As with any other business, the success of a dropshipping store greatly depends on your ability to acquire and retain customers.
This is where a customer acquisition strategy comes in.
What is a customer acquisition strategy? It is a set of methods and approaches that can help you reach your ideal customers and convince them to check out your store and buy your products.
Keep reading if you want to learn how to win more customers, inspire loyalty, and earn more from your dropshipping store.
Effective customer acquisition strategies can win you new buyers and increase your revenue, allowing you to shoulder your business costs, compensate your employees (if you’ve hired any), grow your dropship store, and reinvest in more opportunities.
Remember: the challenge is to continuously gain customers at a rate that will let you sustain and then scale your dropshipping business.
Knowing your target market is the first step in customer acquisition. Once you’ve identified and researched your target market, you’ll be able to choose the best methods, approaches, and messaging that will get them interested in your offer.
Recommended Reading: How to Start Dropshipping: A Definitive Guide
Aside from knowing your target market, you also have to get clear on your goals. This is why most companies follow a customer acquisition funnel.
The funnel is usually condensed into three stages, with each stage having its own focus area: Awareness, Consideration, and Decision.
Even if you have the best products in the world, it wouldn’t matter if people don’t know that your business exists. That’s why the topmost section of the customer acquisition funnel involves building awareness.
In this phase, the goal is to inform people about your products and services. This phase is also known as the lead generation stage, and it could be done through methods that capture people’s attention.
Among others, these methods may include posting on social media, advertising, offering discounts or giveaways as lead magnets, as well as hosting events and webinars.
Once potential customers have expressed interest in your business, they will now enter the consideration phase.
During this stage, you’d want to nurture your leads by giving them more information that will persuade them to place an order. The ideal content types for this stage include in-depth product reviews, demo videos, comparison infographics, and the like.
This is the end of your prospective customers’ journey. At this point, they will finally decide whether to buy your products or not, and your goal is to convert them from being leads into paying customers.
You’ll need to implement customized and targeted methods that will persuade people to complete their purchase. Also, equally important is that you make sure your checkout process is as seamless as possible.
Recent studies show that 87% of shoppers go online as the first step of their purchase journey. It’s no surprise then that some of the best business strategies tap the power of the Internet.
Depending on your target market and business budget, you may employ any of these customer acquisition strategies for your dropshipping store:
We’ll discuss these strategies one by one. But before we do that, it’s important that you first understand the different types of media you’ll need: owned, paid, and earned media.
These media aren’t just useful for customer acquisition but also for other marketing campaigns.
You may leverage a combination of these media types to continue reaching new customers. Now, let’s take a closer look at the different customer acquisition strategies you can use.
A content marketing strategy will have you craft, publish, and share content that can attract customers.
You can optimize your content by making it relevant to the needs of your target clients. You also have to make sure that your materials and creatives have consistent quality and are easy to understand.
Popular content types include blog posts, infographics, videos, photos, and the like. Dropship suppliers usually provide videos and photos you can use, but you can improve them by adding some aesthetic or attention-grabbing elements.
You may also share product photos posted by satisfied customers, create infographics that detail your product’s benefits, or write blog posts that add value to your audience.
Search marketing can be classified as either organic or paid. We’ll tackle the paid type in the next section, so let’s focus on the organic type for now.
Organic search marketing is also known as Search Engine Optimization or SEO. By implementing SEO best practices, you can boost your website’s ranking on search engines and increase your website traffic.
But of course, just getting traffic won’t get you anywhere. You’ll need qualified traffic, which you can get if you carefully select keywords that are relevant to your site and are aligned with your goals. With the right keywords, search engines will understand your site better and will be more likely to rank your pages for relevant search queries.
SEO best practices may change from time to time, but some of the evergreen tactics include incorporating your target keywords into your store’s product titles, product descriptions, and URLs. And of course, don’t forget to always optimize for a better user experience as you optimize for search engines.
This strategy refers to ads that you pay for. It’s a broad umbrella of strategies that involve paid search marketing, display or banner advertising, and social media ads, among others.
Depending on your choice of platforms, advertising fees may either be on a pay-per-click basis (as is the case of search ads) or on a pre-set campaign or ad set budget (like in the case of Facebook ads).
Paid search marketing is where you pay a search engine like Google so they’ll feature your business on their sponsored listings. It’s a quick way to get eyeballs on your website—something you won’t easily get if you stick to organic marketing alone.
Display or banner ads, on the other hand, is when you pay for ad spaces on websites where you want your advertisement to show up. Banner ads usually appear on either the top, side, or bottom part of web pages, and more popular websites usually charge higher than their less popular counterparts.
