User acquisition: Move over sales, time to go digital

User acquisition: Move over sales, time to go digital

Every self respecting company since the beginning of time has had specific people dedicating their time to one-on-one user acquisition. Sales is vital to every business – there’s no point in a great product or service without customers to enjoy it (and produce revenue).

Over the last decade online marketing has grown to become the main advertising channel for many companies. It’s been consistently eating up budgets once allocated to TV, radio and newspaper ads. However, even-though it has proven itself incredibly effective in lead generation and user acquisition, most companies don’t see digital marketing as a replacement for sales departments.

It’s time to embrace the future of user acquisition – the game has changed, now it’s all about speed and scale and the old ways of doing business just can’t keep up with online marketing.

Topics covered in this post:

  1. Why are sales departments still around? 
  2. Online marketing can be personable too
  3. Should digital marketing take over all user acquisition?

Why are sales departments still around?

It’s simple really – because companies still believe they need them.

The argument for keeping sales reps (or in today’s terms – biz dev people) around is that they build relationships and can give the consumer the personal touch needed to close the deal.

Nothing can compare to the actual business relationship built with a customer when you speak with him/her directly.  You can adjust your sales pitch to the way he/she responds to you in real-time.  If you see a transaction going south, you can take him/her out for drinks so they forget about business for a minute and connect with the people behind it.

But is it true? Does nothing compare to this?


Online marketing can be personable too

In actuality, user acquisition in the digital world has developed so much that you can practically pat a new customer on the back when you close a deal.

For example, if a customer doesn’t make a purchase, you can retarget him with a refined message to get him back on the site. In addition, by slightly tweaking your landing pages, you can see what changes to the sales-pitch are more effective and optimize accordingly and immediately. And once you’ve closed that sale you can trigger a heartwarming pop up and/or email welcoming <insert name of new customer here> and making him/her feel special.

The great thing about all of this it is that you can do this for multiple people at the very same time!

It might not be as personable as a hand-shake but the mere scale of this opportunity makes it that much more valuable (and, by the way, hand-shakes aren’t all that personable either).


Should digital marketing take over all user acquisition?

My verdict is yes – digital marketing should definitely take over all user acquisition (but I’m biased).

I’m willing to be flexible with this rule for the near future because, at least if you’re working in B2B you might have noticed, customers tend to expect a sales person to be their primary contact. They seek that relationship so they have someone to contact if they run into issues.

But as audience targeting on digital platforms becomes even more refined, the value of sales reps will continue to decrease compared to what online marketing has to offer, and soon enough they will become obsolete. We don’t feel it yet because “sales” as a job function has been around for so long, but we just don’t need them anymore.
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