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How to get customers: 7 ways to grow your client base

How to get customers: Shop owner happily receiving credit card payment

Key takeaways

  • Understanding who your target market is will help you reach customers with your marketing efforts and entice them with your product or service offerings
  • Use a combination of email marketing, SEO blog content, and social media to get customer attention and encourage purchases 
  • Include social proof on your website and implement a referral program to make the most of word-of-mouth marketing

Whether you have an e-commerce company or a brick-and-mortar store, the success of any business relies on getting new customers through the door and retaining an existing customer base that repeatedly makes purchases. If you run a startup or new business, you may be wondering how to get those new customers.

First, identify your target market. Then, create a solid marketing plan based on your target market to attract new clients. With the right marketing tactics, you can raise brand awareness and ultimately boost customer acquisition. We’ll cover these topics in more detail below. 

Start with your target audience

To attract new customers, you’ll need to identify and understand your target market. Who exactly is your ideal customer? Begin by building buyer personas (clear and detailed portrayals of your ideal customer) that identify the following characteristics:

  • Age group
  • Gender
  • Income range
  • Interests and values
  • Spending habits

Also, determine which online platforms your target audience uses and how they use them. For example, your ideal customers might be part of a younger demographic that uses TikTok. Conversely, maybe your company appeals to business professionals who regularly use LinkedIn.

Research shows that 87% of shoppers research online before purchasing, so think about what motivates your ideal customer to start searching online. Are they looking for certain elements in a product or service? This will give you an idea of where to focus your digital marketing efforts. 

7 ways to get new customers for your small business

When trying to gain new customers, your goals are to boost your online presence (whether your shop is online or not), drive traffic to your website or physical store, build credibility and trust, and increase sales. These steps will help you achieve those goals.

1. Take advantage of social media

Social media is an excellent way to improve brand visibility and attract potential new customers because social media posts are easily shared. There are many different social media platforms, from LinkedIn to Facebook to TikTok, which is why it’s crucial to know which one(s) your target audience regularly uses.

To use social media for small business growth, share updates about your brand’s new products or services, helpful tips related to what your business sells, or links to your latest blog or podcast. You could post questions or a poll to start a conversation and gather useful information about how people use your products. For example, if you sell tools—like hammers, screwdrivers, and drills—you could ask them to describe what their ideal toolbox would contain.

Consider using social media events or competitions to generate excitement. For example, if you sell barbecue condiments, you could challenge entrants to post photos of their culinary creations using your products on social media and tag your business. You could then ask your followers to vote on a winner from your favorite five entries, with the prize being a full set of condiments for the winner’s kitchen.

2. Master content marketing

Pique the interest of potential customers with content marketing that improves their lives in some way. Consider what your target customers may be struggling with and create blog content that helps them solve that pain point (although not exclusively by using your product or service). Your goal is to educate while raising brand awareness without making the hard sell.

For example, if you sell handmade furniture, you could write a blog on caring for furniture or how to choose the right piece for your home. Or if you have a dog grooming business, you could explain how to brush a shedding dog correctly. 

You can write this content yourself or consider hiring someone to write it for you. You can decide on a budget and find professional writers on sites like Upwork and Fiverr

It’s also a good idea to plan ahead for your content marketing campaigns, making a list of topics for every month or every quarter, with publication dates included. That way, you won’t get stuck trying to think of new topics on the fly every time. 

3. Start a podcast or webinar, or speak at an event

How to get customers: podcast host recording an episode

If you prefer to speak rather than write, consider talking at an event or setting up a podcast or webinar to connect with your target audience. This is another way to raise brand awareness while educating current and potential new customers about timely topics.

Approach this idea the same way you would content marketing—by identifying particular challenges your target customers have and what questions they might be asking. If you’re planning a regular podcast or webinar, create a list of topics to tackle and set a schedule.

You don’t have to generate all the content yourself either. Interview an established person in your field, invite guest speakers to share their relevant expertise, or partner with a complementary business to run the webinar or podcast together. Ask them to publicize the event or podcast on their channels too. That way, both you and the other business benefit as you’ll ideally expand your network with each other’s followers.

4. Implement search engine optimization

Since the majority of people research online before buying something, you want your business to appear on search engine results pages (SERPs)—and the higher up, the better. Use search engine optimization (SEO) to improve your search rankings. 

While there are many moving parts to SEO, keyword research is an integral element. There are plenty of free keyword research tools that show what your target audience typically uses in a search query.

For instance, if you sell specialty mobile phone covers, your keywords might be “phone covers,” “specialty phone cases,” and “unique phone covers.” Or if you sell Christmas gifts at your boutique in Austin, you might use “Christmas gifts Austin” and “holiday gifts Texas.” 

Once you’ve figured out your keyword strategy, include them on your website pages, blog posts, and social media posts wherever they fit naturally. You want your content to make sense, and avoid “keyword stuffing,” or adding irrelevant keywords in an attempt to rank higher in search results.

5. Consider email marketing

Whether your shop is online or located in a physical store, email marketing is an effective tool to build your business. Whenever possible, gather contact information from potential new customers to build your email list. Unlike social media, which quickly scrolls out of view, emails stay visible in their inbox and can be read anytime. They’re also easy to share. Encourage recipients to do so by making it as easy as possible to share your content on their preferred social media sites or via text with a link to a landing page on your website.

Make things easier for yourself by setting up an email template that includes certain content in every email—for example, tips that demonstrate your know-how, links to your blog or podcast, relevant quotes, and/or a product spotlight. Then customize the details of the email to cater to your audience segment.

Also, set a schedule so potential customers know when to expect your email each week or month. Email marketing platforms like MailChimp, Constant Contact, and Sendinblue can streamline your process, and they offer free options depending on the size of your email list and frequency of your emails.

6. Set up a referral program

Take advantage of the combined power of customer loyalty and word-of-mouth marketing by setting up a referral program. Loyal customers are always happy to sing your praises, but why not help the process along? Reward your current customers for every new customer they refer to your company.

For example, you could offer existing customers a discount coupon for their next purchase. You could also offer their referred friend a discount on their first purchase. In both cases, you’re giving something back while also encouraging them to shop with you.

7. Provide social proof

How to get customers: Content creator recording a video tutorial

When potential customers see that other people have had a good experience with your business, they’re far more likely to give it a try themselves. This is known as social proof

Here are a few ways to provide social proof:

  • Include case studies or testimonials from happy customers on your website, or share them on your social media channels.
  • Give influencers free samples and ask them to share their experiences. Their endorsement gives your product credibility, and their followers will hear about your business too.
  • Add or claim your Yelp Business Page to share details about your business and help new customers find you. A claimed Yelp Page also gives satisfied customers a space to leave reviews that might inspire potential new customers to give you a try.

The more people who hear (and read) positive things about your product or service, the better, so experiment with what works for your business.

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The bottom line on how to get customers: Have a clear marketing strategy

For your brand to be successful, you’ll need a constant flow of new customers. The question of how to get new customers looms large for any entrepreneur, especially when you’re running a new business

You’ll need a clear marketing strategy that includes some key elements. Start by identifying your target market. Then consider what combination of social media, content marketing, SEO, email marketing, referral programs, and social proof will work best for your business. You may need to experiment along the way, but it’ll be worth the effort. Once you know how to get customers, learn how to keep them coming back, as repeat customers help boost your profits.

Small Business Guide

The information above is provided for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice and may not be suitable for your circumstances. Unless stated otherwise, references to third-party links, services, or products do not constitute endorsement by Yelp.