The Complete Guide to Customer Acquisition

Jill Conway


February 26, 2020 (Updated: May 4, 2023)

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For many companies, keeping and gaining customers is their main priority. Customers bring in revenue that makes it possible for companies to continue to innovate and grow. That’s why it’s so important for companies to implement ways to keep a constant flow of new customers coming to their brand. Customer acquisition requires extensive research, sales efforts, and marketing techniques. By following this guide, you can start to learn more about your ideal customers and implement new ways to get more people to purchase your products and services.

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Image via Flickr by deepakiqlect

What Is Customer Acquisition?

Customer acquisition is the process of bringing new customers to your business. In order for your company to continue to grow, you must regularly strategize ways to appeal to more clients and get them interested in your brand. Businesses typically do this through sales and marketing strategies geared toward their target audience. 

It’s important to find strategies that are cost-effective for your company, meaning they get the most results for the lowest cost and resources. To determine this, your company should implement strategies proven to be effective and measurable. 

The Difference Between Customer Acquisition and Lead Generation

Though customer acquisition and lead generation are similar terms, it’s important to understand the difference between the two. 

Lead generation is the process of gaining leads for your business. Leads are potential customers and clients. There are different levels of leads, qualified leads being the most important. They are people who show a strong interest in your business. For example, they may have signed up for your brand’s newsletter or called your customer support hotline to ask more questions about a product or service.

Customer acquisition is taking leads and turning them into actual clients. Your business can do this by nurturing a lead based on their interests and needs. Your business can also use target marketing and messaging. Another way your business can gain more customers is through a sales call or meeting that is catered to the lead’s specific characteristics. 

The Client Acquisition Process

During the client acquisition process, your business needs to identify who is interested in your brand and is considering making a purchase. Determine what target audience they fall into and cater your marketing to them based on these demographics. 

You will first determine who is interested in your brand through lead generation. Content marketing, blogging, and social media are a few ways to capture leads. The key is that when a potential lead interacts with your content, you need to have a form where they can fill out their contact information.

Once they fill out their contact information, you officially have a qualified lead. Now you can send them targeted marketing such as emails and direct mail. You could also have your salespeople contact them directly. Typically, leads do not become customers after receiving just one piece of marketing from a business. It will take a great deal of nurturing to get them to eventually purchase something. Later on in this article, we will share specific customer acquisition strategies. 

Deciding Who Your Customer Base Is

The first step to acquiring more customers or clients is determining who your customer base is. The way you market and communicate to people will vary greatly on their demographics. Consider things such as gender, age, religion, race, family size, ethnicity, income, and education when determining your customer base.

To determine your customer base, think of the primary characteristics of someone purchasing your goods or services. For instance, if your company specializes in gold watches, you will need customers who have enough income to buy a luxury good. Typically, these are people who are older, with extra money to spend. Often, people spend more on themselves if their children are out of the house or if they decided to not have children. You should consider all these things when thinking of who your ideal customer is.

Another way to learn about your customers is to gather data. You can do this by sending out surveys to people you think would be your customer base. Ask them what they think of your business and the products and services you offer. Get feedback on what interests them and what does not. You could even have an open house to see what kinds of customers show up and who is most interested in your brand. Take note of all these things to improve your current offerings and to tailor them to your ideal customer base.

When you decide who your customer base is, you can create a target audience for each message your company sends. A target audience is a particular group your marketing message is aimed at. For instance, if your brand has noticed Millennial customers decreasing, your marketing department may tailor an email marketing campaign directed at people in this generation. Similarly, if you just released a high-end product geared towards an affluent population, you will want to target your ads towards people in a specific income bracket. 

When to Look for More Customers

Anytime is a good time to acquire more new customers, though there will be certain times of the year when your company will want to do more marketing. For instance, if you have a retail company, a lot of your marketing will center around the holidays and seasons. You can create promotions and deals that are related to holidays and create marketing based on them.

Likewise, if you own a seasonal company such as lawn care or snow removal, you should focus on your marketing and sales efforts during your off-season, when people are preparing for the upcoming months and your staff is less busy. 

Do some research to see when your competitors are increasing their marketing efforts. This will help you plan ahead for the next year and learn what kind of campaigns worked for them and what didn’t. This way you can avoid making your competitors’ mistakes and focus on making more effective marketing campaigns. 

