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Back to metrics again, it’s vitally important that you measure what you want to control. To that end, perhaps the most important business metric you should be concerned with, and one which you have a fair amount of control over, is the cost of acquisition for each customer.

Whether you market your products and service through PPC, social media, search marketing, other, or a combination of above, you should keep tabs on what it costs to get a new customer. If you don’t know that, you don’t know whether you are earning a profit or not.

By running a few tests you can determine the base cost of a new customer. This is easy to do with pay per click advertising.

After you have determined the base cost of a new customer, you can then adjust that as needed by tweaking your online marketing initiatives. You can downgrade your PPC campaigns to control costs, increase the amount of time you spend on social media, or increase your SEO efforts.

Keep in mind that customer acquisition cost is a one-time event. After you have gained a new customer you then have to expend your resources to keep him. That’s a different cost altogether, and it’s cheaper and easier to keep a customer than acquire a new one.

So keep an eye on the cost of obtaining a new customer. It’s your most important business metric.

As we enter a new year, search marketers will start to make their predictions for the coming year. I always read and pay attention to what the leaders in the industry are saying. One leader I like to keep tabs on is Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz. His predictions for 2013 aren’t really striking (most of them), but I’d like to hone in on three of them for a little bit.

  1. Google+ – Rand says that Google+ will continue to grow albeit at a slower pace. I think that’s a reasonable prediction. I also believe that some time in the near or mid-term future Google+ will be an essential element of SEO. We’re not there yet, but I believe it’s coming, and a part of that is the steady growth of the service.
  2. Facebook/Twitter metrics – One of the downsides of marketing on Facebook and Twitter is that neither service offers very robust tracking and metrics tools for marketers. Facebook is further along than Twitter, but their admin portal is still quite slim. If Rand’s prediction on this one comes to fruition, then you can expect Facebook’s and Twitter’s value as marketing tools to increase.
  3. Co-citations – Another interesting prediction is that anchor text will diminish and co-citations increase. This has already started happening, but Rand is saying that confirmation of it will come in 2013. I suspect that Google’s reliance on the change will also grow. This will be a big deal to search marketers who have traditionally relied on link building techniques for search rankings.

Interesting, there was hardly any mention of mobile search or tablets in Rand’s predictions. Don’t think that these will be off the table in 2013. I still see growth in those areas as well.