Thoughts + News
100 Ways to Get Customers in 2015
During the holidays and New Year, it’s difficult enough to keep up with your day-to-day responsibilities, much less plan ahead and strategize.
But the beginning of the year is the perfect time to re-calibrate, and figure out exactly how you’re going to hit those lofty revenue goals by getting more customers.
So block out the next 20-30 minutes, and get ready to start writing down ideas from this list to help you figure how you’re going to make 2015 the best year your business has seen so far.
Here are 100 ideas to get you started.
- Section #1: Creating Realistic & SMART Goals
- Section #2: Forecast Performance through Activity-Based Goals
- Section #3: Understanding the Buyer’s Journey
- Section #4: Visitor & Traffic Generation
- Section #5: Turning Visitors into Leads
- Section #6: Converting Leads into Customers
- Section #7: Content Marketing Tips
- Section #8: A Few Thoughts on Social Media
- Section #9: Email Marketing – A Quick Review
- Section #10: Quick Tips on Optimizing Your Website
- Section #11: SEO – What You Need to Know
- Section #12: Top 5 Takeaways (One Line or Less)
- Section #13: Nothing is Working – Help!
Creating Realistic & SMART Goals
- At the beginning of a new year, we tend to get a little over ambitious. We dream big without taking the time to create a real, actionable plan to accomplish what we’ve set out to do (which is why so many New Year’s resolutions don’t make it past February). But you CAN set yourself up for success by making SMART goals. The next few steps will show you how.
- Specific – Leave the vague-ness out of your goals. For example, setting out to “generate 20 leads a month” is a better, more specific goal than to just “generate more leads.”
- Measurable – Keep track of what works, what doesn’t work, and how much time and money you’re spending on each. This will allow you to do more of what’s working and less of what isn’t.
- Achievable – Be realistic. Know how much time you have, how many people are on your team, and what your budget is. Set up goals that are 100% within reach (a stretch maybe, but not impossible) based on all of these factors.
- Relevant – Make sure your goals relate back to what your company is seeking to accomplish as a whole. Thousands of Twitter followers may – or may not – help you land new six-figure clients.
- Timely – Create a realistic timeframe for accomplishing your goals and all of the steps along the way. Reverse engineer what success looks like based on your end-of-year targets.
- This goal-setting process is an integral part of everything you will do to get customers in 2015. Keep it in mind as you wander through the rest of these tips! Make sure each new item on your agenda aligns in some way… otherwise don’t overcommit!
Forecast Performance through Activity-Based Goals
- Start with the end in mind. What’s your revenue goal over the next 12 months? Now let’s take that end number, and break it down into a monthly figure.
- Based on your new monthly revenue target, how many new customers do you need each month to hit that goal? Simply divide the revenue number by the average customer value to come up with an estimate. No hard math just yet. 🙂
- Based on (a) historical conversion numbers, or (b) industry benchmarks, how many new leads do you need each month to deliver that number of new customers or clients. For example, if you have a complex, B2B sales cycle, then what’s the sales closing rate of opportunities to closed sales. And beyond that, what’s the ratio of general leads to new consultations? (In other words, there’s usually a few intermediary steps here.) Ecommerce & SaaS sales are usually more straightforward (typically it’s just the percentage of visits to sales).
- If we can back out and figure out how many leads we’ll need, then we should be able to determine the amount of traffic or qualified visits we’ll need on a monthly basis to hit our goals.
- Now… where are those visits going to come from?! Let’s start with current traffic. Which channels are consistently sending the most qualified visitors, and what’s the “cost” for each (whether that’s soft like time/labor invested or a hard financial cost for advertising).
- What’s the opportunity gap now? And where are those extra visits going to come from? New tactics, or optimizing existing ones?
- For example, how many visits do you typically generate with one blog post? What if you simply increased volume? Instead of doing one blog post a week, let’s try two a week over the next few months and see if that increase also generates at least 2x returns.
- From now on, set goals based on these activities, not pie-in-the-sky, unactionable, end-of-year targets. Focus on the process, less on the outcome.
