3 Stages To Acquiring A New Customer

I want to jump into a story today…

A few years back now, I think early 2015, I was asked to help a sheet metal supplier with their paid and organic search marketing as their sales had plateaued and they felt that they weren’t getting a good enough return for their spend.

They were very specific about what they wanted from us – More traffic! Because, in their mind, more traffic meant more sales.

The problem here wasn’t that they were wrong; they were just getting there in a very inefficient way.

As we do with any potential client that we work with, we did some digging.

We quickly found that the problem wasn’t traffic. The problem was they they had an overall average conversion rate of under 1%.

…. 1%!

FACEPALM

We proposed that the strategy first focus on increasing this number before any more traffic is thrown at to the website. The logic was simple, it’s a lot more expensive to generate more traffic than it is to increase the conversion rates.

I’d love to tell you that this was it; that the client was over the moon to hear that we’d found the problem and couldn’t wait for us to fix it.

It wasn’t. Believe it or, it took some work to convince them that this is where we needed to focus or attention; but we got there in the end.

The deeper we got into this, the more we uncovered.

We found quite quickly that although they were an e-commerce business, close to 40% of their orders came through telephone enquiries and quotes. Sales calls with absolutely no way to analyse the nature of the conversion.

We needed call tracking.

Roll on a week or two and we were analysing the inbound calls. It didn’t take long to find a few holes in the process.


What we found will blow you away:

  • Roughly a third of calls hit a mobile phone voicemail message.
  • None of the staff were up to date with the most recent prices.
  • If a customer did request a price list, they were told that there wasn’t one and to look at the website.
  • If a price was given, there was often no contact information taken down to follow up with the potential customer.
  • If a customer wanted to purchase, they were sent to the website or asked to email or call another person in the business who handled the PDQ.

To this day, it’s still a case that I remember.

Not because it was so bad; actually because of the client’s reluctance to acknowledge that the problem wasn’t traffic and more around how appealing their value proposition was and the way that they handled their sales process.

And THAT is the lesson here.

Don’t just keep pouring more water into the leaky bucket…. Fix the holes.


 

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It can be so easy to focus on the wrong objective when it comes to your marketing; completely forgetting that there are 3 stages to acquiring a new customer.  

1. Awareness / Exposure

Awareness and Exposure

This is the process of getting in front of your potential customers.

There are a ridiculous amount of methods that you can use to do this. From running ads, producing and distributing content, PR campaigns, networking and traditional business development.

The outcome here is to catch people’s attention. Often from a marketing perspective this is associated with generating traffic to your website.

This isn’t enough though, people are fickle and time is very precious so if you want to keep this attention, you have to have a plan for the second stage.

2. Interaction 

Interaction

How do you get the user to take action or engage with your business?

Again, there’s a spectrum to consider here which is where a lot of businesses go wrong.

You can’t assume that every person who hits your website is looking to buy.

It’s also a mistake to assume that everyone who is looking to buy, wants to buy from you. If you want people to engage with your business, you have to be more engaging.

This means introducing more ways for users to interact with you than just an enquiry form or telephone number. Introduce softer conversion options like downloads, giveaways, brochures, guides, videos, tools, trials, quizzes and so on.

Reduce the barrier to entry and add more value up front. Start looking at soft conversions as an opportunity to nurture the relationship with the customer, not just “extra work”.

We call this “Conversion Strategy” and if you do it right it can completely change the outcome of your marketing strategy.

For most businesses, this is where the the real work starts.

3. The Sale

the sale

Once somebody has shown interest in your services you enter in the sales process which is where things become much more personal.

I’d argue that this is the most overlooked area for most businesses and I’ve honestly lost count of how many businesses I’ve spoken to who won’t even entertain the idea that their sales process needs work.

Nobody likes admitting that they might be doing something wrong. At least when it’s a website traffic issue, you can blame it on Google for example. With sales it’s all on you.

You have to take control of you sales process and create as many opportunities as possible to add value, show expertise and build trust because when it comes to decision time, it’s this business who will be remembered over the one who just sent a template proposal or quote.

A well thought out sales process really is a beautiful thing and when it’s done well, it should be a reflection of how the customer will feel once they come on board.

I’ve very rarely come across a business that has a strategy in place that account for all 3 of these stages. Most often because they have different people working in each stage, from marketers to designers to business developers.

My advice to you is that if you don’t have this as part your strategy or you have team members working on different aspects without an overall theme or plan then drop what you’re doing and look at it today. It will pay dividends.


If you want some more practical advice and strategies on how to make improvements for each area, you will find an e-book download in the middle of this blog which goes into more detail.

Thanks for reading today. I’m grateful that you’ve taken the time to give this your attention.

Until next time,

Warren.


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