Effective customer acquisition is crucial for any business looking to thrive. However, it is only one part of the equation. It’s equally important to understand how much each new customer is costing you, and this is where the Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) metric comes into play. This metric has gained prominence in recent years, particularly with the emergence of Internet companies and trackable web-based advertising campaigns. Traditionally, companies had to resort to shotgun-style advertising and other methods to track consumers through decision-making. But with advancements in technology, web-based companies can now engage in highly targeted campaigns and track consumers’ progress from interested leads to long-term loyal customers. However, turning prospects into loyal customers comes at a cost, and understanding your CAC is critical to making your marketing efforts worthwhile.
The CAC metric encompasses various costs associated with customer acquisition, including advertising costs, marketing and sales team expenses, creative, technical, publishing, and production costs, inventory upkeep, and customer service resources. It’s essential to consider these costs on an ongoing basis, along with the cost of lost customers over time due to churn. In recent years, the cost of acquiring customers has increased significantly, and companies face several challenges, such as customer privacy legislation, the end of third-party cookies, and the launch of iOS 14.5.
The CAC metric is not only crucial for your business’s financial success but also essential for potential investors. Early-stage investors often use this metric to determine a company’s profitability by examining the difference between how much income your business generates from your buyers and the cost of securing them as customers. Investors are more willing to provide companies with resources, partners are more committed to growth, and companies can use the improved profit margins to provide more value to their customers, thus improving their market position.
Calculating CAC involves dividing all costs spent on acquiring more customers (marketing expenses) by the number of customers acquired. However, this metric has some caveats, such as investing in marketing in a new region or early-stage SEO that may not yield results until later. It’s essential to perform multiple variations to account for such situations.
In order to grow a successful business, it’s essential to attract new customers. However, customer acquisition is only half the story. To fully understand the health of your business, you also need to know the cost of acquiring each customer. This is where the Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) metric comes into play, which has become increasingly relevant with the rise of web-based advertising campaigns.
While advertising typically takes up the largest portion of the budget, other costs such as marketing and sales teams, production costs, inventory upkeep, and customer service resources also need to be considered. In addition, businesses should factor in the cost of lost customers due to churn over time.
The cost of customer acquisition is critical because research shows that businesses are losing around $29 for each new customer acquired. With the increase in customer privacy legislation, the end of third-party cookies, and the launch of iOS 14.5, the cost of acquiring customers has increased by 60%. This presents a challenge for businesses and retailers, and some brands are finding it cheaper to acquire new customers through personalized paper catalogs rather than digital advertising.
Investors are also interested in the CAC metric as they use it to determine a company’s profitability by analyzing the difference between income generated from customers and the cost of acquiring them.
Calculating the CAC is relatively straightforward. You can do this by dividing the total costs spent on acquiring new customers by the number of customers acquired. However, it’s essential to keep in mind any additional factors that may influence the accuracy of this metric, such as investing in marketing in a new region or early-stage SEO.
To better understand the CAC, businesses should also consider the Customer Lifetime Value (CLV), which helps them understand the long-term value of a customer. By calculating the CLV, businesses can gain a better understanding of what the CAC means to their company.
To illustrate how to calculate CAC, let’s consider two examples. In the first example, a fictitious e-commerce company that sells organic food products spent $100,000 on advertising last month, and its marketing team says that 10,000 new orders were placed.
This suggests a CAC of $10, a figure that by itself has little meaning. However, if the average order placed by customers is $25.00, and the company has a markup of 100% on all products, it makes $12.50 per sale and generates $2.50 from each customer to pay for salaries, web hosting, office space, and other general expenses. This quick calculation raises questions such as what happens if customers make more than one purchase over their lifetime or if they buy only from this company. Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) resolves these questions and helps to better understand what the customer acquisition cost means for the company.
Example 2: A SaaS Company Providing Online CRM Services
Consider a company that provides a cloud-based system for managing sales contacts and customer relationships. Since the software is distributed online, its distribution cost is nominal, and customers require little support. Moreover, the customers are less likely to switch to a new CRM software because of the hassle of transferring all their contacts, tasks, and events. The company has an expert sales support team that works for minimum wage out of their call centers located in a rural Midwestern town, which has helped the company climb up the search engine rankings.
Additionally, the company has established strategic partnerships that ensure a steady supply of customers. They spend only $2.00 to acquire a new customer who has a lifetime value of $2,000. Here is the calculation:
Total cost of new customer sales support call centers: $1,000,000/yr.
Total price paid to strategic alliance partners per customer: $1.00
Total monthly spending on search engine optimization: $20,000/year
Total new customers generated in the year: $1,020,000
Customer acquisition cost: ($1,020,000 / 1,020,000 customers) + $1.00 per customer = $2.00
Similar to the previous example, the company’s success is determined by the revenue generated from customers. However, this company uses a customer retention calculation to determine the customer lifetime value (CLV) of $2,000.
This means that the company can turn a $2.00 investment into $2,000 of revenue, which is an attractive proposition for investors and a signal to the marketing team that the system is effective.
Determining CAC Per Marketing Channel
Most marketers aim to calculate the customer acquisition cost for each of their marketing channels. This information is crucial as it allows them to focus their marketing budget on the most cost-effective channels to obtain more customers within a fixed budget.
A simple approach to calculate the CAC per marketing channel is to gather all marketing expenses, such as Google Ads, Facebook advertising, SEO, and blogging, and group them into channels. Once the expenses are grouped, an averaging method can be applied. This method assumes that each channel worked to generate the same number of customers as the next channel.
