Your ability to attract and retain new customers will ultimately define the long-term success of your business
Regardless of your business model or size, the one defining factor in your long-term growth will be your ability to acquire new customers. And this takes a considerable investment of time and money – as well as some fresh thinking.
For example, British wine retailer Majestic Wine are currently spending an estimated £100 on every new customer in order to change their exclusive image and boost their market share. Other companies spend more and some spend less to varying degrees of success.
One thing is for sure – acquiring new customers is an expensive business. But there are steps you can take to cut your customer acquisition (CA) costs at the same time as boosting your levels of new customers.
Create enticing offers and promotions
To start with, let’s look at the tried and tested way of drawing in new customers – enticing offers. Every major company in the UK offers incentives to new customers whether that be in the form of free items or discounts with other retailers.
For example, BingoPort, an affiliate site, encourage users to sign up for other bingo sites through listing those which offer no-deposit bingo. A free bingo bonus is implemented with the intention of boosting CA rates – hopefully, after a few free games, the player will like what they see and be tempted into depositing some funds.
To return to Majestic Wine, one of their ways of enticing new customers is to offer £10 off every order over £50. With the gross profits of a bottle of wine considered, on average Majestic Wine will make no profit from these kind of transactions.
However the overall aim is to bring customers into the store, wow them with their service and encourage them to return when there is no longer a financial incentive – ensuring their custom long-term. In order for this form of CA to work you must ensure that you excel in the following areas: price, availability, service and reliability.
Skimping on any of these areas will ultimately leave you empty-handed. Your new customer will be unlikely to return and your investment (voucher/offer) will have all gone to waste.
Grow your audience on social media
For a fraction of the price you can reach a larger audience through social media than you could through an expensive advertising campaign
Even a modest 15-second radio advert with that local station that no one has ever heard of is going to be pricey. Rates to advertise on small-time radio stations can start at £300+ and that’s before the initial production phase.
Measuring the success of these campaigns will also be tricky. How do you quantify the amount of new business gained from a radio advert? Luckily you can reach a similar sized audience (if not bigger) through a savvy social media campaign.
If you’re a business owner worth your salt you will already have a social media presence across at least two platforms. If not, head straight over to Facebook and Twitter after you’ve finished reading this article and set up your accounts.
Use social media to run a free giveaway contest. Offer people something that will appeal to them and ask your followers to like and share your post to enter the contest. This will ensure maximum exposure for minimal investment. The most retweeted post of all time was a billionaire’s offer of free money– and there’s a lesson to be learned there. Offers get shared on social media.
Facebook is also an essential platform. It allows you to specifically target your defined demographic from as little as £1 a day, which help to improve your reach. If you run a good contest you could easily get a reach of 10,000 from just one post.
Reaching far more people than you would from a crummy advert on a local radio station. Of course you will also have your contest winner who you should treat with all the respect of a new customer to encourage repeat business.
Hold in-person events
Majestic Wine’s free tasting events keep existing customers happy as well as attracting new ones
Networking or social events can provide a massive boost to your CA figures. If you are in the service industry, you can utilise your existing customers by encouraging them to bring friends and family to one of your events where you can impress them with your customer service and offering.
Returning once again to the example of Majestic Wine, each month they host free wine tasting events for this very purpose. The financial outlay on wine and ‘nibbles’ is around £50 and not only do the events encourage new customers to shop with Majestic but they also help to build relationships with existing customers, boosting their loyalty.
Your existing customers can often fall by the wayside in your pursuit of newer ones. Do not fall into that trap. Keeping your existing customers happy will not only benefit you financially but it will increase the likelihood of word of mouth recommendations– unquantifiable but priceless.
Seek out partnerships
Have you ever ordered from Hello Fresh, Laithwaites or Tails? If you have you will have noticed that each delivery received is full of vouchers for similar retailers. Reciprocal marketing like this is a great low-cost way of reaching new customers within your target demographic.
Analyse your customers and look at other businesses that would appeal to your target demographic, avoiding direct competitors. Approach these businesses and offer them a partnership whereby you offer vouchers to their customers and they offer vouchers to yours.
By doing this you avoid the up-front costs of launching an independent marketing campaign as well as specifically targeting your ideal customer.
Boost your visibility online
The internet should be your tool of choice when targeting new customers. We have already discussed the power of social media but that is nothing compared to the power of Google. The vast majority of your new customers will find your business through an online search engine.
If you sell flowers in Reading, storage units in Birkenhead or sports clothes in Cirencester, you need to make sure your business is top of the pile for that search on Google. Review the search engine optimisation (SEO) of your website for free online.
Pinpoint areas to improve upon and execute a plan to boost your SEO. If your business comes up on the second page of a Google search you can’t expect many new customers to find you organically. SEO is a carefully considered approach based on strong research and insights – and given Google’s regular updates, it’s a changing beast. Stay on top of the science of SEO by employing an agency, or at least a freelance consultant, to ensure your brand ranks highly for the right search terms.
So that’s just five ways you can grow your customer base without losing people who always buy your product or service. If you’ve got any experience with these approaches to winning customers, let us know in the comments below.