Every year the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) conducts a survey called the Customer Acquisition Barometer. It’s an extremely valuable analysis of what works and what doesn’t in the hunt for new clients.
This year’s Barometer prompted me to list my top 10 tips for improving customer acquisition…
1. Don’t underestimate the value of Human Interaction
According to research I conducted in 2012, just over 68%* of B2B sales involve some form of Human Interaction (HI), either a phone call or a face-to-face meeting. Interestingly, 89% of new purchases required HI (even for order values as low as £146). So the benefit of HI in winning new business is clear.
Learn more: What’s the impact of HI on average order value?
HI’s impact on average order value is impressive – with HI the average order value is £68,032, but with no HI it drops to £1,018. It also impacts repeat orders, with 58% of repeat purchases requiring HI. Average value of repeat orders with HI is £29,439; but without HI it falls to £3,407.
2. Use channels that make prospects feel valued
Consider the following example. It’s your birthday. Friends congratulate you in different ways. Which friend makes you feel more valued?
- Simon visits you at home
- Heather gives you a telephone call
- Peter sends you a birthday card
- Sally sends you a text message
- Raj sends you an email
Note how the feeling of being valued is related to the method of communication.
Learn more: Which channels make buyers feel valued?
I asked over 600 Managers on LinkedIn the same ‘birthday’ question. I framed the question within a birthday setting to avoid any channel prejudice. The channels were Mobile Marketing (Sally), Email Marketing (Raj), Direct Mail (Peter), Telemarketing (Heather) and Field Sales (Simon).
The top two channels were Field Sales (58%) and Telemarketing (24%) – they make Managers feel most valued and both have HI. The score for the remaining channels were Direct Mail (14%), Mobile Marketing (2%) and Email Marketing (1%).
3. Email response is falling, but it’s still the most effective tool
Numerous research surveys from the DMA and B2B Marketing magazine have identified Email as the most effective tool for outbound marketing (see Chart I). My personal experience is that a combination of Email and Telemarketing really scores.
Learn more: How to improve email response rates
The key to improving response rates is ‘test and learn’. The most important part of any email is the subject line. Split your email list in half and send identical emails to both, except each has a different subject line. Use the subject line that pulls the best response in your next email blast, but split the list again and test something different.
Chart I – Popular versus effective channels for customer acquisition
4. Post them a letter – there’s less competition on the doormat
Direct mail is back in fashion. Why? Because it’s effective. Costly, but effective. While email remains the most effective tool, it’s true our Inboxes are full and response rates are falling. Direct mail is visible, tangible and more valued by prospects than email.
Learn more: Getting the most out of direct mail
Consider a targeted campaign to a limited number of prospects – perhaps focus on all the buyers that unsubscribed from your email marketing. Use direct mail to get them to re-subscribe or deliver a synopsis of your online white papers and reports. But check you have the correct name spelling and office address.
5. Don’t believe everything you read about social media
Social media has a role to play – but it’s perhaps not the most effective tool for B2B customer acquisition. The DMA’s Customer Acquisition Barometer found that social media was ranked 8th as an effective customer acquisition tool (out of a list of 9 – see Chart I).
Learn more: Where is social media most effective?
I have no doubt that lead generation through social media will improve, but it does rely upon the platforms adapting their model to help customer acquisition. However, as a customer service tool it’s impressive. Get customer service right and your reputation will go viral. Just make sure you have a trusted employee(s) managing your social media when customers are active, so they can respond quickly to requests and comments.
6. Lead scoring identifies the prospects worth pursuing
For many B2B marketers their target list of prospects can number 10,000 names or more. It’s impossible for you to keep track on all them and know which are most valuable, active and real decision-makers. That’s where lead scoring can help.
Learn more: A practical guide to lead scoring
Lead scoring adds a number to each company or person, enabling you to rank them and identify the best prospects to contact. I use a BAD scoring system, where B = BANT, A = Activity and D = Demographics. BANT and Activity relate to the person, and Demographics relate to the company. Download my white paper ‘Lead Scoring and Content Marketing‘ for more details.
7. Get your sales team to love data
In my experience, sales teams see the benefit of accurate prospect data but struggle to add to it or keep it fresh. Yet they are in the best position to add valuable insight (a prospect launches new products, or hires more staff, etc) and update data (new job titles, or checking email addresses, etc).
Learn more: A sales executive’s first date with data
Start your sales team’s love affair with data by training them. Show them all the short-cuts in your CRM and how accurate data improves their sales figures. Build a reward for accurate data into their commission plan, and acknowledge improvements in data at team meetings.
8. Content is king
The phrase ‘content is king’ has been around for some time, and it’s still true. Great content enables you to engage earlier in the buying process, positions you as an authority but most importantly it delivers qualified leads. ‘Qualified’ because the subject matter of the content gives you a clue about the prospect’s pain point.
Learn more: A live example of the power of content
You are reading an article about customer acquisition, so I’m confident this is an issue for you currently. So, an email or phone call about a product or service that improves customer acquisition is more likely to be of more interest than other subjects. This is how content can qualify a sales lead and enable your team to talk about subjects of interest.
9. Relevance is ruler
If content is king, then relevance is ruler. You may have the best report, the best infographic or the best webinar invitation, but if it’s not relevant to the audience you are wasting time and resources. Worse, because you are seen as irrelevant they may unsubscribe, unfollow or refuse to take your next phone call.
Learn more: 3 steps to making your message relevant
Step 1, segment your data based on job title, sector or product. Step 2, talk to your sales team to understand the needs and wants of each segment. Step 3, allow enough time to produce relevant content and creative for each segment.
10. Understand the DNA of your good customers
Examine your good customers; check the size of their company, the sector where they operate and other demographic information. Then analyse how they originally engaged with you and which department was your entry point. Now you understand the DNA of a successful sale you can predict the prospects that are most likely to buy.
Learn more: Beginners guide to predictive marketing
Target prospects that show similar behaviour to your successful sales. Reach out to the same department as previously and send them the same marketing material. But remember to also ‘test and learn’ so you are constantly improving your conversion ratio.
* B2B Buyer Survey, Marketing Graham 2012 n = 108
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