Focus on acquiring customers NOT sales

The objective of any business is to sell, that is never in question. But how best to go about doing it in a way that not just maximises first basket revenue, but also repeat sales?

By focusing on acquiring customers, not sales.

This is more than a subtle shift in tactics, it is a fundamentally different strategy that will impact every part of a business.

A better strategy

Applying this thinking means your ‘product’ is more than just the physical item or intangible service and more than just pre-sales, it becomes the whole experience…

  • Alignment of your marketing promise to the reality – Does your product live up to the promises you made in your marketing to convert them?
  • Customer comms – Do you provide guidance on how to get started and use your product successfully?
  • Control panel – Is it an easy and enjoyable experience to use?
  • Support database – Are the most common FAQs documented and easy to find?
  • Customer support – How quick, accurate and responsive are your support team?
  • Feedback – Do you have a feedback loop in place to action customers’ ideas?

Customers want to know they are being listened to

No one knows your business like your customers. They use and interact with your products in ways you coud never plan for, so it is vital you have a process for capturing and acting on feedback.

This goes for both negative (making changes) and positive (saying “thank you”) feedback.

From my own experiences working in a company that was uncommunicative with their customers, I know how frustrating it can be for proactive customers to feel like their feedback is not being listened to.

In this case, all their feedback was actually being read and a lot were being acted on!

The problem was we weren’t telling them, which meant they thought it was a waste of time and stopped.

Imagine how many brand fans the company could have cultivated if they had sent a personal thanks and a link to the change in action on the website.

Personalise your marketing

The way you market to prospects and your customers should be as personalised as possible, based on who they are (profile data such as age, location, gender, occupation etc.), and how they consume your product (behavioural data such as technical competency, how frequently they purchase, their spend etc.)

Segmenting your customers along their purchase behaviour will instantly reveal your power users and customers at risk of churning.

Using this data you can identify their propensity to buy more, as well as tailor your communications with them e.g. Send churn risks support style comms rather than transactional emails.

It is very easy to create a batch of fire and forget emails that every customers gets, no matter what.

The more you personalise the timing and content, more results you will see.

A couple of software options to set all this up include MailChimp and Intercom.

Customer exclusive content

Again, using the segments you create based on purchase behaviour, you can start to reward your most valuable customers with exclusive content (resources, discounts, offers, competitions…).

These have two positive effects:

  1. It rewards your VIPs, giving them an incentive to continue the behaviour that got them in to that group.
  2. Customers outside of the group aspire to join them.

Have a read of my post 40 ways you can reward your brand fans right now.

Get personal with events and meet ups

There are some industries where meeting customers face to face is an intrinsic part of the job.

However, for anyone working primarily online, it is very rare you get to meet your customers, if at all.

This is a great opportunity to really differentiate yourself from your competitors, developing real relationships and cultivating passionate brand advocates. Ideas include:

  • Training sessions at your offices.
  • Day conference style events, with seminars designed to help your customers become more successful (not just sell your products).
  • Sponsor and attend local events and meet-ups your customers attend (you can find them at

Measuring you performance

Your reporting and analysis should be based around customer behaviour and attitude metrics, and not exclusively units sold or revenue.

Key data that is very easy to get and measure over time includes:

  • NPS (Net promoter Score – I would send one to customers after 6 months, 12 months and then on an annual basis)
  • LTV (Life Time Value)
  • Length of service
  • Period of account inactivity

Acquiring customers and not just sales demands a high level of quality throughout the business, not just in the conversion funnel.

This is why I believe businesses that focuses on simply acquiring a sale will rarely be as successful as a business that focuses on acquiring a customer.

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