Before we hop into the best customer acquisition tools you can use in different awareness stages, a word of caution is needed.
And our word of caution today is that tool overload is actually a real thing, and we believe that less is more.
A study done by Cornell’s University’s Ellis Idea Lab in collaboration with the Qatalog in March, 2021 found that as much as 45% of remote workers admit that switching between the different apps makes them less productive.
What’s more, the research concluded that workers spend up to 5 hours each week, just looking through the different tools to find the information they need.
And lastly, 43% admitted that too many tools make it hard for them to focus and align on creative projects.
Now, going back to the tools. The right customer acquisition tools can definitely help you with the sometimes overwhelming and multilayer customer acquisition process. But don’t use tools for every little part of it. A multitude of tools can give you a reverse effect and instead of improving your work, you’ll get higher costs, lots of time spent learning them, and scattered data.
So how can you strike the right balance?
Well, we want to make your research a bit easier and present some of the best tools that help with customer acquisition while following a certain pipeline. The pipeline we’re talking about has to do all with the different awareness stages of your potential customers. What’s more, we’ll stick to the absolute essential tools in each category, not to drive you mad.
Let’s get to it.
Different Awareness Stages
We all know that the path to conversion is in no way linear, nor simple. It’s often met with bumps, sharp turns, and sudden road work ahead signs. But there are a few ways marketers can try to segment their potential customers and tailor their strategy and efforts towards.
One of such ways is by looking at the different awareness levels of your potential customers.
And in this article, we’re going to focus on the problem unaware, problem aware, solution aware, and product aware stages.
Disclaimer: note that your potential customers may be locked in all of these stages, not necessarily beginning their journey in the unaware stage. It all depends on your specific product or service, the commonness of the problem you’re trying to solve, and even more factors.
But we’ll go through these stages one by one, in chronological order, to keep things organized.
Let’s start with the problem unaware stage, then!
Starting with the most confusing for marketers awareness stage: the problem unaware stage.
The problem unaware stage relates to potential customers who are not yet aware of the problem you are trying to solve with your product or service.
Customers in this stage may be the most challenging to reach, since they are not actively looking for any specific problem-related content.
But, this does not mean that your ideal customer is not held hostage by the unaware stage. And you can free them.
Targeting potential customers in this stage is especially crucial if your product or service is more on the unconventional side, solving a problem not many people realize could be fixed just yet. So, basically any new-category, innovative product or service. In such a case, most of your target audience will be sitting primarily in the unaware stage.
Now, how can you actually reach those customers if they’re unaware? Seems impossible, right?
Well, there actually are a few ways to do that.
Let’s visualize this with a simple metaphor.
Jaxson is hustling to build his career resulting in him often saving his valuable time by avoiding cooking. What he eats instead is a whole lot of pre-made, processed food, high in saturated fats.
What Jaxson doesn’t realize is that consuming as much saturated fats actually makes him feel exhausted and sleepy all the time.
After a few months of feeling unwell, he decides to head to Google and types in low energy and fatigue. And while in the midst of research he stumbles upon an article titled 5 types of foods that make you feel tired.
What he learns from this article is that it was the food he was eating that was making him feel exhausted.
So what we want to highlight here is that looking up the symptoms is the best metaphor for the problem unaware stage. Why? Because we may get the feeling that something is off, but we have no clue what the actual cause, aka the problem, may be. Let alone thinking or researching solutions, such as the best nutritionists in Sydney.
So, what you should do here is focus on the symptoms and provide some high-quality symptom-focused content that your potential unaware customers may find by looking up their symptoms or early signs. You should also hint as to which problem these symptoms may relate to, to help you push your potential customers from the unaware to the aware stage.
Now, since this stage is all about reaching your target audience with high-quality content tailored to their specific symptoms, you may be looking for tools that help with SEO, social media management, and user behavior tracking.
Now for the actual tools you may find useful to acquire customers in the unaware stage.
For SEO, you’ll mostly need good tools to help you with keyword research to find the unaware customers.
Google Keyword Planner
Google’s Keyword Planner is a free tool that’s available not only for marketers setting up their ad campaigns, but also for those of us in need of a good and free keyword research tool.
All you need is an active Google’s account and a little bit of time on your hands.
Using GKP, you’ll be able to see the search volume of your keywords and their estimated cost of targeting in an ad, which in turn may give you an idea on how difficult it may be to target it through SEO.
PS: if you want to know more about SEO in customer acquisition, make sure to read our latest article explaining the latest SEO techniques and trends in-depth!
The Google Trends tool is another free one that helps with our keyword research. It basically shows the trends of the bigger queries people have been typing into Google since 2004.
You can find recent trending searches or type in your own queries and see how the search volume changed throughout time and location.
Each data set you’re searching is divided by the total search volume of that query in the set geolocation and time range, and then scaled from 0-100 by comparing it to the total searches in Google on all the topics.
