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Do's And Don'ts of Effective Acquisition Marketing for Startups

Post by
Brian BloomKing
Do's And Don'ts of Effective Acquisition Marketing for Startups


For startups, effective customer acquisition marketing is crucial for gaining traction, attracting customers, and achieving sustainable growth. This blog post will explore the dos and don'ts of startup acquisition marketing strategy. Understanding these best practices can optimize your marketing efforts and maximize your chances of success.

The Dos

Define Your Target Audience

Before launching any customer acquisition marketing strategies, it's essential to identify and understand your target audience. You must know who you are targeting to develop effective messaging to reach them.

Conduct thorough market research to understand their demographics, preferences, and pain points. This knowledge will allow you to craft targeted messaging and choose appropriate channels to reach your potential customers effectively.

Effective ways to do target audience research:

  1. Interview people who meet your target criteria through a paid focus group panel using a service like User Interviews
  2. Run paid surveys through a service like Pollfish
  3. Talk to existing customers.  This is also a great way to set the stage for case studies.

Set Clear Goals and Objectives

customer acquisition costs
Source: Weekdone

Now that you know who you are targeting and the messaging that will effectively reach them, you need to determine what you are trying to achieve.  Clearly define your acquisition marketing strategy and establish objectives and key results (OKRs) to measure your progress. Whether it's increasing website traffic, generating leads, or driving conversions, having well-defined goals will help you stay focused and evaluate the success of your campaigns.

Example OKRs

Here are some OKRs with sample data.  Look at the ones that might apply to your startup and replace the sample numbers with your actual results:

  1. Increase Monthly Active Users (MAUs) by 30%:

  • Target: Achieve a 30% growth in MAUs within the specified timeframe.
  • Measurement: Track the monthly user count using analytics tools and compare it to the baseline.

  1. Improve Conversion Rate by 15%:

  • Target: Increase the conversion rate from website visitors to registered users by 15%.
  • Measurement: Monitor the conversion rate through website analytics and track the percentage increase.

  1. Increase Organic Traffic by 20%:

  • Target: Achieve a 20% growth in organic traffic to the website.
  • Measurement: Analyze website traffic data and compare organic traffic volume before and after implementing targeted SEO and content marketing strategies.

  1. Boost Free Trial Sign-ups by 25%:

  • Target: Increase the number of free trial sign-ups by 25%.
  • Measurement: Track the number of free trial registrations using sign-up analytics and compare it to the previous period.

  1. Reduce Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) by 10%:

  • Target: Decrease the average cost of acquiring a new customer by 10%.
  • Measurement: Calculate the CAC by dividing the total customer acquisition costs by the number of acquired customers and track the reduction over time.

  1. Increase Referral Program Participation by 50%:

  • Target: Encourage more customers to participate in the referral program and achieve a 50% referral increase.
  • Measurement: Monitor the number of customers actively participating in the referral program and track the growth in the number of referrals generated.

  1. Improve Onboarding Completion Rate to 80%:

  • Target: Increase the percentage of users who complete the onboarding process to 80%.
  • Measurement: Track user onboarding completion rates and analyze the steps where users tend to drop off or experience difficulties.

  1. Enhance Landing Page Conversion Rate by 20%:

  • Target: Improve the conversion rate of landing pages by 20%.
  • Measurement: Analyze landing page analytics, conduct A/B tests, and track conversion rate increases.

  1. Increase Social Media Engagement by 50%:

  • Target: Achieve a 50% increase in social media engagement metrics (likes, shares, comments) across platforms.
  • Measurement: Monitor social media analytics and track the growth in engagement metrics compared to the previous period.

  1. Increase reviews and ratings by 50%

  • Target: Actively incent and solicit user reviews on sites like G2 and increase reviews by 50%
  • Measurement: Regularly analyze user feedback, ratings, and reviews, and monitor the average star rating across all platforms.

By setting these specific objectives and measurable key results, a SaaS startup can track and evaluate its progress in user acquisition and adjust its strategies accordingly to drive growth and success.

Develop a Compelling Value Proposition

In a competitive market, startups need a strong value proposition that sets them apart from the competition. Clearly communicate your product or service's unique benefits and value to customers. A compelling value proposition helps attract and retain customers, making your acquisition marketing strategy more effective.

Here are some steps you can follow:

  1. Clearly define the problem you solve: Identify your target audience's specific pain points and challenges and clearly articulate how your SaaS solution addresses and solves those problems.

  1. Emphasize unique features and benefits: Highlight the unique features, functionalities, or benefits that differentiate your SaaS product from competitors. Communicate how these features directly address the needs and desires of your target customers.

  1. Focus on outcomes, not just features: Instead of solely emphasizing the features of your SaaS solution, highlight the outcomes and results that customers can expect by using your product. Clearly articulate the positive impact and value it brings to their businesses or lives.

  1. Use customer testimonials and case studies: Incorporate customer testimonials and case studies that showcase your SaaS product's real-world benefits and success stories. This social proof adds credibility and builds trust with potential customers.

  1. Keep it simple and concise: Craft a value proposition that is clear, concise, and easy to understand. Avoid jargon or technical language that might confuse your audience. Focus on communicating the core value your SaaS startup offers in a compelling and straightforward manner.

Leverage Content Marketing…

Content marketing is a cost-effective way for startups to build brand awareness, establish thought leadership, and attract potential customers. Create valuable and informative content such as blog posts, white papers, ebooks, videos, and infographics that resonate with your target audience. Share this content through various channels, including social media, email marketing, paid search, and guest posting on relevant industry websites.

