Acquisition vs retention is a question marketers have been debating for years. Do new or existing consumers bring more value to a business? Should the focus be on offers to draw people in or on loyalty rewards for long standing customers? How much investment should go towards each?

Since ‘big data’ became a buzz phrase, efforts have been concentrated on getting to know the target audience inside out in order to perpetuate growth. But for smaller businesses this is more tricky: the luxury of big budgets, top-of-the-market tools and the resources to analyse the data is little more than an aspiration. This can, however, be an advantage. With smaller spend there is less room to split into separate investment for acquisition and retention, which means it’s easier to look at the bigger picture and market for both purposes simultaneously.

There are three key channels through which this is achievable: paid search, email marketing and social media. Let’s explore these in some detail.

Paid search

The beauty of paid search is that it enables you to run acquisition marketing and retention marketing side by side. In the first instance it acts as a brand awareness tool during the early research stages, allowing your business’ name to get exposure for your key products and services. By optimising your campaigns and getting your messaging right, it can then present users with the opportunity to discover your brand and what you offer. A great landing page and an informative website, plus good customer service to back it up, can then result in conversions.

So what about the customer retention side of things? The consumer journey doesn’t end the moment they make a purchase. Google has introduced remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA), which makes targeting existing customers with a specific message easier. Knowing that a particular set of consumers has already visited your site means you can create ads or target keywords with the express intention of retaining them. This can prove an extremely powerful part of your overall strategy and enable you to optimise your budget by saving money on wasted clicks.

You can implement RLSA for both Google Search and Display Network ads, ensuring that you have coverage for retention wherever you need it.

Email marketing

The key to balancing acquisitions and retention via email marketing lies in the segmentation of your data. Effective email strategies have gone beyond simply sending the same message out to your entire list – after all, not everyone is interested in the same products. Today’s marketing is all about personalisation, giving the consumer a unique experience based on their purchase history and interests. Consistently feeding a large group of very different people the same content will only result in increased serving costs and unsubscribes.

This approach, of course, requires some gathering of data so investment in tools that can help with this is important. Most email providers now offer an automated service, whereby an event triggers an email response. For example, if a customer buys a pair of stilettos on a site selling shoes, it might trigger an email sent a week later that markets other products that may be of interest.

For smaller businesses without the opportunity to gather large amounts of data, email can be used to tell a story, release brand updates and encourage social engagement. While this doesn’t result in an immediate return, it helps to increase brand awareness and advocacy, which in the long term can help to drive sales.

Social media

Social media is a great tool for both acquisition and retention. The cost of doing it is reasonably low, and it enables you to effectively talk to existing customers while going after new ones. Regular posts, interaction with groups who are interested in the sector you’re part of and timely updates and offers are all great ways to keep your business in the mind of your consumers. In addition, social has for some time been a way to deal with complaints online and an opportunity to turn dissatisfied customers into happy ones. Putting a face to your organisation, adding personal touches, makes you seem approachable and shows you care about the people who are engaging with your services.

The advertising element of social media is a good way to speak to new audiences. Facebook’s boosted posts and Twitter’s promoted tweets are ways to get new eyes on your business – the trick is to offer something intriguing that makes people unfamiliar with your brand want to find out more. But advertising isn’t the only way to gain acquisitions. Competitions inevitably attract interest, and promoting blog posts on social bookmarking sites can help to increase brand awareness.

The trick, then, is to use all channels for both purposes. Catering to the needs of both new and existing customers means you are creating and building upon longer term relationships that result in a more stable database and ultimately, brand loyalty and advocacy.

Contact Whitefish Marketing for help with aspects of digital marketing 

Whitefish Marketing is here to help you with any digital marketing query related to email marketing, social media, Acquisition, retention and other digital marketing services. Call on 01303 720288 and our friendly team will be happy to assist. 


Customer Acquisition vs Retention – which is more important?
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Customer Acquisition vs Retention – which is more important?
Learn about the how useful Acquisition and Retention Marketing is and how it can be beneficial to your business.

About Chris Surridge

Chris Surridge is an experienced Digital Marketing Director with a wealth of knowledge on Search Marketing Strategies and Conversion Analysis. His value is in strategic planning for client accounts, and his consultative services.