Ultimate Guide to Digital Marketing – Hot Warm Cold Customer Acquisition

Last updated on July 28, 2021

Ultimate Guide to Digital Marketing – Hot Warm Cold Customer Acquisition

Buckle up…this is where things get exciting for small business owners who want to create a great online presence as well as exploding their customer acquisition targets! 

We will delve into how using a web design, and digital marketing agency can increase customer acquisition by attracting cold prospects and systematically converting them into hot customers who buy your products and/or services.

Web design and digital marketing are two essential functions that Google uses to assign a page rank on its search engine results page. Page rank is basically a reward from Google for doing a good job with your website and digital marketing activities. 

Many of our local Raleigh and Wake Forest clients see improvements to their page rank on Google by incorporating both web optimization and digital marketing practices with web analytics into their overall internet marketing strategy. For the local business owner, it all boils down to the higher your Google search engine rankings, the more visitors your website will receive. 

Web Design and Digital Marketing

Web designers… design and digital marketers… market. Pretty simple…right?  The former is a left-brain creative activity and the latter is right-brain analytical activity. The problem facing the web design client, who wants higher Google page ranks, is that they usually have to work with a separate web designer and a separate digital marketer. The web designer and digital marketer don’t always speak the same language and often understand each other. When there is conflict, it is hard to know who to listen to because web design and digital marketing both play critical roles in getting the attention of Google and subsequently attracting your business.

Web Designer with an Analytical Twist

The magic happens when you find a great web designer near you who also plays in the right brain analytical digital marketing space. You’ll know this web designer is analytical when you talk to them. They love great web design but if web design A attracts more clients than web design B they will quickly let you know (even if they like web design B better). 

You may wonder why it couldn’t be the other way around? An analytical person who designs? Yes, it is possible, but the first combination works better. Why? You always want the web design to be the stronger of the two disciplines. Web design invokes the comfort, the happiness, the handshake of your business on the internet. Right brain analytics struggle with this at times. That is why you don’t typically see great designs from companies that mainly focus on website analytics and SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

For example, have you ever thought about the placement of the Call To Action button (i.e. “Buy Now” button) described above on your website? Or do you have a Call To Action button? Did you know the Call To Action button was not just for buying something but could be used to drive your prospect in a certain direction on your website?  Did you know that more cold prospects are attracted to a certain color and click more times on that color for your Call To Action? Wouldn’t you want a designer that understood the theories behind the button such as size, placement, and color choice as they relate to customer acquisition and turning those nameless cold prospects into buying customers?

Why UX Design Is Important

UX Design (e.g.User Experience Design) is the cornerstone activity for helping Google meet the mission of providing its users with quick and reliable search results.

Here’s the money-making proposition. If you help Google deliver the right search result in a quick manner Google will reward you.  Said another way, if you help Google with making their users happy, Google will help you get more clients for your business.

Google is most concerned about its user’s experience when searching for information. Period. Did their users get what they were looking for in a quick and reliable manner?

What UX Design items in your web design are important to ensure quick and reliable search results?

  • Freshly updated content on your website
  • Responsive web design
  • Google page speed
  • Website optimization

These are some of the big-ticket items that make it easy for Google’s web bots to crawl your website pages. Want to learn more about bots and crawling? Read this Google article on the fundamentals of search.


When Google knows you are serious about your customers having a great UX (User Experience), Google will help you out. It is a win-win!

There are a lot of good companies with good products that sit on the second, third and fourth page and unfortunately, they get little to no internet traffic. Almost 100% of the visitor traffic clicks between the first two pages in the page rankings on the search engine results page. With digital marketing, it pays to be in the first (and second) place within the page rank and reap the rewards of more clicks to your website.

How To Increase Your Page Rank beyond UX Design

Here are some definitive first steps to help increase your page rank on search engine result pages. It’s good to remember that we are not talking about being in first place right now as much as we are doing things to get on the first page over a period of time. Page ranking is very competitive and is very fluid. This means there are a lot of factors that determine page rank and the algorithm does change periodically which means you can’t sit idle once you have increased your rankings.

