By Aurora Rodriguez on May 18, 2021
Customer retention is essential but it’s impossible for any business to grow without attracting new customers. Even if you do a great job of keeping your existing customers engaged and buying from you, you need new customers if you want to increase your profits.
You probably know the story when it comes to new customer acquisition – that it can cost anywhere from seven to 10 times as much to attract a new customer as it does to retain an existing one. That can be true, but it doesn’t need to be.
With that in mind, here are three proven ways to generate new customers today – without breaking the bank.
#1: Start a Referral Program
One of the best ways to bring new customers into your business is to ask your existing customers for help. You’ve probably asked a friend for a referral at least once in your life. Most of us have. Your job, then, is to turn that instinct into a coherent program that helps you attract new customers. The statistics don’t lie: a customer is four times as likely to make a purchase when they get a referral from someone they know.
The first step is to decide how you will track referrals. Don’t skip this step. There’s no point in investing your time and energy in a referral program if you’re not going to track your results and see how your program is performing. Your tracking method can be as simple as a spreadsheet. If you use a marketing automation program, it may have a built-in tracking system for referrals.
The next step is figuring out how you will reward people who provide you with referrals. For example, you might offer customers a free or discounted product. If you provide a service, the reward might be a free month of service or even a cash bonus. Whatever your reward is, make sure it’s something that will incentivize people to participate in your referral program.
Next, you’ll need to let people know about the referral program. If you have an email or text list, then you can use it to give subscribers the details and let them know how they’ll be rewarded for successful referrals. Make sure to specify when the rewards will kick in – for example, after a new customer makes their first purchase or signs on for a service.
Finally, track your results and adjust your program as needed. If you’re not getting the results you want, you may need to revisit your rewards to incentivize your customers to make more referrals.
#2: Partner with Other Businesses in Your Area
There is no business that’s so specialized that it doesn’t share customers with other businesses. That means that you can partner with other businesses in your area to expand your customer base and grow your business.
It’s important to note, here, that we’re not talking about partnering with direct competitors. That doesn’t make sense and it won’t help you. Instead, look for businesses where there is some overlap between your target audience and theirs. For example, if you own a bakery, you might partner with a wedding planner or event venue. If you run an insurance agency, you might form a partnership with a local real estate agent or car dealership.
Once you’ve identified potential partners, approach them to talk about doing some joint marketing. In some cases, your relationship may be a mutually beneficial referral program where you offer a discount if they refer people to you – and vice versa. Or you could package your products or services together to entice customers to patronize both of your businesses.
The key here is to choose your marketing partners wisely. If there isn’t a clear link between your audience and theirs, it won’t be a good investment to partner with them. You should know going in that there’s a reasonable likelihood that their customers are in the market for your products or services.
Once you’ve decided on a partnership and figured out how to proceed, you’ll need to advertise your packaged services or deals to the appropriate audience. Social media is a great place to do it, and sending emails to your respective lists can be effective, as well.
#3: Focus on Social Proof
Even if you already understand the importance of online reviews, there’s a possibility that you’re not using social proof to its fullest extent to attract new customers. Here’s what you need to do.
The first step is to claim your listing on every online review site where your business appears. To be sure you have them all, Google “Your Business Name reviews.” Visit every relevant link and, if you haven’t already done so, claim your listing.
Once you have claimed every listing, you should review your listings to ensure that the information about your business is accurate. Even if you have previously claimed the listing, double-check information including:
> Your business name
> Your address
> Your contact information (phone and email)
> Your hours
> Your prices
You should also review any uploaded images and replace them with updated pictures as needed. For example, if you have installed a new sign outside your business, you should include a picture of it, so people can find you.
If you have not responded to reviews in the past, it’s time to start. Responses to positive reviews don’t need to be long but you should post a quick thank you and a “Hope to see you again soon” to let reviewers know you appreciate their feedback.
For negative reviews, make sure to respond to new reviews within 24 hours. If the customer’s problem has a quick fix, you can try to resolve it on the review site. More complex issues should be resolved offline, either on the phone or via email or chat.
Finally, consider putting a widget on your site that displays reviews from sites such as Yelp and Google on your website. That way, anybody who visits your site will see the social proof they need to overcome potential objections and convince them to choose you over your competitors.
As you can see, it doesn’t need to be prohibitively expensive to attract new customers. If you’re willing to invest a bit of time and effort, you can implement all three of these suggestions right away – and start reaping the rewards for your business.
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