The power of customer data across the journey: Acquisition

Leverage data responsibly during the acquisition stage to understand your audience, refine messaging and build trust.

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Understanding customer needs allows us to improve our offerings and build lasting, mutually beneficial relationships. This results in customers getting more relevant content, offers and experiences while the brand enjoys increased customer lifetime value.

Over the next three articles, we’ll explore: 

  • The important role data plays across the customer journey.
  • How to get better data responsibly.
  • Ways to leverage data to deliver something meaningful back to customers.

This article will look at the first part of the customer journey: acquiring and educating new customers.

Defining the acquisition stage

Customer journey stages

The acquisition stage marks the beginning of the customer journey. It is when potential customers first discover your brand and the products or services you offer. 

At this stage, the main objective is to capture their attention and encourage them to engage with your brand. To achieve this, various marketing channels can be used, including social media, search engine optimization, content marketing and paid advertising.

Dig deeper: How to optimize sales and marketing processes for efficient customer acquisition

The data you need at this stage

To succeed in the initial stage of the customer journey, you need data that helps you understand your customers’ motivations, what potential audience segments they belong in, what products or services might be of most value and, ideally, ways to reach them with follow-up communications. This includes:

  • Demographic data (age, gender, income level, etc.) to understand the characteristics and preferences of your target audience.
  • Behavioral data (browsing history, search queries, etc.) to learn how potential customers interact with your brand and products.
  • Social media analytics (followers, likes, shares, etc.) to evaluate the impact of your social media campaigns.
  • Email marketing metrics (open rates, click-through rates, conversion rates, etc.) to assess the effectiveness of your email campaigns.
  • Paid advertising metrics (cost per click, conversion rates, return on ad spend, etc.) to measure the success of your paid advertising efforts.

Always consider other data sources critical to your unique business. 

Data collection considerations

Embracing a first-party data strategy — where the brand owns as much data about its customers as possible — is a must. As third-party cookies face deprecation and stricter consumer data privacy regulations emerge, prioritize improving customer data quality instead of depending solely on third-party data brokers.

Dig deeper: Putting customers first: The key to successful customer data exchange

Where AI fits in 

Discussing data is incomplete without mentioning the growing role of artificial intelligence (AI), which has become crucial in customer acquisition. Let’s explore some key ways AI can revolutionize marketing strategies:

  • Personalization. AI empowers you to tailor messages and content to specific customer segments based on their preferences and behaviors. By doing so, you can experience higher engagement rates and drive more effective campaigns.
  • Predictive modeling. Leveraging AI, you can predict which customers are most likely to convert by analyzing factors such as demographics and browsing history. This enables the prioritization of marketing efforts and the optimal allocation of resources.
  • Chatbots and virtual assistants. Introducing AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants provides round-the-clock support to potential customers. They can answer queries and guide customers through the purchasing process, enhancing the overall customer experience and boosting conversion rates.

The benefits of incorporating AI in marketing strategies are significant:

  • Improved personalization and engagement, leading to more meaningful interactions with customers.
  • Increased conversion rates and revenue, thanks to optimized targeting and predictive analytics.
  • More efficient use of marketing resources by focusing efforts on high-converting customer segments.

By harnessing the potential of AI, you can unlock new opportunities to drive growth and deliver exceptional customer experiences.

Dig deeper: Third-party data in advertising: Best of the MarTechBot

Measurement and reporting

When it comes to measuring and reporting website performance, there are a few key metrics you should pay attention to.

Website traffic and engagement metrics

These metrics, such as page views, bounce rate and time on site, provide valuable insights into how many potential customers visit your website, how engaged they are and even where they might be dropping off. 

Conversion rate metrics 

To evaluate the effectiveness of your acquisition efforts, it’s important to track metrics like form submissions and purchase rates. These metrics demonstrate how successful your business is at turning prospects into customers and generating revenue. 

Cost per acquisition (CPA) and return on ad spend (ROAS) reports

To make data-driven decisions about resource allocation, closely analyze CPA and ROAS reports. These reports provide insights into the efficiency and effectiveness of your acquisition campaigns. 

Understanding these metrics allows you to optimize your marketing strategies and allocate resources wisely.

Dig deeper: How much does acquiring a customer cost?

Let’s not forget that effective measurement and reporting have several advantages:

  • Understanding acquisition effectiveness. By analyzing metrics, you can gain a deep understanding of the effectiveness of your acquisition efforts. This information helps identify improvement areas and refine strategies to maximize results.
  • Insights into customer behavior and preferences. Measuring and analyzing website metrics uncovers valuable insights into customer behavior and preferences. This wealth of information enables you to create more targeted and effective marketing campaigns tailored to the needs and interests of your audience.
  • Building a more valuable customer experience. Collecting and measuring the right data means you can then use that data to provide customers with more relevant messages and offers that resonate and, ideally, have information for improving your products and services.

Proactively measuring, reporting and analyzing the right metrics lets you gain a competitive edge, optimize your marketing efforts and drive better business outcomes.

What about data privacy?

When it comes to customer data, one pressing concern is data privacy. It is crucial to tackle how consumer privacy is managed, taking into account regulatory compliance and customer perception. Let’s delve into the different aspects of data privacy and how it plays a role in your acquisition stage:

Data collection methods

At the beginning of the customer journey, you gather personal details, including names, email addresses and phone numbers. Prioritize transparency and data security by employing clear opt-in and opt-out options for users. This ensures that data is collected in a trusted and secure manner.

Data storage and handling

Once you’ve acquired this valuable data, your focus shifts to secure storage and careful handling. Each step is taken to prevent unauthorized access or misuse. Encryption, secure servers and restricted access help you maintain the integrity and confidentiality of the acquired data.

Data sharing and third-party disclosure

As you progress in the acquisition stage, collaborating with third-party partners, such as marketing agencies or advertising networks, may become necessary. However, exercise caution by only engaging with reputable partners who adhere to robust data privacy policies.

Balancing data collection with privacy concerns

Prioritizing data privacy during acquisition maintains the trust customers have in you. At this early stage, the approach shouldn’t be to collect as much data as possible but to carefully gather data that enables you to improve products, services and overall value for customers.

If you’re gathering data that is beneficial for both your brand and customers, it’s crucial to show that value to your customers. This is significant because many customers are willing to share information with brands if they believe it will bring them tangible benefits.

Right from the start of the customer journey, the data you gather significantly shapes the kind of customer experience you provide. Collecting information to customize content, offers, products and services helps build customer trust and loyalty while generating greater value for all involved.

In the next article in this series, we will look at the role of data in the purchase stage of the customer journey. 

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

About the author

Greg Kihlstrom
Greg Kihlström is a best-selling author, speaker, and entrepreneur, and serves as an advisor and consultant to top companies on marketing technology, marketing operations, customer experience, and digital transformation initiatives. He has worked with some of the world’s top brands, including Adidas, Coca-Cola, FedEx, HP, Marriott, Nationwide, Victoria’s Secret, and Toyota.

Greg's podcast, The Agile Brand, is one of the top-ranked enterprise marketing shows and features brand and platform leaders discussing the latest trends and best practices in marketing and CX.

He is a multiple-time Co-Founder and C-level leader, leading his digital experience agency to be acquired by the largest independent marketing agency in the DC region in 2017, successfully exited an HR technology platform provider he co-founded in 2020, and led a SaaS startup to be acquired by a leading edge computing company in 2021. He currently advises and sits on the Board of a marketing technology startup.

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