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What is Customer Acquisition Cost?

Learn all about digital marketing, we have built this glossary to help you understand everything to thrive in online marketing and promoting your website or business.

What is Customer Acquisition Cost?
Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) is a significant business metric that represents the total costs associated with acquiring a new customer. This includes all the costs incurred during marketing and advertising, like expenditure on advertisements, employee wages, software costs, and other promotional expenses.
Establishing the CAC is not just about counting the immediate costs associated with the direct ads that generated the customer. It encompasses the aggregate of all marketing activities that may have played a role in attracting the customer, ensuring a holistic cost analysis.
An appropriately calculated CAC allows businesses to understand how much they're spending to gain each new customer. This way, they can strategize and adjust their marketing efforts accordingly for optimal profitability.
Customer Acquisition Cost's role in digital marketing
CAC plays a pivotal role in understanding the viability and effectiveness of marketing strategies. It can identify the most and least cost-effective acquisition channels.
In digital marketing, understanding the CAC for each specific campaign or channel helps identify where efforts should be focused. By regularly calculating and reviewing the CAC, businesses can ensure they are not spending significantly more to acquire a customer than the actual value that customer brings.
If the CAC is greater than the customer's lifetime value, it is a warning sign that the company either needs to find ways to reduce its acquisition costs or increase the value of customers. It drives organizations to experiment and innovate in new ways of acquiring customers cost-effectively.
Customer Acquisition Cost examples
Suppose a company spends $1000 on a marketing campaign and acquires 10 new customers as a result. The CAC would be the total campaign cost ($1000) divided by the number of customers acquired (10), equalling $100.
For a software company offering monthly subscriptions, where the monthly subscription amount is $20, and the CAC is $100, the customer would need to continue their subscription for five months before the company recovers its acquisition cost and starts making profit.
It's essential to periodically examine the Customer Acquisition Cost to adjust strategy as necessary. Also, conducting customer segmentation helps in distinguishing variation in CAC across different customer groups or different products.