Where to Find Your Customers

To figure out where to advertise to gain new customers, you will need to do some research. When someone signs up for an email subscription or makes a purchase online, provide a drop-down menu that shows where they heard of your company. Most drop-downs like this include the following options:

  • Search engine
  • Paid advertising sources
  • Social media platforms your business uses
  • Radio
  • TV
  • Print
  • Word of mouth
  • Other

If you learn that most people found you through word-of-mouth, focus on getting good reviews and testimonials for your company. If they found you through a television ad, continue to focus your efforts on creating commercials. If they heard about you through other means, continue your focus in these areas as well. If you are spending a lot on advertising and learn that no one is choosing that as their answer, you may need to either rethink your campaigns or cut back on advertising spending. 

Though mediums such as print, television, and radio are still useful means of advertising, many companies are using digital advertising to reach their target audiences better. Social media and paid search have paved the way for more personalized marketing than ever. Many digital platforms let you set detailed demographics for your targeted ads.

Why It’s Important to Regularly Reach Out to Customers

According to the Rule of 7, a person needs to interact with your brand seven times before they decide to buy your products or services. As the market becomes more saturated because of digital media, this number will become more challenging to achieve. That’s why your company needs to figure out unique ways to reach out to people regularly. 

It’s important to find a sweet spot between showing them similar messaging while still keeping content fresh. Ad copy and content need to capture their attention and get them to either visit your website or actual location. 

It may be beneficial to have many kinds of advertisements to keep things interesting. For example, if you know your target audience is active on Facebook and YouTube, run ads on each platform. With certain platforms, keep in mind that there may be an option to skip your ad after a few seconds. That’s why it is crucial to make your content stand out within the first few seconds. 

How to Improve Your Sales Strategies

If your company relies on salespeople to gain more clients and customers, it’s important that you are hiring salespeople with the right skill set. You want people who are effective communicators, personable, respectful, and quick thinkers. On-the-job training for salespeople is also an effective way to increase your business’s sales. 

Here are some sales tips that can help your salespeople be more successful:

1. Be Deliberate About Who You Reach out To

Only reach out to prospects who are a part of your customer base. For example, if you are selling dog toys, you wouldn’t want to spend your time talking to cat owners. Similarly, if your customer base consists of Baby Boomers, don’t spend your time selling to younger generations. Do your research before spending your time reaching out to prospects. 

If you are making sales in person, it’s important to ask the right questions before trying to persuade a prospect. Ask them what brings them into the store, who they are buying for, and any other questions that can narrow down who they are as a customer. By knowing things such as a person’s budget or when they plan to make a purchase, you can be more intentional about your sales pitch.

2. Get to Know Everything Possible About Your Product

People want to buy from companies they trust. One way to establish trust is to become an expert in the products you’re selling. Be prepared to answer any product-related question a customer may have. Show them that you are the person they can rely on to sell them the best product on the market for a fair price. To learn more about your products, talk to your business’s other departments such as the production or marketing teams. Also, read any manuals, guides, or marketing materials related to the products or services you’re selling. 

3. Be an Active Listener

When speaking to a prospect, use active listening skills to make them feel like you understand what they are telling you. When people feel like a salesperson genuinely cares about their wants and needs, they will be more likely to purchase a company’s products or services. Give people a chance to speak and always let them finish their thought before sharing the next part of your sales pitch. Be empathic to prospects and help them find solutions based on the information they are giving you.  

4. Make Your Messages Personal

Customers will recognize if you are using a script when emailing and talking to them. Rather than taking this automated approach, try to learn some things about each prospect, so you can tailor your messaging to them. Personalized messaging can make customers feel valued as people rather than sales numbers. By establishing a human connection, you are more likely to appeal to customers and make a sale. 

5. Make Promises You Can Keep

Similar to how your marketing team needs to be honest with their messaging, sales teams should also be honest when working directly with a customer. Only make promises you can keep whether that be a deal you can give them or a service the company can provide. By setting realistic expectations and delivering them, customers will keep coming back to your business.

6. Treat Everyone With Respect

Even if the person you’re talking to isn’t making the final buying decision, still treat them with respect. You never know if they eventually will have the buying power or if they have influence over another person’s buying decisions. People should feel like salespeople value them and their opinions. Treating everyone with respect leads to your company getting positive online reviews and building a good reputation. 

