately.

Customer acquisition channels:

Scalable – Paid acquisition, Virality and Referrals, SEO, Sales, Email

Unscalable – Content, Press, Partnerships, Free Tools

A recent Gigaom survey identified 10 different types of digital marketing that are used for customer acquisition, retention, awareness and conversion. As well as their best performing channels and what channels they’re spending the most time/resources on.

Key survey takeaways:

“Email is still alive and delivers results for marketers.” Tweet this!

“Referral marketing shines for acquisition and conversion.” Tweet this!

“Referrals drive at least 35% of new customers for marketers who use it.” Tweet this!

gigaom research survey email stats 2014

Don’t listen to the hype that suggests e-mail marketing is being replaced by social media or becoming less effective. Email is the number one tactic across the board for marketing professionals in this survey.

In fact, “91% of consumers check their email at least once a day, while a smaller percentage – 66% of consumers use their smartphone to access social media.” HelpLama.com

This shows that email continues to deliver results for companies that invest resources into the channel.

“Marketers’ trust email more than any other channel to achieve marketing objectives.” Tweet this!

Gigaom research survey referral stats 2014

In the same survey, 31% of marketers said referral marketing was a top acquisition and conversion channel. This is no surprise to us, referrals have pre-qualified purchasing intent and have been a strong acquisition channel for many of our clients.

As the concept of online referral programs is still new to marketers. Only 39% of marketers said they were using referral marketing regularly in their strategy.

A promising stat that came from this survey was that of the 27% of marketers’ who were using referral marketing regularly it was delivering over 50% of their new customers.

This survey showed us that email is still one of the best overall marketing channels to use for every stage of your funnel. It also showed us that referral marketing is a growing segment in digital marketing and is delivering some of the strongest acquisition and conversion rates.

To work on growth you need to have a diverse skill-set that let’s you combine marketing creativity and data analysis with enough design/programming chops to run the tests yourself.

Image courtesy of bplanet/freedigitalphotos.net