The strategy, tools and tactics of customer acquisition
Companies and organizations looking to win new customers and grow new revenue from online marketing efforts employ effective digital marketing strategies and techniques. These strategies and techniques employ tools to gain prospects’ attention above the sales funnel. The tactics are highly measurable and customizable by target market.
What is Digital Marketing?
Digital marketing is everything that you use electronically to acquire new customers. This includes Search Engine Marketing (SEM), Search Engine Optimization (SEO), online display and remarketing ads, video ads, website conversion strategies, landing pages, advertising bid optimization, blog posts and website content. It can also include surveys, contests, giveaways, demonstrations and any variety of digital ways to engage and re-engage prospects.
Building a Digital Marketing Plan
The first phase of a digital marketing plan is focused on research in order to discover opportunities and assess risk across select digital marketing channels. This research is critical to informing the overall customer acquisition strategy . The research phase can be broken down into the following steps:
Marketers can begin with a targeted keyword list which accurately captures the keywords and phrases used by prospects to find the services/value/benefits offered by the organization.
Tier 1 Keywords
It can make sense to organize keywords into tiers. Tier 1 keywords will be highly relevant to the organization and likely will reflect the ‘long tail keywords’ that may be lower in monthly search volume but very high in terms of delivering qualified prospects.
Tier 2 Keywords
Tier 2 keywords may represent targeted services that are core to an offering but may provide more search volume than the first tier.
Tier 3 Keywords
Tier 3 keywords are broader still, and may represent relevant products and services offered by the organization, but not necessarily differentiating. Example: ‘Lead generation’.
Note that this organizational structure will also be critical to determine budget allocations against the tiers, with the most targeted keywords funded first.
There are a number of sophisticated tools for keyword research that provide deep data analysis and scoring.
A competitive audit of a set number of relevant competitors is also core to building a digital marketing plan.
The competitive audit will analyze the following criteria:
- Site content / services offered (will also inform keyword research)
- Site structure and navigation
- Case studies / work examples
- Interesting site elements (testimonials, endorsements, credentials, email capture, functionality, etc)
- External social media pages and activity (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook).
Website Audit and Enhancements
To maximize the lead generation potential for paid search as well as other digital marketing opportunities a website audit is recommended, including the following items for review:
Using the findings of the keyword research, an organization can incorporate prioritized keywords into the home page and key sub-pages. Additionally, some of the copy may be shortened / streamlined to maximize readability.
New Sub-Pages / landing pages
In some instances, it is recommended to add in-depth sub-pages that directly address high value keywords around topics specific to products and services.
These sub- pages can also be used as landing pages for specific keywords.
In-depth sub-pages / landing pages
In-depth pages are important for the success of a paid search campaign as Google will score the landing page content and incorporate it into one of the signals for a high-quality score within Google Ads.
Customer Acquisition Strategy
This second phase in building a digital marketing strategy is to leverage the information gathered in the research phase to develop a comprehensive customer acquisition strategy, with a primary focus on paid search. This phase can be broken down into the following steps:
Target Audience Definition
Defining the prospective target audiences in a detailed manner is a must. This includes not only their demographics but also their motivations and needs around your offerings. It is especially important to understand geographic variances within the organization’s service footprint.
This target audience definition should include at least 3-4 major personas with a geographic prioritization that provides a segmentation strategy through the campaign.
Search Ads Program
Focusing on search ads to connect with prospects as a starting point is recommended. After successfully optimizing a search ads program, an organization can expand into display ads.
Campaign / Ad Group Structure
The most important element of a successful Google pay-per-click (PPC) program is the structure of your account. By developing an account structure that most closely aligns with the keyword research and target audience definition, predictable results can be generated.
Create multiple campaigns which align to major service offerings. Within each major campaign, there will be multiple Ad Groups.
A potential Ad Group structure may include individual Ad Groups created for: 1) Service Offering Keywords; 2) Target Audience Keywords; 3) Geographic Keywords; 4) Remarketing Keywords (ie triggered from a Google Ads Tag when visitor searches again after initially visiting the website).
It is recommended to craft multiple text ads for each Ad Group. The messaging will likely vary between performance copy (ie ‘Looking for industry-leading X?’) to lead gen copy (‘Download our whitepaper on Succeeding in a Downturn’). Write Ad Group level copy with 3-4 variations for optimization purposes.
Landing Page Development
You can anticipate at least one unique landing page for each Ad Group which specifically addresses the content triggered by the keyword search. You may initially develop a landing pages at the campaign level but you may want to conduct landing page A/B testing at the Ad Group level as well. You will want to further refine the overall quantity of landing pages needed.
Using the keyword research findings, prioritized keywords are assigned to each Campaign / Ad Group. These can be stratified across Broad Match, Phrase Match and Exact Match in order to gain keyword learnings quickly. It is also recommended to build Negative Keyword lists. It is a best practice to continuously add negative keywords to a campaign such that negative keywords may outnumber actual targeted keywords.
Once the Campaign / Ad Groups / Keywords are created, the Google keyword planner can be used to determine initial monthly costs for the program. Create a CPC and Conversion financial model which will project potential traffic and conversions based on the available budget. This will allow budget prioritization and budget allocations across the Google Search Ads account.
Social, Display and Video Strategy
Following an initial focus on Paid Search, you can explore other channels and evaluate their viability for customer acquisition opportunities. The channels may include:
• LinkedIn (content posting as well as paid ads)
• Display advertising (with a focus on Google Display)
• YouTube video advertising (such as pre-roll video contextualized to relevant video content).
Email Marketing and Demand Generation
An integrated CRM / email marketing effort is effective to continuously connect with existing customers, or prospects who have opted in to receive more information from your organization. It is recommend to evaluate your current customer and contact email lists and organize them into a cross-channel database.
Also, create a regular email marketing strategy which includes distributing demand generation / thought leadership content to your contact list.
A performance-driven measurement plan will guide the overall customer acquisition campaign. This will start with articulating the goals of the program, such as raising visibility and lead generation.
Actionable KPIs such as expected cost per click, target conversion rate and lead-to-customer rate will flow from the goals of the program. These KPIs will become the benchmarks for the overall campaign and will form the basis for ongoing reporting in Phase 3: Execution of campaign.
Digital Marketing Plan Execution
The third phase is the set up and ongoing execution/optimization of the campaign, based on the strategies developed in Phase 2. This phase can be broken down into the following steps.
Search Account Set-UpCampaign / Ad Group / Keyword
Campaign ManagementManage and Optimize
Negative keyword list creation; Bid management to desired position and / or cost per conversion maximization; Ad Group Sculpting to trigger the most relevant ad message; A/B message and landing page testing.