What Is Customer Acquisition?

Let us define customer acquisition: customer acquisition is the process by which your company generates leads and turns them into clients. The customer acquisition definition can be as simple as a web page with a link to your sales site, or it can involve teams of researchers and acquisition representatives. A traditional customer acquisition process may include a customer service representative reaching out to a client that has expressed interest in the product to engage them in a conversation about the product and how it can fulfill their needs. The service rep also informs the potential client that their company cares about individual customers and is willing to listen to and evolve with them. 

Today, customer acquisition is more focused on digital channels than one-on-one interactions. Targeted email campaigns, social media posts, and well-designed web pages are all excellent tools to acquire new customers who are already interested in the product.

Customer acquisition is crucial to growth because new clients generate new revenue. While established companies may find it easy to cross-sell and upsell existing clients to increase profits, new and growing companies must build their business model around customer acquisition to generate sustainable profit increases.

What Is Acquisition Marketing?

Acquisition marketing is a specific kind of marketing that involves customer service and support and marketing teams. While traditional marketing may emphasize mass media outlets over individual interactions, acquisition marketing employs a more personal touch. It specifically targets customers who are already considering purchasing or are highly likely to be interested in the product. Instead of demographic research, acquisition marketing uses client-specific knowledge to emphasize specific features or compatibilities in the marketing process. 

For example, consider a video editing software company. Traditional marketing teams may choose to advertise to film schools or at conventions. Acquisition marketing reps talk to specific film production companies who may be interested in the product and tailor their ‘pitches’ to the functions and needs of the company in question.

What Is An Acquisition Channel?

An acquisition channel is any strategy or system your business uses to take leads and turn them into customers. These channels engage people with your company and convince them that your product is right for them. Modern acquisition channels include content marketing, whereby you create original graphic, written, or video content that engages leads in some specific aspect of your product or industry. It is different from traditional marketing because instead of exclusively aiming to sell, it seeks to entertain and inform, which indirectly predisposes people to buy. 

For example, our video editing software company might choose to make a series of high-quality informational videos on common video editing mistakes. People who happen upon these videos may not have specifically sought out the company, but they are interested in video editing. After watching the videos, they may choose to learn more about the product used in the videos and end up purchasing the software.

This example is easy because the company in question already works in video production. The channel or suite of channels your company chooses to use may look quite different. The point is to find strategies that fit well within your internal operations, are not too expensive, and sustainably acquire new clients. Social media posts and blogs are another two great (and cheaper) channels to consider. Just make sure you have enough content to continue posting indefinitely!

How To Measure Customer Acquisition?

You may be wondering, how much customer acquisition cost? You can measure customer acquisition cost by dividing the total cost of acquiring customers over a certain period by the number of customers acquired during that time. The total customer acquisition cost formula includes marketing campaigns, wages, software, outsourced services, and any other investment. 

This metric is not perfect. For example, in some longer-term campaigns, you may incur a high customer acquisition cost in one quarter for a payout later in the year – but it is a reasonable ballpark estimate to track your company’s cost efficiency. Let us talk about how to calculate customer acquisition costs with a customer acquisition cost definition and formula.

The simple formula is as follows:


CAC = customer acquisition cost

MC = marketing costs

CA = customers acquired

But to calculate your true CAC, it should look a little more like this:

CAC = (MC + W + S + OS + OH) / CA

CAC = customer acquisition cost

MC = marketing costs

W = wages for everyone involved

S = costs of software involved

OS = outsourced services

OH = overhead for everyone involved

CA = customers acquired

And any other cost variables your company incurs. It is also important to remember to divide variables such as wages and software by the amount they contribute to acquisition when people or software perform multiple functions. There exist online some helpful customer acquisition cost calculators if you would like a more defined process.

What is a good customer acquisition cost? When calculating customer acquisition costs, it is also important to compare your CAC to the average amount customers spend. If your product is cheap or a one-time purchase, your CAC costs should be lower than if you are investing in a high-price or subscription-based product. 

