Marketing isn’t about a tactic anymore. You’re not missing a puzzle piece, you’re making the wrong puzzle.

In 2022 it might seem like marketing has changed a lot but the older I get the more I realize that it hasn’t changed at all. Early in my career, I imagined social media and virality to be synonymous with successful marketing. That the tactics and strategies that work on social media to create mass awareness and “virality” would be good for businesses. I suspected that by following trends, staying on top of them, and being consistent for businesses and brands that it would create the same virality in real life. That people would be chatting each other up in the line at Starbucks about local businesses if those businesses were making news. That would be worth it, wouldn’t it? 


What I found was that while mass awareness and future customers chatting in line was nice, it didn’t really translate to the bottom line. Users in line were talking about the local businesses but when it was time to buy, they still reverted back to traditional buyer behavior and went to the search bar. Our awareness seemed useless and CTA search driven advertising was what really converted leads. We even began to pull our focus from engagement and awareness advertising in general and shifted focus to where the revenue seemed to be coming from. Search ads and traditional sales tactics seem to be only real revenue producing strategies that exist and without them, the top line doesn’t grow. 

As an agency we operated that way for a good while. Awareness advertising, videos, engagement, networking, editorials, and community building are all fun but weren’t revenue producing and as an agency built on reporting and analytics it was difficult to rationalize pulling budget from revenue producing search ads to place it in non revenue producing platforms and tactics. 

In the past few years, the agency has discovered that once the search campaigns are set, a budget can have a point of diminishing return. Before you reach that place, the best way to lower your CPA is to begin your consideration and awareness campaigns. At NEXT LEVEL we’d recommend a combination of social media & digital display ads but it can also include organic content, networking, and press. 

The secret lesson of all this is found in the cost per acquisition metric.

CPA is not a metric we monitor very carefully at first. It tends to be all over the place early in a campaign and not a very good indicator of success until a lot of good data and results are in. Some of our clients it takes well over a year for CPA to be a relevant metric in their reporting. That being said, the rationale behind awareness, community building, networking, organic content, and even billboards is that to achieve the best CPA you should really be doing all of it.

What is cost per acquisition?

“Cost per acquisition (CPA) is a marketing metric that measures the total cost of a customer completing a specific action. In other words, CPA indicates how much it costs to get a single customer down your sales funnel, from the first touch point to ultimate conversion.”

One-tactic strategies tend to have a higher CPA than strategies that employ both awareness and conversion tactics. The best and most profitable strategies have all three levels of strategy going on at all times. Cold customers have different needs than customers you’ve had for a while. New customers need to be engaged and nurtured before they will buy and whatever way you choose to accomplish that, engagement is necessary to accomplish your goals . 

Most of us are looking for a silver bullet when we start a business. We’d really like to imagine that our business is a puzzle and the right marketing tactic is that one missing piece that makes the picture come together but most of us are missing many pieces in our puzzle and the picture that is coming together is ever-changing. The good news is that this puzzle we call a business is much simpler than we think. We’re trying to create a thousand piece jigsaw but this puzzle was actually built for toddlers. I most of us overcomplicate the puzzle by accident. 


Simply put and without symbolism, It is necessary to perform several tactics at once. Marketing is not just digital ads and it’s not just engagement. It’s not one placement in a magazine and it’s not one good viral video. You’ll need a combination of awareness, consideration, and conversion tactics if you really want to see your CPA drop. You can do a lot of this on digital but the most converting campaigns are not only digital but are cross platform and employ tactics beyond just digital advertising. 

Users WILL search when it’s time to use your services

Search Ads are often the best place to start. Even when your future clients are part of your friend circle they are likely to search when it’s time to buy. Be there because your competition will for sure. 

Users are more likely to pick you if they know you

Advertisers that have a lot of community awareness perform better in search in the same market. Your friends, previous clients, and personal relationships are the most likely to choose you upon search. Clients built through relationships lead to the lowest CPA.

Users are more likely to know you if you have awareness tactics employed.

Users are far more likely to recognize a brand or business when advertising tactics are employed. Advertisers that employ lots of awareness tactics simultaneously tend to have a lower overall CPA.


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