Understanding the Buyer’s Journey
- Without a firm grasp on when people buy and why, it’s nearly impossible to know how to attract visitors, convert visitors into leads, and turn those leads into customers. Let’s take a minute to review what it takes to gain a customer:
- Awareness: The buyer doesn’t yet know that he/she needs your product or service and stumbled upon your site from a referral or basic google search. For these individuals, it’s necessary to have plenty of easy-to-understand and basic information on your site explaining the problem that your products/services solve. HINT: They don’t know who you are at this point, and can care less about your promotional material.
- Information: Buyer has developed a want or need (thanks to the un-branded content on your site) and actively searches for a solution. Convert these individuals with soft opt-ins (like giving out their email address and other basic information).
- Evaluation: In this stage, the buyer begins considering and comparing alternatives. This is where you really need to demonstrate value to these individuals! Find ways to follow up on their interest one-on-one to discuss their needs in greater detail (with their permission).
- Purchase: Woohoo! You’re so close to gaining another customer. Individuals arrive at this point by filling out a bottom of the funnel, lead generation form, or clicking on a link in an email or from going directly to a specific landing page. These folks don’t need another overly sales-ey message – they want to get right down to business. Make sure that your messaging is consistent across all touch points to bring these people home.
Visitor & Traffic Generation
- Create a buyer persona (a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer) to identify the wants and desires of your target audience. This way, you’ll be able to create marketing and promotional messages that will give these individuals exactly what they need/want.
- Do I really have to create a persona? Of course not! In fact, you don’t have to act on any of these suggestions! But unless you know exactly who you’re trying to reach, all of the blogging, tweeting, email marketing, etc. that you’re doing will be a total waste of time. (So our suggestion? Take an hour and create some damn personas already.)
- Create a buyer persona by doing research on who your consumers are. Your persona can change over time and doesn’t need to be perfect right away – the important thing is just to create one. Or two. Or three.
- Content is an essential piece of attracting visitors to your site. It’s one of the most effective and least expensive ways to attract visitors, catching prospects early on in the buying cycle (before they’ve had the chance to shop around and compare prices).
- Attract more people to your site with a solid social media campaign (not the terrible, reactive, community management tips that most other “social media experts” talk about.)
- Review, review, review! Use the User Flow feature in Google Analytics compare your top acquisition channels with your most popular content. Play around with it to see how and where people go after arriving at your website. Fix any issues that might cause people to leave.
Turning Visitors into Leads
- If the content on your website is of a different style and quality than the messages you’ve been sending out via social media, your blog, etc. you’ll end up with a whole lot of visitors who will turn around and leave, never to return. For this reason, it’s crucial to make sure that each “path” through your website will match their expectations.
- Gain visitors’ trust with relevant and interesting content.
- But remember, no amount of good content will capture someone’s attention unless the site is clean, straightforward, and easy to use. A simple, fast website is ALWAYS BEATS an overly complex one packed with the latest design trends and an un-Godly amount of scrolling Parallax.
- Create MANY offers (i.e. more than one). An offer can take the form of an ebook, video, research report, or anything that will hook your buyer into giving you their email address in exchange for receiving the offer. Don’t sacrifice quality, but you typically need many different types of offers for all the potential customer segments your business might target.
- Create landing pages (the more, the better) to draw people in and give them more information about the offer. Simple, clean, and clear is always best. Don’t get fancy or overly technical with your messaging.
- Make sure that the information you request matches the offer (in other words, don’t ask visitors for their social security number in exchange for an ebook). Depending on the technology you’re using, progressive profiling is a brilliant technique to glean additional insight from people without bombarding them with questions.
- Create a thank-you page to deliver the offer (and thank the user for giving you their contact information, obviously). You should ALSO use this as an opportunity to extend the relationship, but recommending, sharing, referring, or purchasing something else.
- Mimic the path that has led your most loyal users to purchase and create new opportunities based on that. If your offer isn’t generating leads, fix it. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try new ways of doing things. NOBODY, and I mean nobody, knows what’s going to work before you try it. So just start now and iterate quickly. (Here are 30 more tips to try if you need them.)
