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5 customer acquisition strategies small businesses can learn from big brands

Acquiring new customers is critical for every brand, big or small. Growing your customer base not only helps drive performance and revenue, but also builds loyalty and awareness. In fact, driving customer acquisition is the key objective of nearly 50% of companies today. If you’re serious about long-term success, you have to develop customer acquisition strategies. 

 Below, we outline 5 strategies used by some of our retail partners to drive customer acquisition. Leaning into these strategies can expand your customer base to generate more revenue for your business—now and into the future.

1. Start with a strategy

It doesn’t matter if you’re a huge global brand or a one-person e-commerce business. If you want to acquire customers who will drive meaningful, long-term growth, you must develop a strategy. 

Did you know that marketers who document their strategy are 313% more likely to see success? This is especially important given that the cost of acquiring new customers has gone up 60% in the last 6 years

Crafting the right acquisition strategy is critical if you want to target and convert high-value shoppers, save time and money, and grow your brand. 

Here are some things to consider when getting started.

  • Do the research: Learn all about your current high-value customers so you can determine real-life characteristics of profitable shoppers—then you’ll know who to target in order to get the most bang for your acquisition buck.

  • Set a budget: Define your customer acquisition costs (CAC) so you know how much you can afford to spend. You can find your CAC by taking marketing and sales costs, then dividing by the number of customers acquired.

  • Change with the times: Develop a sustainable strategy that can evolve with your customers and the market.

If you’re still not sure how to get started, we’ve got more information in our ebook, including examples of how global brands like Cole Haan developed their strategies. 

2. Capture customers with compelling content

Connecting with customers is critical for driving growth, and many brands are investing in content marketing to do this. Indeed, one of the most effective ways to acquire new customers is through great content marketing. 

The content you create will depend a lot on what your product is, and who you’re trying to reach. The most important thing to think about is whether the content will resonate with your high-value audiences. For example, if you’re an e-commerce cookware brand, you might consider a content series that showcases different chefs using your products to create their signature dishes. 

It’s worth experimenting a little when it comes to content, as what resonates with some audiences might surprise you. The high-end food blender company Blendtec  has an older, more affluent target market that is not traditionally video-first. But when the brand created a humorous “Will It Blend?” YouTube series, they increased sales by 700% over 3 years. The Blendtec YouTube channel now has more than 865,000 subscribers. 

Remember that it can take a while to acquire customers, so it’s critical to have enough content to keep them engaged over the life of your acquisition strategy. Think about how to repurpose each piece of content into many different formats so you can save on CAC, time, and resources.

3. Use multiple channels

Channels are outlets for communicating with your customers. Blogs or email newsletters are common examples, and a growing number of businesses are using video channels like YouTube and TikTok in their marketing strategies. Some other popular channels are:

  • Organic and paid social media

  • Virtual, live events 

  • Influencer marketing

  • Existing customer referral programs

Our top retail partners don’t rely on just one channel to reach customers—they use multiple channels. This not only helps drive better overall results, but it ensures that underperforming channels don’t derail the acquisition strategy. 

Take clothing and accessories retailer Fred Segal, for example. They use a variety of relevant channels to connect with their trend-conscious audiences—paid and organic social media, traditional advertising, virtual or live events, and more. 

Try experimenting with a few different channels to uncover which are working for your audience, business, and budget. You can then devote resources to optimizing those channels that perform best. 

4. Provide customers with flexible payment options

Giving customers choices about how they pay is a critical part of customer acquisition—especially now. The acceleration of e-commerce we’ve seen in the last year has also fueled a boom in buy now, pay later (BNPL) transactions. In fact, BNPL purchases surged 215% in the first 2 months of 2021 compared to a year earlier. This form of flexible payments is now the world’s fastest growing e-commerce payment method—and a great customer acquisition tool.

For businesses that partner with Affirm to offer BNPL options to customers, the benefits can include up to an 85% increase in average order values (AOV), higher conversion rates, and access to over 6 million shoppers in the Affirm network.

Affirm can make a difference for your brand by giving customers more financial control and flexibility. 

5. Don’t forget about retention

Last but not least, don’t forget about the role of customer retention in growing your business. Once your customer acquisition strategy is working, you’ll want to do everything you can to build relationships with those customers. 

For one thing, it’s more expensive to acquire new customers than it is to keep existing ones. For another, customers making a repeat purchase are easier to sell to and are more likely to buy from you multiple times.

So, once you’ve acquired customers, focus on nurturing relationships by doing things like: 

  • Creating the best customer experience you can

  • Listening to customers and taking action on feedback

  • Optimizing your retention strategy

Win new customers today and into the future

The 5 strategic ideas we outlined here can help build a foundation that drives growth for your business. If you would like to dig further into this important topic, please download our ebook, Think big: 5 recommendations to help small businesses win new customers

If you’re an existing Affirm partner looking to better leverage your pay-over-time options to drive growth, then take a look through our ebook on how to increase AOV. And if you’re interested in partnering with Affirm, here’s how you can get started today.