Social media ads, particularly those that appear on the side of your Facebook’s desktop interface, are also sometimes called banner ads. However, social media ad is the all-encompassing name for all ad types you see on social channels.
Whatever paid advertising methods you choose, the important thing is you target your ideal customers and make your ads as compelling as possible. There’s no surefire way to tell if an ad will perform well, so don’t hesitate to test and then optimize based on the results you get.
Social media marketing involves creating an account on a social media platform and then using that to reach people and cultivate a fan base over time. You can share various types of content on social media, making it an ideal platform to offer value and lure people into your acquisition funnel.
Some platforms also have specially designed features to help online sellers, just like Facebook’s Shops feature and Instagram’s Shopping feature.
Facebook Shops was launched to enable businesses to create online stores for free, create customizable collections, and engage with Facebook users who fit their target market. This feature also includes messaging integration, allowing sellers to communicate with shoppers via Messenger, WhatsApp, or Instagram Direct.
As for Instagram Shopping, it’s an Instagram feature that allows sellers to use shopping tags and lets customers shop from the app. Sellers can also use Collections, which are curations of products by theme.
By harnessing these social media marketing features, you can create a community centered around your products and that will make it easier for customers to shop from you. Overall, a strong social media presence can help you connect better with your target market, raise awareness about your brand, and boost your sales.
Tapping the right influencers can generate your business a lot of exposure and qualified leads. Who are your ideal influencers? They’re social media personalities who’ve made a mark in the niche your business is in.
Don’t just pick an influencer because they have a huge fan base. You have to make sure their followers are relevant to your offer. Also, it pays to pick someone who can promote your product in ways that resound authenticity and create interest in your brand.
Recommended Reading: Create an Influencer Marketing Strategy for Your eCommerce Brand
Email marketing involves building an email list and then sending emails with defined goals. The goal could be to warm up your leads so they’ll grow more interested in your products, to prompt them to buy, or to compel them to follow whatever call to action you include in your message.
For eCommerce businesses, the commonly used emails include welcome messages, product updates, discount offers, and newsletters. Just be sure to deliver great content and a strong call to action. This way, your email subscribers will be interested in opening your messages and not immediately block you or ignore your emails.
Many businesses also use autoresponders that automatically send and reply to emails via pre-written messages that follow pre-defined automation rules. You may also use autoresponders to schedule messages that can warm up your potential customers until you announce a sale or a major event.
This strategy targets your prospective customers as they use their smartphones, tablets, and similar mobile devices. Several tactics fall under this approach, but we’ll stick to the two most popular: SMS advertising and geotargeted mobile advertising.
SMS advertising is when you send SMS to your subscribers. People check their phones several times a day, so it’s a no-brainer that businesses should take advantage of mobile services to reach their leads.
Geotargeted mobile advertising, on the other hand, is a great way to make ads more relevant to customers. You may use it to show people only the content relevant to their location; this method allows you to tailor your popups, redirects, or special messages to your shoppers depending on their ZIP code or country. You can also run geotargeted mobile ads in several regions.
Recommended Reading: SMS Marketing for eCommerce: An Updated Guide
Word of mouth is and always will be a good marketing strategy. And you can leverage it by launching a referral program.
A referral program involves giving incentives to your existing customers or followers when they spread the word about your products. It could be a powerful tool to trigger virality, and it doesn’t have to cost you a lot as long as your incentives are attractive to your target market.
Because of the popularity of this strategy, you can easily find free and paid referral program software online.
Your customer acquisition strategies will add to your business costs, so it’s important that you calculate the cost regularly. To know your customer acquisition cost (or CAC), divide the cost of your marketing by the number of new customers you’ve gained.
There is no ideal CAC that applies to all businesses or industries. However, it is an important metric that can gauge if your strategies are performing well and if they’re sustainable for the long term.
Your CAC should not eat up your profit margins. Otherwise, all your efforts will go to waste as you won’t be able to sustain your business.
To protect your store, you should regularly check your finances and promptly make adjustments to your strategies or product pricing as the need arises.
No matter the size of your business, you’ll need a customer acquisition strategy to keep attracting new leads, develop a strong customer base, and earn enough (or more than enough!) to sustain and scale your business.
You should start by understanding your target market, knowing the digital places where they hang out, and then crafting messages that will resonate with them.
As with any strategy, you’ll have to test and see what works and what doesn’t. But as you go along and fine-tune your marketing methods (while monitoring your customer acquisition costs simultaneously), you’ll eventually nail down the right mix of strategies to grow your business exponentially.