If you’re a new small-business owner, you might have some questions about the best way to grow your customer base: How many social media channels are too many when it comes to promoting my brand? Should I purchase ads? Do I have to start a podcast? What’s a customer acquisition funnel anyway?
We hope it brings you some relief to know that there is no one-size-fits-all customer acquisition strategy. But this does mean you’ll likely need to try a couple different methods to see what works best for your small business.
Below, we’ll hear from three real small-business leaders on their own most effective customer acquisition strategies.
We spoke to three small-business leaders about what it takes to gain new customers, which user acquisition methods have been most successful for their brand, and what tips they have for other small-business leaders like you.
When Jeff Neal first started selling live crickets and roaches to reptile owners through The Critter Depot, he wrote articles that focused on the health benefits of crickets. It was a decent start, but it felt a bit like preaching to the choir. Jeff’s customers were already on his website with the intention of buying crickets, so his content wasn't necessarily driving their decision to purchase.
Then Jeff pivoted to writing care guides for other popular reptilian pets such as bearded dragons and leopard geckos. He noticed an increase in traffic from a new group of prospective customers: Reptile owners who were looking for resources about caring for their pets, but didn’t know they could buy crickets online. The discovery of Jeff’s care guides led to the discovery of his store, which led to new customers for The Critter Depot.
Using Google Analytics, Jeff found that his pet care guides lowered his bounce rate—the percentage of visitors who leave a site after viewing one page—to 36%. They also raised his eCommerce conversion rate to 10%, meaning one in every ten visits to his website now results in a sale.
In the end, the most effective acquisition strategy for Jeff was writing supplemental content that not only helped him fill a gap in his previous content marketing strategy, but broadened his product’s reach.
To learn more about your own content reach, check out our database of web analytics software. Similar to Google Analytics, these platforms enable you to track and analyze information regarding your website’s visitors, including who they are, how they found your site, what path they take through your site, and the actions they take while they’re there.
“Want to know where to get one of these babies for yourself?” asks the sharply-dressed narrator at the start of Custom Neon’s colorful, upbeat YouTube video. She walks viewers through a number of settings—a hair salon, a gaming room, a birthday celebration, and even a wedding ceremony—that are all made brighter and more exciting by a custom neon sign. By the end of the two-minute video, which serves as a comprehensive introduction to Custom Neon’s business model, you just might have an idea for a custom sign of your own.
Amelia Munday is a marketing specialist at Custom Neon, and since the start of their YouTube marketing campaign in January 2022, when the above video was uploaded, her team has seen over 26,000 clicks to their request form for a custom sign. At the time we spoke, the YouTube video had been viewed 164,000 times, meaning almost 16% of viewers followed the link listed below the video.
In reflecting on Custom Neon’s success with the video-viewing platform, Amelia reminds other small-business leaders that YouTube is free to use, making it a great option for small businesses with limited marketing budgets. She offers these other tips as well for small businesses navigating YouTube as a customer acquisition strategy:
Create high-quality content that your target audience will love. First impressions stick.
Make sure your video adds value to the viewer. Whether that’s answering a question, debunking a myth, or making them smile, there needs to be a takeaway.
Grab their attention. Not clickbait, but something vibrant or enticing that stands out amongst the myriad of other options to choose from.
Add a call to action. Understand what you are looking to gain from the video and add a call to action that supports it, whether that's a link to your other social media accounts or to your website. Thousands of people viewing your website is a great boost to the ego, but without a definitive CTA, that's all it'll be.
At GetApp, we have a collection of resources on YouTube marketing to help you get started on your own video marketing journey. We also recommend looking into video marketing software. These platforms help businesses such as yours integrate videos into marketing campaigns, automate media buying processes, and optimize video performance. Browse our database to learn more.
Bryan Clayton became intimately familiar with the streets—and lawns—of Nashville, Tennessee when he set out to grow a customer base for GreenPal, the business he describes as “Uber for lawn care.” His team distributed over 300,000 door hangers over the course of three months, and they were able to gather over 400 early users to try out their service.
It wasn’t the most sustainable customer acquisition effort, but it was a good start. The GreenPal team then tried the paid marketing route by purchasing an ad on Twitter, plus a Facebook ad, Google ad, and different kinds of Instagram posts. “The problem was that we were setting money on fire by playing around on these channels,” says Bryan about their ad spend.
GreenPal ultimately found its groove—and its first 10,000 customers—in local Facebook groups. “No matter your niche,” Bryan says, “there is a Facebook group you can participate in to contribute to the discussion, answer questions, and develop a presence to refer people to your business, often when they are looking for exactly what you’re offering.”
Bryan also notes that Facebook’s mobile app has made it easier than ever to manage GreenPal’s interactions with their followers. The app gives his team the ability to more easily monitor neighborhood groups, and when a potential customer asks for a recommendation on a lawn care service, they take that opportunity to advertise their services. They’ve seen an impressive 60% conversion rate using this method.
Social media marketing software can help you engage with followers on Facebook or any social media platform you choose. You can create, review, schedule, and post content, as well as monitor and track social media channels for relevant discussions. You can then participate in those discussions to get opinions about various products, services, queries, and concerns, or to connect with potential customers as Bryan does with GreenPal.
To ensure that the time and money you spend on customer acquisition marketing gives you your best return on investment (ROI), here are five boxes to check off when testing different customer acquisition methods:
Is it attention-grabbing? Make your newsletter stand out from the rest of their inbox with a thought-provoking subject line.
Does it boost engagement? Invite social media followers to interact with your content by sharing, commenting, or reacting.
Does it keep my customer acquisition cost low? Repeat customers are more cost-effective than new ones. Make your marketing efforts stretch further through customer retention strategies. Rewarding existing customers through a loyalty program is one way to do this.
Is it a good fit for my service or product? If your business thrives on customer testimonials, such as a hair salon or moving company, consider implementing a referral program.
Is it sustainable? Distributing advertising door hangers may keep your customer acquisition cost low, but it requires a commitment of time and energy that’s probably not sustainable long term. Consider which strategies your business can handle initially versus ones that are better suited for longer campaigns.
As we mentioned earlier, finding the customer acquisition strategy that best fits your business may take some trial and error. It’s also important to consider what channels make the most sense for your product or service. Written content is a smart choice for The Critter Depot because they’re providing a resource that’s not widely available for their niche product and audience. A visual medium such as YouTube is a great fit for Custom Neon because of the eye-catching nature of their product. Neighborhood Facebook groups make perfect sense for GreenPal because they provide a local service.
Before investing in a new customer acquisition strategy, identify any restraints you have, such as time or budget, and consider tools such as marketing automation software to help you out. These platforms will be a big help if the nature of your business leaves little time to devote to tasks such as email marketing, social media posting, mobile messaging, and ad management. If these tools aren’t within your budget at the moment, there are free versions you can use.
Read on for more information on acquiring new customers:
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