…And Work To Make Sure Your Content Is Seen in Many Places

Paid B2B content syndication offers a compelling way to generate business leads quickly. By partnering with top industry publishers and influencers,  companies can tap into a vast network of targeted publishers and distribution channels, ensuring their content reaches a highly relevant audience at scale. This approach enables businesses to accelerate lead generation efforts by quickly exposing their content to a larger pool of potential customers.

Key advantages of paid B2B content syndication

  • Reach a pre-qualified audience.
  • Advanced targeting options, including company, industry, job titles, company size, and other relevant criteria.
  • Ensures that the content is delivered to decision-makers and key influencers more likely to be interested in your solutions.
  • Leads can be produced in days rather than months, which is often required by organic content marketing.
  • Instant exposure to a relevant audience accelerates the lead generation process, providing quick results for businesses looking to meet monthly and quarterly targets.
  • Increase branding and awareness by having your content endorsed by trusted resources.
  • SEO optimization by having high-authority websites link back to your site.

Utilize Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

You can get quick content marketing wins via B2B content syndication, but you must still play the ‘long game’ for sustained growth. 

Implementing SEO best practices can boost your startup's visibility in search engine results. Optimize your website and content for relevant keywords, improve website loading speed, and focus on building high-quality backlinks.

The Don'ts

Neglecting Analytics

Pay attention to the importance of data and analytics in acquisition marketing strategy (see OKRs above). Implement analytics tools such as Google Analytics to track the performance of your campaigns, measure conversion rates, and identify areas for improvement. Data-driven insights allow you to optimize your marketing strategies and allocate resources more effectively.

Look to implement dashboards using your analytics package, whether Google or something else.  If that task seems daunting and time-consuming, hire a freelance expert from Upwork to do it for you.

Overlooking Customer Retention (Cut Churn)

While acquisition marketing focuses on acquiring new customers, retaining existing customers is equally essential, significantly if economic conditions worsen. Make sure to pay attention to customer retention efforts. Implement easy feedback mechanisms, personalized email marketing, loyalty programs, and deploy exceptional customer service teams to foster long-term customer relationships and encourage repeat business.

Relying Solely on Paid Advertising

This is another way to remind you always to be looking to boost your SEO and branding profile. Startups often have limited marketing budgets, and relying solely on paid advertising may not be sustainable in the long run. While paid ads can provide quick, initial traction, explore other cost-effective channels like PR, social media marketing, content marketing, influencer partnerships, and referral & partner programs (see next section) to complement your acquisition efforts.

Ignoring the Power of Partnerships

Collaborating with strategic partners, industry influencers, or complementary businesses can be a game-changer for startups. Look for opportunities to form partnerships to tap into established networks, reach a wider audience, and gain credibility. Joint marketing initiatives and co-branding efforts can significantly enhance your acquisition marketing efforts.

This one is hard and takes effort.  Here are some tips:

  1. Identify Ideal Partners: Define the characteristics of ideal partners who align with your target audience and have complementary products or services. Look for partners that can add value to your SaaS offering and vice versa.

  1. Create a Win-Win Proposition: Develop a compelling value proposition that outlines the benefits of the partnership for both parties involved. Showcase how the collaboration can enhance customer value and drive revenue growth for your SaaS startup and your partners.

  1. Define Clear Objectives and Metrics: Establish specific goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) for your partnership program. Determine metrics such as revenue generated, customer acquisition costs, or increased market reach to measure the success and impact of your partnerships.

  1. Offer Incentives: Provide incentives to motivate and reward partners for their efforts in promoting your SaaS product. This can include revenue sharing, referral commissions, access to exclusive resources or features, or co-marketing opportunities. The incentives should align with the value created by the partnership.

  1. Enable Collaboration and Support: Foster strong relationships with your partners by offering training, marketing materials, and ongoing support. Provide them with the necessary resources to promote and sell your SaaS product effectively. Regular communication and collaboration can strengthen the partnership and drive mutual success.

  1. Develop a Partner Portal: Create a dedicated online platform or partner portal where partners can access information, resources and track their performance. This portal can also serve as a hub for collaboration, sharing best practices, and fostering community among your partners.

  1. Promote Joint Marketing Initiatives: Collaborate with your partners on co-marketing campaigns, webinars, case studies, or thought leadership content. Leveraging each other's networks and expertise can significantly expand your reach and attract new customers.

  1. Track and Evaluate Results: Implement robust tracking and reporting mechanisms to monitor the performance of your partnership program. Regularly analyze data, evaluate the effectiveness of partnerships, and optimize strategies based on the insights gained.

  1. Foster Long-Term Relationships: Focus on building long-term relationships with your partners. Nurture these relationships by providing ongoing support, conducting joint planning sessions, and continually seeking feedback to improve the partnership program.

  1. Continuously Evolve and Innovate: Stay proactive and adapt your partnership program to changing market dynamics and partner needs. Embrace innovation, explore new partnership opportunities, and seek ways to deliver greater value to your customers through collaborative efforts.

By implementing these tips, SaaS startups can create and run a successful partnership program that drives revenue growth, expands market reach, and strengthens their position in the industry.

Failing to Test and Iterate

Startups often assume their initial acquisition marketing strategy will be flawless, but it's an iterative process. Continuously test different channels, messaging, and campaigns to identify what works best for your target audience. Use A/B testing, analyze results, and refine your approach based on data-driven insights.


Acquisition marketing plays a vital role in the success of startups, but it requires careful planning and execution. Following the dos and avoiding don'ts outlined in this blog post can optimize your acquisition marketing efforts, attract the right customers, and drive sustainable growth. Remember to stay agile, monitor key metrics, and adapt your strategies as your startup evolves. With a well-executed acquisition marketing plan, your startup can gain a competitive edge and achieve long-term success.

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