If you are a small-business owner, you know that in order to stay competitive and profitable in today’s marketplace, your business needs to be extraordinary at attracting new customers and keeping existing customers happy. And as good as you may be at customer retention, customer attrition still happens.
On top of that, approximately half of the qualified leads that should be filling the vacancies left by ex-customers simply aren’t ready to commit. Taken together, these issues make having an effective customer acquisition strategy absolutely crucial for sustained business growth.
Of course having a great product that delights users and drives referrals will get you going out of the gate. However, once the organic growth begins to plateau, you need to rely on other channels besides word of mouth to keep new customers coming. Unfortunately, many of these channels—paid media being the big one—can put quite a strain on your small business budget. Plus, they often don’t scale very well, meaning that the return they give you is just enough to offset the added expense, but not much more.
What you want is a scalable acquisition strategy—a strategy that results in a steady increase in new customers and revenue, while requiring relatively smaller and smaller operating costs. If your business is struggling to gain new customers in a cost-effective manner, here’s a look at how to create and implement a scalable customer acquisition strategy.
This may sound ridiculously simple, but having a clear understanding of the customers you are marketing to is critical to your customer acquisition strategy. Of course, knowing the basics about your customer’s demographics—age, gender, income, marital status—are important, but really getting to know your customers means drilling down to more telling information, such as interests, preferences, and buying habits. This knowledge will help you gain a clearer picture of what your target market actually looks like. From that vantage point you can tailor your products and services to better meet your prospective customer’s needs and wants. Knowing your target market will also help you craft and deliver a more personalized marketing message to your most-promising prospects.
Personalized and targeted messages tend to result in better B2C and B2B lead generation. In fact, nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads. Additionally, the quality of your response to those prospects that have taken the time and effort to contact you is critical in converting them to customers. Of the various communication channels that are available to today’s businesses for reaching out to prospects, email still remains the most-popular option. However, the success of your email in attracting and holding your prospect’s attention will depend upon how well your email is crafted. Crisp, concise emails with compelling subject lines are more effective than rambling, confused communications that require real effort to decipher. And it goes without saying that errors in spelling, punctuation, and grammar should be non-existent. The key is to get to the point, spell out how your product or service can solve your prospect’s problem, and include a simple “call to action” to move your prospect to the next step in the sales funnel.
Today’s customer is ultra-connected, informed, and engaged in social media. And one of the best ways to scale your customer acquisition strategy is to build a social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. It’s on these and other social sites that your prospective customers are spending time. So why not leverage social media to expand your audience-reach, and drive more traffic to your business site? The associated costs are minimal and can reap large and lasting dividends.
The key to successfully leveraging social media is to provide quality content that is received by prospective customers as relevant, engaging, entertaining, and useful. Content that comes off as self-promotional in any way, shape, or form can kill your social marketing campaign, and do significant damage to your brand credibility. For a positive example, consider the “Fix in Six” Vine video series produced by Lowe’s. These videos focus on simple, helpful home and garden tips, presented in a way that is easily digestible (and even entertaining). And, other than being shared by the Lowes social media team, these short videos feature absolutely no branding whatsoever.
Used properly, social media can also help build existing customer trust by providing a forum through which clients can feel free to comment about your products and services—without fear of retribution. Responding openly and transparently to the comments of current and prospective customers can help to build the kind of trust and brand loyalty that no high-priced media campaign could ever deliver.
Information and technology have made today’s customers more informed and empowered than ever before. They understand that the customer is “King,” and have taken the axiom the customer is always right directly to heart. So, if they don’t receive the experience they were hoping for in dealing with your company, they know that there are lots of others out there willing to bend over backwards for their business. To keep your competitor’s satisfied, you need to make sure that every new and repeat customer receives an exceptional experience at every touch point. And you need to make sure that there is effective internal communication within your organization, so that every customer-facing employee understands the importance of this crucial customer acquisition strategy.
Leveraging technology is an important strategy for optimizing the customer experience. This means making sure that your site is easy to navigate, and that it is optimized for mobile use (because most of today’s customers live on tablets and smartphones, using these as their preferred method of online interaction).
Automated Customer Relationship (CRM) programs are also valuable tools for enriching the user experience. Armed with affordable cloud-based CRM tools, you can follow every lead and opportunity, and track every customer on their journey through the sales process, taking action when necessary to ensure that every customer’s needs are quickly and effectively addressed.
As your small business grows, utilizing the above tips, along with cloud-based CRM tools and other business software, will help you to scale your customer acquisition strategy for sustained growth, profitability, and a competitive edge.
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