Find out what startups can do to develop an effective customer acquisition strategy, and check out what successful businesses are already doing to acquire more customers.

For B2B startups, developing an effective customer acquisition strategy is like trying to navigate uncharted waters. There’s no map showing you which direction to take — no winning formula to ensure the right people know about your product or service. This lack of strategic insight in the early sales process leads a lot of startups down the wrong path.

Instead of wasting time and money on something that doesn’t work, find the information you’ll need to create a smart strategy. Then you can start thinking about which sales tactics will resonate with your customers and drive business growth.

Key Takeaways:

  • There isn’t one best sales acquisition strategy for startups — strategy effectiveness will depend on the target market.
  • Once your business starts acquiring new customers, don’t assume you’re done. Measure results and always be ready to pivot as customer response evolves.
  • Explore examples of effective customer acquisition strategies in action to inspire the path your business takes.

Market Research Powers Customer Acquisition Strategies for Startups

Customer acquisition is the process of connecting with potential buyers, educating them, and giving them a compelling reason to buy. Most entrepreneurs struggle to focus on the most important part of the process: market research.

When you’re not focused on the target customer, you risk overspending. According to Redpoint venture capitalist Tomasz Tunguz, for the median SaaS startup, customer acquisition costs about 92 percent of first-year contract revenue.

Another risk is not growing fast enough. Research by McKinsey shows that growth is more vital to survival than factors like margin or cost structure. Once your business achieves accelerated growth, you need a strategy in place to sustain it;  85 percent of technology supergrowers aren’t able to maintain their phenomenal growth rates. Once lost, only 25% ever recapture it.

Do your research and identify:

  • The target audience: Clearly define your target buyer and learn as much as you can about them. Do this through surveys, focus groups,  and customer interviews.
  • Customer challenges: Understanding specific challenges and pain points can help you choose the right messaging and customer acquisition strategies. For example, if your buyers are time-poor, don’t invite them to a three-hour-long promotional. Instead, send them a three-minute video they can watch when they have time.
  • Goals and desires: What do your customers need to reach their goals? Whether it’s an intuitive solution they can set up in minutes or software that will scale with them, you need to know. Your product may be both, but by identifying what matters most, you can revolve your strategy around the customer.
  • Customer preferences: Use A/B testing with marketing emails, PPC ads, website content, and digital assets to find out what resonates most.

3 Examples of Customer Acquisition in Action

Take a look at these customer acquisition strategies. These tactics successfully acquired customers for tech companies without excessive spending. 

Canva – Awareness and Decision-Stage Content Marketing

Canva is a graphic design platform for small businesses and individual designers — and a hypergrowth legend. In only seven years, the company acquired over 300,000 paying customers and 15 million users. It was valued at $3.2 billion at the end of 2019.

Canva makes brilliant use of awareness-stage and decision-stage content marketing. They offer one of the most comprehensive online resources for designers. Readers and viewers can easily move from helpful, informational blog posts and videos to content that shows how Canva’s services can help solve their problems.

Acorn – Irresistible Referrals

Using referrals will help sustain early growth. Instead of enticing customers with a small referral bonus or discount, Acorns runs limited-time promotions to current users offering huge conditional rewards. For newer investors — their target audience — $1,200 for 12 referrals is hard to resist. This customer acquisition strategy delivers ROI for two reasons:

  • Many customers make a few referrals but don’t reach the requisite dozen to earn the $1,200 reward. This means Acorn is getting free referrals.
  • The referral program itself generates free marketing. Every time Acorn runs such a promotion, dozens of personal finance bloggers write about it.

Romexsoft – Thought Leadership Social Media Posts

Before people are going to buy, they need to know your company exists. One of the best ways to get the word out is through social media. For B2B software companies, this means being active on sites like Quora and LinkedIn.

Tech startup Romexsoft used this strategy to generate leads for their sales pipeline. They relentlessly fielded industry questions on their social media outlets. This demonstrated their subject-matter expertise and built trust among their target audience, while also creating a long-term source of website traffic.

A Good Strategy Enables Frictionless Customer Acquisition

Achieving sustainable sales growth means getting to the heart of your customers’ challenges and goals, and then implementing strategies that make it easy to move leads through your sales funnel.

If you’re looking to improve your customer acquisition strategies, we can help. Let’s talk!