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Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.netA  business won’t be in business for long without a steady stream of customers, both returning customers and new ones. Because the cost  of getting a new customer can be high, businesses often focus on retaining current ones. But it’s still important to try to bring new customers in. Avoiding the following mistakes will help the customer acquisition process go as smoothly as possible for your company.

Mistake 1: Making a Bad First Impression

You’re heard all the clichés: you only get one chance to make a first impression, first impressions last the longest, and so on. Given the importance placed on really wowing a customer the first time you come into contact with him or her, you’d be surprised at how often companies mess up the first impression.

Making a bad first impression can range from anything from running out of inventory and not being able to fulfill your orders to having a customer service representative from your team speak harshly or in a rude tone to a new or potential customer.

Another way to make a bad first impression is to under promise or undersell your company. It’s a competitive world out there, and customers might have the option of working with several companies that are similar to yours. When connecting with those potential customers, really sell your company, thinking of the components that make you different (and better) than the rest.

Mistake 2: Trying to Be Trendy

It often seems like there’s always a new way to attract and connect with customers. But, just because other companies are following the trends and having some degree of success, doesn’t mean your business needs to do the same. In some cases, the marketing or customer acquisition trend du jour might not make any sense for your business, or could end up costing you more in the long run.

Take a close look at the tactics you’re using to reach out to new customers. Influencer marketing might be a popular technique these days, but not if your primary customers aren’t big social media users. The same is true for pay-per-click services such as Google AdWords. They might be popular and might work for some, but they aren’t always the most effective choices.

Mistake 3: Not Having a Big Enough Budget

Your customer acquisition budget will be influenced by your company’s overall finances and budget. Not every business has the resources to spend considerable amounts of money bringing in new customers. That said, it’s essential that you have a realistic understanding of the potential costs of acquiring customers and that you leave room in the budget to account for them.

Mistake 4: Not Knowing What Customer Acquisition Costs

Not knowing how much it will cost your business to get a new customer goes hand in hand with not setting a big enough budget to acquire customers. One way to estimate customer acquisition cost is to subtract the amount you spend on marketing to and connecting with customers from the amount those new customers will bring into your company in terms of sales. Another way to determine the cost is to look at what you’ve spent and divide that by the number of new customers you brought in. If your business spent $2,000 and gained 10  new customers during one month, the cost per customer for that month is $200.

Mistake 5: Assuming a First-Time Customer Will Become an Ongoing Customer

Getting repeat customers is often a goal, but it doesn’t always happen. If you want a new customer to become a loyal customer, you need to think beyond the first sale. What can your business do to get a customer to come back? Offering a discount on a subsequent purchase is one option, as is sending a personal note thanking that customer for purchasing from or working with your company. Getting repeat customers goes back to making a great first impression. If you don’t give them a reason to return, odds are likely that they won’t.

New Direction Capital can help you gain a better understanding of how acquiring and retaining customers can help improve your business’ finances and help it grow. To learn more about how our virtual CFO services can help your company, contact us today.

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What it Costs Your Business to Get a New CustomerKeeping past customers and boosting customer loyalty is often a lot less expensive for your company than acquiring new customers. But, have you ever stopped and actually calculated what it costs your business to obtain a new customer?

Customer acquisition cost is an important metric. It allows you to see what your company spends bringing in new clients and how that cost relates to what the customers actually purchase from you or whether they return for repeat business. Figuring out the customer acquisition cost is just one piece of the puzzle. You also want to look at what you can do to reduce it and how it can affect your company’s ability to scale.

Calculating Customer Acquisition Cost

The concept of customer acquisition cost is pretty simple. It’s how much you spend, per client, to get a new customer. Typically, two components come into play when you figure out acquisition cost. One is the cost of marketing and the other is the cost of your sales team. During a quarter, for example, you might spend $20,000 on marketing and $60,000 on a four-person sales team, meaning $80,000 goes towards getting new customers.  That $80,000 brought in 800 new customers during the quarter. If you divide 80,000 by 800, you end up spending $100 per customer. That’s your customer acquisition cost.

What CAC Means for Your Business

On its own, saying that your customer acquisition cost is $100 doesn’t mean much. You need to look at the cost of acquiring a new customer in terms of what the customer purchases from you and in terms of the lifetime value of the customer. If you spend $100 to acquire a new customer and the customer ends up making single a $250 purchase from you, which brings you a profit of $150, you’ve ended up spending $100 and only pocketing $50.

But, if you spend $100 to initially get a customer’s business and he or she returns to you, making $250 purchases every quarter for 10 years, and you earn $150 from each purchase, you’ve spent $100 and end up bringing in $6,000 over 10 years.

Reducing CAC

There are a few ways you can reduce the overall cost of acquiring customers. One is to actually reduce the cost of getting customers. For example, you might not actually need to spend $60,000 on your sales team, especially if you are getting much of your business from online marketing.

Another option is to focus on improving the lifetime value of a customer, or the amount they spend with your business over the course of your relationship. Loyalty programs that encourage repeat purchases, email newsletters that let past customers know what’s new, and frequent product updates and improvements can all keep your customers coming back for more. A general rule of thumb is to have your customer’s lifetime value be about three times their CAC.

How CAC Affects Your Company’s Ability to Scale

Investors and funding partners typically want to see a CAC that is as low as possible. The lower your CAC in comparison to a customer’s lifetime value, the greater your company’s ability to turn a profit and grow. It is difficult to focus on improving a product or service or to look to other regions to expand into if you are a spending a significant amount of your company’s revenue on getting new clients. Having an ideal lifetime value to CAC ratio also shows investors that you have a good grasp on what your company needs to do to get new customers, and what it needs to do to get the most out of them once you’ve acquired them.

If you aren’t sure what your company’s CAC is or aren’t sure how it relates to your customer’s lifetime value and overall loyalty, working with the virtual CFO team at New Direction Capital can help. Our team can help you spend less on getting new customers or help you focus on improving your relationship with clients, so that they return for repeat business. Contact us today to learn more.

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