The 5 Biggest Customer Acquisition Mistakes (and How to Fix Them)


At Adept, we have assessed campaign performance and effectiveness for hundreds of programs—advising clients on data-backed best practices, the latest trends, and new market opportunities that optimize performance and fuel growth.

We believe that brands should get more out of their digital marketing.

Real. Measurable. Results.

So, we’ve put together a list of the top five most common missteps by brands across all industries—and how one might approach solutions. Because for nearly 15 years, we have set out to help our clients establish better integration between strategy, creative, digital PR and data.

We call our approach Performance Commerce, and accelerates growth at every stage of the customer journey.

Mistake #1


The digital ecosystem has infinite ways for potential customers to engage with a product or brand before purchasing. However, many mid-market brands struggle to identify the right channel strategy to reach their audience—here’s why:

Thinking the buying journey is linear (…it’s not).
Digital marketing must accommodate this new age buying journey by providing an omnichannel presence. This means marketers need to focus more time and effort on understanding the customer and where they might be online, then determine what it takes to be in those spaces. Chances are, future customers will see or hear about your brand in several places (search, social, display, PR, online reviews, etc.) before they finally decide to purchase.

Pitting channels against each other to determine which performs best.
Silos are for farming, not for marketing your brand. Therefore, each channel should be analyzed as part of the digital marketing mix and optimized as a single unit. The performance of one channel can provide context into another—and changing the strategic use of one tactic can influence the performance of multiple channels.

Desire for budget efficiency.
Allocating your marketing budget to only one or two channels can be detrimental to ROI. On the other hand, when executed thoughtfully, a multi-channel focus can increase budget efficiency and ROI. However, finding the right channel mix and budget allocation takes time, testing, analysis and ongoing adjustment.

Where You Can Start

Performance marketing tactics, just like traditional marketing tactics, still rely on the same basic principles: You should start by fully understanding your customer and be able to define the value your brand brings to the table. Proper primary research and compelling brand positioning can expedite finding that “sweet spot” where you can maximize budget efficiency and ROI across multiple digital channels.

Secondly, consider a naturally complementary channel strategy. For example, SEO and paid search focus on presence in search results. Combining the two allows you to determine which types of queries either tactic should target. Where it’s too expensive for paid search, focus on SEO. Also, consider using data from paid search to inform the SEO strategy. Paid search generally has visibility into the types of queries that convert, whereas SEO does not. An SEO strategy informed by paid search performance can help establish efficiencies and maximize performance between the two channels.

Lastly, almost every digital channel focuses on driving users to a website. If you really want to focus on improving digital marketing performance, your website is likely the first step. Using what you know about your customer, focus on creating a website experience that meets that customer’s needs and exceeds their expectations. Like any other digital marketing touchpoint, the website should also have a process for ongoing testing, analysis and improvement.

Mistake #2


As an extension of being too narrowly focused, it’s not uncommon for growth-minded brands to underinvest for optimal channel performance.

In fact, a recent Nielsen ROI report found approximately 50% of marketers need to spend more in a channel to get maximum ROI. Spread too thinly across channels—or too little in any single channel—this “toe dipping” approach doesn’t provide the right level of investment, or time, to see results.

Compounding the issue, a lack of measurement and sales attribution also brings added complexity to understanding conversion drivers. This leaves many brands with the question; how should we best allocate our budgets across digital channels for optimal performance?

Where You Can Start

If a lack of understanding of the customer journey leads to being too narrowly focused, the same could be said for toe dipping. The delineation here would be to add performance metrics data into your view of the customer for an accurate 360-degree view of their journey.

Always Be Testing
Through A/B and multivariate testing, identify the channel, content and message that resonates with your audience at each stage of their customer journey. Remember, this is about testing to acquire empirical data that layers onto your current view of the customer journey. Rome was not built in a day—go in with a mindset of create, test, analyze, learn, adapt, and retest.

Get Conversion Tags in Place
Because site traffic can come through organic and paid campaigns—it is critically important to have conversion tagging in place and integrated between your analytics and digital ad platforms.

Google Tag Manager is a tag management system (TMS) that allows you to quickly and easily update measurement codes and related code fragments (collectively known as tags) on your website or mobile app. Once the small segment of Tag Manager code has been added to your project, you can safely and easily deploy analytics and measurement tag configurations from a web-based user interface.

When Tag Manager is installed, your website or app can communicate with the Tag Manager servers. You can then use Tag Manager’s web-based user interface to set up tags, establish triggers that cause your tag to fire when certain events occur, and create variables that can simplify and automate your tag configurations.

