By Paul Keetch

Small business marketing can be distilled into two basic elements: the acquisition and the retention of customers. For many business owners, it’s not overly difficult to reach out and find their ideal target market. Where they often fail to achieve the kind of marketing results they are looking for is in converting those prospects into paying customers and in keeping them coming back for repeat purchases.

Since small business marketing can be broken into the basic elements of acquisition (the “getting”) and retention (the “keeping”) of customers, so too must conversion be broken down into the same two basic elements.

In this article, we will look specifically at three ways you as a small business owner or marketing manager can improve your new customer conversion rate.

Three Ways to Increase New Customer Conversions

The rate at which prospects can be successful converted into paying customers for the first time is the cornerstone of measured marketing. It is essential that you, the business owner or marketing manager, know precisely at what percentage prospects or leads are converted to paying customers for each of the marketing channels you employ.

Large “big brand” companies don’t necessarily have to worry about this metric and, in fact, have a difficult time even tracking it, because of the nature of their advertising.

Some of the biggest and most recognizable companies in the world employ a “brand marketing” strategy to remain in the forefront of our minds. But small business marketing managers don’t have the luxury of an eight-figure marketing budget and have to take a much different approach.

Customer Conversion Tactic #1 – Know Your Customer

Knowing your customer means understanding at a basic level exactly what fears, frustrations and desires motivate their behavior.

In many cases, business owners or marketing managers assume that they know what their customer needs, without ever asking them what they actually want.

Since people make most decisions from an emotional state of mind and then validate their decision with logic after the fact, missing this key point can be the difference maker for many businesses.

Of course, the easiest way to know what your customer wants is to ask them!

You can ask in the form of a survey that they fill out online or complete and send back to you, you can ask them directly while they are in your store or you can call them up and ask them.

Which method you employ will depend on the specific type of small business that you own or are trying to market.

Case in point: if people always purchased what they need instead of what they want, sports cars and beer sales would be overshadowed by economy cars and milk sales.

Customer Conversion Tactic #2 – Craft Your Message

One of the most common marketing mistakes that small business owners make when trying to create their own marketing materials is talking about themselves instead of talking about the customer.

Just like everyone else on the planet, including you, your customer’s favorite topic of conversation is them! So start your marketing efforts by talking about their favorite subject and you’ll go a long way to improving your new customer conversation rate.

You can tell right away if your marketing material is “you” focused or customer focused by seeing how many of your sentences start with the word “we” or “I” or talk about your own company’s history or credentials.

When first starting a conversation with your prospective customer, you want to focus on their needs and desires first. Proving that you know what you’re talking about and that your company is worthy of their business is important… just not at first.

Customer Conversion Tactic #3 – Measure Your Marketing

There is a saying that “what you measure, you can manage”. When it comes to improving your small business marketing conversion rate, this couldn’t be more true.

Unless you know at what rate your marketing is creating new customers, you’ll never be able to take steps to improve on it. Getting this data is vital to your success in business.

Fortunately, with many of the newer digital marketing mediums like mobile marketing, pay-per-click and other online advertising, tracking the conversion rate is relatively straightforward.

But how do you measure your marketing results using offline marketing tactics? You need a specific call-to-action that motivates readers (or listeners) of your marketing message to take a specific action and then you need to record that action.

For example, if you regularly advertise in a magazine aimed at your target audience, you could include a note to “mention this ad and save 10% off your first order”.

That way, whenever someone mentions that particular ad and completes a sale, you can place a checkmark on a tracking sheet under that particular advertisement.

Another option would be to have prospects call and ask for “Anna” when requesting more information. In this example, “Anna” is a tracking code for the specific advertisement. Once again, when someone calls asking for Anna you know right away where they heard about you and can make note of it accordingly.

As a small business owner or marketing manager, your number one priority has to be the acquisition of new customers. The best way to get the highest return on your marketing investment is to improve your new customer conversion rates incrementally over time.

Want better marketing results for your small business? You need a compelling marketing strategy that gives you the knowledge, tools and confidence to take the time to implement it daily.

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