What is acquisition marketing?

03 Jan 2023  |  by Melanie Davis

8 min read

If you’d like to attract the right leads to your company and boost your conversions, you need acquisition marketing.

Although building brand awareness and increasing visibility is great, ultimately your business needs to maximise conversions and convince leads to become paying customers. In this guide, we’ll explain exactly what acquisition marketing is and how it can help you land new customers.

What does acquisition mean in marketing?

In marketing, acquisition is the process of persuading potential customers to buy your products. Generally speaking, all good customer acquisition processes involve the same three steps:

  1. Leads are attracted
  2. The leads are nurtured until they are sales-ready
  3. The leads are converted into customers

How much this process costs a business is known as the customer acquisition cost (CAC).

As part of a customer acquisition strategy, your business will promote products and services to a new audience with the aim of acquiring new customers.

More specifically, acquisition marketing targets prospects who are in the ‘interest’ or ‘consideration’ phase of the conversion funnel. In this regard, acquisition marketing is different from other forms of marketing because it specifically targets consumers who have become aware of your brand and are considering making a purchase.

This means that acquisition strategies do not consider brand awareness and instead focus entirely on targeting consumers who are researching or considering the purchase of a product. They are used to drive revenue, not recognition.

A successful customer acquisition strategy will create a systematic, sustainable strategy to acquire new customers and grow revenue for the business.

What are the best channels for acquisition marketing?

Customer acquisition channels are the platforms companies use to promote their products and services to new audiences. The best acquisition channels for your business will depend on your audience, resources, and overall strategy. However, five of the most popular and effective channels include:

1. Organic search

Organic search refers to search engine results pages (SERPs), such as Google’s or Bing’s search results. Organic search marketing, by extension, refers to any efforts you make to rank highly in these results.

To properly leverage organic search as a customer acquisition channel, you must invest in search engine optimisation (SEO) tactics. This is the process of optimising your content for search engines so that it can be found more easily by your target audience.

This tactic makes sense when we think about the way we engage with online content. After all, when we Google something, we typically only click on the first result. The idea behind SEO is that you create and optimise content so that your content ranks in position one (or as highly as possible). This way, more searchers will click on your content.

SEO isn’t an exact science, but there are some proven methods that will help your content rank better. For example, you can:

  • Put your main keyword in the post title
  • Add alt texts to all of your images
  • Upload transcripts of video and audio content
  • Link internally within your website

As you can see, SEO can be easy to do. It is also an incredibly cost-effective way of making sure that your content is viewed by more people.

2. Paid search

Paid search marketing (which is also known as pay-per-click or PPC) involves advertising on search engines. Some PPC platforms (such as Google Ads) also allow businesses to place display advertisements on partner websites and publishers.

PPC is different to SEO. This is because while SEO involves you organically optimising your content, PPC instead allows you to pay for your search result to show up alongside organic results. As a result, while PPC increases your chances of being found by searchers and is immediately effective, it is also more costly than SEO.

3. Organic social media

Organic social media can help you develop a company's personality and brand. However, in a customer acquisition scenario, it’s also incredibly useful for sharing content you’ve published elsewhere (like from your blog or videos). For this reason, once you’ve started using other acquisition methods, organic social media can help amplify your visibility and ensure that dedicated followers see the content you’re publishing.

On top of this, organic social media also capitalises on the ‘virality factor’, inspiring your customers and followers to help you advertise.

4. Paid social media

Depending on your budget and audience type, you may instead decide that a paid social media strategy is better for your business than an organic one. This is because paying for social media advertisements is a great way of getting your content in front of your ideal audience without having to build up a network of loyal followers.

If you’re adopting an organic or paid social media strategy, you need to create a plan that explains which platforms you’re using, why you’ve chosen them, and what you’re hoping to achieve. If not, it may feel like you’re shouting into a void.

As you may have guessed, pinpointing your audience is key to this process. This way, you can make sure you’re publishing content on a platform that your ideal audience is using regularly. For example, if you’re targeting men in their 40s and 50s, then a platform like Pinterest will provide you with very little value because more than 75% of Pinterest users are women.

5. Email

If your business has collected a vast amount of customer data, you should build an email list. This way, you can properly leverage the data you’ve gathered to connect with these people and convert them.

Email marketing remains a highly effective way of staying in front of your customers. It’s also a great way of promoting quality content, showcasing product information, and providing people with discounts or information about upcoming events. Email marketing is particularly effective because it gives you a direct line to your consumer’s inbox.

How do I build an acquisition marketing strategy?

Exactly how you build an acquisition marketing strategy will depend on the goals of your business, its audience, and its budget. However, although strategies vary on a business-by-business basis, there are several broad tactics that are an essential part of any acquisition marketing strategy. These are:

1. Know your target audience

In order for your customer acquisition strategy to be successful, you must be targeting the right people. If you fail to correctly define your target audience and then put your marketing materials in the wrong places, then you’ll waste your budget and receive a low level of ROI.

