These are very challenging times for small businesses. As governments around the world enact measures to help small businesses stay open and keep employees on the payroll during the global COVID-19 pandemic, spending on new customer acquisition has become drastically curtailed to non-existent for many as business owners focus on survival. Whether it’s a V-curve or a U-curve recovery, small businesses that are able to persevere through the uncertainty to come out the other side will need to do more with less in the post-pandemic economy.
Note: This article was written before the pandemic and focuses on DIY and inexpensive customer acquisition tactics for small businesses. We acknowledge that many small businesses right now need to put their time and energy into navigating relief programs, financing, and other supports; however, we hope that the following suggestions can be a warm starting place for small businesses shifting back to a growth mindset post-pandemic.
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As a small business, your main objective is to attract more customers in order to make more revenue-generating sales so that you can set in motion the cycle of your company’s growth. Mature companies spend a big portion of their budgets on customer acquisition, coming up with elaborate marketing strategies, allocating large sums of money towards different channels of advertising.
However, for a small business with less capital, big spending is very rarely possible. Aggressive media campaigns and influencer endorsements are not everybody’s cup of tea. Fortunately, not every business needs to go down that road because acquiring new customers without dipping too deep into your finances is possible.
With a bit of innovative thinking, smart bootstrapping efforts and making the most of the digital tools you have on hand, small business owners can easily reach out to their target audience and convert their interactions into sales. Read on to learn about five such handy tips.
Ask for Referrals
Your existing customers are the best and most authentic source of marketing that you can rely on. With so much paid advertising on the internet, word of mouth is still among the most powerful tools of promoting your business. People tend to trust the views of people they know rather than promotional messages by companies. Think about how many times you tried a new restaurant just because someone you know recommended it to you.
However, just because you delivered on your promise does not mean that the customer will automatically be inclined to promote you. You’ll have to encourage them to do so. You could, for instance, set up an automated, but personalized feeling, email to be sent to recurring customers after their purchase to ask them for a referral. You can even incentivize them by offering discounts for every new customer you acquire through their referral, similar to Webnames’ own affiliate and referral programs.
Partner with Other Businesses
Look for other businesses that are not your direct competitors but rather complement what you’re offering. Partnering with such companies can be a win-win situation for you, the other company and your customers. For you and your partner, this can be a great opportunity to tap into each other’s customer base.
This will also make your existing customers happier as they will benefit from the new and improved results of your business partnership. For instance, if you are the owner of a new gym or fitness center, you can partner with an activewear brand to offer free gym bags to the first 100 new customers who sign up for membership.
Create an awesome website
Every business needs a website, no matter how small it is. When building your site, start by picking a relevant, unique and easy-to-remember domain name. Avoid using numbers, special characters and modified spellings that may make your web address prone to being misspelled.
A great way to make your domain name stand out and add value to your business is to opt for one of the new domain extensions that are more contextual to your business and easier to find great names in. For instance,
- If you’re a tech startup, your domain name can be your company name followed by .tech.
- If you’re an eCommerce store, you could opt for a definitive domain extension such as .store.
- If you want to keep your online identity more versatile and broad, then you could choose .online or .site.
Aside from a memorable name, check your website regularly for design inconsistencies, broken or outdated links and the quality of content. Stay on top of SEO trends, look for trending keywords relevant to your industry (using Google Ads) and publish compelling content around it. This will greatly boost your website’s ranking on search engines and drive more organic traffic to your business.
Another way to improve your search engine results rank is by reaching out to credible websites and asking them to link back to your content. Earning backlinks from authority websites is among the most legitimate ways of sending positive signals to search engines.
In order to attract customers to your business, you need to be where your target audience hangs out. Find out which social media channel is popular among your target customer segment and make sure you have an active presence on those channels.
Engage with them regularly through meaningful posts and always respond to social shares and comments (both positive and negative). Invest in paid promotions, such as those offered by Facebook and Instagram, as they give you valuable insights into the demographics of your customers and also when they are the most active.
For a new business with limited marketing budgets, social media – especially low-cost things like boosted posts – can be a powerful tool for acquiring new customers and creating a brand image that new audiences can relate to.
Offer incentives to new customers
Take a minute to reflect on your own buying behavior. Have you ever been enticed to try out a new product or brand because of the attractive discount it was offering you? Incentives such as first-customer discounts and free trials go a long way in encouraging people to do business with you.
Once they are convinced of the quality you offer, you can be rest assured that they will come back to you. You can also encourage customers to sign up for free giveaways. This way you can give them a chance to experience your products or services and also store their information for future use to send them better-targeted emails about relevant offers, products, and other deals.
Free giveaways and deals are not just restricted to online customers. You can even provide free samples to people visiting your physical store and at malls or events. Ever seen long queues of people waiting to try free samples of new products outside restaurants, cafes or ice cream shops? Such is the power of “free”!
These tips are just to give you a breakthrough in acquiring new customers. Once you have a better understanding of their buying behaviors and they too have had their first few experiences with your products or services, retargeting them would be a whole lot easier.
Until then, your top priority should be to convince people to try your products and then strive to deliver the best service and quality at every step possible so that they keep coming back for more.
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