Once you know how to determine customer acquisition costs, you can begin to consider strategies to minimize acquisition costs without sacrificing the acquisition rate. Ensure that you design your website to maximize the user experience and funnel as many leads as possible into the shopping cart. This way, the acquisition strategies you are already using will have the highest payoff. Frequently check back in with each acquisition channel to track your spending trends and, if possible, each channel’s efficacy. Costs rise over time, so it is essential to remain responsive to be as cost-efficient as possible. You can also release upgrades and compatible products, thereby increasing the value of each customer and consequently the ROI of your acquisition channels.

These are a few methods that will help you track and minimize acquisition costs, but your business must not consider acquisition as exclusively a cost center. Companies with the best acquisition strategies will succeed over those who prioritize other things. Therefore, it is also essential to consider how best to invest in a high-quality acquisition strategy.

How To Improve Customer Acquisition Strategy?

There are four pillars to ensure the most cost-efficient, effective customer acquisition funnel possible. The chart below highlights the four pillars, but first, we will break them down and dig into the reasons behind their efficacy. Every company is different, and there is no one size fits all strategy for all business models. However, if you keep these four pillars in mind, you can easily create a scalable, responsive customer acquisition model to improve your bottom line.


First, you must create a long-term customer acquisition roadmap with defined processes, success metrics, and communication channels. There is no point in investing in an improved customer acquisition strategy if you do not build the system to last. A crucial factor to consider here is scalability. As your company grows, you may find it beneficial to segment your acquisition teams based on customer profile or potential lifetime value. When you do so, you must build teams and communication networks that emphasize collaborative growth instead of silos.


While defined processes are crucial to ensure sustainable growth, it is equally important to remember that rigid structures often stunt representatives’ ability to do high-quality work. It is impossible to define and script most real human interactions, so you must empower your employees to take flexible routes in their acquisition process. When employees must read off a script and seek managerial approval at every turn, their quality of work diminishes, as does their job satisfaction. Therefore, the best customer acquisition meanings will likely have a defined template with lots of room to maneuver within each step.


Speaking of defined templates, it is also important to segment your customer types and create different templates and acquisition strategies for each profile. For example, if your product can work in healthcare, education, and government settings, you should have a different approach for each. Create separate web pages with customer testimonials, use cases, and targeted content from each industry. Be sure to use industry-appropriate jargon and highlight the product features that may be most useful. Depending on the size of your company, you may even choose to form separate acquisition teams to specialize in each customer segment.

Also, try to highlight your products’ integrational capabilities, if they exist, with other standard products in the industry. If, during your research, you spot a potential product that may integrate well with your own, consider working with that company to engineer an efficient connection. That way, you become more desirable to the industry in question, and you may acquire a few of the other product users in the process.


Finally, while it is crucial to target different customer types, you must also diversify your strategies within each customer type. No group of consumers will respond in the same way. The best methods will use multiple channels to target customer segments wherever they may be the most receptive. For example, an acquisition strategy targeting the hospitality industry will be more effective if they attend events, create targeted web content, and run an email newsletter rather than only produce web content.


Defined acquisition processes and feedback loops exist to allow for long-term implementation.


Acquisition agents are empowered to form meaningful connections with clients and use their discretion in interactions.


Segment acquisition strategies by customer type.


Use different channels to attract different customer profiles.


These four pillars are a great starting point when designing a customer acquisition vision and roadmap, but how do you implement the strategy? Let us dive into some real, useable strategy examples that may be perfect for your company.

Customer Acquisition Strategy Examples 

There are as many different customer acquisition techniques as there are company types, and no single strategy or group of strategies will work for every company. Listed below are some of the most common and effective acquisition strategies out there. Pick and choose which methods for customer acquisition work best for you, and feel free to create your own. Maybe try them all and test their results to find the best fit for your company.

Freemium model

Give your customer a taste of your product with a free version. Customers who do not wish to pay can enjoy many of the same features with frequent reminders that their experience will improve if they purchase a subscription. These customers can also act as brand ambassadors and free advertising for other potential leads who may be more disposed to pay.


Email lists are a great way to update subscribers about new products, events, and promotions. They keep customers engaged frequently and provide engaging content to convert leads into consumers. Emails also provide the back-end benefit of higher-quality analytics. You can see who is opening various email types and clicking through links in the email and use this information to segment customers and refine your email and marketing style.

