Four Steps to Acquiring New Users and Customers

This is a guest post by Brendan O’Connor, Senior Account Manager at Vungle. During Yodlee® Interactive Incubator Boot Camp in November 2014, I served as a mentor and gave a presentation on Customer and User Acquisition to a class of innovative Fintech startups. One topic I love talking to new startups about is what it means to market yourself – both to new users and customers. Let me define the difference: While users and customers can be the same, this is not always the case, especially in the mobile world.

Customers are the people, companies, and partners that define and compose your revenue stream. Users, though often times customers, are people who utilize your service but do not necessarily contribute to your revenue stream directly. Both are important to take into account, but it is a very important distinction for your marketing and acquisition efforts. In many cases, business is driven by giving away products in order to get people to pay later; hence users are numerous. Your job is to figure out how to turn non-paying users into customers. Here are four steps to acquiring new users and customers.

First, don't spend a single marketing dollar until you define your target audience. Who are the people you're trying to reach? Where are they found? What do they have in common? What makes them easy to find and identify? Once you know who they are, you can focus on what exactly you're going to do.

Second, research your marketing channels. Not every channel will be worth your time and energy, no matter what you're doing. When it comes to marketing, there's online and offline. There's Twitter®, Facebook®, LinkedIn®, and YouTube®. There's TV, radio, and print advertising, etc. For example, many app companies have found success through marketing campaigns on public transit, e.g. MUNI in San Francisco features many tech and app companies advertising in stations and on trains/buses. You may find that Twitter and video advertising are your winners, or Facebook and radio. Maybe an online strategy or combination of offline and online is ideal. You need to determine what's going to be worth your time and money, and a lot of that is based on your target audience and where they're found.

Third, you need to test everything. You need to know what works, and what doesn't. Try a couple of channels, and see which one performs better. Switch up messages, headlines, time of day, and so on. You should constantly tweak and test, tweak and test. And then do it some more. You can't do enough testing, because the market always changes. Lastly, your user and customer acquisition strategy doesn't stop once they start using your product. You need to think about long-term partnerships with your customers. In our industry, it's not like customers buy a shirt and the shirt is now theirs and that's it.

You're looking for consistent repeat business from power customers. That comes from providing excellent customer service, nurturing existing users, and listening to what their needs are — essentially putting yourself in customers' and users' shoes. Reaching your target audience is important but that’s not as difficult as you may think. It's just a matter of defining your audience, finding the best marketing channels, and then testing and re-testing everything. It sounds grueling — and it is — but the information is out there, as are your customers and users. Find them and you'll find your success.

How would you define your customers? What challenges have you experienced with customer and user acquisition? If you have any questions about how to grow users through video advertising, feel free to contact me at Also, you can learn more about Yodlee Interactive Incubator mentors and experts here.