Cost per Acquisition Is Going Up. Here’s What to Do about It.

Dear brand,

We have bad news.

Your cost per acquisition is about to go up. Impression share is going down, which is making your cost per click increase. That dominoes right into a higher cost per acquisition.

Here are the macro-level challenges that are contributing to many brands’ increased cost per acquisition, and why business practices—not marketing tactics—are the real solution:

Ideas about ROI Need an Update

Many brands still think that attribution is tied to a single click (whether first or last), and they want to see ROI within a month or less of any given campaign kick-off. But conversion cycles are far more complex and unique now than they ever have been, and a Dallas business is competing with shops in Milwaukee, Leeds, Pyongyang, and Brussels.

Audiences have unlimited choice. Their products, services, and education can come from anywhere. Accessibility is everything, and the power of the brand is nothing like it used to be. Startups can generate quality competition faster than ever before, and “established brands” often equate to high margins and corporate bloat (in the consumer’s mind) in this post-Recession world. That pushes consumers away from the tried-and-true to hunt for scrappier competitors.

And speaking of generating leads, chances are your current campaigns have delivered some solid leads. And in the next 18 months, 60% of them should have purchased from you. That’s 18 months, not days. Every brand can pick low-hanging fruit much prior to that, but low-hanging fruit does not a harvest make.

From Web Copy to Business Practices, It’s about the Audience…Not You

If you feel that your increased cost per acquisition is going up because your audience just isn’t thinking about you or engaging with your brand, consider these two possible reasons:

Reason #1, because you’re talking about yourself and your product, not your audience and your audience’s goals beyond your product. And that’s manifested in Reason #2, because you’re running start-and-stop campaigns. Those campaigns are focused on you, not them. Not even swimsuit companies stop marketing in the winter.

Customers need to stay engaged, always engaged. There is no campaign end date. The day after your event is always the first day before your next event. Successful marketers are constantly contributing to the lifestyle their audiences surround themselves with. Utilitarian, humanitarian, organic, patriotic, minimalist, you name it—serve the tribe to be part of the tribe.

Subaru recognizes it. People in their tribe don’t buy a Subaru, per se; they buy safety. And Subaru plays the family safety card every chance they get. Coca-Cola learned it back in 1971 with the “In Perfect Harmony” campaign. Apple’s most popular commercials over the decades have had nothing to do with computers. These brands know that no one cares about features and benefits. Your product or service is a tool or a means to an end. Talk to them about that end, and your audience will listen endlessly.

And when people sign up at the last minute, they aren’t interested in the upcoming conference or event. They’re showing up for the future version of themselves. They’re getting in line now for next year or even two years from now. And if you no longer value them once this campaign period is over, then they will no longer value you when you want their attention in six months.

Everyone Is in the Customer Service Business, Period.

Serving your tribe leads directly into the next point, which is that you are in the customer service business. It doesn’t matter if you sell virtual computing capacity to expand data center infrastructure, or if you sell sportswear.

15 years ago, no one outside of Baltimore knew about Under Armour. So how did Under Armour make behemoths like Adidas and Nike move over? They got small. They got smart. They are making smarter customers with apps like mapmyrun and mapmyride.

Centers Are Breaking Down, and There’s Nothing You Can Do about It

We live in an age of disruption inspired, perhaps, by the internet, but certainly not limited to it. Here’s what we mean:

  • Education is no longer the province of universities; now there’s Pluralsight, Udacity, Coursera, and others.
  • Healthcare is no longer the province of hospitals and offices; now freestanding emergency rooms are popping up across the United States.
  • Hospitality is no longer the province of hotels; Airbnb is shaking up the industry so dramatically that state legislatures are getting involved.
  • Even calling a cab to catch a ride is over; it’s all about Lyft and Uber.

If one of the world’s largest shoe retailers is entirely online (Zappos), then how can the world dramatically change in the next 5 years for your industry? And what is your marketing doing to stay ahead of the curve?

Channels Are Changing

Organic social reach is approaching 0% as rapidly as possible while social channels push brands to pay for the attention they get instead of giving it away freely. And the cost is going upwards, ever upwards. That means the platforms that got you here won’t get you there in your next campaign.

Channels are also getting smarter. They gather better data, which makes you smarter. You use the channel differently—hopefully in a more effective way—and that in turn means that channels are collecting more and better data. The cycle goes around and around. It’s a good thing, but it also means that you can’t run the same campaigns for years and do the same things. If you aren’t learning and adapting, then the channels are leaving you behind.

If You Want to Go Far, Go Together

From consulting to execution, Rogue won’t just help you create a better marketing plan—Rogue will partner with you develop a different approach. “Better” is more of the same. “Different” is better than better. If you have been struggling with cost per acquisition and driving a successful nurture campaign, maybe it’s time to Go Rogue.