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Customer Acquisition Cost


What is customer acquisition cost?

Customer acquisition cost (CAC) refers to the total amount of money a business spends to acquire a new customer. CAC includes all marketing and sales expenses—from advertising and promotions, to salaries, commissions and more. A crucial metric in marketing, customer acquisition cost helps businesses understand the effectiveness of their marketing strategies, determine the return on investment (ROI) of their campaigns and learn how to allocate resources more efficiently in the future.

Although the concept of CAC has been around for decades, it especially gained prominence with the rise of digital marketing. As businesses began to shift their focus from traditional advertising channels to online platforms, the convenience of a metric that could track the cost of acquiring customers became more apparent. Today, CAC is a popular and essential marketing metric used by businesses across all sorts of industries and sizes.

Key components of customer acquisition cost

When calculating customer acquisition cost businesses need to include the following elements:

  • Cost of advertising: This includes the cost of all marketing activities, such as online advertisements, email campaigns and sponsored content marketing.

  • Sales and marketing salaries: This includes the salaries of all employees involved in sales and marketing efforts.

  • Overhead costs: This includes any additional costs associated with acquiring customers, such as software subscriptions or office rent.

Benefits of understanding and optimizing customer acquisition cost

It’s important for businesses to know just how much it’s costing them to acquire customers. Eventually, having an understanding of a metric like CAC will translate to more sales and brand awareness by improving a brand’s marketing efforts in the following ways:

  • Helps identify areas where businesses can cuts costs, allowing them to optimize their marketing budget.

  • Enables brands to make data-driven decisions about their marketing budget and ROI.

  • Allows businesses to compare the effectiveness of each marketing channel and campaign.

  • Encourages businesses to set realistic goals and growth targets and allows them to forecast revenue more accurately.


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Examples of calculating customer acquisition cost

Let's say a business spends $10,000 on advertising and generates 100 new customers as a result. The CAC for this campaign would be $100. Another example would be a software company that spends $50,000 on marketing and sales efforts in one month, and they acquire 500 new customers in return. The CAC for this campaign would be $100.

Best practices for tracking customer acquisition cost

One of the biggest challenges with calculating CAC is that it can vary depending on the industry, business model and marketing strategy. It might also be difficult to accurately track all marketing expenses and attribute them to specific customer acquisitions.

To address these challenges, businesses should use a combination of data sources and analytics tools to get a more comprehensive view of their CAC. Here are some best practices to keep in mind:

  • Track all marketing expenses and customer acquisition data accurately.

  • Regularly review CAC data to identify opportunities for cost optimization.

  • Consider the lifetime value of a customer when calculating CAC.

  • Compare the impact of different marketing channels to determine which ones are most cost-effective.

Customer acquisition cost FAQ

What's a good customer acquisition cost?

A good CAC varies depending on the industry, business model and marketing channels used. Generally speaking, the lower your CAC is, the better—but it's also essential to consider the lifetime value of a customer when calculating the value of CAC.

How can I reduce my customer acquisition cost?

What’s the difference between customer acquisition cost and customer lifetime value?

How often should I calculate my CAC?


Related Term

Marketing Audit

Related Term

Marketing Channel

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