The importance of acquisition spans across all types of companies, business models and marketing strategies. For instance, a May 2016 HubSpot study examined marketing priorities of marketers worldwide practicing inbound strategies (next-generation techniques that foster a two-way interaction and relationship with prospects and that aim for customers to come to the brand) and outbound strategies (more traditional marketing, in which customers are sought out and reached with general, one-way messaging such as TV, print ads or cold calls). Converting contacts and leads into customers was a marketing priority for 77% of inbound marketers and 68% of outbound marketers.
Furthermore, an April 2016 report from The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) found that 45% of marketing executives worldwide said customer acquisition was a strategic program that defined their marketing department in 2016.
Marketers often use customer acquisition to gauge the success of their strategies. For example, a January 2016 Salesforce survey of nearly 4,000 marketing leaders worldwide showed that customer acquisition was a top-three measure of success for nearly a quarter of respondents.
This focus on acquisition is likely to continue. August 2016 data from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, the American Marketing Association (AMA) and Deloitte revealed that more than two-thirds of US marketing executives surveyed said the acquisition of new customers was a customer-related metric they expected to increase in the next 12 months.
Many marketers continue to think about acquisition in terms of the traditional marketing funnel. “The funnel matters,” said Ciaran Bossom, senior vice president at brand consulting agency VaynerMedia. “It is a way to describe audience members who may not be aware of your brand or your category, or people who are now aware and who have taken some specific behavioral steps in the process that the marketer can identify.”
Raising brand awareness, at the top of the funnel, is a key part of customer acquisition. According to an April 2016 poll from research firm Clutch and digital agency R2integrated (R2i), 34% of US marketers named brand awareness as a top strategic priority.
Luis Spencer Freitas, digital marketing director at premium spirits and wine company Pernod Ricard USA, said that since his company’s products are bought in brick-and-mortar stores, “consumer acquisition starts with qualified awareness. We need to work to make the consumers arrive in a store and know our products before going through the door. It’s about understanding those signals that the consumer gave that will drive them down a shopper journey within the foreseeable future.”