One of the biggest struggles small businesses face is gaining new customers without spending a fortune in marketing. Customer acquisition costs can be really high in today’s advertising-driven world, and the competition to reach consumers can be fierce.
There are more ways than ever before to reach new customers, yet businesses still face some very real struggles in trying to get their name out to consumers. Social media algorithms can be unpredictable and unreliable, Etsy and other marketplaces can charge high fees, and google ads can be confusing and competitive.
Here are eight reliable ways to gain new customers for your small business, many of which can be done without a huge financial commitment.
1. Reach out Locally
A small business’s success often starts at their founding community. While expansion is usually the goal of a business, keeping things local can be very beneficial in tight-knit communities. Many communities host regular farmer’s markets, local art shows, and retail markets to keep money in their hometown and support local businesses.
You can also aim to create partnerships with other local businesses and work together to increase your customer base and marketing. It can be a great idea to set up marketing materials at local businesses like restaurants, coffee shops, and retail stores, with their permission. You can post flyers or leave coupons, marketing postcards, or business cards. Or you can coordinate and host events that help bring the community together.
2. Connect on Instagram
Instagram is a great marketing tool for all types of businesses. It allows brands to reach out to their customers directly and interact in a way that increases customer excitement and anticipation.
Instagram can be used completely free of charge, or Instagram paid advertising can be utilized. When paying for advertising, you can focus on users with particular interests. Instagram is owned by Facebook, so advertising on these platforms is intertwined and it can be beneficial for some businesses to use both.
A few ways to promote customer engagement on Instagram for free include:
- Using popular hashtags or creating your own
- Use trending hashtag topics to reach more people
- Create giveaways and exclusive promotions for Instagram users
- Re-share customer photos (with credit of course)
- Directly respond to customer questions and complaints on Instagram for transparency
- Share live videos and stories about updates, new products, and other exciting news
3. Optimize your Website
A good website is extremely important in gaining and keeping customers. As a small business, you have to compete with large companies who have top-notch web designers, marketers, and developers at their disposal. But thankfully, with a little knowledge and help you can create a website that looks very expensive, but isn’t! Take advantage of web hosting companies that offer website templates that are easily customizable and intuitive. Enlist the help of a professional if you need it, your website is the online face of your company and you want to ensure it’s designed right.
SEO is one of the most important factors in gaining new customers through web search. There are many beginner SEO tutorials available for free online, or you can reach out to an expert if necessary. Optimizing the underlying framework of your website can help search engines find and rank your pages higher in search results. Luckily many website hosts incorporate SEO into their interface, making it easier to DIY.
User experience is also very important in a successful website. Search engines like Google take user experience into consideration when ranking websites for search. And more importantly, if a new customer has a bad experience on your website, they may never return.
Some tips to keep a good user experience on your website:
- Make sure your phone number and contact info is easy to find
- Have logical categories and sub-categories in a drop down or top menu bar
- Keep your design clean and uncluttered
- Show reviews or customer testimonials
- Have live-chat if possible
- Make sure your site is mobile friendly!
4. Budget Paid Advertising
There are many different platforms that offer paid advertising for businesses at reasonable costs. The best part about online advertising is you can spend as much or as little as you want. Some social media options include Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pinterest. There are also google ads, bing ads, and yelp ads for a broader scope. With most advertising platforms you can target by location, making it great for businesses that rely heavily on local customers. You can set your budgets to fit your needs and ensure that you never end up with a surprise astronomical bill.
When social media platforms started offering in-feed advertising, it gave small businesses a new way to directly advertise to potential customers in a less spammy way. Although many social media users may be annoyed by ads, they are often more targeted towards their interests and more likely to actually engage them than generic ads. With most of these ads, you can set your budget however you would like and target towards your chosen demographics, locations, interests, and more.
When it comes to paid advertising, you will see the most success when you thoroughly research your keywords and demographics so you are aiming to reach the most responsive audience.
5. Giveaways & Freebies
Everyone loves free stuff.
Hosting giveaway contests is a great way to get customers engaged with your brand, and often leads to new customer interest. Social media sharing is a great incentive for giveaway prizes. You can encourage your existing customers and followers to share with all of their friends and followers, giving your business exposure to more people.
Giveaways are an inexpensive way to garner new interest in your business, because the giveaway value can be $50-$100 without any other paid marketing involved.
Some giveaway options include:
- Free services
- Free gift box of products
- Free item for a certain number of customers
Many businesses encourage giveaway winners to post and share photos of their prize after they receive it too.
6. Video Marketing
Video marketing can include product videos, tutorials, or live streaming through social media. Having a business Youtube account gives consumers another way to find your business and gain interest in your products or services.
Videos are a great way to get customers more interested and engaged with your business. Making videos can be relatively time-consuming but it doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive. The process to create videos includes having a good camera, good lighting, and editing software. A microphone and controlled environment (backgrounds) can make for more professional looking videos. Royalty free background music and stock images can be used to make your videos more interesting. You can also opt to hire professionals to create or edit your videos to save the trial and error.
For budget marketers, social media live streaming has made it much easier for small businesses to create engaging video content. Live stream videos can be recorded on your smartphone and shared directly with your social media followers. You can choose to share video live or piece together your videos and pictures for your ‘stories’. This makes sharing information and exciting news with your followers simple (and free). Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat are a few of the best live-streaming and video sharing platforms for businesses.
7. Blog Postings
A business blog is a tried and true way to get new website visits because search engines like to rank interesting and useful content higher in search results. Blogs also provide your customers with more detailed information about your business, products, or related topics.
Keeping customers interested in your content can help your business in many ways. Blogs can help your customers understand your products and business more thoroughly. When customers are presented with useful and informative content, it encourages trust and recognition for that brand.
Blogs can also provide the opportunity for further engagement with customers and can help you connect with other businesses and form partnerships. It’s also a great way to build links to strengthen your website SEO, and a great way to show off pictures and videos of your products or services.
8. Strong Branding
The power of branding should never be underestimated. Many large companies developed their success through strong branding and design. For a small business, these things can often be overlooked. Strong branding includes having a recognizable logo that makes logical sense, and is appealing and intriguing. Your logo can then serve as inspiration for the design of the website, retail store, and packaging materials. Many brands have a ‘signature look’ in the colors they choose, their design style, or the cultural aspects of their branding.
While packaging budgets are usually tight for a small business, there are many ways to personalize your packaging on a budget to stay in line with your overall branding. If you can’t afford to custom print your packaging, you can use lower cost alternatives like custom labels and stickers, or utilize your brand’s colors with tissue paper, ribbon, or shopping bags. For ready to ship packaging options, shop online now at www.splashpackaging.com!