7. Follow up Consistently

A salesperson needs to find a sweet spot of following up with prospects. You want to make sure to check in frequently but to also not be overbearing. If a person says now is not a good time for them, ask them when a better time will be. Take note of what they say and then plan to reach out to them when that time comes. If a prospect cancels their appointment with you, be politely persistent about setting up a new time to talk. It’s important to keep up with prospects and think of new ways to capture their interest in your business. 

Different Types of Targeted Marketing 

A common way businesses acquire more customers is through targeted marketing campaigns. Businesses will tailor their content to their target audience and even choose specific marketing campaigns depending on the audience. For example, if you were marketing toward Gen Z, consider advertising on platforms such as Instagram or YouTube. Likewise, if you are advertising to Baby Boomers, direct mail or print advertising may be more useful. 

Here are various marketing ideas your business can use to target more customers:

Email Marketing

When creating email marketing campaigns, you need to be strategic. Foremost, schedule your emails to send at a time people are likely to open them. For instance, if your target audience is office workers, schedule the email to send during work hours since they will be on their computers. Avoid sending emails in the middle of the night or on holidays since people will either be asleep or busy.

Another thing to keep in mind with email marketing is to make subscribing as easy as possible for people. They will quickly give up if there are multiple steps to complete to sign up for an email. Simply have them fill out a form rather than having to visit another webpage.

Also, be sure to offer subscription preferences. Give customers the option to choose what types of emails they receive on your opt-out page. This will make them much more likely to stay subscribed to a few kinds of emails instead of unsubscribing altogether. 

There are many different kinds of email marketing companies use. Here are a few common ones:

  • Newsletter: This kind of email is better for retaining current customers rather than gaining new ones. In an email newsletter, you will include informational content that customers look forward to seeing each week. Then, within the email, you can add a call-to-action to influence customers to check out what your company has to offer. 
  • One-off emails: Use one-off emails to promote things such as upcoming events, new products or services you’re offering, or contests. These emails should include interesting content that will capture a potential customer’s attention and get them to visit your website. 
  • Auto-responder emails: Auto-responder emails are used to keep customers in your marketing funnel. When a customer completes a specific action, your email platform automatically sends a specific email to them. For example, if they put something in their shopping cart, it could send an email to remind them to finish their purchase. 
  • Drip campaigns: Drip campaigns are a set of automated emails that you send over a period of time to keep potential customers in your marketing funnel. With drip campaigns, you will send potential customers a series of emails based on actions they complete or at certain times. For example, if a customer signs up for emails, you can send them a welcome email with a discount. Then, in two weeks, you could schedule to send them another email with an additional coupon.
  • Surveys: Survey emails are a great way to get to know your customer base better. Ask them about their thoughts on your business, what their experience was, and if they plan to come back. Use this feedback to create better offerings that can help you draw in more customers. 

Direct Mail Marketing

Direct mail marketing is when you send people promotional materials such as brochures, postcards, and letters through the mail. Target the direct mail you send based on their geographic location or some targeted demographics, such as whether people are homeowners. 

This kind of marketing is beneficial because it is easy to track. For example, you could include a special phone number, web address, or email for customers to use. By only including it on this promotional material and nowhere else, you can figure out how many people reacted to your mailer. Send your direct mail out in small batches to test your results. This way you can decide if sending mail is cost-effective before sending out more. 

When using direct mailing, you need to be mindful of your target audience and have copy that is catered to them. Sometimes this will be the first impression a person has of your company, so you want the mailer to ready well and stand out among a sea of other direct mail ads. If your content blends in, people may deem it junk mail and toss it in their recycling bin without looking at it. 

Social Media

Many businesses use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn for their marketing efforts. Choose which social media platforms your business uses based on your target audience. Along with maintaining a strong presence on your social media platforms, you can run ads to draw in more customers. 

Let’s go over the core social media platforms:


Most businesses have a Facebook Page because so many people use it. In fact, according to Statista, Facebook has around 2.5 billion monthly active users. When posting on Facebook, choose content that is timely, interesting, and helpful. Users engage more with posts that have an image or video included. A wall of text is less likely to capture a user’s interest. If your posts are only getting a little engagement, you can boost or promote your posts. By spending a few dollars on a post, you can reach hundreds or even thousands of people near your business.

