As a small business owner, you may struggle to come up with ideas for how to get more customers. If so, you’re not alone.
In a survey conducted by Onepager, small business owners said that if they could use help with one thing, it would be getting more customers. It received double the responses of any other concern on the list.
Thirty-six percent of [small business owners] agreed that getting customers is the area that they need the most help with. —Onepager
It’s no surprise that getting more customers is a chief concern among small business owners. Without a constant influx of customers, it’s very difficult—if not impossible—to run a profitable business.
Finding and attracting new customers requires creativity, and many small business owners don’t enjoy the luxury of being able to set aside time for brainstorming. In all likelihood, you spend your days hiring employees, restocking shelves, managing staff, and conducting a variety of administrative tasks.
In good news, you don’t have to be a marketing genius to find more customers. Other marketing and business gurus have already done the brainstorming and testing for you.
Consider the following tips from industry experts for attracting, retaining, and delighting new customers. Implement the ones that cater best to your business to enjoy the benefits that having more customers provides: higher sales figures, faster business growth, and increased profitability.
Partner with other businesses to attract new clients
In an article for Entrepreneur, Brad Sugars, founder and chairman of ActionCOACH, recommends that businesses find ways to partner with other companies to attract new clients.
He tells the story of a women’s boutique who partnered with a BMW dealership to provide female customers with a coupon for a free kimono. To receive the kimono, customers had to redeem the coupons at the boutique.
Traditional strategies like networking and mailings will do the job, but they won’t do the best job. —Brad Sugars
This partnership brought in more than 600 new customers to the boutique and cost less than $10,000 in merchandise. But it resulted in $240,000 in sales. Customers didn’t simply redeem their coupons and leave. They spent an average of $400 during their visits.
And that’s only the measurable increase in customers. More than likely, those women left the store and told their friends about the boutique as well.
When partnering with another business, you have to do your homework to choose the right partnerships. Competitors certainly won’t make good partners, and neither will businesses that cater to incompatible clientele.
The partnership must benefit both businesses. One business enjoys increased traffic, and the other gets to delight its customers by delivering desirable freebies and discounts.
To identify potential partnerships, first consider what other products and services your target customers might be interested in:
- Content marketing companies may benefit from partnering with web development companies. People who are preparing to launch a website are also likely in the market for content.
- Cloud storage companies could partner with local camera shops. People who are willing to spend a lot of money on a digital camera are also likely to be interested in a reliable means of storing the images they capture.
- Retailers specializing in sports memorabilia could partner with local sports bars. This may be particularly effective around gift-giving holidays, major tournament games, or rivalry games.
Once you’ve identified promising partnerships, develop your promotion and make a proposal. Make sure you clearly highlight the dual benefits of the partnership in your proposal for the greatest chance of acceptance—otherwise your proposal may come off as a sales pitch or a request for a favor.
Extend your outreach with events
In an article for Leadpages, Rachel Wedlund, freelance writer and former campaign owner at Leadpages, recommends hosting an event to attract new customers. By offering free food and drinks and raffling off desirable prizes, the jewelry store she once worked for was able to attract new customers and—as a bonus—collect a significant number of quality email addresses.
Hosting an event provides small businesses with a way to provide something to customers while seemingly asking for nothing in return. Customers enjoy free food and drinks, get to hang out with friends and socialize, and might even win a prize. To enter the raffle, they simply need to provide their email addresses. Everything else they enjoy during the event is on the house.
Even if your event doesn’t lead to increased sales that day, it’s likely that you increased awareness of your store by bringing in people who had never visited before. You also have a means of reaching out to your new potential customers with future sales, promotions, and event notifications.
If you do things right, luck isn’t the biggest piece of the small-business success puzzle. —Rachel Wedlund
Hosting an event isn’t exclusive to small businesses that operate brick-and-mortar stores. Online businesses can benefit from events as well, just in a different format:
- Webinars are educational events that provide potential customers the ability to learn something they’re interested in for free. Host webinars that require email addresses for enrollment.
- Live video streams hosted on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter can replicate some aspects of in-person events, like raffles. You choose one winner from your followers on a specific social channel. Then live stream a video of you drawing the winning name. The raffle will help grow your follower count, allowing you to get your social posts in front of a larger interested audience.
- Industry events are another great way to increase awareness of your business and collect contact information for leads. Attract attendees by bringing in industry influencers to present. If you lack the resources to organize a major event, host a small-scale local event instead.
Between consumer advertising blindness and increased adoption of ad-blocking software, diverting a portion of your advertising budget to host events can be a great way to get new customers. This is especially true if your event is organized in a way that enables expanded outreach through social channels and email communications.
Follow up to turn prospects into customers
Events can be great ways to gather contact information for potential customers. But that contact information is valueless if you don’t take the time to use it. Josh Sprague, CEO of Orange Mud, recommends setting up tasks and reminders to follow up so prospects don’t slip through the cracks.
Another solution for making sure you connect with new email contacts is to invest in automated drip marketing technology. Drip marketing technology allows you to set up email marketing campaigns that are automatically triggered when certain events occur.
So many leads and great conversations are wasted because you forget to follow up. —Josh Sprague
For example, if you held an event at your women’s boutique store and collected hundreds of email addresses, you could establish a drip marketing campaign that would send emails based on certain actions:
- Send an email welcoming all new subscribers. Include images and links to some of your more popular products.