Referral Program

Today, people are far more likely to choose brands based on a referral than on the company’s word. People trust those they know more than they trust corporations. Even better, these word-of-mouth referrals are almost free on your end. Why not add some extra incentive to refer by offering discounts to referred customers and those that referred them? As far as marketing initiatives go, it is ridiculously cheap and potentially one of the most effective methods out there.

Content Acquisition

As mentioned before, original and engaging content is a great way to attract leads who may have been less responsive to traditional marketing strategies. Gated content, meaning content that users must sign up for to see, has the double benefit of adding more people to your subscriber list. This content, which can range from an online game to a webinar, can collect additional lead information and engage the lead with your company, which will streamline the acquisition process.

Event Attendance

Conferences and trade shows are great places to connect with people who may already engage in the relevant industry. It is easy to find new leads and funnel them through the acquisition process when interacting with them in person at an industry-specific event. Online conferences are a great new addition to the event sphere, and they have the added benefit that participants must sign up with their email address so that you can leave the conference with a list of leads with almost no work. 

Search Marketing

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can be a huge sales driver if done correctly. Pages with written content that includes a high volume of often-searched terms will more frequently appear at the top of the search page. Very few people ever go farther than the top few hits of a web search, so SEO is crucial to direct interested buyers to your company’s website. Once there, they will be more likely to explore and realize your product is what they have been searching for.

Customer Retention Is The New Acquisition

Over the last six years, customer acquisition and marketing costs have increased by 60%. It is invariably easier and cheaper to retain existing customers than acquire new ones. Therefore, while customer acquisition must always be a priority, the companies with the best bottom line prioritize the clients they already have. Think about it: companies with higher churn, or higher rates of customers leaving, will invariably need to invest more in customer acquisition to replace those that have left. Instead, what if they funneled those resources into making sure more customers stay?

Even better, not only can customer retention improve your bottom line, but it can also indirectly improve your customer acquisition rate. When reaching out to new clients, either through an agent or on your website, arm yourself with real customer stories, segmented by customer type. Your current satisfied customers can help you acquire new ones with a simple testimonial. For example, if you are a B2B business, create pages for each type of business you are trying to appeal to and include customer testimonials on each page. Leads can quickly identify with and therefore see real value in stories that echo their own business needs. 

You can also leverage your customer retention rates for acquisition using easily shareable content. Your customers and subscribers are the most likely to receive and read the content you produce, so why don’t you let them do some of your marketing work for you? LinkedIn posts are a great example of easily shareable content that reaches a broad audience of similar profile clients. Another crucial feature is the ‘click to tweet’ button that allows readers to share your content with their Twitter following. In general, try to create content with ‘viral’ potential. There is no exact science to determine what will become successful on the internet, but market research can inform you of good boxes to check in your industry.

Long-form blog posts are crucial to driving website traffic and educating leads and customers. Still, snappy, attention-grabbing content is more easily shared on social media and through other media. When you create content that is generally relatable, educational, and interesting, it can travel far through social networks. Then, all the people it reaches and engages can link right back to your website.

Lifelong customers are satisfied customers, and satisfied customers are more likely to refer your business to other similar-profile groups. This referral model is the simplest iteration of acquisition through retention. The more customers you retain, the higher your word-of-mouth marketing network becomes. This strategy is the cheapest form of marketing out there. All you have to do is provide quality service to your clients, and new leads will come rolling in.

What Is Customer Lifetime Value? 

Customer lifetime value is the average profit a customer drives minus the costs associated with acquiring and retaining that customer. Companies with the best customer lifetime values generally retain, upsell, and cross-sell their customers while keeping acquisition and retention costs low. Customer lifetime value can change a lot as a function of your product type – a coffee shop will always make less money per customer than a car dealership. Therefore, it is crucial to think about your customer lifetime value in relation to your quantity of customers and the costs associated with acquiring and retaining them. 

Companies that understand customer acquisition and retention will be sure to drive up profits. Still, it is always important to remember that sheer customer numbers do not necessarily equate to a better bottom line. The most successful companies will prioritize customer retention and sustainable, flexible, targeted, and diversified customer acquisition strategies.