How To Build a Machine to Acquire Customers for the Long-Term

June 10, 2013By
Acquire Customers Small Business

Inbound Leads Cost 61% Less Than Outbound

The best way to grow your business is to acquire new customers.

Yes, you can try to get your current customers to purchase more often. You could also expand into new products and services.

But the quickest way to grow and build profitability is to acquire customers.

Acquiring customers is not easy. If it were every business would be successful.

One of the challenging aspects of acquiring customers is doing it with little to now cost.

Traditional Ways to Acquire Customers

When we think of acquiring customers in the traditional sense we’re thinking of paying a price per customer or per lead.

My background is in the direct mail industry and specifically in the catalog industry. For a couple of the brands I managed circulation organization for each mailing. We had to determine who would get a catalog and what version of the catalog they would receive.

The customer acquisition part was renting lists from other mailers or exchanging lists with other mailers. That’s how you acquired new customers.

And from history we pretty much knew how much each of those customers would cost.

If we spent $XX we knew we would get X customers.

That way of acquiring customers today works across a variety of channels. You can advertise on TV if you’re a big company. You can invest in local radio if you’re a local business.

You can purchase paid search ads if you’re a large or small business. You can purchase other online ads and sponsorships.

You pretty much know how much you need to spend to acquire a customer and you have to continue spending if you want to keep the stream of new customers flowing.

Inbound Marketing to Acquire Customers

Inbound marketing is a new term. It’s the process of getting customers to find you when they’re searching for information.

For example, you probably found this blog post through a search on Google, a shared link on social media or maybe even a direct referral from someone you know.

That’s inbound marketing.

Outbound marketing is a traditional ad like a commercial on TV. You’re not necessarily looking for a commercial about Cialis, but you see it anyway and enough people take action on the ad to make it worthwhile.

What we’re seeing now is that inbound marketing, while a longer investment from a time standpoint, is less expensive than outbound marketing.

Here is a chart from HubSpot:

Acquire CustomersThis is from a survey of businesses that report how they view the cost to acquire leads that lead to new customers.

It’s easy to see that while you may potentially spend more time blogging the leads you generate will be substantially below average for acquiring customers.

Finding A Balance

Life is very much about finding balance.

Outbound marketing certainly has it’s place. It’s very easy to get instant feedback on your investment. You know that if you spend $50 on paid ads for a week that you’ll get one customer that spends $150. That makes the customer acquisition model profitable.

With things like blogging and social media it takes longer and you have to measure the return a little differently.

At Ghost Blog Writers we exclusively use blogging, social media and other inbound channels. We track sales metrics each week to determine the ongoing success of our methods to acquire customers.

We track:

  • Website Traffic
  • Inquiries
  • Leads
  • Trial Posts
  • New Clients

Over time we can see how the business is performing and we know that the inbound channels are responsible for a large portion of the acquired customers.

One important thing to remember is that some business will happen without any marketing at all. You can call it an organic flow of new customers and additional sales.

But investing in inbound marketing – blogging, social media, video, etc. – will help you build a machine to acquire customers for the long-term. It’s proving to work for a variety of businesses and we can say first hand that it’s working for ours.

Outbound is fine, but there are limitations. Once you stop spending the leads stop.

With inbound, each piece of content you create works for the lifetime of your business.

When it comes to how you acquire customers the choice is yours.