Converting Leads into Customers
- Now that you have a lead, it’s your job to nurture that relationship to the best of your ability. Instead of going straight for the hard sale, tailor your approach to maximize the lifetime value of each customer.
- Email marketing is an extremely effective tool for doing this – much better than social media in fact – so use it! Once someone has signed up to receive emails from you, they already have some degree of loyalty built up and just need to receive the right message at the right time in order to buy.
- Create automated emails to follow up with leads. Be persistent, but not desperate or overly sales-y. Simple, logical, and to the point never goes out of style.
- Try using many different types of offers to individuals at this stage (like a free trial or product comparison) to see what works best.
- You have a better chance of continuing to sell to existing customers than you do of getting new ones.Prioritize the time and money you spend on lead generation by selling new services or products to existing accounts.
- Take Amazon for example. 80% of their business comes from 20% of their customers — the Amazon Prime members. “Locking” customers in to receive such amazing upside also makes it much more difficult for them to later switch to someone else.
- Delight & Over-deliver.Make your product, service and experience so wonderful that customers can’t even think of going anywhere else. Before you know it, your customers will like you so much that they’ll be telling all of your friends about you! You know, the old fashioned way.
Content Marketing Tips
- REMINDER: content is crucial. But if it’s not focused towards your customer persona(s), it won’t do anything for you. Start with our free content marketing email course to kick-start your efforts.
- Use Google Analytics to compare Top Acquisition Channels with your most popular content in order to see what kind of information people gravitate towards, and which content has the most visibility.
- Focus your content on solving the problems and obstacles faced by your persona(s). Not sure what those obstacles are? Talk to your customers to find out. Seriously, pick up a phone, call them, thank them for their business, and ask them a few questions. Customers don’t bite.
- Once you understand what your customers need and are trying to accomplish, subtly position your products/services as the solution (key word = subtly). You don’t have to hit people over the head with sales messages. They’re actually pretty savvy most of the time.
- Come up with a specific way you want your content to look, feel, sound, and act. Then continue to consistently offer that content to your readers, time after time. Make sure this remains consistent when you have multiple people, or contractors working on different things for you. Tone is key.
- No one cares about your products, services, or business – so don’t talk about those things! Remember what we talked about in #34? People generally ONLY care about themselves and their problems – and that’s what you should be catering to.
- Mix up your media offerings. Provide content in the form of blog posts, videos, podcasts, etc. After time, you’ll begin to see a pattern of what your audience is most interested in. Do more of whatever that ends up being.
- Share the right content at the right time. Provide different options for individuals who are at each stage of the buyer’s journey (awareness > information > evaluation > purchase).
- Once people see the high caliber of work you’re offering to people free of charge, they’ll know that your content, products, or services you provide with a price tag attached will be equally or more impressive. Don’t feel like you need to “hide” your intellectual property to the point of having nothing to offer.
- Promote your content! You can’t just hit “Publish” and expect the elusive and mysterious social media gods to take control for you. If you want someone, or something, to promote your content or review your product, then roll up your sleeves and go get them. (More on this in the next section)
- Don’t expect results overnight. Content marketing takes time. And if you stick with it and stay patient, you’ll see big results in the long run. But be willing to invest 6-12 months without seeing any big wins. Years 3 & 4 of content marketing will yield 10x your investment if you can wait that long.
- And if you’re having trouble coming up with content, think about questions you and your colleagues get asked and write about those things (and yes, even the most “boring” industries can create amazing content). Or you can always ask the poor, under appreciated Customer Service team for help too.
- Above all else – have fun! If you’re not interested in what you’re writing and video-ing about, don’t expect anyone else to be. Drop the overly formal and technical crap. Loosen up, and be personable.
A Few Thoughts on Social Media
- Before you even begin to strategize, ask yourself: Who are your customers? How do they self-identify?
- Then ask: What is their tech/social involvement? And how are they ALREADY using “Channel XYZ” predominantly?