Free but limited
If you’re in need of something a bit more insightful, here are two great SEO tools that are free, but limited.
Semrush: 10 searches per day
Using Semrush will provide you with a bit more insightful data. You can find many SEO tools within Semrush, e.g., the Keyword Magic Tool that makes keyword research a breeze.
You just type in your keyword, set the country you’re interested in, set any filters you want to add on, and you get a list of the keywords along with their estimated search volume, difficulty, evaluated search intent, CPC, and more, all in a transparent and non-overwhelming way.
The paid version starts with $119.95, and you also have the option to test out Semrush’s Pro and Guru plans for free for 7 days.
But you can also use a free forever account that’s limited to 10 searches per day.
Tip: Semrush does their best to be an all-in-one tool for marketers and SEO specialists alike, and so you’ll find many different useful tools within this app. For example, there are backlink gap tools, paid ads tools, or social media management tools.
Ubersuggest: 3 searches per day
If that’s not enough, there’s also Ubersuggest that you can use for free up to 3 searches per day.
You’ll get similar data to Semrush, but not as extensive.
Here, a major plus is the fact that you don’t even have to create an account to perform your daily searches.
But be prepared for slightly annoying popups when using this free tool.
If you have that sweet spot in your budget you’re willing to spend on an SEO tool, we’d highly recommend Ahrefs.
Besides monitoring your website, doing checkups and analysis with the exact pages that need attention listed, Ahrefs is also a great tool to check on your competition.
You can easily perform keyword research, competition analysis, and find good backlink opportunities.
Unfortunately, there’s currently no free trial available to test out the possibilities of Ahrefs, and the paid plans start with $99 when paid monthly.
But there’s a whole array of different YouTube videos that perfectly showcase Ahrefs possibilities along with useful SEO lessons.
Tip: Ahrefs also offers a free Webmasters Tools option, making it possible to use the site explorer and site audit features. There are also a few free Ahrefs tools you can use, e.g., a Keyword Difficulty Checker.
Now moving on to social media tools.
If you type in social media management on G2, as many as 62 different software come up in the results. But plenty options may make the ultimate choice that much harder.
What we want to suggest are two tools we found to be exceptionally good within the social media management field.
Hootsuite hooked us because of its exceptional combination of essential features. It’s one of the rare social media tools that actually combines planning and scheduling posts, audience engagement management, analysis and reporting, KPIs and ROI with ads management on top.
This software works with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, LinkedIn, and TikTok. Plus, you can integrate more than 150 other apps, like Canva.
It’s got almost 4k reviews on G2, constituting a 4.1 overall rating, where 51% of the reviews have been 5-star ones.
The prices start at $49 per month, allowing for one user and 10 social media accounts to connect and manage.
The only bummer is that the ads management and analytics features come only in the custom Enterprise plan that may come as pretty expensive. The Business plan that precedes it comes up to $739 per month, so we can imagine that the custom Enterprise plan will be even more expensive.
Buffer may not offer ads management for your socials, but it does have the essential features available, including publishing, analytics, and engagement management, and all for reasonable prices.
One particular feature that’s pretty cool about Buffer is their start page builder that lets you create a landing page that will serve as your bio page. You can add some of your best content in there, including photos, videos, complete it with text and even Spotify music! The starter page builder lets you also add buttons and social media icons with links to help your viewers reach all your pages easily in one place.
There are multiple templates to inspire you and the whole tool is pretty easy to use, all decorated with some pleasant-to-the-eye UI.
But we haven’t reached the best part yet!
Buffer offers a completely free plan to use, with some basic publishing features and the aforementioned starter page builder. You can manage up to three channels on the free plan.
The further two plans are also on the affordable side, costing $5 and $10 respectively. The most expensive plan is the Agency one, costing $100 per month for 10 connected channels.
User Behavior Tracking
The last section here consists of the most essential user behavior tracking.
Because to be able to tell if your customer acquisition and marketing efforts even work, you need to analyze all sorts of data. And since the previously mentioned social media management tools had their own analytics, in this section we’re going to solely focus on website analytics.
Our proposition is a combination of two free to use tools: Google Analytics and Microsoft Clarity, to combine valuable quantitative and qualitative data.
Google Analytics is a free tool that helps you collect some essential quantitative data about your website’s visitors.
The data Google Analytics collects includes the number of visitors, their browser and type of device information, their gender, age, geolocation, session statistics, most viewed pages on your website, bounce rates, page views, average time spent on your website, and more.
But one tab may come as particularly useful in customer acquisition, and that is the User Acquisition report that GA4 offers. With the help of this tab, you can check which customer acquisition channel you’re using drives the most traffic to your website. It may be paid search, organic search, display, or other.
