Undoubtedly one of the most critical (if not the most critical) questions entrepreneurs ask is how do I get more customers? It’s the burning questions on everyone’s mind. This is partly because driving customer growth is the most important part of any growth strategy, but it’s also because small business owners tend to have a lot of anxiety around this topic. Of the multitude of things you can try, how do you know if the tactics you select are the right ones? How many tactics should you focus on and when do you know something is not working? There’s plenty of room for uncertainty as well as ineffectiveness, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take control of your marketing strategy and really follow through.
Test Everything, Always
When answering the question, “How do I get more customers in the door?” testing is of primary importance. Without a method for testing things like website navigation, social media engagement, and online store usability, you have no idea how your customers are getting along. They could love or hate your store, feel bored or excited about your social media posts – you can’t know unless you’re testing. View every customer as an opportunity to collect more data and experiment with new ideas. Even more important than communicating with your customers is listening to them, and in some cases, the only way to listen is by observing behavior.
How do you know what to look for? First off, be sure to invest in tools that give you clear answers about your data instead of just leaving you more confused. Customer preferences can be broken into two obvious categories: the preferences they know they have and the ones they might not. For example, a survey tool or a simple conversation with a customer can reveal whatever information the customer tells you – maybe they prefer a different checkout method or wish you still carried an old product that you stopped stocking. These preferences are valuable to learn. However, even more powerful can be the preferences customers don’t know they have. Website heatmap testing has become popular for this very reason, as sometimes customers don’t know why they’re having a problem. For example, you may realize that customers prefer a different navigation menu style only after you switch and notice much lower bounce rates.
If you’ve yet to explore location targeting, this can be a lucrative endeavor – especially for brick and mortar businesses. In fact, brick and mortar businesses who fail to do some location-based marketing are missing out on an opportunity to establish themselves in their community. The new Starbucks app feature that allows customers to order via their phone and pickup at the nearest location is a perfect example. When placing online ads, you can now use geo-fencing, a feature that lets you section off relevant regions and target specific deals to those that live there. Keep competitors in mind when deciding on these perimeters. You want to ensure that your business is the most convenient distance and not further away than your competitors.
“70% of consumers are willing to share their location information if they believe they are getting something of value in return like coupons or loyalty points, according to LSA’s Local Mobile Search Study.”
Even if your business doesn’t exist in a physical location, consider whether consumers in certain areas have specific needs regarding your services. Are there special shipping offers you can provide to those areas?
Constructing a wise budget is easier said than done, but it is possible to achieve. Thankfully, the most effective marketing strategy in the game right now is pretty much free – content marketing. If you want to keep your budget tight while still going for the biggest impact, become a master of content creation (not just curation) in your industry. As a rule of thumb, you can continue growing your marketing budget as long as your Customer Acquisition Cost is less than your Customer Lifetime Value (learn more about this concept in Live Free or DIY).
Another part of wise budgeting is determining the right time to bring another employee on board. Writers, designers, social media managers, and customer service reps should all be considered when creating a budget to drive customer growth. Yes, investments like these can be scary at first. But bringing qualified professionals to your team is like multiplying your hourly efforts. No longer are you the only one putting in 40 hour weeks, but your entire team as well. With a smart strategy, this additional help can dramatically boost visibility and brand recognition.
Your website is your digital home. It’s where customers can go to get to know you and decide whether you are a good fit for them; thus driving continuous web traffic is a good technique to focus on. This is how you get customers coming to your door without effort – the kind of “set it and forget it” strategy entrepreneurs dream about. There are tons of ways to drive more traffic to your site – like choosing strong long-tail keywords, optimizing headlines, or creating a forum to keep users coming back. Things won’t be perfect right off the bat. It’s up to you to monitor and tweak your website as you gain new insights and opportunities.
Lastly, remember that attracting new customers is of little value with a customer retention strategy. Place as much, if not more importance on keeping your current customers satisfied and increasing Customer Lifetime Value. Whether it’s offering similar products to previous customers or getting them onto your email list to learn tips, providing long-term value is the ticket to customer loyalty.