Key Considerations in Developing an E-Commerce Customer Acquisition Strategy

Digital marketing is an essential tool, as it allows you to reach your audience wherever they might be online. It lets you locate them on social media, engage with them on your website, and even communicate with them from their inbox. However, that’s only half of the equation. Once you’ve found your audience, you need to get them to convert into a customer. That’s a harder thing to achieve than you might think, and it requires that you have an e-commerce customer acquisition strategy in place.

What Is a Customer Acquisition Strategy?

To really understand how your customer acquisition strategy should work, we must first explore what it is. At its heart, it is nothing more than the process by which you bring new customers into your business. Each customer that you bring in has a cost associated with them, and that cost should be lower than the lifetime value the customer delivers to your business. If not, you will find that your costs outstrip your profits, leading to reduced success and potentially to failure.

There are a few key challenges here. The first, and probably the most obvious, is that you must be able to continuously generate a stream of new customers to offset losses. And, make no mistake, you will lose customers. They’ll defect to competitors. Their needs will change. Their budgets will change. So, you need to continually attract new ones to replace those that leave the fold.

Another challenge here is that you need to make sure that you are not overpaying for acquiring those customers. The term customer acquisition cost, or CAC, is used to express just how much you must pay to attract and then retain a single customer. You will need to balance that number against the expected lifetime value, or LTV, of the customer. If your CAC is higher than your LTV, then you’re doing something wrong and your customer acquisition strategy needs to be scrutinised. To determine your CAC, you’ll need to divide your marketing spend by the number of customers acquired during that period.

Creating your Customer Acquisition Strategy

There are quite a few components to building your e-commerce customer acquisition strategy. In this section, we will break them down for you.

Audience – You first need to define your audience. Who are you marketing to? What are their interests and where do they spend the most time online? What are the demographics here – geographic location, age, gender, income, education level, employment, etc.? Answer these questions to begin building an accurate image of your audience.

Goals – Next, you need to determine what your goals are with customer acquisition. What are your strategic objectives? These need to be clearly delineated and unambiguous. They also need to be achievable and realistic. For instance, “getting more customers” is too vague, while “improving annual profit by 400%” might be unachievable.

Channels – You must determine how you’ll reach and engage with your audience. Which social networks will you use? Will email play a role? Will PPC campaigns help? What SEO tactics will be employed? Will offline marketing play a role and, if so, to what extent?

Rinse and Repeat

Sadly, there is no one and done when it comes to creating a customer acquisition strategy. You’ll need to adjust things as you go. The digital environment is incredibly fluid and dynamic, meaning that changes can be sudden and unexpected. Changes to search engine algorithms, new social networks, the actions of your competitors, real-world environmental factors – these can all play havoc with your strategy, so be prepared to continually adjust things.

One key activity here is testing various marketing strategies and techniques to ensure that you’re reaching your audience with the right message and that they’re converting at a reasonable rate. A/B testing can be invaluable here, particularly with the wealth of social platforms that now offer native advertising capabilities.

Constantly recalculate your customer acquisition cost, as well. Hopefully, you’ll be able to drive that cost down as you refine your strategy. The lower your CAC, the more worthwhile your efforts are.

Finally, make sure that you always know what the LTV of your customers is. This should be recalculated regularly to ensure that you’re able to keep your costs under control, but also so that you can keep tabs on things that will affect your overall profitability and success.


An e-commerce customer acquisition strategy is the foundation on which you should build your digital marketing efforts. Make sure that you have the right strategy in place before you begin marketing, and that you refine that strategy over time. Know your CAC and LTV, how they affect your business, and the factors that affect your acquisition costs over time.

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Richard Coen

With over 21 years of experience in Digital Marketing, 31 years in sales and 25 years in business development, Richard assists companies to develop key growth strategies on a local or international basis. He can assist marketers to achieve balance in their approach to key areas affected by the growth in digital marketing.