To be successful at attracting new customers, todays small business owners need a multi-faceted, multi-channel customer acquisition strategy that targets prospective customers where they surf, exchange information and shop. While there are many ways to do this, the following five strategies are highly effective, inexpensive (or free) and any size business can employ and benefit from them.
(Click for larger image).
Jet City Devices is a small business that specializes in repairing cell phones (mainly iPhones and BlackBerries) and sells an array of cell phone accessories. The company offers in-person repairs out of its Chicago and Seattle offices as well as mail-in repairs. And it has a very easy-to-use e-commerce site.
When owner Matt McCormick, a former programmer at Microsoft, launched the Jet City Devices Web site in 2007, he made sure it was optimized using good title and h1 tags, appropriate keyword density, meaningful URLs and good descriptive copy so that search engines and customers could easily find him. He also used Google AdWords, a no-brainer, he said, because you only pay for traffic delivered to your Web site and, if you pick your keywords right, the traffic is highly qualified.
At the beginning of this year, however, McCormick took a more local approach to attracting new customers, specifically targeting cell phone owners in Chicago and Seattle. His strategy included
- Posting ads on Craigslist
- Using locally targeted Google AdWords (both sites are cheaper and more effective than national campaigns, he said)
- Listing Jet City Devices on Google Local Business Center (free and can get your business highlighted at the top of search results)
- Listing onYelp.com (its free and great for validating your business to local customers)
McCormick modified the Jet City Devices site so that the home page and each product repair page specifically called out local Chicago and Seattle repairs. He also added two new pages for each repair: one for people in Chicago and one for people in Seattle.
His local strategy has worked. So much so, McCormick says, that Jet City Devices went from just $5K in sales this January to more than $22K in sales this October, an increase of more than 400 percent, with close to a 20 percent conversion rate for local visitors.
Blog, Blog, Blog
Another simple, inexpensive way of attracting new customers to your e-commerce site (or bricks-and-mortar business) is to create an affiliated blog where you regularly write about topics of interest to customers, as Karl Miller, the owner of HudsonGoods.com, did.
My Hudson Goods blog is one of my primary marketing tools and its free, explained Miller. I take all of the photos and post all of the content myself.
(Click for larger image).
Miller uses the blog, which is powered by WordPress, to talk about vintage-style home furnishings the area Hudson Goods specializes in, which is popular with Baby Boomers and couples just starting out. And he structured the content of the blog so that its a quick read but mostly for entertainment with cool photos, he said, because he knows people are busy and you need to quickly catch and hold their attention.
Miller also makes sure that each blog post includes a photo of one of his products, one that is similar to the type of furniture he is discussing in the blog post, and includes the price and a direct link to the product on the Hudson Goods e-commerce site. And he features a few of his favorite products on the sidebar of the blog, which are also linked to the online store.
To further attract customers, Miller runs contests and giveaways on both the Hudson Goods blog and on related design/furniture blogs with whom hes established relationships.
And all that blogging has paid off by generating new sales. Thanks to Sitemeter, a Web site traffic tracking service, Miller knows that the Hudson Goods blog has been instrumental in driving traffic to the main Hudson Goods site.
My blog recently hit a high of 400 new visitors a day, he reported. I have found that [about a third] of the visitors to the blog go to my online store and, once there, look on average at 10 different pages/products. And these are not random visitors. They have specifically clicked on a product they were interested in on the blog to go to the store.