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Got High CAC? You Need to Relook the Customer Journey
Last Updated:  
November 11, 2022

Got High CAC? You Need to Relook the Customer Journey

Ask someone how to lower Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC) and you’ll likely hear any of these trivialized answers: Test a different audience, test ad creatives, split test landing page copy and so on.

That’s no better than asking “what other marketing activities can be done?”

Hardly anyone looks inward at what they’re currently doing… and more importantly, asking themselves if what they’re doing is aligned to their customer journey.

Here’s what happens traditionally. You pick a goal, you drive traffic, you retarget that traffic to get a conversion based on how they interacted. Familiar?

That’s an outdated playbook though.

And it’s the biggest reason why brands are suffering these days.

You could do that in the past because ad platforms (mainly Facebook and Google) know literally everything about your audience. What new privacy laws have done is take away the ability to read customers' minds. The golden age of easy leads and cheap ads on digital is coming to a close.

Changing Your Approach to Acquisition

We need a new way of doing things:

  1. Maximizing the click-through rate (CTR) from people that see your ads
  2. Maximizing the sign-ups (with clean data) from people who visit your page
  3. Maximizing the lead to customer ratio by retargeting, leveraging their emails and data collected
  4. Follow through with a great product experience. This includes onboarding, unboxing, product usage and the whole shebang

This is the model that’s required.

Sounds simple.

There’s one big problem you’ll likely run into, though. When you get down in the trenches, you’ll start implementing tactics that favor the Company Journey, rather than the Customer Journey.

Customer Journey vs Company Journey

The Customer Journey needs no introduction. Your activities help advance the decision-making process. I encourage you to read Triple Whale’s post about journey mapping and carry out the activity for yourself.

CAC Customer Journey Content

The Company Journey is when you do things that aren’t aligned with how people shop.

This usually happens when you get distracted trying to hit marketing metrics and revenue goals.

As you can already guess, we should be marketing according to the customer journey.

It’s crucially important that you stay away from the company journey. Show a non-relevant offer, they’ll ignore it. Ask for a sale too early, they’ll bounce. Push too often, it’s considered spam. All that adds up to the total cost to acquire that one customer.

So what’s a marketer to do?

Take off your “marketer hat” for a moment. Re-evaluate the buying decision with your “customer hat” on.

How you sell vs how people actually shop

This is a simplistic view of actions customers take, and some common activities companies do.

Compare these company activities with customer actions and you quickly see that little is done to help customers feel more confident about purchasing.

The Customer Value Journey

If you did the journey mapping exercise I recommended earlier in the article, you’d have mapped the journey, filled up customer goals, actions, thoughts and touchpoints with your brand.

Now I want to introduce you to a framework that matches all those with your company’s activities. It’s called the Customer Value Journey, created by my training partner, DigitalMarketer.

The Customer Value Journey is an 8-step path that people travel as they discover your brand, build a relationship with you, and become buyers and raving fans. It looks like this:

Relook Customer Journey Content

This framework is based on zoologist Desmond Morris’ 12 stages of human intimacy. Every person is wired to act in this way in any human interaction. So it only makes sense that we market in the same manner.

How does this related to cost, you might ask.

Well, the longer customers take to move through these stages, the higher your CAC.

And if you’re thinking of a way to “hack” this system, unfortunately, there’s no way to hack this one. It’s a pre-programmed part of our human psychology.

You can’t combine or skip stages. The moment you skip a stage, it’s considered a “digital assault”.

This happens because you ​​trigger the fight or flight response in the amygdala. Big threats mean customers close the tab. To fly under the radar, you need to respect the stages.

Just like how you wouldn’t ask the first person you make eye contact with while crossing the road for their number, you shouldn’t be trying to collect contact information when they land on your page for the first time.

Take some time to plan your activities using this framework and you’ll thank yourself later.

Once you’re done we can go to the next big problem.

Most Brands Are Guessing with Their Marketing

It’s a hard pill to swallow, I know. Most of the time, we’re only looking at one type of data – quantitative data – numbers in our dashboards. It could be your ad manager, ecommerce analytics dashboard, or email report.

When you analyze those figures, you’re essentially making an educated guess about what your customers are doing. And when you’re guessing, two problems happen.

  1. You might be deploying the wrong tactic at the wrong stage of the customer journey
  2. You might be wasting precious marketing dollars because it’s not moving customers forward.

Qualitative data + quantitive data = a complete story

Qualitative data gives context to your quantitative data.

These are your heat maps, user surveys, reviews, customer support tickets, quizzes and other zero-party data collection tools.

Combining qualitative and quantitative data together can give you better clarity on activities you should be doing, messaging you should be using, creatives you should be sourcing and customer segments you should be creating for customers at each stage of the journey.

I’ll emphasize again that it’s not about being able to sell more. It’s about enabling customers to buy better.

A photo of a round, wind up alarm clock.

Make Smarter Acquisition Decisions

Marketing is about helping customers move along their journey faster. That’s why you can’t just blast ads, shove a couple of emails down your customers’ throats and call it a day. Timing is everything. People only buy when the timing is right because only then, is there a need. Price and value come later.

There’s no way you can artificially engineer timing. But you can anticipate it with the right data, and show the right message at the right time.

So, have a plan that addresses every stage of the Journey.

This will determine what types of ads you run, where you spend your budget, what emails you send, what offers you deploy on your page and many more that influence acquisition output. All solved by respecting your customer’s journey.

About the Author

Josh Tay

Building Ecommerce Ecosystems for 6 & 7 figure DTC brands.

Josh Tay

Building Ecommerce Ecosystems for 6 & 7 figure DTC brands.

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