Visitor Engagement = Customer Acquisition

What is Customer Acquisition?
Acquiring (new) Customers, as simple as that?
It isn’t as simple as described.

The most used & shallow strategy to gain customers:

  1. Buy traffic (get visitors)
  2. Try to engage/convince people on the page (on-page optimization)
  3. Hope people order something (checkout process optimization)

Buying traffic is the simplest part.
Try to engage people & hope they order something can somewhat be controlled by conversion optimization.
What most of the business owners forget, is that there are subtle layers between a first visit and the final transaction.

If you’re working on acquisition, you need to focus on specific metrics, other than type of product or interest.
The step from visitor to client is too big to bridge in one single step.

You need to focus on the sublayers of Customer Acquisition: Visitor Engagement.

A Good Metric Changes Behaviour.

User Generated Content websites are only about these metrics. Let’s call them UGC sites.

For instance, Facebook or even Gmail is an UGC site. Sites that live on heavy interaction on the site or between users on that site. They create content, their behaviour evolve in to patterns that are then again used to discover new opportunities to better engagement and even a better product.

If you’re running an e-commerce website, you’ll have to except that visitors won’t turn into customers within one step. There will be several steps before they’ll order something on your site.

An Example Of _A_ Possible Customer Journey

Jeff is looking for a new t-shirt and has a preference for movie-related shirts.
That means he will be looking for “t-shirts + name of movie” in Google.
He probably will pick one of the top 10, even top 5 results (probably ads inclusive) in order of appeal (meta title & meta description).

If he thinks your site is too messy or can’t find what he’s looking for in a few clicks (wrong landing page for instance), he’ll leave the site and pick another website within that top 5 results.

Jeff lands on your website. He finds his favorite movie theme shirt but looks in detail at the shirt. He clicks the big picture, checks if you got his size, maybe he’ll check if you’re shipping to his country.

If you’re lucky, he’ll order the shirt immediately. Probably because you have a unique t-shirt for sale that others don’t have. He probably visited already other t-shirt sites. If not, he’ll probably check out competition first, if they have cooler shirts, better prices, maybe even a bigger set of that specific movie themed shirts and caps even.

After that, he’ll make a decision. Going back to your site or not. Now? Or later today? Maybe next week? Not sure.

Jeff decides to order today. He surfs to your website again and adds the shirt to the basket. Luckily your order process is very clear and easy to use. Jeff orders.

Congratulations, you’ve got an new order.
Maybe even a new customer!

The Complexity Of Customer Acquisition

Above is a real life example of an ordinary customer journey.
You’ll probably have read between the lines, that there are a few critical points where Jeff could have easily stopped his journey due to several tiny but important items:

  1. You’re not in the top 5 of Google – Organic or even with Advertising
  2. You’re meta title and meta description is not convincing enough
  3. You’re website architecture is not good enough so it serves up the wrong page in the top 5 of Google
  4. You’re site is a mess. Usability or even design just isn’t working for visitors
  5. You’re stock isn’t up to date
  6. You’re not showing shipping costs up front
  7. You’re to expensive for the same product elsewhere (can be countered at other levels of service)
  8. You’re ordering process is confusing

So.. lots of things to think about.

Forget About Personas

Really. Forget about personas. A this level, you’re not even close to personas!
You need to think about the bigger picture: get visitors into customers first!

You’ll need to earn cash first.
Details later.

Personas are for a later stage, when you’re diving into data, to discover patterns from types of customers.
Don’t divide customers in personas on interest level of moms that have two kids & drive a Volvo…
Divide customers in personas according to their purchase behaviour. All details about those persons are underlying things you can work with in order to build context.

Metrics That Can Change Behaviour

E-commerce driven websites have different metrics than UGC sites. And yet… they don’t. They focus on metrics like transactions and average order value, but at the core they’re almost the same as UGC sites.

They should engage people, to the brand, to the site, to the product, to order, to tell other people…

Metrics should be rates (%) at all time. One number metrics are only useful for KPI’s or Goals (received visits by Q1, total revenue o Q1, …).

You can work on several metrics in order to get there:

  1. Potential reach of people to Drive-by (one-time) visitors (rate)
  2. Drive-by visitors to Returning visitors (rate)
  3. Returning visitors to Enrolled users (rate)
  4. Enrolled users to Customers (rate)

You can split them even further up into smaller & more detailed metrics if you want, but these four metrics should be fine to get a clear focus.

Why To Focus On These 4 Metrics

  1. Focus on the potential reach to the amount of unique visitors you get in order to grow traffic
  2. Focus on the unique visitors to returning visitors in order to grow site engagement
  3. Focus on the returning visitors to users that made an account to grow user engagement
  4. Focus on the users that made an account to customers to grow revenue

Growing traffic

  • SEO
  • Advertising
  • Media Buying
  • Partnerships

Growing site engagement

  • Time on site
  • Time on page
  • Bounce rate
  • On site suggestions like other products or categories

Growing user engagement

  • Add to favorites
  • Add to compare prices
  • User subscription optimization
  • E-mail marketing for several purposes (ask suggestions, polls, profiling, …)

Growing revenue

  • Conversion optimization
  • Up selling
  • Cross selling
  • Recency
  • Frequency

TL;DR Engagement favors Acquisition

Invest in several metrics other than revenue in order to acquire customers. There are several subtle layers that will change a Drive-by visitor into a, hopefully, life-time customer. Think about your e-commerce website as an UGC site in order to focus on metrics that change behaviour.