Customer acquisition can be one of the biggest challenges entrepreneurs face. And for B2B businesses, finding new clients may be particularly difficult since you're usually targeting a smaller, niche customer pool.
However, there are a number of ways you may be able to attract new B2B customers, using both traditional and new digital strategies.
It may sound old-fashioned, but referrals from satisfied customers can be an effective customer acquisition strategy. Consider creating a system for gathering referrals from customers after the sale, and making asking for referrals a part of your sales team's process. Some things to consider when capturing referrals:
- Asking for a referral from someone who isn't happy may not be a great idea. Consider waiting a few weeks or a month after the sale to give the buyer time to use the product or service and uncover any problems. You can then follow up with them to resolve any problems and ask for that referral once they're satisfied.
- Using a customer relationship management (CRM) tool can help you generate reminders about following up and reaching out to referrals. These resources can be helpful in making sure valuable referrals don't fall through the cracks.
- Consider boosting referrals by offering some type of incentive, such as a discount if the referred prospect actually makes a purchase.
Use Content Marketing
The way B2B buyers search for products and services has changed. Today's buyers may do a great deal of research online before ever reaching out to prospective vendors. Customer acquisition may include doing some inbound marketing—that is, drawing prospects in by providing content that answers their questions and solves their problems. Some ways to do this include:
- Creating a variety of content—white papers, blog posts, videos—based on your target market's biggest problems and most burning questions. You can survey real customers to get ideas.
- Optimizing your content for search by using the keywords that your target customers use when they conduct searches for what you sell.
- Complementing your SEO efforts with paid online advertising and social media promotion to drive prospects to the content.
- Including a clear call to action in each piece of content, with links to your website where customers can take that action.
- Using the most valuable content (such as webinars or e-books) to gather contact information. You can do this with a very short form that prospects must fill out to access that content.
Maximize Your Website
Your website can be a vital element in the customer acquisition process. The following tips may help you use your website to its fullest potential.
- Consider putting a clear call to action on every page of your website.
- Updating keywords and other aspects of your SEO as needed may help you keep pace with customers' interests and search and industry trends.
- Consider using pop-ups to make a special offer, such as a free consultation; provide gated content, such as a downloadable white paper; or ask prospects to sign up for your email newsletter when the user is about to click away from your site.
- You may want to add a live chat to your website. (It's easy to do.) Live chats can be a great way to reach out to prospects who may be reluctant to make a phone call or fill out a form to hear from your team.
- Regularly reviewing your website analytics can help you see which parts of your site are performing well, and which are performing poorly.
Social media has become a key resource for B2B buyers researching products and services. Becoming known as an industry expert and, just as important, a helpful resource on social media may help keep you top-of-mind with B2B buyers. It may also help improve customer acquisition. To start using social media for your business, you may want to consider:
- Developing a profile of your target customer. You can then use this profile to pinpoint the social media channels where your prospects spend the most time, and develop a strong presence there.
- Being proactive in starting conversations, offering advice and answering questions without giving a hard sell.
- Providing useful information. This can be your own content, but you may also want to share content by other businesses and industry experts.
- Using social media management tools to monitor keywords that are important to your business. When you see questions or discussions on those topics, you can then reach out to participate.
Working with a complementary business can be a great customer acquisition strategy. The partnership may enable both of you to expand your network of prospects. When partnering with another business, you may want to consider:
- Hosting an event, such as a seminar for prospects on a topic of interest. Consider inviting your partner's current customers, and vice versa.
- Creating labor-intensive content, such as a webinar or an e-book. Teaming up with one or more partners in a complementary field may make such endeavors easier.
- Getting permission from your partner's customers and prospects to market to them via email. You wouldn't want to get marked as a spammer.
Share Pricing Information
Think about this: You're considering buying a product or service online, but the website offers no information about pricing beyond “Contact us for pricing information." Would you contact them? I usually don't. I prefer sites that share at least some information about pricing, so I can assess whether the product or service is going to cost me $50 a month or $5,000.
I'm not alone: Many prospects are reluctant to get inundated with sales calls and emails about something that might turn out to be completely out of their budget. You don't have to share detailed pricing, but consider adding a pricing page on your website that lists different packages—such as Basic, Extended and Premium—and the features of each. You can include pricing for the two lower levels, and ask prospects to contact you for custom pricing for the top level.
Another option: Show a "Starting at" price for each level. This can give prospects at least a general idea of the costs they can expect. An added bonus: Sharing prices may help you get qualified leads who can actually afford what you sell.
For more insights on how to help effectively tell your business story, access this DIY Guide to Content Marketing.
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