- If a recipient clicks on one of the links but fails to make a purchase, a follow-up email is triggered a week or so later containing a promo code.
- For recipients that didn’t clink on any links in the initial email, a follow up email is sent a week or so later featuring different products.
With automated drip marketing software, you can create campaigns that do all of the follow-up work for you so that you’ll never lose another prospect to forgetfulness. This increases the likelihood that interested prospects will remember your company, and will return to your website or store to make a purchase.
Learn how to attract customers with psychology
In a study conducted by Howard Leventhal, researchers found that people are 25% more likely to take action when presented with clear information on how to move forward. When creating landing pages, social media posts, or marketing emails, it’s crucial to provide a path forward for prospects. Effective calls-to-action (CTAs) can achieve this.
It’s really important to guide your visitors through the buying journey using strategic calls-to-action. —Brittany Leaning
Before communicating with potential customers, determine what action you want them to take after receiving the communication. Is it to subscribe to your email newsletter? Use a promo code to make a purchase? Provide contact information?
You should translate the goal of the communication into a clear and effective CTA to increase the likelihood that customers will take the action you’re aiming for.
In an article for HubSpot, freelance marketer Brittany Leaning shares 31 examples of effective CTAs, and you can learn some clear lessons by reviewing these examples. Effective CTAs
- use colors that stand out from the rest of the content and images on the page
- are isolated, providing a single path forward
- highlight the simplicity of taking action: “sign up for free” or “start your free trial”
- cater to highly specific needs, goals, and pain points (for example, “become a better manager”)
- motivate people with psychological tactics like scarcity (“get today’s specials”), exclusivity (“by invitation only”), or fear of missing out (“only 10 spots remain”)
It’s important to A/B test CTAs to find those that work best for your campaigns and goals. Consider running a few tests with limited recipients and various versions of CTAs. If you do this before launching campaigns widely, you can make sure you’re utilizing the most effective CTAs.
Find new customers through your existing ones
In an article for Xerox’s Small Business Solutions blog, Rieva Lesonsky, CEO of GrowBiz Media, offers suggestions for how businesses can grow by building relationships with their existing customers. Lesonsky recommends offering special promotions to existing customers, rewarding them for anniversaries, and making it as simple as possible to complete future purchases.
Focusing on current customers, and working to upsell and retain them, can boost your business as much as attracting new ones. —Rieva Lesonsky
Offering exceptional service and personalized deals to existing customers inspires loyalty. According to Accenture’s most recent loyalty report, loyal customers make more purchases over time and are less likely to switch providers, even if a competitor’s prices are lower. Additionally, 55% of customers express their loyalty by recommending their favorite businesses.
By taking excellent care of existing customers, you can attract new customers through word-of-mouth advertising.
Offering promotions, discounts, and rewards to existing customers are excellent ways to keep them engaged and coming back for more. But offering exceptional service doesn’t have to be so complicated.
Alyssa Gregory, founder of Small Business Bonfire, recommends focusing on customer service basics: know your products inside and out, listen to what your customers are saying, respond to their feedback, and incorporate that feedback into your business model.
Consider the cumulative experience your customers have when they visit your store or website. —Alyssa Gregory
Track and measure everything to learn what’s working (and what’s not)
All of these ideas for getting more customers are excellent. But they may not all work for your business—even if they’ve worked for others.
If your customers rarely check their email, collecting email addresses and sending marketing campaigns is sure to fall flat. For this reason, it’s crucial that you track and measure everything to learn what works and what doesn’t.
In an article for Inc., technology journalist Christina DesMarais recommends measuring the cost of acquiring a new customer, the lifetime value of that customer, and your monthly churn. For online initiatives, you can use Google’s Campaign URL Builder to track clicks and measure conversions. For offline initiatives, you may want to use a spreadsheet and track these values manually.
Attracting a strong and loyal customer base is a matter of life or death for your e-commerce company. —Christina DesMarais
For example, say you held an in-store event to attract new customers. Record the cost of the event—all food, prizes, and labor. Then record the amount of sales you made during the event and subtract your inventory costs. That will give you an idea of the cost of each customer, as well as the value of each.
If the event cost $5,000 overall and attracted 500 customers, the cost of each of those customers was $10. Next, calculate your profits on sales. Let’s say you sold $10,000 worth of merchandise, and your profits were 60%: $6,000. Divide that by the number of customers to determine the value of each. In this case, it’s $12, meaning each new customer was worth $2 (value minus cost).
However, if you collected email addresses for each new customer, you can measure revenue for those customers in greater detail. You can add campaign tracking URLs to each marketing email you send after the event, for example.
If customers make subsequent purchases after receiving follow-up emails, you can dd the profits for those sales to your event sales to refine the value of each acquired customer even further.
Determine ways to conduct this exercise for each campaign and marketing initiative to identify successful and unsuccessful methods. If you find that the cost of new customers for specific campaigns is consistently higher than the value, it’s best to abandon those methods and try new ones.
By tracking and measuring everything, you can ensure that your efforts are worth the time and cost of implementation.
Get the customers your business needs
Before moving forward with any of these approaches, take time to consider how you will measure their effectiveness. It may work best if you choose the one that sounds most promising and focus on it, rather than trying to implement all at the same time.
By isolating your efforts to one initiative, you’ll have cleaner data to work with when determining the effectiveness of each initiative.
What strategies have you used to get more customers for your business? Share additional tips and tactics in the comments below!