- Figuring out the answers to these questions will give you an intimate understanding of WHO you’re trying to reach and WHY, which will put your social strategy way ahead of the game. You can uncover these answers by using a tool called Followerwonk (click here for more info).
- Use the right social channels. Figure out where your customers hang out online and join those networks. Don’t worry about the ones they’re not on (no matter how much the media talks about it).
- Less is more. Don’t waste your time trying to develop a strong presence on 10 different networks. Because most likely, 9 of those will suck. 🙂 Your target audience is probably only hanging out on 1-3 networks. Don’t make this any harder than it needs to be by spreading yourself too thin.
- If you have the time to send out engaging updates and posts every day, great. If not, social media scheduling tools like Buffer may help.
- And if you really don’t have the time, hiring someone to do it for you is also a great option. Don’t feel like you need to do everything yourself. Hire good people, and then relinquish control so you can get back to running your business.
- Expand your reach. Make content sharing easy with social buttons sprinkled throughout your blog or website. Petition thought leaders to get your message out. And don’t be afraid to spend some money to promote your content. Using Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn ads can be a good investment if you do it correctly.
- Don’t be annoying. No matter how many times a day you tweet or update your Facebook status, no one will care about what you have to say if you only talk about yourself (or your company, brand, etc.) Take some time to consider who your target audience is and what they want to hear and post accordingly. Trust us, your friends and family will thank you for this.
- Do be original. Don’t tweet just for the sake of tweeting. Post information that people will actually want to share and interact with. Or something that you feel passionate about. Don’t fall into the echo chambers.
Email Marketing – A Quick Review
- Email marketing is the best way to generate leads and make sales. Because if someone is willing to give you their email address, they’re probably going to be more likely to buy from you than from someone they don’t know as well.
- It typically takes one second for people to decide whether or not to open an email. That’s why having a good email subject line is so important.
- Use segmentation to separate email subscribers into small, targeted groups with specific wants or needs. Then you can tailor your message to each group individually.
- Don’t be afraid to contact your subscribers often (usually somewhere between once a month and every day). It all depends on who they are, and what you’re sending them.
- Create easy, painless calls to action in your emails. Make it simple for people to buy, share, sign up, or do whatever it is that you want them to do.
- Automate! Got a big budget? Then use HubSpot. Got no budget? Then use MailChimp for email marketing. It allows you to create sleek, organized emails in an easy to use format. It also lets you schedule them out in advance. Pretty cool, right?
Quick Tips on Optimizing Your Website
- Make sure your website is clean, straightforward, and easy to use. On all browsers. And on all devices. While avoiding old, potentially damaging SEO mistakes (more on that later).
- 95% of the people who land on your website will leave within a few seconds, especially if your site doesn’t match their expectations. So spend more time thinking about WHO’S coming to your website, and WHAT they want to see (vs. how you or a designer thinks it might look).
- But if your site matches the content you’re putting out on social media, your blog, etc., people won’t be caught off guard when they land on your site (and will be more likely to stick around and give you a chance). This is where consistency pays off.
- Crazy Egg is a great tool that will help you to observe how people use your site. That way, you can mimic their behavior to uncover (and fix) potential issues.
- You can also run short, informational surveys to glean information about your website and whether or not people like it. Keep them brief and open-ended. Their answers will surprise you.
- And instead of asking them questions about your brand, talk about things that your audience actually cares about. For example, don’t ask “On a scale of 1 – 10, how would you rate the variety of our service offerings?”. But instead ask, “What are your business goals and objectives for the next year? Why haven’t you reached those goals already?” (Qualaroo is a good analytics tool to glean these sorts of insights)
- If you want some extra help on diagnosing website issues, tools like Moz, Screaming Frog, and Google Webmaster Tools can all help you figure out any possible glitches that are preventing your user experience from being optimal.
- One last thing. The more landing pages you have (with offers), the more leads you’ll get – it’s as simple as that!
