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10 Links in the Customer Acquisition Chain: Do You Have Broken Links?

March 23, 2012 By Carrie Burns, Cynthia Tully and Dorothy Weaver
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[Editor's note: This is the first "link" in a 10-part series. Check back Friday, March 30, for link two: Print-to-Online.]

For our entire careers, both in offline and online advertising geared to customer acquisition, we've embraced the notion of a customer acquisition chain. We've seen the benefits when all the links are strong, and the deficits when one or more links are weak. What has struck us repeatedly is that customer acquisition chains in the online world are critically important to the success of a customer acquisition campaign. In this series, we're going to look at four different offline-to-online chains:
  • Print Acquisition Chain
  • Direct Mail Acquisition Chain
  • Catalog Acquisition Chain
  • Direct Response TV Acquisition Chain
And after that we'll look at five online-to-online chains:
  • Search Acquisition Chain
  • Display Acquisition Chain
  • Mobile Acquisition Chain
  • Social Acquisition Chain
  • Email Acquisition Chain
So what exactly is an "acquisition chain?" Imagine a chain with four or more links, like you see in the photo at right.

The reason why customer acquisition chains are so important is that when consumers see or hear an advertising message and respond, they expect to see a relevant Web page that is related to the original ad, one that meets their expectations. As they go from a marketing message to your website, they have additional expectations that must be met with successive relevant messages and Web pages. This will become defined and clear with each of the "chains" that we analyze, starting with the print-to-online customer acquisition chain next week. Because we're talking about offline and online ads that result in consumers going to websites, let's detail the middle two links:
  • Website Landing: where the consumer goes based on the URL in the ad
  • Website Copy (and Graphics): What the consumer sees after landing online
The last link, conversion path, is the link plus successive page(s) that get the consumer to checkout, whether it be for a sale or a lead.

Typically, we've found that in-house staffs and/or outside agencies are very good at one or two of the four links. But customer acquisition success requires that all four links be strong and work together. This means that you have to look at the strategy behind each link in your acquisition programs to determine if you have the right link strategy (and we don't mean SEO link strategy here!). Come back next week to get started.
 

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