How To Optimize Your Customer Acquisition Funnel The Right Way
By Michael Akinlaby | October 3, 2016
Your customer acquisition funnel is a process/place where you turn prospects into customers.
Is it optimized?
A lot of prospects might be leaving somewhere in your acquisition funnel.
You need to find that leakage.
You need to optimize that funnel to ensure that you’re getting the most out of it.
Don’t say you’re a small startup so you don’t need to optimize your acquisition funnel.
Large companies too have leakage/blockage points in their customer acquisition funnel.
When this is fixed, it often translates into huge boosts for their growth and revenue.
Even Facebook wants growth.
The company is adding 150 million users year on year for the past four years at least.
If you have a high number of visitors coming to your website, and only a very few are converting into customers, it shows that your customer acquisition funnel isn’t optimized.
It’s time to remove those leakage points in your funnel and increase your conversion rate.
How To Know Where You’re Losing Customers In Your Acquisition Funnel
By now, I’m sure your startup has a few customers.
But you want more. More customers.
The first step is to identify the blockage points in your customer acquisition funnel.
To do that, ask yourself this question:
What’s currently stopping you from increasing sales by 5x?
You could come with answers like:
- You don’t have enough leads coming at the top of your current funnel.
- Your website is getting a lot of visitors, but many of them aren’t converting into customers.
- You have plenty of users who sign up for free trials, but many of them aren’t converting into paying customers.
- You’re signing up a lot of customers in proportion to a number of visits your website receives, but they are not enough to justify growth.
- Or, you sell a big-ticket product that involves meeting and convincing the key decision makers, and you’re failing to do so.
In most cases, the solutions are present in your answers.
Just do the reverse.
For example, if enough leads aren’t coming at the top of your funnel, get more leads at the top of your funnel.
If plenty users who signed up for free trials aren’t converting, get more free trials to convert.
It takes hard work and trying different tactics.
But there’s something very important you must know at this stage.
One Question That Will Save Your Entire Business
I’ve seen startups who did everything, used every growth tactic to optimize their customer acquisition funnel, and yet they failed.
The reason for this is very simple:
They lacked a product/market fit.
Your startup won’t grow if you haven’t nailed this first.
When people sign up to use your product, it’s not because you have a great marketing strategy alone. It’s also because you have a great product.
Yes, I know that having a great product doesn’t automatically means your product will succeed. But there’s a chance that you might.
No marketing in this world will save a bad product or a product the world doesn’t need.
CB Insights ran a survey to find the top reasons why most startups fail. They met a lot of founders whose startups failed and asked them to share their stories.
40% of the respondents said their startups failed because there was zero market need for their products.
In fact, it was the number reason why startups fail:
Solving for a product/market fit has been widely discussed everywhere on the web. Some great books have been written on it.
One of them is “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries.
Most failed startup founders pointed out that zero market need is responsible for the failure of their startups. This is a failure that is preventable.
This article is about optimizing your customer acquisition funnel to help your business get more customers and achieve growth.
But without the right product, that is impossible.
So ask yourself:
Have you achieved a product/market fit?
The Process Of Creating The Right Awareness For Your Product/Service
You have to attract visitors to your website with contents.
High-quality contents give web users the motivation to visit your website.
And it doesn’t just stop there.
You’ll still have to offer greater high-quality contents that will encourage visitors to give you their email address.
You can’t just put a sign-up form on your website and expect people to give you their email address just like that.
For example, HubSpot offers a free ebook after reading one of their blog posts.
They don’t leave anything to chance.
They don’t wait, sit and hope that someone learns about their product someway.
HubSput pulls you in into their funnel.
When you read their blog posts (and haven’t subscribed to their blog), you are still at the top of their acquisition funnel.
They want to pull you deeper.
They want to feed you with a lot of high-quality contents that you’ll love them and keep coming back to their website.
After then, they can start asking you to buy your products. It’s called Inbound marketing.
I’m a big fan of inbound marketing.
Some companies start asking you to buy their product immediately after you land on their websites.
Some would ask you to give you their email address when you haven’t read any content on their website.
They will bombard you with various popovers.
Being selfish and thinking of what you have to gain from the customers is the wrong way to do marketing.
Instead, you should put the customers first.
What can you offer them?
Put yourself in their shoes.
Your customer acquisition funnel should be designed around your audience’s worldview.
Here’s how you do that:
- First, create contents that attract and connect with prospects
- Second, understand customers’ concerns at each stage of the buying cycle
Let me expand on these.
Create Contents That Attracts And Connects With Your Prospects
A great, high-quality content will naturally help you attract a high number of visitors to your website.
But it doesn’t guarantee that piece of content will attract the right audience.
There is a difference between high-traffic and prospects.
You don’t want massive visitors. You want massive prospects. Or even better, massive customers. That’s what really matters.
Let me talk about a startup that creates the contents that attract and connect with the right people:
Canva could be creating contents about web designing and blogging.
But they don’t.
Web designers and bloggers need their product.
Canva creates contents around what its product can do.
