Sramana: Tell me more about how you go to market. How do you market and acquire customers?
Deborah Sweeney: We have a couple primary methods. One of the most obvious, which has become less significant in our overall growth, is Internet search. Search engine optimization and search engine marketing are important to us because it’s critical that when someone is searching to find out how to incorporate a business, we are there. We make sure we are present in that way, and we spend the appropriate amount of money to ensure this.
Recently, we discovered that that is not the only method customers are using to find their services. Other customer acquisition comes via our partnerships. We have relationships with the Intuits and Network Solutions of the world. Those partnerships are becoming the most successful ways for us to get new customers. Those entities are also searching for small-business owners with similar scenarios. When we introduce each others’ customers to other service providers, we find the highest conversion rate.
We do significant work in branding and have a lot of advertisements in satellite and terrestrial radio. We do a lot of advertising on cable television and a lot of industry events where we speak. We talk to CPAs, accountants, and lawyers and have created a significant affiliate group that refers customers.
One of the most important acquisition methods is word of mouth. We work very hard at providing phenomenal customer service. We want people to tell their friends that they use MyCorporation and that we did a great job and have been there for their businesses. Ultimately, that garners additional business from their friends and family.
Sramana: Search engine optimization and search engine marketing have been incredibly effective customer acquisition methods for companies that are trying to acquire small-business customers or consumer customers. What has been your experience in that area? How are the costs of acquisition changing over time, and when did you start doing SEO and PPC ?
Deborah Sweeney: Our original founders were excellent at SEO and PPC. Their notion was that people already on the Internet would be more inclined to purchase Internet-based services rather than advertising to the general population. Today everybody’s on the Internet. The Internet is not a novelty anymore.
Today, it is almost back to the old school where you’re conveying a commodity service. Talking to small businesses is not unique. You have to build your brand to be clear with what it is you offer and what your value proposition is. We found that radio and TV are effective methods to supplement search engine optimization and PPC.
SEO has become extremely expensive. The cost per acquisition in many cases can be upward of $75 per customer. Fortunately, our customer has a higher purchase price, but we do have offerings in the $49 range. So, we have to make sure we are always positive and seeing a return on our investment. We have been sensitive to that. When we were under Intuit, the focus was truly on growth. If we spent $5 to get one customer who only gave us $1, it was OK because we gained another customer.
The truth is I am not willing to spend $5 to make $1. I am interested in growth, but I am not interested in growth at all costs. Cost is a very sensitive topic to me, and I want to make sure MyCorporation is profitable. I need to be cost sensitive and need to make sure that for every dollar I spend, I am making at least $1.01.