This method, however, may not provide an accurate assessment of the effectiveness of each marketing channel. For instance, if you run a single pay-per-click advertisement on one day as a test and spent only $10, the CAC for that channel would be incredibly low. However, it would not be wise to double down on pay-per-click advertising based on this limited test.
For e-commerce companies that sell physical products, tracking conversion rates can help determine which pay-per-click advertisements lead to direct sales. This information can be used to assess the effectiveness of pay-per-click advertising relative to other marketing channels.
Clear and Concise Product Pages.
For eCommerce Companies One way to improve CAC is by making sure that your products/services are well-explained to potential customers. This means clearly highlighting its features and benefits, as well as its value proposition. That is, what problem does your product/service solve? What benefit does it provide? The more a customer understands about your product, the more likely they are to make a purchase.
To accomplish this, consider using simple and concise language, along with images and videos that help illustrate how the product works. You can also provide customer testimonials and case studies that showcase the product’s benefits and how it has helped other customers.
Target the Right Audience
One of the most effective ways to reduce your customer acquisition cost is to target the right audience. If you’re marketing to the wrong audience, you’ll waste your marketing budget on people who have no interest in your product.
To avoid this, you need to identify your ideal customer and create buyer personas that describe their characteristics and interests. This will help you create targeted marketing campaigns that resonate with your ideal customer and are more likely to convert.
Optimize Your Sales Funnel
Your sales funnel is the journey your customer takes from the first touchpoint with your brand to the final purchase. Optimizing your sales funnel can help you reduce your customer acquisition cost by making the journey more efficient and effective.
Start by identifying the bottlenecks in your sales funnel and addressing them. This could involve improving your website’s user experience, reducing friction in the checkout process, or streamlining your lead nurturing process.
Optimize Your Website
Your website is often the first impression potential customers have of your business. As such, it’s essential to make sure it’s optimized to attract and convert visitors. This includes ensuring it’s mobile-friendly, easy to navigate, and loads quickly.
You can also use various conversion optimization techniques, such as A/B testing, to see which elements of your website are most effective at converting visitors into customers. This can help you identify areas for improvement and make data-driven decisions that can lead to lower CAC.
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Leverage Existing Customers
Acquiring new customers is expensive, but retaining existing ones is much more cost-effective. By leveraging your existing customer base, you can reduce your customer acquisition cost by encouraging them to refer new customers to your business.
Consider implementing a referral program that rewards existing customers for referring new ones. This can be a powerful way to tap into your existing customer base and acquire new customers at a lower cost.
Explore Alternative Marketing Channels
While traditional marketing channels such as paid advertising can be effective, they can also be expensive. To reduce your CAC, consider exploring alternative marketing channels that may be more cost-effective, such as content marketing, social media marketing, or email marketing.
By leveraging these channels, you can reach your target audience without breaking the bank. Additionally, these channels can be highly targeted, allowing you to focus on reaching customers who are most likely to convert.
Customer analytics tools allow you to trace paying customers back to the source of their “last touch” attribution. In other words, you can identify the last channel the customer visited before making their first purchase with your online business. For instance, if a customer came through an organic search result, you would know that your SEO efforts drove that specific acquisition.
Reducing your CAC can be a challenge, but it’s not impossible. By focusing on improving your product messaging, optimizing your website, and exploring alternative marketing channels, you can reduce your CAC and improve your overall marketing ROI. Remember to always be testing and iterating to find what works best for your business.
The Dollar Shave Club demonstrates its approach as follows:
The message is concise and addresses the key concern, with additional resources available through a search function and a customer contact link. When dealing with complex products, it is important to provide support documentation.
ConvertKit categorizes its help center articles effectively, making it simple for a perplexed customer to promptly locate the solution to their inquiry.
Now that we’ve covered the FAQs, let’s talk about the significance of testimonials.
Testimonials should not be overlooked. Whenever a satisfied customer leaves positive feedback on your social media, through email, or on your reviews page, it’s essential to feature some of these comments on your website.
Displaying feedback from customers who adore your product or service can be a fantastic approach to alleviate common customer concerns.
An exemplary instance from Ahrefs is when the company showcases testimonials from authoritative sources and adds a slideshow to enhance engagement. It is an excellent approach that goes beyond the typical testimonials.
Additionally, consider using comparison charts to assist customers in determining which product to purchase.
When your potential customer is almost ready to buy but is unsure which product is the best for them, creating comparison charts can be very helpful. These charts provide product information that potential customers can easily absorb at a glance. A great example of effective comparison charts can be found on Amazon, like this one for Nivea 48-hour body lotions.
If you want to create your own comparison charts, Convertcart.com provides useful tips, such as clearly showcasing social proof and creating an effective CTA.
Let’s wrap up with a few more tips for improving your customer acquisition cost:
Automating the process of acquiring prospects can reduce your overall CAC. However, if your customer has a high lifetime value (LTV), you can work with a more expensive CAC
Understanding your customer lifetime value (CLV) in combination with your acquisition cost can take your business to the next level. CLV and CAC provide valuable insights into the effectiveness of your business strategy, allowing you to assess whether your investment in acquiring customers is paying off.
To increase your business profits, you can:
By working on your retention rates, you can increase the number of buyers without acquiring new clients. Research shows that increasing customer retention rates by 5% can increase profits by 25-95%.
To enhance the lifetime value of each customer, you can upsell, add premium products, and use psychological principles to increase the value of each sale. Additionally, engaging with your customers by sending them useful content, targeted offers, and personalized promotions can encourage repeat purchases.
Finally, measuring and tracking your customer acquisition costs is essential for investors and your company. Investors can use CAC to determine whether your company is profitable, while businesses can use it to allocate resources, guide marketing campaigns, and make hiring and salary decisions.