We all need to acquire new customers to make our products and businesses work. Whether there are a few users paying big bucks or thousands visiting your platform for free, how you get and retain customers is what is important.

But ask yourself: are you really ready for more customers? Is your team set up to handle an influx of users? What’s your promotion strategy – inbound marketing or traditional PR? This extensive guide will walk you through what user acquisition is and how to execute a plan.

Is Your Product Ready For User Aquisition?

While Mark Zuckerberg’s famous “move fast and break things” motto might be useful advice in many startup situations, it may not be the best advice when it comes to customer acquisition. The decision to take your product to market and begin onboarding customers should be given the weight it deserves. You have spent months (if not years) developing your product, so the execution of your user acquisition strategy must be thought out very carefully.

Why Being Prepared Matters.

The customer acquisition process for startups is hardly linear or predictable, but that doesn’t mean that thoughtful planning is not useful or necessary. The customer acquisition process is far from an exact science. There are many things that can (and do) go wrong. However, there are some things that you can do to mitigate risk and improve your chances of success.

Have a Plan.

Having a thoughtful customer acquisition strategy is essential. This will give you direction and help you measure progress.

Yes, plans change (especially with startups), but having a basic plan of action for onboarding customers is non-negotiable. This includes a detailed accounting of the platforms that you will use, the metrics that will measure success, your timelines, and the manpower required to do all of it effectively.

What goals are you trying to achieve and why? What does the timeline look like? Are you going to outsource or hire from within?

Hire the Right People.

Employees of startups are known to wear many hats. Regardless of the size of your team, everyone should understand your user acquisition process and what their roles in onboarding will be (both short and long term).

You need to be able to react quickly to hiccups in the process. For example, if you encounter an unexpected bug in the sign-up process, your development team needs to react swiftly to fix the problem. At the same time, your communications and marketing people need to be able to react to customer complaints on social media and communicate proactively about your efforts to fix the bug. In order to do that, your team needs to have a clear understanding of who to turn to when problems occur.

Estimate The Cost Of Customer Acquisition.

The pockets of most startups are not very deep, and you should have an estimate of your cost to acquire customers (CAC) before beginning the onboarding process. Your CAC is loosely defined as the cost of all of your sales and marketing expenses over a given period of time, divided by the number of customers acquired in that window. While you won’t have a firm sense of your CAC until you begin acquiring customers, having an estimate will help you be prepared

Create Demand.

Though corporate customer acquisition isn’t exactly simple, the process is far more complex for startups. Corporations have deeper pockets, greater brand awareness, and an ever growing community of evangelists. You don’t, yet. For starters, you do not have the luxury of working with an established household brand like Apple or Google, where the demand for your product already exists. You need to let your customers know that you exist, explain why they should care, and sometimes hold their hand through the conversion process.

Creating Your Landing Page.

Every landing page is unique, but there are a few elements every good landing page should have. Here’s a list of landing page elements you definitely shouldn’t forget:

  • A compelling image
  • An attention-grabbing headline
  • A strong value proposition (the benefits)
  • Social proof or an endorsement
  • An amazing call to action

Designing Your Call To Action.

The call to action is the most important part of any landing page. So much so that it needs its own section! There isn’t a single call to action that will work for everyone, but there are some guidelines you can follow to improve your odds of success. Here they are:

Be descriptive. You will lose visitors if you are not exact about what you need from them, what you will give to them, and what the next step is.

If you ask Neil Patel, he would tell you acquiring new customers means understanding what makes your customers tick and investing heavily in inbound marketing strategies such as content, building an email newsletter and search engine optimization (SEO).

Inbound marketing pulls customers in with value-generating resources (such as the one you’re reading right now). Sure, it takes time to create great content, but a robust resource center can drive qualified visitors for the life of your business.

On the other hand, outbound marketing requires you to keep writing cheques in order to bring in new visitors. When the cheques stop going out, the new visitors stop coming in.

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