You’re in a competitive marketplace. With over 30 million U.S. small businesses, you need to constantly gain new customers to build your business and your brand.
“Everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it,” wrote journalist and storyteller Andy Rooney. As a small business owner, growing your customer base may sometimes be a challenging experience but there are ways to make the process easier, more productive and enjoyable along the way. Here are some ideas.
Identify Your Target Market
Identifying new customers and retaining current ones is an ongoing challenge. As a small business owner, you may feel a little luck is necessary to take that next step toward growing your business. “I feel that luck is preparation meeting opportunity,” says talk show host, author and media entrepreneur Oprah Winfrey.
New and existing customers are key to your business and you need to understand the marketing channels available to reach them. Becoming educated about your target audience and creating compelling ways to lead them to your unique brand solutions will help you achieve success.
Use your blog and a standout website to attract prospects and customers and gather email addresses by offering a discount on their next purchase. Create email campaigns that build trust with new customers by thanking them for their purchases, offer them incentives and help them become more familiar with all of your brand solutions.
Review your sales pitch and promotional messaging to see if it still represents your business and resonates with your customers. Consider asking family members, friends or even new contacts at networking events to give you honest feedback about your sales pitch to make sure it’s appealing. You could also contact some of your most loyal customers to find out what they think of your messaging.
As a thought exercise, take the structure of your pitch and remove your product or service. Replace it with something you’re in the market for and then ask yourself if you would be convinced to buy it based on that pitch. If you find yourself feeling underwhelmed or uninterested, chances are your pitch isn’t effective and needs to be reworked.
Ramp Up Referrals
“A customer talking about their experience with you is worth 10 times what you write or say about yourself,” says author and entrepreneur David J. Greer. Word-of-mouth advertising has always been a valuable force and in today’s age of online reviews, positive remarks are a virtual game changer.
Reward positive online comments with a word of thanks and a discount offer for a future purchase. Address any negative comments with an acknowledgment and an offer to correct the situation:
Maintaining a solid online reputation will encourage more customers to try your products and services.
Offline, encourage happy customers to tell others about the rewarding experiences they have had with your brand. Customer referrals are a powerful sales tool and should be a key element of your marketing plan. Incorporate good habits into your regular business routine by setting referral goals and making them part of your ongoing sales strategy.
Expand Your Network
“Networking is an investment in your business. It takes time and when done correctly can yield great results for years to come,” says business and leadership development consultant Diane Helbig. While making business connections is important for business growth, you can only rely on your existing network for so long. Your customer base may be solid, but you never want to miss out on new leads.
Consider forming partnerships, attending networking events and joining organizations to grow your network. You can leverage your expertise by speaking at an industry conference. Get involved at the local level by providing thought leadership on industry issues and topics. Expanding your network is a proven way to grow your customer base.
Enhance Your Website
“Websites promote your business 24/7. No employee will do that,” says online marketing consultant Paul Cookson. Your website may perform well but is it pulling in new customers? At Web.com, our custom website design services can capture everything that makes your small business unique and help you gain more customers. If you don’t have a website, our website builder makes the process fast, easy and affordable.
You can attract more customers with our professional SEO services. This will help you attract the attention of online search engines and raise your business’s ranking in search engines where customers are looking for your solutions.
Every year, Americans spend over $360 billion in online purchases. Adding a secure eCommerce option to your website converts online visitors to buyers and generates more revenue for your business. Make it easy for your customers to make a purchase when they are actively seeking information about your products and services.
Activate Social Media
“Social media gives us the opportunity to humanize our communications and make our companies more approachable,” says entrepreneur and business leader Ardath Albee. While social media is an affordable and effective way to reach your customers, selecting the right social channels and audience is key.
A message sent from Twitter is received differently than one on LinkedIn. Learn how these platforms operate and how their different demographics think, then tailor your messages accordingly. You should engage social audiences with compelling content that creates a conversation. Monitor social media analytics to see what social messages and channels work best and adapt your marketing strategy to maximize results. Some metrics to consider include:
Reach: The total number of unique users who viewed your post or ad.
Impressions: The total number of times your post or ad was viewed.
Frequency: The average amount of times a unique user saw your ad. Calculated as impressions/reach. For example, if your reach is 100 and your impressions is 300, your frequency (average times your ad was seen by a unique person) is 3. This is a helpful metric to use when evaluating when to refresh your creatives.
Engagement: Broad term that encompasses all actions taken on a post or ad. Includes actions such as likes, shares, comments, clicks and video views.
Engagement Rate: The percent of impressions that resulted in an engagement with your post or ad. Calculated as (engagements/Impressions) *100.
Link Clicks: Only counts clicks on a link in your post or ad. Links can be to other places on Facebook or to other websites.
Clicks (all): Counts all link clicks, plus clicks that aren’t related to links. For example, clicking on a photo to expand or un-muting a video.
Click-Thru-Rate (CTR): The percent of impressions that resulted in a click (typically link clicks). This is calculated as (link clicks/impressions) *100.
Conversions: Typically actions taken on your website as a result of viewing or clicking on your ad. Includes actions such as page views, downloads, leads, purchases and more.
Key Performance Indicator (KPI): The primary objective of your post or ad that you want to measure (e.g. post engagement, video views, landing page views, leads or purchases). When choosing to run paid campaigns on social media, aligning campaign objectives and settings to your KPI is crucial to see success.
Acquiring new customers can be a challenge, but you have already done the difficult part by providing a quality product with real value. Apply these ideas to convert new customers into brand followers and advocates.