An early New Yearâs Resolution for marketers: rethink your customer acquisition | DMA

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An early New Yearâs Resolution for marketers: rethink your customer acquisition

As signs point to a strengthening UK economy, the topic of ‘growth’ is unashamedly back in the spotlight. And that means a renewed focus on lead generation and customer acquisition.

For confirmation, see Forrester’s the Forrsights Business Decision-Makers Survey conducted in Q4 2012, where more than 2,000 global business decision makers at big organisations were asked what their ‘critical’ and ‘high’ priorities were for the next 12 months.

Top of the menu was acquiring and retaining customers, with 73% of respondents choosing this as their big issue for 2013/14. So far, so predictable: it’s a finding that would have been echoed if the survey had been conducted 10 years ago, and 10 years before that.

As we reflect on 2013 and peer (some of us with trepidation) into 2014, we acknowledge the cornucopia of challenges facing customer acquisition professionals in an increasingly complex landscape of technology, media and regulation.

Let’s face it: acquisition is a far tougher place to be than the fluffier, retention side of the marketing equation – the former measured by hard, quantifiable sales conversions rather than ‘engagement’ or ‘brand love’ metrics.

Under pressure from fragmenting consumer media choices and tightening privacy laws, acquisition and sales managers are compelled to change their playbook.

We’re at the end of a year in which the data-driven marketing sphere has been under intense political and media scrutiny, thanks to poor practices such as unsolicited PPI and accident claim calls, and online data collection not clearly identified as such.

All of this smacks of a discipline under pressure, but needing to be more transparent, and a body of regulators smelling blood.

The elephant in the room, of course, is the much-argued-over draft EU data protection regulations, coming to a legislature near you in the near future.

All of which is why the Direct Marketing Association has partnered with lead generation company McDowall to drive a stake in the ground and launch a marketer and consumer survey that investigates the best and worst practices in customer acquisition.

The survey will quiz acquisition marketers from large, medium and small companies about the pressures they face and the practices – good and ‘bad’ – they feel ease those pressures. They will also be canvassed on what they see is lead generation’s future, as the marketing/technology ecosystem evolves. Findings will be released at an event in March 2014.

Channels continue to proliferate and acquiring customers evolves – for better or for worse. As 2013 draws to a close, it’s time to take a good, hard look at current practices and pressures – with acquisition professionals now needing to provide regulators with a ready justification for why they do what they do.

Here’s hoping, for the sake of business growth – and all the good things it brings – that the DMA/McDowall survey portrays a sector at ease with itself and its regulatory masters. That would make for a merrier Christmas as well as a prosperous 2014.

By guest blogger Andrew Colwell, Marketing and Commercial Director, McDowall

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