If you have an upcoming event such as an open house or a special sale, promote it by creating a Facebook Event. Invite people who have “liked” your business Page or who you think would be interested in coming. 

Besides boosting posts, you can also create ad campaigns on Facebook. This is beneficial for your business because ad campaigns are more customizable. With a Facebook ad, you choose an objective for your ad such as awareness, consideration, or conversions. Then, within the objective, you can select from more options such as gathering leads, building brand awareness, or sending more people to your website. 

The different Facebook ad formats include:

  • Video
  • Photo
  • Slideshow
  • Carousel
  • Dynamic product ads
  • Lead form ads


Instagram is a more visual platform, focusing heavily on images. This platform is a great way to show customers your merchandise. If you aren’t a merchandise-based company, you can use Instagram to show what services your brand has to offer. One thing to keep in mind is to not put too much “salesy” content on your feed. You should have a mix of more promotional content and content that gives customers an inside look at your company or is engaging for viewers. 

For example, if you have a fun workplace culture, show customers this side of your business. Many businesses will do an employee of the month kind of post or share work anniversaries. This shows people that you are a company that values its employees and treats them well, which will make them more apt to support your business. When posting, use a mix of pictures and videos to keep your grid interesting to users. 

Besides sharing promotional posts on your business’s Instagram account, businesses also have the option to pay for sponsored ads. Sponsored ads appear on your target audience’s home feed. You can include a link that goes to your website, e-store, or back to your business’s Instagram profile. Sponsored ads can increase your number of followers and your reach. 

As a business, you can also target potential customers by posting to your story. Post story content that will capture a viewer’s interest. Many companies use bold colors and easy-to-read font to draw attention to their products. Similar to sponsored ads, you can also make sponsored stories that show up on your target audience’s feeds. These story ads appear when a user is switching between the stories of the accounts they follow. Users who are interested in the story can swipe up to go to your business’s profile or website. 


On Twitter, they limit posts to 280 characters. This means your company should aim to create clear and concise content on this social media platform. It’s important to use hashtags to increase brand awareness. Before using a hashtag, always do some preliminary research to make sure it only has positive connotations. On Twitter, it’s important to be socially conscious and anticipate how users will react to your content. 

Twitter can be great for businesses because you can publicly reply to users. This is a great way to show that your company values quality customer service. For example, if someone has a question or concern, your social media staff can come up with a solution and reply in a helpful way. 

Businesses can also promote tweets to gain more followers. Twitter shows users who are not following you yet your promoted tweets. They will appear in users’ timelines, profiles, search results, and Twitter apps. The only difference between a promoted tweet and a normal tweet is that it says “Promoted” at the top of the tweet. 

Twitter also has the option to make a promoted account, also referred to as followers campaigns. Similar to promoted tweets, Twitter will promote your account to users who might find your business interesting. Your account could show up on users’ timelines, search results, or Who to Follow suggestions. 


LinkedIn is a great way to connect with clients and other businesses. Since it is a more professional social media platform, it is better for business to business (b2b) advertising rather than business to client (b2c). However, you can still use LinkedIn to boost your brand’s reputation and gain more customers. 

Share fun employee initiatives on your LinkedIn profile. Things such as holiday events, company retreats, happy hours, and employee of the month posts show customers that your business cares about its employees. This makes for good PR, giving your brand a positive reputation. As people shop more based on their values and beliefs now more than ever, having a good reputation is becoming increasingly more important for businesses. 

On LinkedIn, businesses can target users with ads based on criteria such as their job title, function, and industry. One type of LinkedIn ad is sponsored content. This is boosted content that a business shares on its own feed. They can appear as a normal post or you make them video ads, carousel ads, or lead generation ads. 

LinkedIn also offers LinkedIn text ads. LinkedIn text ads follow a pay-per-click format and are featured on a user’s sidebar. LinkedIn Sponsored InMail is a way for companies to send users messages straight to their inbox. They also offer dynamic ads that can be tailored to your target audience. These can be used to promote job postings or to get users to download your content or visit your website. 

Paid Search

Paid search is a form of marketing that has grown exponentially over the past decade. Paid search ads are a form of digital marketing where ads show up on search engine results pages (SERPs). So when you search something on Google or Bing, there may be some ads at the top of the results page. 

