The retail marketing landscape has changed dramatically since the pandemic—as comms pros followed consumers into a digitally dominated shopping world, the value of data-driven insights became invaluable. And as powerful technologies emerged in lockstep with this new focus, marketers found themselves overwhelmed with the digital takeaways their data analysis delivered. Meanwhile, chatbots and other automation tech offered an as-yet-unrealized promise of seamless CX, the new holy grail of customer service. And all this confused commotion has taken a sizable toll on customer loyalty. So where are we now?
A new report from performance marketing solutions firm Stirista, The State of B2C Customer Acquisition, reveals results from the firm’s ongoing research in the customer acquisition and retention market. Its survey of senior-level marketers across B2C industries reveals that 91 percent of respondents have a positive outlook on meeting or exceeding marketing goals over the next year. Additionally, 81 percent of the marketers surveyed have seen revenue growth over the past two years, they cite data quality as the biggest challenge in conducting successful marketing campaigns.
“As the world of customer acquisition is changing every day, Stirista conducted this survey to gain insight into what’s working for current customer acquisition strategies, and how marketers see these strategies shifting over the next two years,” said Ajay Gupta, CEO and founder of Stirista, in a news release. “The creation of new data and technology, as well as new regulations and policies around its use, are keeping savvy marketers on their toes. B2C marketers must be informed of the latest trends as well as how they are being used and to what degree of effectiveness.”
The outlook on customer acquisition marketing
The majority of B2C marketers (70 percent) say they will make changes to budget distributions across channels in the next two years. Most marketers (85 percent) say that the importance of digital marketing will increase over the next 2-5 years, the highest of any channel. Other top increases are social media (78 percent) and mobile (75 percent).
Data quality/availability and measuring performance and attribution are among the biggest factors impacting marketers’ customer acquisition success at 57 percent and 40 percent respectively, but they are also the most challenging to get right. Surprisingly, tracking shifting channel behaviors and results was the least challenging at 26 percent.
B2C companies are using a variety of marketing channels
B2C companies with a mature customer acquisition strategy are using more channels, and more effectively. Email, social media, and digital advertising are the most effective ways to acquire more customers, and organizations are putting a lot of effort and budget into these channels. In the coming years, they also plan to invest more in mobile and video (OTT).
Nearly half (49 percent) of B2C marketers include four or more channels in their customer acquisition strategies, and nearly one-third (31 percent) report utilizing five channels or more. The most successful customer acquisition strategies are significantly more likely to include digital advertising and mobile. Additionally, highly mature customer acquisition strategies are more likely to include video in their channel mix than those with low or moderate maturity.
More mature strategies call for outsourcing
B2C marketers are most likely to fully outsource partner programs, video, traditional, and affiliate channels while keeping social media, email, and digital advertising in-house. However, highly mature customer acquisition strategies are more likely to fully outsource all channels except for digital advertising.
Additional findings include:
- B2C marketers rank the maturity of their customer acquisition technologies as moderate to high. Those with high maturity are more likely to point to data quality and workflow efficiency as a contributor to success than marketers with less mature technologies.
- Marketers who report high maturity in their customer acquisition strategies feel significantly more challenged by determining shifting channel behaviors and/or results.
- Marketers with low or moderate levels of customer acquisition maturity are still struggling with measuring performance and attribution.
- 88 percent of marketers with extremely successful customer acquisition strategies say that social media is highly effective at helping them achieve their goals (compared to just 44 percent of all others).
Findings from the survey were derived from an online panel conducted by Ascend2. Nearly 200 marketing decision-makers in job roles of management and above participated in the survey. These individuals represent B2C companies with 500 or more employees from a range of industries operating in the United States.