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6 Creative Ways to Attract New Customers to Your Online Business

November 9, 2015 | Business

By Lee Polevoi

Online sellers face the same challenge as businesses everywhere — they must always attract new customers. But if you’ve tried conventional strategies and come up short, what’s the best alternative?

A recent survey of ecommerce veterans produced a variety of intriguing techniques you can adapt for your own customer-acquisition strategies.

Welcome Customers to Your “Beautiful Store”

Emily Brown with GetAcademicHelp.com, a professional writing service, reminds us that online sellers must first pay attention to the basics: a “well-structured and attractive” website.

“A store’s website is its representation, which is why it should be beautiful and professional,” Brown says. “Customers having thousands of online stores to choose from will pick the one whose design is the most modern and aesthetic, because a beautiful store is considered more reliable and trustworthy.”

With a beautiful site in place, the next step is making a powerful first impression. Customer acquisition and retention guru Richard Shapiro urges online sellers to review all communications they send out when customers log on for the first time, change their password, or make their first purchase. “Sending a customer a ‘Do Not Reply’ email does not convey a welcoming message. Messages should be personalized and make the customer feel this is a company that’s customer-focused.”

Another basic but important tip comes from Carla Ginsberg of the animation and design firm Cranial Island Studios: “Explainer videos are a great way to lure new customers. You can give viewers tips, and they’ll want to know more about your brand.”

Clone Your Existing Customers

Want more customers like the ones you have? Use advanced analytics and high-quality data to “clone your existing customers,” says Sandra Ritchie of the marketing platform V12 Group. “Programs that can input your CRM database, analyze it, and return look-a-like customers are the next big thing in data marketing, and those who embrace it early stand to come out on top.”

Make it Fun!

Aron Ezra, CEO of OfferCraft, a technology company that “leverages games and an understanding of human psychology to create better customer experiences,” is a proponent of the “Make it fun!” approach to customer acquisition.

“Too often, online marketing incentives are boring,” Ezra says. “Using games in your marketing and advertising can help change that. Things like trivia games or instant win games have been shown to dramatically increase the chances of someone remembering an offer and feeling more positively towards it. We often double or triple redemption rates by creating digital marketing experiences online customers genuinely enjoy.”

Referral Tricks

Travis Bennett of the website provider Studio Digita offers two tips on getting new customers through referrals:

  • Give every customer a unique code to refer new customers. For every sign-up, the new customer gets a discount (and the referring customer gets a discount on their next purchase).
  • Offer influencers a massive price discount if they promote you to their followers.

Great customer service is another way of generating referrals, says David Mercer with the small business blog SME Pals: “People who have a really positive experience with your customer support interface (even if the engagement started out as a complaint) are very likely to recommend you on to their friends and family on the spur of the moment. Work hard for a positive outcome so the customer is really delighted. Then try for a conversion by asking them to recommend you.”

Deliver Content That Meets Customers’ Needs

“Content marketing is a great way to drive traffic to your website,” advises Ben Johnson of the marketing firm HA Digital Marketing. “If you have a lot of customers coming to you with the same question, that would most likely be an excellent blog topic. You can also take a look at the FAQ section of your website for content ideas.”

Johnson also encourages interacting with customers online. “If they say great things about your company or post pictures of your products online, share it!” he says. “People love interactions with companies they buy from. If others see that you share posts, they’ll be more inclined to post about your company and, in turn, create an online conversation.”

Robert Hake of the custom gear superstore My Locker agrees: “We encourage our customers to get creative with their pictures, which raises awareness of our brand. All of their friends and family see the posts via social media and it provides us with great content for our blog and social channels.”

Infographics are an eye-catching type of content marketing, notes Jamal Asskoumi of League of Trading, a marketplace for game accounts: “An interesting and easy-to-read infographic will definitely be clicked on, shared and even linked to. All this would mean direct traffic and customers to your business.”

Think Outside the Box

Choosing an unorthodox approach to attracting new customers can really pay off. Lisa Chu of Black N Bianco, a children’s fashion site, employs a free gift lottery system through social media to “keep our customers amused and entertained.” She adds: “Consumers get bored easily and using tips and tricks to make them feel engaged can really make the difference.”

For Adam Lawrence, CEO of the men’s sock company Strolling Wild, the key is “finding new networks and platforms that have just hit or are soon to hit some form of critical mass.” His current platform of choice for promoting fresh content is Snapchat: “Because Snapchat is a platform bent around constant communications, we’re able to put up roughly 60-90 seconds of Snaps per day, streamlined in a row with our sock puppet shows reenacting daily events in American history. This is the true gold-mine of Snapchat — the ability to engage with consumers and have it not come off as spam.”

Another advocate of new channels is Alexander Ruggie of 911 Restoration, a home restoration company. He suggests using Periscope “to make a live streaming commercial of your product or company. If done incredibly well, the product itself can gain a live streaming audience and that’s worth its weight in marketing gold.”

Scott Gabrielson of the fashion label Oliver Cabell also does things differently. “We will be shutting down our website on Black Friday to promote intelligent consumption (less is more).”

Emily Brown gets the final word: “No matter what goal you’re reaching for, don’t make sales your primary aim online. Selling repels people rather than attracts them to your business, especially on social media sites.”

What are your thoughts on this topic? Share with us in the comments below.


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