7 Digital Tools to Drive Customer Acquisition

Reaching new customers is an important task for all business owners, and a variety of digital customer acquisition tools are available today that can help. Still, as technology continues to evolve, keeping up with the latest offerings can be a challenge for small-business owners. Unfortunately, trial and error can be expensive; in the last five years, the cost of acquiring new customers has increased almost 50%, according to Hubspot.

The best methods for your business will depend on your customer type and available resources, but the way of the future is undoubtedly digital. Digital is expected to overtake traditional media in 2019, accounting for 55% of total media ad spending, predicts eMarketer. You can create a successful customer acquisition strategy by using a mix of tools.

1. Display Ads

An effective method is to purchase display ads on websites or apps that combine images and text that can be targeted based on keywords, demographics, topic or interest. You can also use retargeting display ads, which are populated after someone visits your website but leaves without making a purchase. According to Target Marketing magazine, 26% of customers will return to a site through retargeting. Display ads should include eye-catching graphics or videos with a clear call to action. It can be a powerful digital tool; Google Display Network, for example, reaches 90% of internet users worldwide, according to the company.

2. Organic Social Media

You probably already know that social media marketing is important for increasing brand awareness. Organic social media is established by creating a profile and posting to followers. You can best leverage your organic social media by being selective with your posting. Choose the networks where your customers spend their time. For example, if your customer base is predominantly male, you might not spend too much time on Pinterest, which has a largely female audience. Be sure to post regularly and engage with customers, and use tools that help you manage your accounts, such as Hootsuite or Buffer.

3. Social Media Ads

If you only rely on organic social media, however, you may be wasting your time. With 2.77 billion users, it’s easy to get lost in the crowd. Consider also trying paid social media ads, which can help increase your posts’ visibility. Social media ads are a good tool to use when you’re building a following or if you’re running an event or promotion and want more exposure. You can be very direct with social media ads, aiming to reach a certain demographic. Facebook also allows you to reach the right customer segments with certain purchasing habits, life events and hobbies.

4. Geofencing

Another tool is geofencing, which uses GPS to send notifications to people in a certain location. For example, you can deliver coupons to customers who drive near your business — or nearby your competitors. According to Salesforce, 30% of the world’s population uses location-based services, and 80% want businesses to send location-based alerts. If your business relies on foot traffic, this may be a good digital tool to try.

5. Search Engine Optimization

Another important digital tool for customer acquisition is search engine optimization (SEO), which helps your audience find you by boosting your ranking during internet searches. Growing SEO and organic presence is the No. 1 priority of business marketing professionals, according to Hubspot’s State of Inbound Report. Create web copy and blog posts using keywords in titles, image alt text and tags. If you use video content, consider uploading transcripts that will boost SEO.

Implement some SEO best practices on the pages of your site. Start by identifying important keywords that a potential customer would use to find your products and services. Be as specific as possible. For example, if you’re a personal trainer who specializes in working with new moms, you might use keywords such as “personal trainers for new moms” on your website instead of a more generic keyword like “personal training.” Google’s free Keyword Planner can help you drill down on long-tail keywords that will help you attract more traffic.

6. Pay-Per-Click Ads

Although organic traffic is a free method of customer acquisition, adding pay-per-click (PPC) ads to your marketing strategy can improve your efforts. Google AdWords or Bing Ads display your links above organic results, increasing your chances of being found. PPC can deliver fast results, so it’s a good tool to use when you need to drive immediate traffic. This might be helpful when you’re launching a new business or product line or if you have a time-sensitive offer. PPC is also a great digital tool when you are looking to attract a highly specific audience. Google and Bing allow you to target demographics based on age, gender, education, income and marital status.

If your business does a good job with SEO and you rank high in an organic search, you can still benefit from PPC. By showing up in both the paid and organic results, you will get double the exposure and build your brand.

7. Content Marketing

Sharing valuable content on your site helps you establish your expertise and authority in your industry. You can also provide valuable information to your audience members, who might bookmark your site for later.

Having a blog is a great way to boost your SEO. Not only can you add a variety of keywords; you can offer engaging content that keeps people on your site. But a blog is just the start. You can offer e-books, white papers or guides to people who sign up for your email list. This gated content will help you grow your audience while giving you permission to contact them later. What’s more, customers will save your downloadable content to read later, improving your name recognition in the long term.

Develop a Diverse Approach

While existing customers are arguably your most valuable asset, attracting new patrons is vital in helping your business grow. By understanding the people’s habits, you can create a customer acquisition strategy that will work for your business and resources. Diversify your approach with a mix of tools — old and new — and you’ll get the best return on your investment.

Stephanie Vozza
Stephanie Vozza
Stephanie Vozza is an experienced writer who specializes in small business, finance, HR and retail. She has been a regular columnist for Fast Company for more than four years and her work frequently appears in Inc., Entrepreneur and Parade.

See all posts by Stephanie Vozza
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