A container is a collection of tags, triggers, variables, and related configurations installed on a website or mobile app. A Tag Manager container can replace all other manually coded tags on a site or app, including tags from Google Ads, Google Analytics, Floodlight, and third-party tags.

With the Google Tag Manager, the integration of conversion events from digital advertising campaigns can be controlled easily and flexibly.

May the Data Be with You
It’s too common for marketing budgets to be set before knowing the target audience sizes. Consequences of an inaccurate budget often lead to underinvestment and are a significant contributor to being too narrowly focused and toe dipping.

So, we say, let the data guide you. A digital marketing partner can analyze your ideal customer target using existing data and then model the universe of potential audiences on a channel-by-channel basis. With this, they can help you prioritize channels, understand expected reach, and make budget recommendations for optimal campaign performance.

Remember, inadequate audience reach will slow the data collection needed to analyze and optimize your campaigns for performance. So good digital marketing partners will also be able to tell you what kind of results and ROI to expect.

Regarding timing, it’s perfectly natural to expect immediate results. But successful campaigns need time to collect data and mature. For example, a successful Google ad campaign may take three months to collect enough data and another 3–6 months to evolve into a high-performing campaign.

During this initial data collection period, try not to make too many changes to the campaign, as it will introduce several new variables—making it difficult to analyze what’s happening. Instead, think in terms of four primary phases; 1) Gather data, 2) Adjust, 3) Fine tune for growth, 4) Repeat the cycle.

The duration of each phase can vary depending on the campaign and channels deployed. A good agency partner should be able to set expectations up front for what this cycle might look like.

Mistake #3


After investing considerable time and energy in developing a new creative asset, a webpage, or launching a new campaign, it’s easy to call it a day. However, marketers may overlook that digital tactics provide opportunities to test various messages and creative and pivot quickly if something doesn’t work. That capability, though, relies on marketers to keep a steady pulse on performance and market trends.

Your audience may have shifting preferences or get ad fatigue. Your competitors may be testing a new approach.

Here’s how you can stay ahead.

The most critical component to monitoring and adapting is a proper analytics configuration. To iterate and improve, you must measure and understand how all marketing channels interplay. Website analytics platforms like Google or Adobe Analytics can help you quickly understand performance changes, allowing for quick action to improve or quick learning when something works.

Secondly, a solid SEO program should help keep website content fresh and keep you aware of shifting search trends. Fresh content is search-engine-friendly, so regularly revisiting your web pages can improve organic search performance. When possible, this should be paired with a conversion optimization program to ensure the traffic you’re investing in growing translates to leads and revenue through testing and improving your overall website experience.

Refresh creative assets often.
Both users and search engines prioritize fresh, new approaches. So, for example, just because a webpage appeared once in the top spot in organic search doesn’t mean it will stay there. Similarly, just because a piece of ad creative converted well at one point doesn’t mean it always will.

It is important to remember—your target audience expects personalization and interactivity. Static images are white noise, and your website might be slipping from top positions in search if not monitored closely. Also, in digital marketing, continuous improvement is mandatory. The digital landscape gets more competitive every year, so if you stay the same, you’re declining.

Monitor market trends.
Up to 15% of Google searches every month are brand new. This is a symptom of constantly shifting consumer preferences and demands. Paid search also allows new companies and websites to quickly enter new verticals, potentially impacting your overall share of traffic. Outside of search, we see new platforms arise almost daily, meaning continuously assessing where your customer might be looking is crucial to maintaining and growing your digital marketing performance.

Test, monitor, refine, repeat.
Marketers are naturally agile. That agility can be complimented by a capacity to monitor performance and make quick decisions. Test in small, low-risk settings, then if you can determine that something does or does not work, make changes as needed and roll those changes out to other audiences or channels. This is an ongoing process to ensure your message is relevant and your audience stays engaged.

Mistake #4


As a consumer, how often have you clicked on a compelling ad only to be taken to a website or landing page that does not meet your expectations or answer your questions?

As marketers, we spend countless dollars and hours driving qualified traffic to our websites and apps, but often that’s where our role ends. But what happens next? Users expect a seamless experience between the ad they click on and the website they visit. They expect the website to answer their questions, clarify what to do next, and provide an easy way to purchase if they choose to do so. In other words, driving traffic to your website is not enough; creating an experience that converts is critical.

When it comes to optimal website experiences, most mistakes happen because brands don’t view their site as an important channel for driving brand and marketing performance. This leads to three big problems.