Paid search ads work on a pay-per-click model, meaning that instead of paying a flat fee for an ad, companies will pay based on how many people click on an ad. With PPC ads, you can target specific people based on what they search. For example, if your business is a women’s clothing store, your ad could show up at the top of a search inquiry for “women’s clothing.”

To get your advertisements to show up for certain searches, you need to use keywords in your ads. Do research to figure out common keywords related to your business. Paid search is a great way to acquire more customers because you are targeting them when they are specifically looking for something, not by chance like other types of ads. 

Radio and Podcasts

Many companies still use the radio for their advertisements. With a talented voice actor and a catchy jingle, you can get your brand to stick in people’s heads. Since people are quick to switch the station during radio ads, you need to capture their attention from the first sentence spoken. Try to communicate what your brand has to offer as early as possible in radio ads.

Podcasts are quickly becoming the new talk radio. Since there are so many specific podcasts on the market, it’s easier to target a specific audience than ever before. Find a podcast you think your target audience listens to and then write ad copy that showcases the reliability of your brand. On many podcasts, advertisers will create a special offer code or webpage for listeners of the podcast. 

Additionally, brands may send the podcast hosts samples of their product so the host can more naturally talk about the product and share what they liked about it. People are more likely to follow the host’s recommendations rather than listening to a prerecorded ad. 


Since the emergence of online streaming services, the definition of television has evolved immensely. Now you can have commercials on cable, streaming services, and even online video platforms such as YouTube. Companies can target specific television audiences that fit their customer base. 

Commercials can be useful because it’s a multidimensional way to connect with customers. By combining sight, sounds, and motion, customers are more likely to remember your ad. With the right script, actors, and production value, you can also establish credibility with audiences. Though remember, you may need to run the commercial many times in order for the same person to see it multiple times. As stated earlier, effective advertising requires repetition. 

One downfall of advertising with commercials is that it’s difficult to track results. Another thing to keep in mind is that commercials require a lot of time, money, and effort. When you have a promotional change, it’s simple to redesign a digital ad, however, with a commercial you would need to reshoot and edit it.


Blogging is a great way to get more people to view your business’s website. By writing about interesting topics that are helpful for customers, you can become a thought leader in your industry. People will choose your business over others since they trust your expert advice. 

The more quality blogs your website has, the more likely you will rank high on SERPs (search engine results page). Write blogs with SEO (search engine optimization) in mind. One way to do this is by including keywords that will rank high on search engines. Keywords are words and short phrases that explain your topic. They help readers understand the purpose of your content and help your blog show up when people search these specific keywords. Use your keywords throughout your blog, but be sure to not overuse them. 

Another way to improve your SEO is to link to reputable internal and external links. Internal links are links that go to your own content, and external links are links that go to outside sources. When linking to outside sources, make sure their information is credible and up to date. 

Downloadable Content

Downloadable content such as eBooks, how-to guides, and case studies are a great way to get more people’s contact information. When a person wants to download content from your website, give them a form to fill out their contact information. Then, they can have access to the downloadable material.

eBooks are a type of long-form content compiled into a PDF for people to view digitally. Companies write eBooks that are engaging to customers with topics that customers are most curious about. Think of common questions your business gets from people to decide what to write your eBook about. For instance, if customers are always asking a florist about their funeral arrangements, the florist should consider creating an eBook all about funeral floral arrangements. 

Another type of downloadable content is a how-to guide. How-to guides are similar to eBooks in that companies will require people to fill in their contact information to be able to download it. If you offer certain products or services that aren’t necessarily intuitive, create a how-to guide for customers to reference. Non-customers can also look through your how-to guides to determine if they will be able to use your products or services. Make the directions straightforward and simple to persuade them to make a purchase. 

Case studies show customers a breakdown of a project or campaign your company worked on. For example, if your business specializes in website design, your case study would feature pictures of your client’s old website and their new website. In the case study, identify what the client wanted and write about what your company did to make them the website of their dreams. Case studies show people the work your company can do and the solutions your team used to solve a problem. 

Now that you know some customer acquisition strategies, you can implement the ones that fit your target audience best. Soon enough, you’ll gain more customers and grow your company. Remember to be innovative and unique to establish your brand and draw more people in.

Author Image - Jill Conway
Jill Conway

CopyPress writer

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