So, before you do anything else, you must first build your audience. At this stage, you may decide that you’d like to target more than one group of people. This is absolutely fine. However, if this is the case, then it’s vital that you create personas and a customer acquisition strategy for each of them. This way, you’ll be able to personalise ads, content, and messages to suit the interests and needs of each audience. This should result in more acquisitions, as well as a better ROI.

2. Diversify techniques and channels

Rather than focusing on one channel and approach, you should instead employ various acquisition marketing methods. This is because, by diversifying your approach, you’ll be able to reach more prospects, attract more leads, gain more insights, and safeguard against failure.

But remember, in the modern age, most customers engage with businesses across various channels and platforms. As a result, when creating assets for different platforms, you must ensure you’re creating an integrated customer experience and use a consistent brand voice across all communications.

3. Consider the role partnerships can play

If you have some additional budget, you should consider whether forming partnerships with a third party could help with your customer acquisition strategy. For example, you could partner with an influencer, a celebrity, another business, or even with your current customers. All of these partnerships could help you build interest in your products among a new audience.

4. Feature powerful customer stories and testimonials

Your prospects will trust other customers more than they will trust your company. For this reason, some of the world’s most successful brands have begun to heavily feature customer stories, promote case studies, prioritise reviews, and encourage testimonials.

At such an early stage of the sales funnel, heavy sales pitches are not advantageous. However, allowing your customers to talk about your product for you can provide a number of advantages and promote authenticity.

A lot of customer-led content can also be added to your current efforts subtly. For example, informative blog content that sits alongside your current posts can highlight customers and the benefits they receive from using your products or services. Similarly, web page footers can feature testimonials and videos can include customer insights.

5. Continually monitor KPIs and make changes when necessary

To gauge how successful your customer acquisition strategy is, you need to continually monitor how it’s performing against your key KPIs. During this review process, you should closely monitor metrics including:

  • Return on ad spend
  • Cost per acquisition
  • Customer acquisition cost

Although there are no set targets for each of these metrics, you do need to ensure that your customer lifetime value is around three times higher than your customer acquisition cost. The higher, the better.

By continually observing and monitoring each of these metrics on a channel-by-channel basis, you can see how your acquisition marketing campaigns are performing and make adjustments as necessary. This way, you can tweak your strategy to improve your ROI.

Alternatives to acquisition marketing

Acquisition marketing is perfect if you’re looking to promote your business to new customers. That said, this strategy isn’t for everyone and your business may instead decide to focus on driving more revenue from existing customers.

This is also an excellent strategy to pursue and a number of tools are available to help you complete this objective. For example, predictive analysis can provide you with data-driven insights that will help you improve the performance of your campaigns.

By deploying predictive analysis, you can increase loyalty and frequency by analysing the likelihood of future purchases. Plus, you can also pinpoint customers at risk of lapsing and identify areas of potential growth.

On top of this, you can also use a predictive analysis tool to profile your customers and ensure that you understand the characteristics and needs of your customers. This can also show you significant characteristics that your customers share, so you can improve the targeting of each campaign.

How can Apteco software help you acquire customers?

If you’re looking to deploy acquisition marketing, then a number of marketing tools can help you achieve your goals.

With the help of our solutions, you can quickly and efficiently build powerful campaigns and orchestrate journeys across all your channels. This means you’ll be able to create campaigns that turn prospects into customers, and occasional customers into loyal advocates. 

This is because our software can help you identify high-value customer segments. Once you know the behaviours and preferences of these ideal customers (including customer behaviour analysis metrics such as the channels they respond to and their favourite products), you can determine the right way to attract more customers like them. 

Plus, by running a customer behaviour analysis, the software can not only help you increase customer acquisition and conversion rates, but it can also help lower your cost of acquisition.

With the help of our tools, you can:

  • Segment all of your customer data, identify common traits and improve engagement
  • Perform an analysis of the customer journey
  • Identify patterns in transactional data, perform a profile analysis, or conduct predictive modelling
  • Identify new business opportunities, such as geographic regions you’re yet to explore, or customers you’re not effectively reaching
  • Create bespoke audiences for your campaigns
  • Deliver a truly omnichannel experience
  • Automate your campaigns and improve your engagement rates


Melanie Davis

Group Marketing Manager

Since 2007 Mel has led the Apteco marketing team in driving the Apteco brand. She has been a B2B marketer in the data and marketing technology sectors for over 20 years. Her aim is to ensure that Apteco is a trusted and respected brand that is the first point of call for all data driven marketers.

Subscribe to our newsletter and get all the latest data analysis and campaign automation news.