Many websites lack basic User Experience best practices.
Many websites or landing pages are too long, provide too broad messaging, offer too few (or too many) CTAs, aren’t optimized for mobile, have slow page load speeds and are challenging to navigate. The result? A discouraged buyer who will go elsewhere to find what they need. A well-designed website must have a clear path to the information a potential buyer seeks. And in today’s digital-first world—this includes B2B buyers who often have the exact B2C-like expectations of consumers.

Websites must feature content that strategically supports the offer.
Buyers need clarity to make an informed purchase. Pages that don’t provide easy-to-find product information, intuitive search or cross-linking between relevant pages result in minimal SEO value and increased acquisition costs.

The customer is an afterthought.
Many websites are designed based on the brand’s internal structure and needs. But the best websites and user experiences are created by obsessively focusing on the customer. This requires a solid understanding of who the customer is, what they need, their pain points and how your product/service/experience can help solve their problems.

Where You Can Start

Creating a well-designed, easy-to-navigate website with persuasive content and a clearly articulated value proposition is no easy feat. But if you’re looking to improve your digital marketing performance and you’re not focusing on your website, you’re already a step behind. The good news is that ensuring that your website is optimized for conversion can be an ongoing, iterative process—meaning you don’t necessarily have to scrap your current website to start from scratch.

A typical conversion optimization program includes a research phase to understand how your customer (or target customer) is currently using your website. From there, you build a prioritized roadmap of optimization and A/B testing opportunities. Once you have that list, you can start executing one optimization at a time to improve your website performance iteratively.

Pair that with a comprehensive SEO program that includes relevant and meaningful content for your target audience, and your website will be ideally positioned to drive and convert relevant visitors.

Mistake #5


You can’t improve what you don’t measure.

Data. It’s a major advantage of digital marketing over traditional media channels. But to truly harness its power, one must have accurate, trustworthy data and measure the right data points. Only with proper tracking in place can digital data be turned into powerful insights. This includes measuring and comparing the ROI of specific digital channels and campaigns.

Whether you struggle to tie digital campaigns to sales activities or define a system for valuing leads correctly, the result is the same—an inaccurate view of how to achieve greater marketing success for your brand.

Where You Can Start

Using your paid media partner and analytics teams, begin with an audit of your existing web analytics platforms to reveal gaps in conversion tracking, traffic attribution, data integrity, KPI tracking and reporting, and underutilized platform capabilities. This audit process is the best first step to level set against crucial opportunity areas.

Optimizing conversion tracking.
Be sure to accurately measure all the actions on your website and digital campaigns that can be tied to revenue. This means setting and tracking clear, unique goals for the actions you want users to take.

For e-commerce, for example, online transaction is the obvious conversion point to track. But for lead generation, you must measure all specific actions that represent a step forward in the acquisition funnel (phone calls, lead form completions, etc.). Engagement metrics, like time on site or pages viewed, cannot be counted as true conversions. Additionally, distinguishing new customer acquisition conversions from returning customer activities is often overlooked.

Finally, define a good system for assigning conversion value, as this enables you to attribute sales lead value correctly.

Go in with goals in mind.
You can establish key performance indicators (KPIs) with proper conversion tracking in place. These metrics define success and should be the focus of performance reporting.

Next, we suggest using historical performance data to set benchmarks. It’s fine that historical data may have been lacking—glean what insights you can. At this stage, you’re trying to establish a baseline from which the brand can measure good data going forward. Benchmarks will evolve as your tracking accuracy becomes more reliable.

Analysis is an ongoing endeavor.
Digital marketing platforms and tools such as Adobe Analytics, Google Analytics and Google Ads (to name a few) can offer a ton of insights to drive continuous improvement. With a set of baseline benchmarks and a proper conversion tracking strategy, you can now focus on ongoing conversion optimization and the ongoing cost-benefit analysis of your digital marketing campaigns.

We’re Here to Help

Seamless Results

Brands today need digital marketing that adapts. So first, we optimize all areas of performance marketing with the latest tools and best practices to achieve measurable results. Then we go further. Because performance marketing also builds brands when it’s supercharged with insightful strategy, new creative and digital PR—all guided by data.

Adept partners with clients to unify the brand experience at all touchpoints of the customer journey, adding emotional relevance to break through the clutter. Even non-digital channels will be amplified in a brand’s online ecosystem. So, everything should work together because, over time, that’s what defines your brand.

Let’s Talk

If you need help identifying opportunities for digital marketing to optimize customer acquisition, get in touch with us. We’d love to connect.

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