I, as a blogger and writer uses Canva a lot to design images for blog posts and social media.
But Canva doesn’t teach me about blogging. They teach me the process of creating better images. There’s a connection there.
That’s a connection between what I can do with their product and what I may need to know.
Below is a screenshot of a blog post on Canva:
When I design my image anywhere (or with Canva), I’m presented with a lot of font choices that I often don’t know which one to choose.
But with a blog post like this from Canva, it tells me the best fonts I might want choose.
Right now, I’m in Canva and I want to create images, but there are lots of fonts to select. Now I know what to do.
That blog post connects with me. There’s a connection between what I need to know and what I can do using their product.
If your contents are connecting with prospects, you’ll have a higher chance of converting them into customers.
Don’t create contents for its own sake.
Each content you create should greatly benefit the reader and most importantly, increase your conversions too.
Answer the below questions to create contents that connect with your target audience and increase conversions:
- What problems does your product solves? You should have a full understanding of why your product exists, and what problems it solves. Your contents should be related to these purposes.
- Who are your current customers and what do they like to read? If you still haven’t recognized what kind of contents that really connects with your target audience, you need to learn from your current customers. What do they like to read? Conducting a survey could reveal some golden content ideas.
- Who are your competitors? Your competitors are smart too. They are probably creating contents. They too, just like you, are looking for the best contents that connect with their audience. By visiting competitors’ websites, you’ll see their most performing pages. They are probably promoting these pages more than the rest. It’s because they drive growth. Find these pages and see how you can beat them by creating better contents.
- What do customers stand to gain from choosing you (instead of a competitor)? This is an important question you should ask yourself and create contents around. What differentiates you from your competitors should constantly show up in your contents. It could be a feature you have that no one else does. This helps you connect better with prospects and increases your conversions.
Keep these questions in mind as you create contents for your startup’s website.
Understand Customers’ Concerns At Each Stage Of The Buying Cycle
Content marketing is effective.
But you have to be strategic with it to make it even more effective.
Don’t just throw contents out there.
There’s a way to make content marketing work harder for you.
There’s a question of when and where a prospect should see a content.
For example, because someone is reading a post about internet privacy doesn’t mean they are ready to buy your online privacy software.
And because someone is reading about the benefits of Yoga doesn’t mean they are quite ready to subscribe to your Yoga class.
The funny thing is some of these visitors haven’t heard of your brand before.
Asking them to buy your product on the spot is like asking a girl to marry you on the first date.
People need time to trust you. They need a sequence of the right contents.
There are 5 stages of the consumer buying cycle:
- Awareness. At this stage, you make aware of a need prospects have and how your product can help them fulfill that need.
- Consideration. Here, consumers weigh your offering and how it compares to your competitors.
- Preference/Intent. Consumers will have a logical and emotional connection with a brand over another. Therefore, they’ll prefer one brand more than the rest. Apple is an example here.
- Purchase. This is the stage where consumers will order and buy your product.
- Repurchase. This is the final stage but a very important one. It’s the stage you get the customer to stay logically and emotionally connected to your brand. It generates a lot of repeat business except your business model is the type where customers only make a one-time purchase.
Keep this important statement in mind:
A different and highly-targeted content is needed for each stage of the buying process.
Let’s use the below search queries as examples:
- “flat screen tv” – this is a generic term that’s often used by anyone in the awareness and consideration stage. These people aren’t close to becoming customers. They need more contents. So you’re better off not trying to immediately convert them. You’re better with developing a deeper relationship with them.
- “compare flat screen tvs” – these people are closer to buying. They are trying to compare different products to be sure that they are getting the best deal and buying the best product.
- “Sony 42 lcd” – people who use this keyword already have a product in mind (probably your product if you’ve developed relationships with them). Different content is needed to convert them into customers.
The content you produce should match one of the stages in the consumer buying cycle. That helps content marketing works harder for your customer acquisition funnel.
Of course, there are different types of contents that best match each buying stage.
So what kind of contents works for each stage.
Let me break this down according to the buying cycle:
- Referral Programs
- Guest Content Publishing
- Local Partnerships
- Social Media Contests
- LinkedIn Publishing
- PPC Advertising
- Paid Social Advertising
- Influencer Marketing
- SEO (my favorite, of course).
- Highly-targeted landing pages (backed with relevant offers)
- Create a product that’s not for everyone
- Give people a story to tell
- Cherish and reward the customers you’ve got
- Create valuable contents people want to share
- Frame your scarcity
- Deliver value beyond the functionality of your products and services
- Give your customers a better experience
- Broadcast your advantage
- Offer free trials
- Avoid the jargon on your sales page
- Use plain and easy-to-understand language
- Write old customers personal, handwritten notes frequently
- Remember customers’ special occasions
- Consider follow-up calls
- Develop a superb customer service.
- Ask for customers’ feedback
The process of optimizing your customer acquisition funnel don’t have to be hard.
The process should be simple and straightforward when you do the right things.
Using the tips in this article will help you increase the effectiveness of your funnel without trying too hard.
Thanks for reading.