Here’s Why Your Customer Acquisition Strategy Isn’t Working

Customer acquisition is arguably the most important aspect of business operations.

Before you can even think about retention and having loyal, long-term customers, you need that initial acquisition to take place.

But the process of turning leads into paying customers comes with a lot of twists and turns.

What looks great on paper doesn’t necessarily translate into tangible results.

Like most aspects of business, successful customer acquisition typically begins with a formal strategy.

You need an airtight game plan.

But what if your strategy isn’t working?

If this sounds like you, you’re definitely not alone.

In fact, “only about 22 percent of businesses are satisfied with their conversion rates.”

Maybe you’ve tried your best to get all your ducks in a row, but it’s just not working out.

Maybe you even get a sizable number of leads, but your conversion rate is far less than what it should be.

After helping several companies generate more traffic and maximize conversions, I’ve spotted some trends.

Of course, the specifics are always a little different, but there are some very common mistakes people make when devising a customer acquisition strategy.

Here are a few problem areas I’ve seen time and time again that could be holding you back too.

You’re treating all your leads the same

If there’s one thing that businesses are guilty of across the board, it’s assuming that all their leads are at the same stage in the buying process.

But that’s just not the case.

One portion of your leads may be in “wallet-out, ready to buy” mode, while another portion may simply be performing some preliminary research on a product and nowhere near the buying stage.

In other words, there’s a big disparity in terms of which stage your leads are at in the buying process.

Here’s a graph that illustrates the different stages:


But here’s a crazy stat from HubSpot:

“61 percent of B2B marketers simply send all of their new sales leads directly to the sales team, but only 27 percent of these leads are actually qualified and ready to buy.”

Are you guilty of this?

If so, there’s a serious hole in your customer acquisition strategy, and it’s going to complicate things tremendously.

What’s the solution?

It starts with qualifying your leads.

You need to analyze a few key elements, including their:

  • interest level
  • intent
  • need
  • position of influence (are they a C-level executive or an intern?)

Qualifying leads is an art in and of itself, and I don’t have time to fully go into it right now.

But check out this resource from Salesforce to find out how to qualify a lead in under a minute.

From there, I recommend ranking your leads into one of three categories:


“A” leads are the ones you want to pounce on immediately. They’re ready to buy.

But “B” and “C” leads are going to take some nurturing.

In this case, you may want to:

  • Provide them with some educational content so they can learn more about your product/service
  • Encourage them to sign up for your newsletter
  • Encourage them to follow your business on social media

When you do this correctly, you can have a massive payoff.

In fact, “companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50 percent more sales ready leads at a 33 percent lower cost.” Also, “nurtured leads make 47 percent larger purchases than non-nurtured leads.”

Check out this brief guide from Marketo for more on this process.

You’re failing to retarget leads

Let’s say your initial attempt to reel a lead in doesn’t work out and they don’t buy right off the bat.

Do you let them off the hook?


In my experience, this isn’t the right approach to take.

I’m a proponent of retargeting (also known as remarketing) qualified leads who weren’t ready to buy at a particular time.

Here’s a graph from AdRoll to show you why:


Considering the fact that roughly only 2% of web traffic converts on the first visit, this technique helps you reach at least a portion of the remaining 98%.

I think one illusion some marketers have is assuming that first-time visitors will end up converting into customers.

Some even have the notion that a large percentage will be loyal customers or brand advocates.

It doesn’t work like that.

But don’t take it personally. Most leads need a little “buttering up” before they’re ready to pull the trigger and buy.

Retargeting takes care of that.

This term is defined by HubSpot as “a method of digital advertising that aims to entice users back to an advertiser’s site after they have left. Advertisements are shown to customers who have demonstrated what we call intent, which is an action they’ve performed on an advertiser’s site that shows they’re interested in a product or service.”

Some examples of retargeting include:

  • creating banner ads that target previous leads who had an intent to buy
  • using Facebook Pixel to track key actions
  • emailing a prospect after they abandoned your online shopping cart and providing more information about the product they expressed interest in
  • showing content leads have viewed previously

And don’t forget to retarget past customers as well!

If they bought from you before, there’s a good chance they’ll buy again.

In fact, “the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70%.”


For some creative ways to retarget, use these ideas from WordStream.

You’re following the herd

Don’t get me wrong.

It makes sense to utilize proven customer acquisition methods.

If it’s worked for countless other marketers, it should work for you too.

I get it.

But I’ve seen many businesses do this to the point of mindlessly following the herd at the expense of their ROI.

Here’s a really simple example.

Let’s say one of your primary means of generating quality leads is through Google AdWords—what most would consider the premier PPC platform.

You naturally want to use it because everyone else does and because it provides you with the most reach.

But the downside is that it’s super competitive and the cost-per-click (CPC) is fairly high (and growing).

This ultimately results in a less than ideal ROI.

But if you ventured out a little and “swam to the deep end of the pool” by using Bing Ads, you’d have less competition and usually a lower CPC.

Here’s an actual CPC comparison between Google and Bing so you know I’m not full of crap:


Obviously, you won’t have the same level of reach, but you’re highly likely to get a solid ROI.

Pound-for-pound, it makes sense.

By zigging when everyone else is zagging, you can stay away from crowded marketplaces and increase the likelihood of seeing a favorable return.

In other words, going the safest, most comfortable, most conventional route with your customer acquisition strategy isn’t always the best move.

Sometimes, you need to look for other opportunities and capitalize on them.

Now, I’m not saying you should take foolish risks that could potentially capsize your strategy, but being a mindless follower is a bad approach to take.

You’re ditching your strategy prematurely

There’s one final mistake I see marketers consistently make.

And that’s ditching a customer acquisition strategy prematurely before it has time to fully gel.

Allow me to use a sports reference as a metaphor.

In the past decade, there have been a few “super teams” in basketball where multiple superstars joined forces.

Just think LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh with the Miami Heat and Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, and Klay Thompson with the Golden State Warriors.


Although the potential is obviously there, it still takes some time for these teams to reach their peak.

There’s just no way around it.

This concept applies to customer acquisition and marketing in general, but many business owners freak out when they don’t see instant results.

Maybe they invest a few thousand into reaching their demographic but don’t immediately get it back.

So they completely abandon it and try something else and get the same result.

The bottom line is that it often takes some time for things to simmer, which requires some degree of patience.

I’m not saying you should keep funneling time and money into a hopeless strategy that’s gotten little to no results over a stretch of time.

But I am saying that a little perseverance can go a long way.

Just be sure to pay close attention to key metrics such as:

  • bounce rate
  • average time on site
  • click-through rate


The way in which you acquire new customers is a serious contributing factor to the success of your business.

Do it right, and you’ll probably crush it.

Suck at it, and you’ll face an uphill battle.

If your current customer acquisition strategy isn’t working, you should take a step back and analyze what the problem is.

There’s a good chance you’re making one of the mistakes I listed.

If so, go ahead and make the necessary adjustments to get things back on track.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve encountered with your customer acquisition strategy?

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