  • Search Engine Optimization
    SEO is a collection of techniques and processes to update strategic files in your website that make it easier for Google to find and index your site. This helps to ensure Google gives the correct search results each time for its users and delivers it quickly. In addition, Google rewards good SEO practices by giving you higher page rankings/visibility on search results, attracting more visitors to your site.
  • Pay Per Click Ads
    Because SEO can take time before it pays off, Pay Per Click Ads, including Google Adwords, is one of the easiest and cost-effective ways to get your website on the first page of search engines. This change can be done fairly quickly to provide a boost of traffic to your website. By using PPC, you are paying each time someone clicks on your ad. You set a bid on how much you are willing to pay for each click. The higher your bid, the higher on the page you will get. Paid ads can be set up to easily target a specific audience based on their location or specific keywords they type.

How To Get Traffic To Your Website With Digital Marketing

Where web design shines with a great UX Design, digital marketing shines with getting you more website traffic. A good digital marketing team will

  • Increase your website traffic
  • Deliver measurable results
  • Get more leads for your company
  • Be cost-effective with good ROI
  • Connect your brand with your target audience

Behind the scenes, digital marketing takes a lot of work and is not for the faint of heart. Digital marketing involves designing and implementing specific marketing campaigns, designing keyword strategies, performing web traffic analytics, comparing competitors’ websites, backlink analysis, and performing web site optimization. There is a lot of right-brain activity that happens so Google can see your website first out of the ½ billion active websites on the web.

Content Marketing, Email Marketing and Social Media Marketing

The greatest tools in the digital marketing arsenal are content marketing, email marketing, and social media marketing. 

Content marketing is most often thought of as posting a blog on your website. Posting blogs is a great way to share fresh content that attracts and resonates with prospects and clients. Content marketing can also be information for magazine articles, press releases, ad campaigns, web seminars, etc.  The list is pretty endless. The goal of content marketing is to strategically create and share information that drives a prospect or customer to take action. Usually, it takes multiple times seeing your content before a prospect will take action. Sharing content beyond your blog post is usually done through email marketing and social media marketing.

Social media marketing is great for initially reaching the prospect where they socially hang out.  For example, we know most teenagers are using Instagram and not Facebook. So if you were selling clothes to teenagers, you would reach more prospective buyers on Instagram. 

Social media marketing is really a cold-calling step in most cases. Since we don’t know who the person on the other side of our message is, we have to be very strategic in defining who they are and what content would be most engaging. The content created at this step is crucial to get right as it is designed to capture the prospect and put them into the sales funnel.  This is usually achieved with a micro-commitment where the prospect is willing to give you their contact information in exchange for content they want to read. This type of content is referred to as “Gated Content” because the prospect must pass through the “Gate” to get it.  Not all content is gated. You want to save your best content because prospects have to have something of value to them to give you their email address. Once you have an email address, you get to add them to an email marketing campaign! 

Email marketing is a great way to keep in constant contact with your now warm prospects and current clients. Once a prospect has engaged with your brand by giving you their email address, they have exhibited a desire to begin a relationship. The trick is not to spam them with useless information or content they are not interested in consuming. This can be tricky if you have many products and services that you offer. Fortunately, there are ways to separate lists by tags so you can be sure only to send relevant content. When appropriate, you can cross-breed the tags, but you have to be careful and follow a pre-designed email marketing plan for your business. 

In general, content with value for the reader is important, whether in the blog, social media marketing, or email marketing stage phase. Google sees how many people read your content and therefore associate high traffic with the need for higher visibility. So again, if you are providing value for their users, Google will reward you. It is a positive reinforcing loop. Write great content, and you will get more visibility which in turn lets more people find your content easier.  Pretty cool.

What Happens When People Visit My Website?

Once awesome web design and digital marketing have put you on the front page of Google, their work as a dynamic duo is not complete. The prospect who has clicked to your site from the search results page has now become a warm prospect!  Just like that with an optimized site and digital marketing expertise, you have transferred a cold prospect who was floating around in the ether to a warm (or semi-warm) prospect. Now, this is really where the fun begins!

