Before I get stuck into this week’s topic, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Jonathan Harrison of Infaweb for his offering last week. SEO certainly is a topic that perplexes more than a few and Jonathan’s blog answered a lot of common questions, so thank you again.

So, tying this blog into first of the new year, pretty much any new objective you set is going to involve the customer somewhere along the way. And in order to maximise your reach and therefore the success of your objective, you are going to need a database to target.

By a database I mean a list of customers, both existing and potential, that you have acquired over time and through different marketing activities.

Alas time is something I cannot give you, but marketing activities to make the most of your time and gain you customers is thankfully something I do know a bit about.

One of the most important things to remember when gaining customers is your credibility. Too many requests to sign up to this, that and the other may make you look desperate plus customers simply will not sign up for and to anything and everything. It needs to be worth their while.

Test forms of acquisition. It is a fact of life that the first time we do something it may go well but with practice and in time, we can make it go perfectly. Some really common forms of acquisition used by companies both large and small include the following:

Recommendation schemes – these are particularly effective as your existing customers are doing your marketing for you. It has been said that word of mouth is the best form of marketing and after all, a friend is likely to tell you the truth therefore unlikely to recommend something they don’t believe in. Also, by rewarding the customer that recommends your business you are strengthening your relationship with them whilst encouraging them to continue advocating your service.

Sign up for information/special offers – this is also a popular way to gain potential customers as all you are asking for are their details whilst the potential of what they could receive is much higher, especially if you run a free entry competition. The one thing to watch out for with this route is that you make it an appealing request without promising things you can’t deliver.

Site registration – if you are offering visitors to your site specific information, say in downloadable pdf format for example, then you may want to consider asking them to register on your site and therefore give you their details so you can send them more information in the future.

N.B. It is worth noting that a ‘skip/fill out later’ option should be considered.

Data capture cards and business card bowls – these are most commonly seen at events as they encourage interaction. This is probably the simplest and most effective way to gain details quickly but be aware that you then have to log all the details which can be time consuming.

Social media databases – FB/Twitter/LinkedIn/Google+ etc. Five words; quick, easy, reliable and sociable! No brainers really. The beauty of this type of acquisition is that through regular communication and interaction you immediately get the opportunity to show the ‘customer’ the real you without them having to do anything.

See, it really is easy when you know how…or are told how. My last tip and parting word of wisdom to you is that you must pay attention to customer acquisition spend. It is simply not going to be feasible for some businesses to spend a lot or even anything on gaining new customers whereas others will have a seemingly endless pot of dough. Make sure that the return on your investment is worth it.

Next week I will be talking about how to choose the right advertising for your business and the most cost effective ways of promotion. Until then, happy customer acquiring!

Build a database, build a future

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