“No thanks, I don’t need more customers,” said absolutely no small business owner ever. More customers means more revenue and more profits, so every business wants to have more customer acquisition.
But that can be easier said than done, especially in the middle of 2021. The last year and a half have been tough for everybody. The COVID-10 pandemic and associated shutdowns resulted in soaring unemployment, which in turn motivated people to close their wallets and tighten their belts. A PWC survey found that 36% of consumers intend to spend less in 2021, a 200% rise on the previous year, and McKinsey reported that almost 40% say they’ll decrease their discretionary spending.
It’s true that the vaccination rollout in the US and many other countries have helped governments reopen the economy and bolstered consumer confidence, but it’s far from an easy ride. Even though customers are beginning to spend again, with consumer spending rising 11.3% in Q1 2021, and business owners are feeling hopeful, it’s still a challenge to acquire new buyers.
No business is alone in their niche, so you need to find ways to refine your marketing strategy to identify the right leads, attract their attention, and convert them into paying customers.
Tips For Customer Acquisition
Here are 3 tips for better marketing that converts more customers.
1. Define and Then Target Your Target Audience
All too many small business owners are still neglecting to develop their target audience appropriately. There’s a myth that the broader your funnel, the higher your conversion rate, or to put it another way, that it works to “pray and spray” across the broadest possible range of people.
Some SMB owners feel that narrowing down their target audience means excluding potential customers and could harm their revenue, but the opposite is true. The more accurately you define your target audience, the more relevant your marketing campaigns will be and the more you’ll attract people who really are interested in your product or service.
“Targeting a specific market does not mean that you are excluding people who do not fit your criteria,” says Mandy Porta, owner of Success Designs marketing and design agency. “Rather, target marketing allows you to focus your marketing dollars and brand message on a specific market that is more likely to buy from you than other markets. This is a much more affordable, efficient, and effective way to reach potential clients and generate business.”
Both Google and Facebook offer tools to help you target your ads, inviting you to customize content and creative for different segments and set parameters for different audiences. For example, a real estate agent in Ohio might have two different ads, one for people who live in Cleveland and another for those who live in Columbus; a wedding planner might target people who are engaged; an ecommerce toy company could direct their marketing at parents of children aged under 10.
Aharon Horwitz, Co-Founder of automated marketing platform AutoLeadStar and co-host of the Inside Auto Podcast (which focuses on trends in marketing and automation in the auto industry) agrees about the power of targeted ads. He states during an episode of the Inside Auto Podcast, “A lot of acquisition in auto is done today through Google and Facebook. They’re kind of what we call, you know, the big two advertising platforms that are interesting… Google and Facebook are where a dealer really gets to build their own brand and their own acquisition funnel.”
2. Create an affiliate program
Affiliate marketing has been around for a number of years, and it’s still an effective tool for casting a broad, yet targeted, net for new customers. The affiliate marketing industry is predicted to pass $8 billion by 2022, close to double the amount it was worth in 2015, and research shows that 81% of brands use it to capture new customers, engage with existing ones, and drive sales.
With an affiliate program, you’re essentially outsourcing responsibility for promoting your products to the affiliate members, who use your affiliate links in blog posts or ads on their own websites. You’ll only pay whenever a lead clicks through to your site or actually makes a purchase, depending on the terms you establish for your affiliate program, which means you should be seeing a decent RoI on your program.
Affiliate marketing is only effective when you’re working with affiliates who have a following that overlaps significantly with your target market. There’s no point running an affiliate program for an auto dealership on a blog that’s for pro marathon runners, for example. So once again, it’s crucial to define your target audience.
3. Partner with complementary businesses
Two heads are better than one, and two businesses can generate more revenue. When you join together with another small business, you can share leads and marketing ideas to push up sales for both of you. Pick someone with an overlapping target audience, because the chances are good that someone who’s interested in getting a mani-pedi might also be interested in brow shaping or laser hair removal, for example.
The U.S. Small Business administration offers this advice for small businesses seeking to boost their income: “Team up with businesses that have a similar customer base, but aren’t directly competitive, and strategize how you can target each other’s customers to drive new business to each other.”
Together, you can come up with deals like offering your customers a discount coupon for the other one’s business, promoting bundled packages like garden landscaping and house painting together, and simply suggesting that loyal customers try your partner’s business. After all, if they are happy with the other person’s service and trust their advice, they’re likely to be willing to follow the recommendation to try your business too.
Acquiring more customers can be done
Attracting new leads and converting them to paying customers can be challenging, but you don’t have to sit back and wait for them to come to you. Reach out to the right prospects by defining your target audience, customizing Google and Facebook ads to appeal to their interests, running an affiliate program with relevant sites, and working together with businesses in a complementary niche to drive leads and increase your customer acquisition.