The new year is a great time to focus on new customer features in a mobile or software application, set some goals for user acquisition or put some new processes and systems in place to grow your business. Today, we’re introducing you to some resources that will help you set a plan for user (customer) acquisition, whether it be for a new mobile application or even a service business.

Running is one of my favorite hobbies. Lace up your shoes and run in the wee hours of the morning type running. A headlamp is required because it’s still dark. I’ve developed a habit around it, but sometimes a habit will plateau. The gains eventually taper off and the methods of training used over the last year may not take me to the next level of fitness. The same goes for your product, your team and your company. How do we get over the plateau?

In terms of fitness, I set a goal to beat a certain pace on a specific distance. Then I sign up for a race, and find a training plan (I’m using the free one) that will force me to do workouts to drop my pace and set a new PR (personal record). This year, I’m taking advantage of technology and have programmed my running watch for the actual workouts in the plan. That means I can’t slack off without a very loud warning from my watch. We can do the same thing for products, teams and companies. Internally, at Oak City Labs, we’ve been more strategic about quarterly goals, annual goals and long term vision. We set goals, we’ve written down a plan and it has forced us to make some uncomfortable choices. Ultimately, having that plan written down and doing things that are uncomfortable will help us grow to accomplish our goals.

We can also apply the same simple process to user acquisition and product growth. Much like the sales and revenue targets, your team needs to go through the exercise of setting a goal – whether it’s 100,000 downloads in 6 months or 100 new users in 6 months. Set the goal and work backwards. If I need to have 100,000 in 6 months. How do I get those users? How much will that cost? Where do they come from? How many can I get in January, February, etc

Ryan Gum does an excellent job of giving you a plan, or at least a format to follow and would be a great place to start.

Other resources to dig a little deeper into customer acquisition include:

It’s also important to realize that your plan is going to change depending on your target market or ideal customer. Customer acquisition costs will also differ from customer to customer. Christopher Janz outlines different strategies by type and size of customer. Make sure to read his follow-up post on brontosaurus and whale hunting.

To help you get you moving, here’s a quick checklist to guide your thinking:

  1. Define your ideal user. This should be a detailed description of who they are, where they are, what they buy, what they think and how they buy.
  2. Set a goal(s) for user acquisition. How many ideal users do you need? When do you need them? Is it a realistic number and time frame? And write it down. Print it out and hang it up next to your desk.
  3. Work backwards. Knowing how many you need to acquire, starting asking some tough questions about how you’re going to get them? How much will it cost? If you buy Facebook ads in January, when do you expect those to convert and at what conversion rate? Use the sites linked to in this article to dig into the “how.”
  4. Define your plan. Write the plan down. For example, in January we’ll call 200 people. In February we’ll spend $10,000 on Facebook ads. Make sure to include a reminder with each of your actions to evaluate the performance and make tweaks. Review the plan monthly to make sure you’re on target.
  5. Execute. Just do it, follow your plan. Make adjustments as you go and don’t let analysis paralysis keep you from testing small acquisition campaigns.

I hope this helps get you started on putting a process around your customer acquisition strategies.  If you happened to really like this article and want to read more about this or another topic please contact us! We’d love to hear your feedback!