Microsoft Clarity will be a perfect complementary tool for Google Analytics quantitative data.
But so far the best part about Microsoft Clarity is its session recordings. You can take a look at the different metrics, e.g., rage clicks and see the exact recording of when, where, and why some user on your website felt frustrated.
So besides just checking how your customer acquisition articles and content perform overall, you can also find all sorts of data that may help you improve the user experience altogether.
Now that you’ve crafted the right content, measured the results, and successfully pushed people from the unaware stage by giving their symptoms a cause, you have to move through the pipeline and target people that are now in the problem aware stage.
The main goal of targeting problem aware customers is to make them aware of the different solutions to their specific problem.
And that’s how this part of the funnel focuses on crafting content that outlines the problem in more detail and links it with the best solutions available. This stage often includes preparing a webinar session, making checklists and templates, as well as crafting guide-style and how-to articles.
For that purpose you may be needing the already mentioned SEO tools, like Semrush, user behavior tools to further analyze your traffic, and social media tools to share the content you’ll create.
But since these tools were already discussed, we’re going to focus on two groups of tools you may also need for targeting the problem aware customers. So now we’re going to add a few paid advertising and webinar creation tools to our set.
We’re going to keep paid advertising simple.
The exact tools may of course depend on your specific needs, niche, target audience, ideal customer, and even more factors.
So we’re going to stick to a true and tested package for ads: Google Ads and one click fraud protection tool.
Who hasn’t heard of Google Ads?
Formerly known as Google Adwords, Google Ads has been around since 2000 and still is used by many marketers worldwide. The revenue from ads gave Google over 200 billion dollars in just 2021.
And no wonder such high numbers exist, since Google is the leading search engine. The worldwide desktop market share alone leaves Google’s competitors in the dust, with Google holding more than 80% of the shares, followed by Bing with almost 9%. The gap is simply insurmountable.
So if you want to reach your customers with paid advertising, Google Ads is probably the best option.
Signing up is free, but of course, you’re going to have to pay for clicks on your ads accordingly with the PPC (pay per click) pricing Google Ads uses.
Ad Fraud Protection
They say that the quickest way to burn money is to run a non-optimized Google Ads campaign.
But what we believe is equally as important as properly optimizing your campaigns is to use proper click fraud protection software.
Such a tool will be the cherry on top completion of your paid advertising efforts and will protect you from the mischievous bots trying to eat your clicks budget.
In 2022 alone, the total losses due to ad fraud amounted to $81 billion and are predicted to increase even up to $100 billion in 2023.
So whoever or whatever it is you’re losing valuable clicks because of, whether that’s your competitors, click farms or bots, you certainly need click fraud protection.
And we suggest using ClickCease.
One of ClickCease’s slogans is If you can’t convert them, block them and honestly, that’s the way to go, especially with Google Ads.
CHEQ ClickCease received a round 4.6 out of 5 stars in reviews on G2, and if its catchy slogan didn’t convince you, maybe one of the reviews will.
They are also pretty straightforward with their pricing, which we very much appreciate. The Standard package covers up to 5k monthly visits and costs $69 monthly. You can take this tool for a spin with their 7-day free trial that doesn’t lurk for your credit card details.
Moving on to webinars.
Webinars have proved to be quite effective when part of your customer acquisition and marketing strategy. They allow you to interact with your audience on a whole new level and are often used in the problem aware stage.
If you’re on a tight budget or simply don’t want to spend millions on your webinars at first, using YouTube Live is one of the best options you can go for.
All you need to take advantage of YouTube Live for your webinars is an active and verified YouTube account. Of course, you’ll also need a device with a camera and a good microphone so that your audience can properly see and hear you.
Tip: if you want to share your screen, use special effects, or include integrations with outside apps while on your YouTube live, you’ll need to use an encoder. Google’s support docs list encoders you can use to up your YouTube webinar game.
The paid options may leave you light-headed, just from the sheer amount of different options available.
There’s a multitude of features to choose between, including polls to add, CTA buttons to include, live translations to hundreds of languages, recording, white labeling the webinar’s URL, and more.
The price in the paid webinar tools definitely reflects the wide variety of features. Most paid webinar tools come as quite expensive, especially if you have to pay by the number of attendees or by the number of seats using the software.
But we’ve managed to choose one of the best options out there!
Zoho Meeting is a platform for webinar hosting and video conferencing.
It’s been rated 4.5 out of 5 stars on G2, with 70% of ratings being 5-star ones.
It comes with a lot of different features, such as QAs, polls, webinar recording, thank you emails, registration forms, sharing materials, allowing attendees to talk, anonymous questions, and more.
You can find all the available features in the Webinar Professional plan, which price differs based on the number of webinar attendees. For example, 25 attendees will cost you 19 EUR per organizer per month and 3000 attendees will cost you 360 EUR per organizer per month.