UX Design...Google Is Still Watching And Ready To Reward You

It’s important at this stage that your website is centered around UX design or the “User Experience” design.  As people are becoming aware and are attracted to your website, they have to have a good experience while visiting to remain engaged. A poor UX-designed website will usually result in high bounce rate metrics and poor click-through rates. These are bad metrics that can penalize your rankings.

Reducing A High Bounce Rate

A high bounce rate basically means the user is saying “This page is not at all what I wanted to see” or “This site is too complicated, or “This site doesn’t function properly”. It all adds up to one result… “I’m out of here”! 

If you have a high bounce rate (how quickly someone leaves your site), Google will penalize you by reducing your visibility on the assigned page rank result.  That begs the question of what causes a high bounce rate or an unhappy user? 

  • Incorrect search result (i.e. wanting puppy pictures and getting puppy food results)
  • Correct search but poor navigation (can’t figure out what to do)
  • Slow load time (avg load time is 2.0 sec –  After 3-4 sec, people leave or “Bounce”)
  • A non-responsive site (if searching on a mobile device, the website can’t adapt to fit the screen size and functionality is reduced)

Google’s sensors pick up on poor UX noise like a spider on a spider web and in turn slam you for making them look bad to their user by dinging your page rankings. It’s not quite that drastic but imagine if you searched for a Ferrari, the link said “Awesome Ferrari picks” and once you went to the website it was a picture of a 2000 Accord.  How fast would you hit the back button?  Google counts the time until you hit the back button and this is known as the bounce rate.

The best way to reduce a high bounce rate is to have content the user wants to consume AND a web design that makes it comfortable to engage with while consuming the content.  Think of it as a good book and leather chair in the winter. It’s just so hard to get up from the chair and that is exactly what Google will reward you for by giving you more visibility and more potential clients.

Not only do you get rewarded by Google with more visibility, the longer the reader stays on your website (lower bounce rate), the more likely it is you can turn them from a cold prospect to a hot prospect. I’ll discuss customer acquisition and hot, warm, and cold prospects below.

Web Designers Should Be Able To Code And Do the Backlink

Doing the backlink is not a dance but it sure feels like it sometimes! Backlinking refers to one website linking to another. When this occurs, it gives Google a sense of confidence that your site is important because it has meaningful backlinks.  For example, if the NY Times linked to your website, Google would give you exponential credit toward your page rank because of the valuable (and reliable) NY times link. Google knows that the NY Times will not send its readers off to an unreliable, unknown website.  As you might imagine, this type of backlink is extremely difficult to obtain.  Not impossible, but difficult. Good web designers should be able to use digital marketing strategies to help build backlinks from powerful referring domains to increase the domain ranking of your website. Sound confusing? It can be at times for sure!

Google bots also look for broken internal links, poor grammar, missing pages, re-direct links, etc. When these bots report back everything looks good and is working well, Google rewards you.  If the bots report back broken links, missing pages, missing files, no high-volume keywords, no H1 tags, etc, Google has no choice but to take away some of your site’s visibility by reducing your page rank.

Having a web designer who can code is amazing!  Many of these site issues require some degree of web coding and with the right web designer, most issues can be easily fixed. 

There is so much going on under the hood of your website and as you can probably tell, any little thing that is not right, you may be penalized for it.  The sad part is everything could look okay on the outside and you just can’t understand why page ranking results are not improving.  You will never really know if there are small issues internal to the website that are holding you back. 

Sales Funnels and Customer Acquisition

The process of building engagement with prospects, getting them into your sales funnel, and turning them into customers can be directly aligned to classifying prospects respectively as cold, warm, and hot. As soon as you can engage with a cold prospect and get them into your sales funnel you have turned them from cold to warm. A warm prospect has by definition, had some engagement with your brand.  This could be clicking a Facebook ad, Instagram Ad, or even responding to an email marketing campaign. Lastly, a hot prospect is a person (or entity) purchased from you in the past or within the current sales funnel. 

