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6 Practically Free Ways to Get New Customers Fast

No matter how small your team and budget, there are actionable steps you can take to get more customers fast.

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When people think of growing a small business, they think of getting more new customers. This thought process explains why there are over one billion search results for the search query, “how to get new customers fast.” A lot of websites are trying to answer this eternal question.

When times are good, and the economy is booming, driving new business can seem like a choice. You have a business, and business is good. Now you want to make it better. 

Unfortunately, when times are not so good, and there is a widespread financial crunch–small business owners across the country find themselves trying to run in place. In these instances, getting new customers with expensive marketing campaigns isn’t an option as cashflow becomes a concern.

With small businesses across America already feeling the financial crunch from coronavirus restrictions, we wanted to provide some free, or almost free, ways to get new customers fast when main streets begin to open to the public again. We tried to make these tips as actionable as possible, and include links to other helpful resources.

1. Make Sure New Customers Can Find Your Business 

If you want to get new customers fast, you need to be visible where customers are looking for you. You might be thinking, “Gee whiz, thanks for telling me something I don’t know.”  

But there are a ton of small businesses out there that don’t have complete or accurate Google My Business (GMB) listings. (If you’re wondering what a Google My Business listing is, here’s an example.)

An updated GMB listing is essential for local SEO as it enables your business to appear in local search results for people who are searching specifically for your products or services.  Let’s say you’re a hairdresser in Atlanta, how do new customers find your salon?

If you wanted to find a hairdresser in Atlanta, you’d head over to Google and type in “Hairdresser Atlanta.” If you would like your business to display that search result, you need to make sure your necessary company information like its name, address, and phone number are accurate. You can then add rich details like photos, hours of operation, and more to make sure people decide to get in touch with you.

We promise you that it’s one of the fastest ways to get new customers.

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2. Generate More Reviews 

Generating more reviews ties in nicely with the first tip. It might seem like asking people to review your business might not help you get new customers fast–reviews seem like a “nice-to-have.” While building a reputation doesn’t happen overnight, the value isn’t abstract. Online reviews translate into hard dollars and cents.

This impact on revenue happens because reviews on Google, Facebook, and other third-party sites represent roughly 15% of overall search ranking factors. Beyond reviews pushing you to the top spots of search engine result pages, TrustRadius found that 76% of people use online reviews and ratings to help them find, evaluate, or select products. 

We’ll share a couple of valuable resources on helping you to generate more reviews. But the bottom line is you need to ask your customers. You could send out an email blast or run an Instagram competition. In a time like this, people are happier than ever to support small and local businesses. 

We are unashamedly biased about our preference for sending review requests by SMS. With open rates of 98% and CTRs that stretch past 30%, can you blame us?

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3. Focus on Owned Marketing Channels

Owned media comprises digital marketing channels that a company exercises complete over, such as their branded website, email list and SMS subscriber list. Tobi Lutke, the CEO of Shopify–and someone who knows a thing or two about marketing–offered this simple reasoning for why you should focus on these channels.

As a result of the Covid-19 crisis, many retailers decided to pause acquisition channels such as paid search and Facebook advertising. Small businesses were seeing effectiveness drop below sustainable levels. 

If small businesses are reliant on these channels, it creates a domino effect, piling on the pressure to find new customers fast through other means. The problem is that it takes time to build up your owned marketing channels. 

What we’re getting at here is that your existing customers who know and love your brand are your biggest asset during both a crisis period and business-as-usual. You might be thinking that these aren’t technically “new customers.” But if you focus on growing these channels, you can turn them into reviews and referrals–we’ll discuss this below–that help you get new customers.

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4. Create a Referral Program

Word-of-mouth advertising is like an urban legend, only in marketing form. You know it probably exists, but you’re skeptical of how it can help you get new customers fast. According to a Nielsen study, referrals and word-of-mouth are the most trusted form of advertising. 

With a referral program, there is no such thing as getting without providing something in return. A lot of small businesses use some form of store credit or provide a service in return. Here’s an example of a dentist in Toronto that offers a free whitening pen when you refer a friend for a cleaning and exam.

Like 99.9% of marketing campaigns, you need to let people know it exists for it to be effective. Otherwise, no one is going to participate. One of the ways we recommend doing this is through triggered or time-based SMS campaigns. A few days after someone texts in your keyword, you can send them a text message that encourages them to share a referral link to give them and a friend further discounts. The best part is that we make setting this up easy with our autoresponder feature.

Know another dog owner that would love our 100% natural dog treats? Use this ‘Invite&Earn’ link to both get $10 off your next purchase of $25 or more: 

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5. Get Your Promotions in Front of More People

Please fight the urge to roll your eyes on this one. Yes, we know that a promotion is a tried and true way to acquire new customers. But, creating promotions will get you nowhere if your customer base never learns about them. Your website is a great place to use promotions to drive those already interested in your products or services to purchase.

One way to do this is by using our free Mobile Sign-Up Widget. You could target website visitors only when they are on the checkout page with a discount offer. This discount may nudge them to purchase and increase your website’s conversion rate. 

Toroe Eyewear used this free tool to generate an extra $7K in revenue in only 30 days and improve its website conversion rate by 200%.

The widget makes it easy for website visitors to text in a keyword. (A keyword is a word, phrase, or other combination of numbers and letters that allows people to subscribe to your text messages.) When visitors click on the widget, it opens a pop-up with more information. When they click the button within the pop-up, their native text app opens with the keyword and number prefilled. All they have to do is tap send. If you are more of a visual learner, this is how it works.

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6. Focus on Your Personal Brand

For the past few years, the rhetoric in marketing is, “If it’s not trackable, it’s not worth doing.” As a result, anything that doesn’t produce immediate results of secondary importance. That’s problematic because more and more people are interested in the story behind a product or service. 

In a world of endless choice, people buy something because it aligns with their values. This fact is evident in how consumers study–and support–Kickstarter campaigns based upon the personal journeys of inventors. They want to understand the intent and motivation behind the products. 

This is where a strong personal brand can help a small business owner get new customers fast. To illustrate this, let’s imagine Al, a local restaurateur, who has been in business for a decade. Despite being passionate about the restaurant industry, he’s too busy to build his brand to tell his story. He decides to fix this.

He writes guest posts at every food and wine-related publication he can reach. He seeks out public speaking gigs at local and state-wide food events. He starts working on his social media presence. He begins hosting pop-up events and cooking demonstrations at his restaurant. He even starts putting together recipes for a cookbook.

The profile of his restaurant starts to climb, and it’s now hard to get a booking. Soon the restaurant uses his name at every opportunity. His business is booming, all thanks to his personal brand.

While this glosses over the work involved, it does demonstrate how valuable these activities are. We can all name dozens of people that are everywhere in our industry. While it can be easy to dismiss this as just ego building, there’s no doubt that the businesses they run are cashing in on it.

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Running a small business requires vision, courage, fortitude, attitude, and of course, the secret to it all, passion. All these qualities help entrepreneurs get their businesses off the ground, get through the learning curve, and cope with all the different problems that pop up along the way. Above all else, this is what will help your small business recover from the economic impact of the coronavirus.

Drew Wilkinson
Drew Wilkinson

Drew Wilkinson is the Head of Marketing at SimpleTexting. Drew has more than a decade of experience managing successful integrated marketing programs to build brands, raise awareness, and generate demand.

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