Small Business Acquisition Strategy – B2B businesses have a unique customer acquisition challenge: they have high-value deals and multiple stakeholders to influence their prospects to approve the sale. So sales cycles can be long and require specialized marketing and sales content.
In this article, we’ll summarize the most effective B2B customer acquisition strategies we’ve seen (and we’ve seen a lot). The components of the strategy are as follows:
Small Business Acquisition Strategy
Customer acquisition starts with lead generation: attracting new potential customers and letting them know about your product. Lead generation is sometimes seen as the top of the digital marketing funnel. It happens online in Google search results and LinkedIn; and offline at trade shows, industry events and trade groups.
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Once potential customers are aware of your product, they should care. This is where they become more engaged with your company, read educational and marketing materials, and start to develop an interest in talking to sales. Lead nurturing occurs at every stage of the sales funnel and is primarily done through external thought leadership channels such as your website or social media, news and industry-focused websites.
After the prospect contacts your sales team, your staff will qualify them and ultimately receive a statement of work or proposal. The power of your lead generation and nurturing programs, from content to conversion flow, increases your sales team’s ability to close deals.
An effective B2B customer acquisition strategy pays close attention to each step of the described process and does not overemphasize some steps at the expense of others. For example, many companies invest heavily in top-funnel lead generation, but pay little attention to conversion optimization. It is important to remember that each step is approximately equally important.
Lead generation gets potential customers to know about your business. To do this effectively, you need to start by knowing who these potential customers are.
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If you know exactly who your current customers are, you can decide how to attract potential customers. Start by analyzing your customers and grouping them by demographics:
Then examine each group to see if there are clear patterns in customer lifetimes (LTVs), churn rates, and if you have sales history, the average length of sales cycles for those customers. This allows you to prioritize which types of customers to focus your acquisition efforts on, depending on whether your business needs to close a large number of new sales quickly or increase the average value of each sale.
You can then interview these customers to learn more about how they first learned about your products or services and why they chose you over the competition. To add context, also ask about their core responsibilities, job pain points, company goals and what metrics drive their purchasing decisions. Overall, this will inform your decisions about which marketing channels to invest in as well as how to nurture new leads generated by those channels.
After creating your customer personas, the next step is to choose which lead channels you want to invest in. The table below lists the best channels for B2B businesses, as well as the average customer acquisition cost for each channel, their pros and cons.
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Once you’ve studied your target market, you may want to generate leads from channels other than what you currently use, considering the pros and cons of each channel along with understanding who your ideal customers are.
You should include the average CTR of each lead in your analysis of your lead generation channels. For example, despite the cost of ABM, it is a very high LTV lead targeting channel. Investing in such a business will still produce a high ROI, justifying the increased acquisition cost.
Some of the above marketing channels are excellent focal points of your customer acquisition strategy, while others are best suited as supplemental channels. For example, email marketing is an effective lead nurturing tool, but not very good at generating leads because purchased lists tend to produce very cold leads. In contrast, thought leadership SEO is an excellent focus because it generates hot leads very quickly and, as a bonus, creates reusable content for social media and email.
Not every lead results in a closed sale, and lead nurturing systems move them through the funnel. The foundation of these systems is content, especially content tailored to the intent of your potential customers.
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Lead intent refers to the intent of your potential customers to visit your website or otherwise engage with your lead educational material. This is a broad application of the concept of search intent – expanded to include all your marketing channels – and is represented by the spectrum below:
Prospects at the lower end of the spectrum are more interested in simply getting relevant information on a given topic and are not yet ready to meet with your sales team. In contrast, additional leads that are ready to buy will come to your teams attention and can be quickly moved to your sales team without additional care.
Each potential generation channel addresses a different part of the spectrum. LinkedIn users tend to research and want to learn about new developments in their industry. ABM by its very nature is aimed at more serious potential buyers. Google searchers can fall anywhere on this spectrum, and the keywords your business targets with SEO or PPC will greatly influence your visitor traffic.
After determining what type of customer intent your leads are coming from each channel, you’ll need to create appropriate content for each channel. We have written in detail how to do this, but it can be reduced to the following principles:
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Creating lead nurturing content that aligns with these principles will result in a measurable increase in the number of interesting leads reaching your sales team. In turn, this will make your salespeople more efficient because these leads essentially have the opportunity to sell themselves. This is the key to lower overall CACs (even if your cost per lead increases) and a sustainable customer acquisition process that can support the long-term growth of your B2B business.
Customer acquisition is a complex process, and even the most skilled business development professionals may need additional support. For this reason, many companies choose to work with an experienced partner instead of offloading their in-house team.
Our agency specializes in B2B lead generation, filling your sales pipeline with engaging leads using soulfully written thought leadership and SEO. If you are interested in learning more about our services, please contact us.
Evan Bailyn is a best-selling author and award-winning speaker on SEO and psychological topics. Contact Evan here. We are introducing new products. Penetration into another geographic market. Expanding the workforce. Whatever your strategic business goals, owners and executives must develop the right tools and tactics to achieve them. Depending on factors such as generational ownership changes and industry consolidation, acquisitions can be an effective and efficient way to expand, diversify or consolidate a business in areas such as markets, production, supply chain and workforce.
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Using acquisitions as one component of an established growth strategy is a more prudent approach than making acquisitions for growth alone. Therefore, it is imperative that owners and executives fully consider whether strategic acquisitions make sense for their plans and current resource capacity (human, financial, and operational). Below are the pros and cons of due diligence best practices to ease the decision-making process and for those who decide to move forward.
If you’ve weighed the pros and cons and are ready to use acquisitions to advance your strategy, it’s time to get ready. If necessary, start by putting your own house in order. Make sure operations are strong, finances are strong, and your team is cohesive. The stronger your business is, the more likely it is to absorb another company that is not so ancient. After all, you don’t want to deal with problems in your own business when you can deal with problems with the target company.
In the due diligence phase, the traditional focus is on financial verification and operational integration. But don’t neglect culture and communication. As mentioned above, incompatible organizational cultures are the downside of many transactional mergers. Much of this confusion can be avoided if business owners have a well-defined culture and make sure they are looking for target companies that share those values. Two-way, honest communication between the interested buyer and the target is essential to obtaining reliable information during the due diligence phase.
Acquisitions can be a powerful tool for achieving business goals, but must be executed strategically to manage inherent risk and significantly leverage the acquirer’s resources. Using a trusted advisor experienced in managing the full spectrum of acquisitions, from target evaluation to post-deal integration, like the team at RKL, can help you make the right decision that enhances, not diminishes, your company’s future potential. A bolt-on acquisition is an acquisition