If your web site is now optimized and SEO analytics are in place, you are probably getting close to the first page for Google page rank. As a result, people are coming to your site. This means your cold prospects start to get warm as they engage with your brand by reading blogs and interacting with your site. However, we all know about “Window shoppers.” It’s no different on the web, unfortunately. We run the risk of people browsing and leaving the site without taking any action. Fortunately, there is a process for not letting them fall back into the abyss and helping them to not only stick around but to buy and become repeat customers eventually. This is where the sales funnel comes into play. 

As digital marketers, we are trying to attract cold prospects by building engagement with the brand. Building engagement is the beginning of the sales funnel where, over time, cold prospects become hot prospects. Hot prospects are people who have repeatedly engaged with your brand and/or have previously purchased from you. They are considered hot because the probability they will buy from you is high based on their past behavior. On the other hand, a cold prospect knows nothing of your brand and has not yet entered your sales funnel. As you might well guess, a warm prospect has some brand awareness and has engaged at some small level with your company.  This might be clicking on a Facebook ad, Google ad word, or similar lead generation tool.

The sales funnel, if constructed properly, creates a loop where once a purchase is made, the customer is sent through additional funnels. An example might be buying a car. Once you decide to purchase, you are sent into another funnel for the “Add-on” like protection plans, oil changes, etc. 

The sales funnel is a complex process that starts with the moment when the person is aware of your business and culminates (but does not end) when they actually make a purchase.

Cold Customers or Cold Prospect Acquisition

Lack of customers is not a problem. Customers are everywhere.  They are simply cold prospects at the beginning of the sales funnel.  Every industry has to start with some form of cold calling.  Insurance agents use the phone and seminars. Vacuum cleaner salesmen use to knock on your door. Digital marketing is different in that we use targeted advertising on social media to reach the right people, drive them to engage through great content, and keep them on board with email campaigns. Using social media marketing, we are simply trying to open a channel of communication with a cold prospect.

The content in social media posts might be aimed at :

  • helping find a solution to a problem
  • showcasing products, services, solutions, and company history
  • establishing your business as an expert in the field, which can provide solutions to their problems

The most important part of this process is directing them to pages and content where they want to opt-in by leaving their name and email address to gain access to in-depth content (ebook downloads, video tutorials, guides, etc.).

Warm Customers or Warm Prospects

When prospects have visited your website numerous times and have engaged with or regularly read your blog and in general know your products and services, they are considered warm prospects. It’s time to help these prospects take that next step in making their first purchase. Some ideas that can help prospects move forward in the sales funnel are:

  • inviting them to take part in a webinar 
  • offering a trial version of your products or services
  • promoting discounts
  • launching invites for a company event 

Hot Customers

Once a prospect makes their first purchase and is satisfied with the product and process, the prospect has turned into a hot customer! 

All in all, the sales funnel has the key purpose of helping you find new customers, developing a relationship, building trust with the brand, and becoming a client. The value of a lifetime customer has to be weighed against the overall client acquisition costs. Usually, the value of a lifetime customer far outweighs the cost to get the customer when you add in referrals and repeat business. It is virtually free for a happy client to tell their friends and neighbors about your business!  


Customer acquisition relies on web design and digital marketing operating seamlessly to achieve customer acquisition and retention goals for your business. Web design is the calling card for your business but it is so much more. Underneath the beautiful engaging exterior should be a workhorse whose site architecture is sound and files perfected for site engine optimization. Simultaneously, digital marketing is going to methodically find and bring prospects to your website.  The middleman, Google, will moderate and either open the doors with increased visibility or close them based on whether your website and digital marketing efforts ultimately help them help their users by providing accurate, reliable, and quick search engine results.

We Want To Hear From You

We want to hear about your Hot, Warm & Cold customer experiences. Comment below and let us know what tactics you are using – what works and what doesn’t work.

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Jennifer Ray
Jennifer Ray is the creative director and founder of Redwood. She is an expert at custom web design, WordPress development, digital marketing, UX design, local SEO, branding & graphic design. With 20 years of experience, Jennifer brings an unmatched level of expertise to her clients in the Raleigh & Wake Forest area.

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