4 Steps for Effective Customer Acquisition in the Digital Era


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It’s no secret that acquiring new customers is difficult. While most companies work to derive as much value as possible from existing customers–which they should—your business will have a tough time reaching its growth goals if new customers are never brought into the fold.

In the digital era, customer interactions occur online, and in shorter, more frequent stints, rather than the longer in-person, but less frequent, interactions of old. Likewise, traditional marketing meant focusing on customer segmentation and campaign performance measurement. That no longer works. Instead, the focus needs to be on individual preferences and intentions. Not doing so can lead to missed opportunities.

There are several factors to consider in your customer acquisition strategy, and they all come down to an explicit focus on the customer: details such as understanding how (and why) individuals interact with each channel differently, recognizing how to leverage multi-channel data to connect with the right customers at the right time, and respecting that customers want to be treated as individuals.

To win the battle for new customers, companies must continuously leverage digital technologies to attract new customers and connect in a relevant, meaningful way based on the prospect’s individual preferences. Here are four key steps to acquire new customers in the digital era.

1. End the Siloes
Your business can’t be effective with your consumer interactions if you’re working with data that is in siloes. Marketing teams must know and understand information around sales calls, online behavior, marketing program feedback, etc., to make the most of each marketing campaign and next best offer. These make up an ongoing cycle of events that contribute to a personalized understanding of the prospect or consumer. Having a holistic, real-time view is the only way to be relevant and effective in your marketing efforts.

2. Detect Opportunities
Pinpointing new opportunities at the prospecting stage will allow your teams to allocate resources in the areas that will have the most impact. Signals of intent – like multiple visits to your website – need to be merged and used during the acquisition process as quickly as possible. Typical prospect journeys will become visible and can be mapped to other prospects, all the while improving acquisition. You want to be able to compare past activities of the customers you have acquired and apply those behavioral patterns to new prospects to gain a better understanding of predictive behavior. This can help you make the right offers to transition the prospect into a customer.

3. Turn Insight into Action
Detecting an opportunity is not enough on its own to improve customer acquisition; you need to process that opportunity as quickly as possible and use the most appropriate channel to connect with that prospect while the opportunity is still there. That process can be a call by the sales team, but it can also be a digital interaction – an email, online banner offer or other digital conversation, depending on the profile of that customer. The key is delivering the right message that will resonate with that particular prospect based on the behavioral, contextual data mentioned above.

4. Test Multiple Strategies
If you’re in a rut, it’s beneficial to engage prospects with different marketing messages and track response rates to learn what’s working and what’s not. Being able to track and change based on individual behavior patterns will allow you to improve your customer acquisition tactics.

Delivering the right message via the right channel at just the right time is crucial, so despite the number of ways in which we can reach prospects, if we haven’t carefully considered what it is they want or need, or how they want to hear that message, we likely won’t get very far. Instead, companies that embrace a customer-centric approach include customer-focused concepts in their entire makeup. “Personal,” “thoughtful,” “anytime, “anywhere” – these are requirements for growth in the digital era and impacting the customer acquisition process.

It may take some trial and error, but a successful acquisition strategy is all about committing to better understanding your customer—at all stages of engagement and via a variety of digital channels—and building personalized relationships with each.

Luc Burgelman
Luc is a co-founder and CEO of NGDATA. Prior to NGDATA, he co-founded Porthus (EU, 2000), which delivered cloud-based solutions that IPO'd in 2006 and was acquired by Descartes Systems Group in 2010 (US/CA). At that time Luc became the EVP global marketing, product strategy and chairman of corporate planning office (US/CA).Through his experience in artificial intelligence (neural networks, large data processing, rule based systems, ...) he decided to join forces to create NGDATA. Luc holds a Master in Engineering and Information technology (UGent, BE) and Executive MBA (Antwerp, Kellog, IMD.)


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