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Identity Acquisition CDP

Acquisition marketing: 4 ways to turn prospects into clients with customer intelligence



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July 26, 2023 | 6 min read

Marketers have never had more technology and data at their fingertips

But the best acquisition marketing strategies put customer understanding at the heart. Acxiom CMO, Jed Mole, shares four ways marketers can gain understanding and meet their acquisition goals.

In the famous movie, The Big Short, about the 2008 US sub-prime financial collapse, one of the characters, desperately trying to make sense of the numbers, cries out in frustration, “It’s like two plus two equals… fish!”

How many of us have felt like that on the receiving end of sub-optimal marketing and customer experiences? As marketers, how many of us have felt making two plus two equal four is ridiculously hard, despite the mass of data and technology at our disposal?

Where marketing is most challenging, and so often under-appreciated, is in the world of acquisition marketing. We don’t yet have the customer relationship, we have less data, and we’re often interrupting someone to win them over. When the customer feels the interruption is for an irrelevant reason or purpose (and in the digital world – happens at scale), it can also give acquisition marketing a bit of stigma.

Yet the fact remains, acquisition marketing is as at least as important as retention and growth. Why? Well, try retaining or growing a customer you don’t have. All customers were once prospects.

The acquisition marketing mindset

Better acquisition marketing is data-driven and requires a genuine understanding of people – it’s called customer intelligence and it gives you the ability to speak to people with greater relevance and respect. Relevance and respect lead to positive engagements, helping brands win and keep customers – happy customers. As a result, brands grow. It’s a win-win.

Where to start? With a people-first mindset.

I believe it’s about ‘helping people find their brands.’ Today, people don’t want to be sold at or to; instead, they want to explore and happen upon, or seek and quickly find the things that make life better for them. From simple purchases of everyday items to longer, deeper relationships for higher value goods and services.

While acquisition can, by default, seem to be all about ‘finding customers,’ there’s little doubt in my mind, a mantra of ‘helping people find their brands’ will lead to better marketing that leads more customers to you.

4 customer intelligence focus areas for exceptional acquisition

To achieve a truly people-first approach to acquisition marketing, there are four focus areas that will help make customer understanding possible and marketing both meaningful and effective:

1. Identity

If you can increase your ability to match the right data to the right person, you increase your ability to understand them and give them relevance. Yes, there’s still lots of talk about cookie deprecation and first-party data (both important to understand), but the bottom line is brands need a multi-faceted and mindful approach to identity. It’s no longer a bolt on tool; identity is a fundamental of marketing strategy.

2. Data clean rooms

We all know third-party data can still do great things for acquisition marketing. It often gives you a much better place to start. And of course, first-party data is the gold standard, but if you don’t have it, then you need to think differently. So, what about another company’s first-party data made available to you as second-party data in a data clean room (DCR)? Or taking the first-party data you have on your customers and combining with a co-marketing partner? Both increase understanding and accelerate marketing performance. The industry has been talking about these scenarios for years, it’s now time to talk less and do more, moving from experimentation to scale.

3. Customer data platforms (CDPs)

Okay, let’s just acknowledge there are many types of CDPs – pick your breed. But the bottom line is you need a contemporary platform where you can host and manage the data of the customers you love and those you’d love to have. After all, while you’re looking to acquire, you likely already have some great customer relationships, and therein lies the richest source of insights as to who might like to join them.

Whichever CDP is right for you, beware of the risk of it becoming another silo. Make sure it’s properly integrated with other systems and let go of systems that are no longer serving you (or your customers). Make sure you have the solution you need to see your customer, understand them, and deliver that customer intelligence to the places it’ll make the most difference.

4. Analytics and AI

We know analytics has and always will be a mission critical part of data-driven marketing, but it’s being transformed by artificial intelligence (AI) and here’s what unites them – garbage in, garbage out. Make sure you present AI with the best possible data and make sure you know why AI is making the decisions it is – human oversight is still required. AI is not a replacement for humans (that’s us marketers by the way). Rather, it should be used for what it’s good at – transforming large amounts of data at scale and speed.

I was recently at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, and with its film festival associations, I was reminded that the film franchise Star Trek gives us great guidelines. We can look to the wonderful interactions of Kirk, Spock, Picard, and even the appropriately if unimaginatively named Mr. Data. If the captains had put their expertise aside and followed everything the logic and AI told them, I doubt they’d have gotten past the third episode of the original series. It’s the application of creative, new, human-centric ideas and intuition, on top of the logic and AI, that ensures success.

Beyond the machines

So, dear marketing friends, it’s up to us to bring empathy and understanding into our marketing and customer experiences. Four focus areas for you to make two plus two equal four when you’re looking to acquire new customers. Live long and prospect.

Identity Acquisition CDP


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