The last blog of 2021 leads us to probably the single most important aspect of running your own business. Customers..
As we approach the end of another year of the pandemic, many business owners have continued to adopt different ways of working and help customers through new channels. Entrepreneurialism has continued to thrive, with many starting new ventures and looking to establish themselves in the market. For small businesses old and new, winning the hearts and minds of customers can be one of the trickiest parts of operating – but is also the most crucial.
While many have embraced the opportunity and adapted, some may not see customers arrive in the numbers they were hoping for.
So where to start?
We’ve pulled together a guide sharing the basics of customer acquisition, detailing what you can do now to attract customers and keep them coming back. Here’s what we suggest:
First, consider what customers want right now
Customers are looking for two things – reassurance and human connection - they want to know they are in safe hands. As we are still living with COVID-19, they’ll be looking for reassurance that you are taking the right precautions – like confirming QR check ins, respecting capacity limits and sanitising and cleaning regularly. Where possible, make this visible, like sharing details of your post-lockdown hygiene protocols in-store and online.
More than anything, though, customers are looking for a sense of community. Smiles are free and they are more important than ever. Consider adding a personal touch where you can, whether that’s greeting customers by name when they walk in the door or giving regulars a sneak peek of new products. It’s these human moments that help people feel seen and will keep them coming back.
Review the stages of your marketing funnel
Think of winning over customers as getting them to pass through a series of gates, also known as the marketing funnel. Each stage progresses them closer to building a relationship with your brand.
The first gate is awareness. If no one knows you exist then they’ll never even make it to your front door. Think about simple methods first, from your logo and word of mouth, to shop front signage, merchandising and online methods like advertising on social media or search engine optimisation (SEO). Consider setting up a customer referral system to attract new people. This can be as simple as asking for reviews at all the customer touchpoints with your business.
Once you have built awareness, think about what you want your business to be known for. This is the consideration stage and is where you identify how your business stands out from the crowd – your point of difference. It can be quality, service, product offering, or even location. For example, a gym can set themselves apart with their variety of classes or extra amenities, such as high end beauty products in the change rooms. Make sure that this is clear anywhere your business is represented (online or in person).
The final gate is the fulfilment process – the last hurdle between you and the sale. How quickly and smoothly are you able to help your customers book in, buy or visit? Customer experience is critical here. If offering services online, consider how you can use technology to make this easier, like website booking technology instead of having to call or wait in person. Again, can you add a personal touch that leaves the customer feeling great about choosing your small business?
Remember, the opportunity doesn’t stop once you’ve won a customer. The most cost effective marketing is repeat business and word of mouth. Make it easy for your happiest customers to spread the good word; for example, you can follow up with an invitation to add a Google review or encourage them to follow you on social media.
Take advantage of the opportunity to keep your customer base interested and engaged with your business. Some great cost effective ways to do this include blog, email and social media, where you can interact directly with customers.
Streamline and scale your marketing operations
Once your marketing system is up and running, consider how you can streamline your systems and processes. This can help you keep up with demand as customer acquisition strategies pay off. Are there tools that can support you? Can you consider bringing on extra resources to get through a peak period?
Marketing technology is helpful as you scale. It can automate processes and provide valuable data to help you make your next move. Some tools to consider include:
Google Analytics to measure website traffic and the rate of investment (ROI)
Facebook Business to create and manage social media campaigns
Canva or other design tools for designing beautiful assets to promote your business
Email marketing software for creating eDMs to prospects or existing customers
Customer relationship management (CRM) software to track and improve how you interact with your customers
SEM Rush to help track your SEO and optimise it
Finally, marketing needs a test and learn approach. Start small and iterate as you go – tools and technology will provide information on what’s working and what isn’t. From there, you can isolate acquisition channels (like social media, website, or in person) and track how they’re performing to get an idea of their impact – like where you are getting the most engagement and customer enquiries.
Customer acquisition takes time, but building a strong foundation will create connections that last – helping you to win customers’ hearts and minds not just now, but well into the future.
Get in touch with Purple Accounts on 01925 979500 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org