But, Zoho also offers a Free Forever plan that allows you to test out its possibilities with limited features available, 100 webinar attendees, and up to 60 minutes of webinar length.
Congrats! You’ve successfully managed to show people that there is a solution to their specific problem.
Now it’s time to focus on moving them from the solution aware stage to the product awareness stage so that they’re even closer to converting and becoming paying customers.
According to PoweredBySearch, the best type of content to feed potential customers in this stage are calculators, buying guides, product choice guides, scorecards, and industry reports.
You can share all this content normally through organic or paid search, or take advantage of gated content since there is great potential for giving your potential customers something of exceptional value.
And a big part of creating, sharing and promoting gated content is building separate landing pages and adding popups to your website.
Landing Pages and Popups
If you don’t necessarily have a dev team to help you achieve that or don’t want to waste your time looking for the right WordPress plugin and building everything from scratch, shocker: there are tools that help out with that.
One tool that particularly stands out and is mentioned everywhere you look on this topic is Unbounce.
Unbounce helps with both popups and landing pages while offering many different templates to use and customize.
You can either set up a new domain and connect it directly to Unbounce, connect just a subdomain if you have an already existing domain, or use Unbounce’s WordPress plugin to connect your created landing pages and popups to your website.
The basic plan on Unbounce costs $90 and lets you create an unlimited number of landing pages, popups, and sticky bars. But the limitation comes in the number of conversions (up to 500), visitors (up to 20 000), and the number of domains connected (1).
Before subscribing to either plan, you can play around with the different templates here and take Unbounce for a spin for 14 days, but you will have to sacrifice your billing information and then cancel the subscription if you end up not liking this particular customer acquisition tool.
The last awareness stage we’re going to focus on today is the product awareness stage. At this point, your potential customers not only realize that they have a problem your product or service can solve, but are also aware of the different solutions available.
Now, it’s time to convince them that from all these available solutions, yours is the best.
This is where you need to focus all your efforts on making the choice between your product and the other solutions a no-brainer. Because we all know that customers are more and more aware of the different options and use all their resources to find the best products or services out there.
So you’re going to be crafting case studies, adding use case pages to your website, offering a ROI calculator, writing direct comparison articles, or even adding whole comparison pages to your website.
What’s interesting is that nearly 80% of shoppers use their mobile devices to compare different products before making a purchase. So if you’re at it, make sure that your website and all content you’re sharing is responsive.
Now, the choices you have to craft and share the content or tools you’ll be creating to make your potential customers aware of your product and convince them to convert, are truly endless.
We’ve already talked about SEO, paid ads, gated content, landing pages, and popups. So in this section, we’re going to shed some light on the best tools for email marketing as part of your customer acquisition strategy.
As we were fighting our way through the different email marketing tools out there, almost losing our will to live, we’ve decided to go for a one, true and tested solution that’s affordable and easy to use: MailerLite.
MailerLite is a tool noted for its ease of use and the many options and features it offers.
What’s most prominent about this email marketing tool is its Free Forever plan that allows for up to 1000 subscribers and 12k emails sent each month. You also get the drag and drop builder, A/B testing, and email automation builder, and more.
Comparing this to another example, MailChimp, a giant among the email marketing tools, their free plan allows for 500 contacts, and does not include as many features, e.g., A/B testing is not included.
But MailerLite’s paid plans are also pretty affordable, with the Growing Business plan costing $10 per month and the Advanced plan costing $21 per month.
And when it comes to effectiveness, seeing their statistics on the overall success rates of MailerLite campaigns, we can learn that the average unsubscribe rate on MailerLite emails stands at just 0.33%, while the average open rate is at almost 30%.
So if you’re looking for something tested (4.7 stars, 718 reviews on G2), budget friendly (even free!), and easy to use, going for MailerLite would be the perfect option.
Conclusion: Keep Your Customer Acquisition Tools Simple
Going back to tool overload, our best advice when it comes to choosing the best customer acquisition tools, is to keep it simple.
Use only essential tools and really think through if you need another app to stack on. If you do decide to use another tool, try to first go for a free trial or a free plan to make sure it’s worth investing money in.
After all, customer acquisition is not the only area you should focus on, customer retention is just as important. So don’t forget to take care of your existing customers while thinking about your next effective customer acquisition strategy.
It’s also worth noting that both the customer acquisition journey and customer acquisition strategies differ, depending on countless factors. Always choose what’s best for you, your business, and your customers to get the results you want.
And if you still feel that your thirst for knowledge on acquiring new customers has not been quenched, and you want to see actual results of your customer acquisition efforts, you can find more articles on this topic on our blog, including:
- An article about calculating different metrics, e.g., the customer acquisition cost
- Customer acquisition mistakes to avoid
- Customer acquisition examples
- Customer acquisition funnel
- And more!
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