Customers are the lifeblood of a business, and finding and keeping loyal ones can be the difference between total success and absolute failure. While coincidental foot traffic (real-life or virtual) is bound to happen, most businesses will need to develop a customer acquisition strategy to increase traffic and profits.
The great thing is that attracting new customers doesn’t need to be complex, and you don’t necessarily need extensive budgets to meet your goals. Here are a few easy to implement strategies that can have a big impact on your bottom line.
1. Take Advantage of Local SEO
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is not a new concept, but it is one that is often swept under the rug as unimportant or too complicated. The truth, of course, is that neither of those assumptions are true. When it comes to finding more customers, focusing on local SEO efforts can make a big difference.
How big, you may ask? Well, the answer to that can vary based on a variety of things, like business type, optimization levels, and even local demographics. However, in a recent study of over 5,000 smartphone users in the U.S., four out five of them “want search ads to be customized to their city, ZIP code or immediate surroundings,” which is exactly what Local SEO can do.
One of the simplest ways to do that is to claim your Google My Business page, which is free and easy to do.
As part of this effort, you will need to provide valuable information about your business, including hours of operation, contact information, relevant URLs and some carefully crafted descriptions of your business. For more information on strengthening your local SEO presence, click here.
2. Find the Right Social Media Platform(s)
Like it or not, social media (a.k.a, modern day word-of-mouth) plays a significant role in brand awareness and brand awareness is directly tied to new customers.
There are a lot of questions surrounding social media marketing. How do I calculate ROI? What should I post? How often should I post? But with social media platforms popping up left and right (it does feel that way, right?) business owners looking to attract new customers need to be asking this question first: Where should I post?
Different social media sites attract different users, and the key to attracting new customers is determining which one(s) represents the demographic to which your product or service is most relevant. LinkedIn, for example, is designated to adults with professional interests, while SnapChat is largely used by a younger crowd.
It may be the case that your target audience spans various age and interest groups, and that’s OK. The key is to remember that social media sites are not one-size-fits-all, and that you’ll need to plan your new customer acquisition strategies based on user interest and social media capabilities (i.e., sharing informative content on LinkedIn and Facebook or using photos to engage users on SnapChat or Instagram.
3. Partner Up
Often times, the market segment for one business will overlap with complimentary business products services, and for small business owners, identifying those overlaps and creating partnerships based on them can help increase new customers and keep those customers coming back.
Imagine, for a moment, that you’re the owner of a trendy new restaurant with a BYOB policy. Down the road from you is a thriving little wine shop that is often filled with what you believe to be your target demographic. By striking up a promotional partnership with the wine store, you can create some brand buzz and entice new customers to visit your restaurant.
Of course, many of these partnerships can be reciprocal and therefore mutually beneficial, so keep that in mind as you approach potential partners.
4. Give Back
Cause marketing is becoming increasingly important when creating brand awareness, and 83% of U.S. consumers are more willing to purchase a product that benefits society or the environment. That number increases to 87% for millennial consumers.
What’s more is that 72% of U.S. consumers (83% of millennials) are likely to tell a friend or family member about a business that practices social responsibility. For proof of the power cause marketing can have, just look at companies like Tom’s or Warby Parker, both of which have gained success by giving back.
Small businesses that want to give back to their community and attract new customers can evaluate local (or national) charitable groups, and determine if a cause marketing opportunity is present.
As an extra bonus, these relationships are often accompanied by a strong social component, meaning customers, as well as the organization you choose to work with, are likely to create and share relevant content centered on social media platforms.
5. Create a Referral Program
A while back, in an announcement about Facebook’s future forays in advertising, founder Mark Zuckerberg made the following claim about referral marketing:
“People influence people. Nothing influences people more than are recommendation from a trusted friend. A trusted referral influences people more than the best broadcast message. A trusted referral is the Holy Grail of advertising.”
That’s a pretty hefty statement, but it supports the long held notion that referral marketing is one of the most powerful and successful strategies available to business owners. Creating a referral program for your small business can help you leverage your best brand ambassadors, happy customers, to bring in new customers.
When considering how to build and implement a referral program, be sure to keep it simple, make it specific to your brand or product, and be sure to track metrics to determine success or failure. Don’t be afraid to experiment a bit, but never lose sight of what matters in the equation — the customer. Failure to do that could make your loyal customers feel like pawns in your marketing game.
Gaining customers is essential to business growth, and by mixing and matching these customer acquisition strategies, along with a little research and creativity, can go a long way in creating new and long-lasting customer relationships.
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