3 tips to optimize customer acquisition for startups

One of the toughest tasks as an entrepreneur is to master the art of customer acquisition. Some tips on helping startups acquire customers better.
Written by Srinivas Kulkarni, Contributor

Acquiring customers in the startup world requires using a lot of varied marketing and sales processes with eventually converting the prospects into paying customers. Whether your model is freemium, pay as you go, or providing software as a service (SaaS), your startup will always need to depend on converting your leads and making sure that you are able to acquire your customers in an easier and efficient manner.

Usually, the key is always using a transformative approach towards getting a buy-in and a customer nod to be able to go ahead and provide the paid services on your products. In this article, I take a look at how to go about this process in the most efficient manner.

Identify your customer's needs

Have you ever seen that salesman trying to sell you a luxury car when you clearly don't have the intent of buying one? Ever been in a position where you've been pushed into buying one product when you wanted the other? Of course. The key is identifying the specific needs of your customers and deep diving into what he or she needs.

Almost every customer has a clear goal and vision of what they need to do and where they want to be. But that's their perspective, and whether they are right or wrong, it's important for you as an entrepreneur to understand the need and accordingly suggest your product, services, and solutions. If you want to do a trial run to figure out how your product can help your customer better, provide that option. More often than not, this will enable the customer to see it for himself.

Understanding product/market fit

Part of analyzing needs is to also understand if there is a good product/market fit; whether your product could really benefit them or they need something else that you won't be able to provide. If you invest time in identifying that, you'll save time in not worrying about whether they will buy the product. And if you are a recent startup and new at marketing it, one of the greatest challenges in your customer acquisition funnel is that you have not yet found product/market fit, be it for yourself or for your customers, if you're a SaaS startup. It is imperative to diagnose whether that is the case.

The best thing to do is to focus your energy on solving this product/market. While you are doing this, you should limit your spending on sales and marketing to just the minimum level. Get enough customer interaction to find out where your customers have the highest levels of pain and urgency, in an area where you can provide a solution.

Do not spread yourself too thin

Don't try out all the channels at once, as this doesn't usually work. You could try to use Facebook ads or Google Ads, typically running simultaneous ads within one campaign changing creatives every 24 to 48 hours and various combinations in your approach. Also, you can try landing page testing within specific combinations. Essentially, this will utilize all of your time, and can easily take up a full-time resource of yours. How much of the various channels you use will actually materialize into acquisitions? That's the question you need to ask.

A lot of the time, focusing on one particular channel, or, for that matter, targeting a bigger community using an influencer may usually work. Reverse the marketing funnel and try to optimize your reach better. Certainly, Inbound content marketing is pretty time consuming, especially if you have a lot of insightful and interesting content to help drive the SEO of your landing page or website. Essentially, what's most advisable is to try out some of the most reliable channels, test them to a certain extent, and then run with it. Focus will help drive your acquisition efforts far better than spreading yourself too thin.

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