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It’s Time to Rewrite the Book on Customer Acquisition

Every business needs to acquire new customers to thrive. But, what is customer acquisition? Most companies have been at it so long, it’s become a bit robotic. They've settled on favorite population segments, channels, tools and tactics, and many are content to hit the repeat button when it’s time to run a new campaign. In short, if it worked in the past, there's no reason why it shouldn't work again — or so some think.

Lou Paskalis, former SVP Customer Engagement and Media Investment at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, explained in a recent interview with TransUnion, “I think so many of us today work in environments where the expectation is to just be a little bit better than we were yesterday, at the same things that we were doing yesterday. First and foremost, ask yourself this question: Do you have a clear vision of what you're trying to do?"

Consumers aren't shopping the same way they were just a few years ago. They have higher expectations about their shopping experiences, can't be reached on the same channels, and are much more aware of how companies treat their personal data. Today’s marketplace is also a lot more competitive — to say nothing of the current macroeconomic climate. So, why would we think the old customer acquisition playbook would still work?

Rather than hitting the repeat button, companies should hit the reset button.

That’s the big takeaway from our newly-released TransUnion playbook — The Future of Acquisition Marketing — Debunking the Myths of Customer Acquisition. We examine the current state of customer acquisition in key regulated industries like banking, insurance and telecommunications where the environment doesn’t always encourage change, and draw important lessons from observing some of today’s top marketers in action. We hope you’ll find their examples inspiring, and a good resource to reference as you reshape your own customer acquisition strategies.

Here’s a taste of what you’ll find inside.

Top marketers never stop getting to know their customers

No matter how long your company has been around, or how well you think you know your market, you’re always going to come up short of your full growth potential if you don’t constantly question your assumptions about who your customers are and what they expect from you.

For example, 88% of consumers in the US today know access to credit and lending products (like new credit cards, personal loans or even buy now, pay later services) is essential to achieve their financial goals, according to the latest TransUnion Consumer Pulse Study. But, only 57% believe they have adequate access to those products, and just 1 in 4 plan to apply for new credit in the next 12 months. So, what's keeping others away?

Savvy marketers are looking past the problem to see an opportunity to reach untapped audiences. They're investing in sophisticated data and technology to better analyze consumer expectations, develop relevant offerings for key consumer segments, and ultimately expand their customer bases.

Customer acquisition isn’t just a lower-funnel activity

We debunk a number of myths in the Future of Customer Acquisition playbook, and one of the most entrenched is the notion customer acquisition is exclusively a lower-funnel activity.

Marketing experts Les Binet and Peter Field famously declared marketing spend should be split 60/40 between brand building and activation. Even they admit it’s not an iron rule, but it has the merit of reminding everyone building brand awareness at the top of the purchase funnel is as important, if not more, as closing a sale at the bottom of the funnel. With the right data and measurement solutions, companies can analyze the effectiveness of their campaigns throughout the funnel — top, middle, bottom — and optimize their marketing investments accordingly.

We worked with a top financial institution to help them do just that. The split in this case was 65/35 and it resulted in a 2x boost to the company’s marketing ROI. Better still, the company’s top-of-the-funnel investments for one of its product lines had a substantial halo effect on a different product line in its portfolio.

It’s time to reset, plan, align and team up

Marketing leaders understand now is the time to:

Reset: Between channel fragmentation, privacy regulations, macroeconomic pressures and changing consumer habits, there’s no shortage of obstacles for companies looking to acquire new customers. Before devising a plan of action, it’s imperative to fully understand the forces at play and what customer acquisition means in today’s world.

Plan: No two companies have exactly the same customer acquisition strategy, but to succeed in today’s fast-changing and ultra-competitive environment, modern marketers should strongly consider reimagining the customer experience to meet new demands, diversifying their media mix and investing in robust campaign measurement to quickly see what works and what doesn’t.

Align:  Marketing works best when it's in sync with the rest of the organization. Before proceeding with a new customer acquisition campaign, you should secure support from the C-suite, and make sure your KPIs are well aligned with the company's business outcomes. Keep everyone informed on your progress throughout the campaign. This can be time-consuming, but it will go a long way toward clarifying the work you do isn't a cost to the company, but rather a source of growth and innovation.

Team up: Getting the right data, tech and infrastructure partners can make or break your customer acquisition initiatives. The job is too complex now to do it alone or by cobbling together legacy point solutions that don’t fit with one another. If your marketing stack is a daily source of grief for your team, it’s time to upgrade.

Interested in finding out more? Please download The Future of Acquisition Marketing Playbook—Debunking the Myths of Customer Acquisition, and get in touch with us to take your customer acquisition to the next level.