nebulaClient acquisition.  It’s a must have for any business that’s looking to grow.  Maybe you’ve had a strategy that has worked well for you for years – it may even involve a Rolodex.  Maybe you’re a dabbler who tries a little bit of this and a little bit of that and have been able to piece together an ok program over time.  Maybe you keep trying different things and haven’t found anything that works consistently.  There are a lot of ways to approach client acquisition.

Regardless of your approach, your customer keeps evolving, and so should you.  There are some amazing statistics available that provide tremendous insight into the client mindset that should be shaping and informing your acquisition strategy.  Let’s dive on in and take a look!

57% of a buying decision is made before a customer even talks to a supplier.

This first statistic from a CEB Study is mind blowing.  Think about that.  Before you even talk to a prospect, they have made the majority of their decision.  They likely have preconceived ideas about your firm and your competition.  But it begs the question, if they’re that close to their final decision and they haven’t spoken to you, then where are they getting their information?

The answer is simple – online. They’re reading articles about the issue they’re trying to solve.  They’re following links and solutions mentioned in the articles and they’re creating their own path for educating themselves.  They’re doing this in their own time and without the possible pressure from a sales situation.

By the time a prospect gets to you, they are likely very well informed on their problem, possible solutions and your company.  But fear not, there is a way that you can be a part of their research path, and that is to provide valuable, educational content that will catch their eye along their exploratory journey.

85% of buyers believe companies should present information via social networks.

This nugget from Iconsive follows naturally from the point before, and is true of B2C and B2B.  As we said, by creating great content, you can be a part of your prospect’s information gathering path.  But creating content alone isn’t enough – you have to get the content out there.  One of the top ways to distribute your quality content is via social media.

We have other posts that go more in depth on social media and why it’s important (you can find them here and here,) so we want to focus on the “why” of this statistic.  In short, prospects want you to present information on social networks because they are spending time on social networks.  Doesn’t that make sense? Isn’t it easier to have information coming to you in the places you already are when you’re trying to research something than to have to head out to parts unknown?

It’s possible that we just heard a collective groan when social networks were brought up.  Maybe it’s not a place where you spend a lot of time, or maybe you do, but you use it only for personal use and you yourself don’t use it for business information gathering.  That’s ok.  Different strokes for different folks.  The most important thing to take away from this isn’t about your comfort level with (or opinions of,) social media.  It’s about the expectations of your customers – and they expect you to be there.

B2B marketers who use Twitter generate twice as many leads as those who don’t.

Keeping in the social vein for a bit, Social Media Today has determined that B2B Twitter users generate twice as many leads as those who aren’t using Twitter.  Yes, that was a statistic worth repeating.  Honestly, that is a statistic most never would have guessed at.

The starting place for your client acquistion efforts has to be building leads into your funnel.  And if using Twitter can DOUBLE the number of leads that you are putting into that funnel, why wouldn’t you be using it?  As we’ve talked about in the two previous points, you want to provide educational information (not sales-y information,) to prospects during their “private” research period.  And you also want to reach them where they are.  Twitter can help you achieve both of those.

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Inbound marketing costs 61% LESS per lead than traditional, outbound marketing.

Our friends at HubSpot have done tremendous research into the impact of Inbound Marketing on client acquisition, retention and more.  This tidbit is a pretty huge point.  By utilizing Inbound, marketers are able to achieve a savings of 61% per lead versus the traditional methods.

So what is “traditional, outbound marketing”? Essentially, it’s the way that things were done.  It’s interruptive methods, reaching people at times that they are not receptive.  It’s expensive tactics like advertising, frustrating ones like cold calling and ineffective ones like pay-per-click programs.

Inbound, on the other hand, focuses on permission based engagements.  Providing educational information in the right place at the right time to be of value to the prospect and/or customer.  It is made up of elements such as blogs, eBooks, webinars, email nurturing, and much, much more.  It is customer centric and much more pallatable to prospects.  And as this stat shows, it is also much less expensive.  (If you’re interested in learning more about Inbound, please check out our guide – The Magnetic Approach to Client Acquisition: An Intro to Inbound Marketing.)

Inbound marketing provides twice the lead generation of either outbound or self-sourced programs.

As long as we’re talking about Inbound, let’s finish things out with one more stat that includes it.  This one really encapsulates the monumental shift that is happening in prospect research habits and their decision making process.

As a reminder, “outbound” is tactics like broad scale paid adveritisng (TV, print, radio,) cold calling, purchasing email lists, etc.  “Self-sourced” would be leads that a company generates on their own.  This could be word of mouth, referrals, that old Rolodex, etc.  In other words, these two methods combined sum up the way client acquisition was done for decades.  But they’re just not working as well anymore.  The digital age has put the control for information gathering in the hands of individuals.  They can choose what they view, when and where.

This is what Inbound specializes in – creating that approach for reaching prospects where they are, when they are ready and with the information they are looking for.  Not throwing a sales message in their face or interupting something they are wanting to view, but becoming that thing they are wanting to view.  And this is why Inbound is generating 2X the leads from those other methods.

Final Thoughts

Of all the things you research for your profession, how to acquire clients may be one of the lowest on your list.  Don’t feel bad, that’s a pretty universal thing.  For your company to keep growing and evolving, it’s helpful to know how your prospects are evolving.  Hopefully we were able to provide you some food for thought and to expand your horizons a bit.  The main thing is, just like your prospects, keep doing research and evolving your approach.  When you have a funnel full of high quality leads, you’ll be glad you did.