SEO – What You Need to Know
- 93% of ALL online experiences start with search engines – this is an important one to get right! And it’s consistently the best performing online marketing channel for new customers because people search with INTENT. Start by learning how SEO works to get the most out of it.
- However, SEO changes at an alarming rate. And if you’re still going by what worked in the last few years, then your strategy is most likely broken. Keep reading up on the newest algorithm updates to make sure that you don’t get caught by the ever-evolving world of SEO mistakes and pitfalls.
- It’s crucial to expand your reach with unbranded content to attract people early on. This will help you “open the funnel” to more potential people, and give you interesting stuff that’s easier to promote to other website owners and influential people.
- And if you’re short on time, paid search might be the best option to generate traffic fast. Figure out how much it will cost to acquire a new customer, and then spend away.
- But even this form of getting visitors can be complicated. And if you do decide to spend money on it, you’re going to want to make sure you’ve invested it in the right place. So if you can’t figure it out yourself, hiring someone to do it for you may be your best bet.
- Mobile ad spending increased by 75% in 2014 – which means more and more people are searching, clicking, and buying from their mobile devices. For this reason, it’s critical to create a mobile-friendly website that’s easy for customers to navigate.
- It’s not ALL about the internet. Look for ways to boost credibility offline (like joining the Better Business Bureau, your local Chamber of Commerce, or donating to a non-profit). By networking and donating your time, you’ll naturally build credibility and those organizations will be more likely to recommend you and link to you on their sites. What’s old is new again.
Top 5 Takeaways (One Line or Less)
- Make S.M.A.R.T. goals (see first section).
- Know your customer. And let everything you do be an outgrowth of that knowledge.
- Understand the buyer’s journey (awareness > information > evaluation > purchase).
- Use social media, content, email, etc. to influence every step of the buyer’s journey.
- Keep track of what’s working and what isn’t – and adjust accordingly.
Nothing is Working – Help!
- If you’re still not getting customers after implementing the tips listed here, it may be time to do some tweaking. Here’s a few ideas…
- In your efforts to get more customers, things WILL fall through the cracks. But by using organizational tools like Basecamp, Trello, or HubSpot, you can significantly reduce the number of things that will inevitably get forgotten or misunderstood. These tools can help you to create a concrete plan for which blog post is going up when, what social media updates are being sent out for the month, etc.
- A few years ago, I walked into a new restaurant in town. It was a small place, but contained a yogurt bar, full coffee menu, salad & sandwich bar, as well as an additional food menu with a complicated ordering system. Within less than 60 seconds, we walked out feeling confused and overwhelmed. My point is this – if your product/service is too complicated or difficult to understand, consider tweaking your approach to make it more simple and straightforward.
- And even if your pitch is simple, you may still be giving people too many choices (which tends to turn them off).
- Getting potential customers to spend their first dollar is a pivotal step. And sometimes it’s necessary to create a new lower-priced product or service for the sake of getting people to commit to some small action.
- Creating low-priced, recurring options, with the goal of increasing customer loyalty and improving the lifetime value of each customer is another effective tactic.
- Don’t forget about “perceived” discounts! Anchor your pricing with more comprehensive, higher priced options to make the initial investment seem smaller and easier.
- For higher priced services that can’t (or shouldn’t) be discounted, just do a really good job of selling the problem. Demonstrate your audience’s pain points and show how your product or service fulfills each one — better than other alternatives.
- According to 1950s motivation research leader Martineau, “In an intelligent, normal person, virtually everything is motivated by subtle reference to the person’s self-ideal—the kind of character ideal he wants to become. …In this yearning for self-expression, we reach for products, for brands, for institutions which will be compatible with our schemes of what we are or want to be.”
- In other words… when all else fails, think back to who your customers are. And shape their entire online experience (from website design to content creation to email marketing) around this ideal.
You won’t be able to implement all of these tips into your business plan – at least not right away. But instead of getting overwhelmed and not trying any of them, pick a few that stood out, make them into a manageable to-do list, and try them whatever you can.
Trial and error is the best way to get more customers and grow your business. And don’t be afraid to fail! After all, success is only possible when failure is an option.