Written by Aaron Houghton of www.boostsuite.com Aaron Houghton is a co-founder and CEO at BoostSuite.com, the collaborative marketing platform for small businesses. Aaron has over 15 years experience building and selling marketing products to small businesses around the globe.
Your new online store just went live. You placed a test order yourself. Everything went smoothly. This is a big milestone. Now it's time to figure out how to make sure your second order isn't also from you. You need customers for your new online store.
So, you ask the million dollar question. Where do new online customers come from?
First, let's be clear about where they don't come from. It's fun to print your new website URL on everything you are already using to promote your business in the real world.
Think business cards, flyers, brochures, maybe even larger investments like billboards or outdoor signs. Although splashing your new domain all over the physical world is lots of fun, it IS NOT going to help you find new customers online. And I guarantee you that your potential online audience is at least 1,000 times larger than the audiences your business already has in the physical world.
So you need to be thinking about where you can promote your business online, in order to find new customers online. Using the physical-world analogy, you need to find the digital equivalents of business cards, flyers, brochures, and billboards where you can tell your story and ask for new customers.
First, think about your customers. Where do they likely hang out online? In an average day what websites would they visit, would they log in to a social network, would they download or use a mobile app? Now, make sure you've considered each of the following common locations where your potential customers may be already spending their time online.
1) Social Networks. Would creating a profile for your business in Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, or Pinterest make a difference for your business? Maybe. But just creating a page won't do anything for you. Consider how you'll interact with other businesses on social networks in order to get your message in front of their audiences.
2) Email Marketing. Will sending an awesome monthly newsletter to all of your current customers help you grow your business? Probably not. It will help you drive a few more purchases from your existing customers, but it's not likely to help you find your next 1,000 new customers? After all, sending emails to people you don't currently know is called SPAM. It's not a good business practice.
3) Search Engine Optimization. Do prospective customers for your business usually do research online before making a purchase? If so, what sorts of questions are they likely to ask? Create blog posts on your website that answers these questions and the search engines may put your information in front of those visitors.
4) Co-Marketing Partnerships. Do your prospective customers typically have existing relationships with other types of businesses that you don't compete with? For instance, a mortgage broker's target audience is new homebuyers, and almost all new homebuyers are already working with real estate agents. Mortgage brokers and real estate agents are the perfect partners.
What types of businesses are your perfect partners? Connect with them and ask for a co-marketing relationship, where you can tell your customers about their business, and they can promote you to their existing online audience. A great way to work with co-marketing partners is to trade blog posts about different topics that are interesting to your shared audiences.
Going back to our real estate example, the realtor could write a short article about how to evaluate a neighborhood, and the mortgage broker could write an article about preparing to ask a bank for a home loan. Both articles would be highly relevant to their shared audience of budding homebuyers.
Which marketing method will you choose for promoting your new online store? They're all good options. Just make sure to think about your target customer with every marketing decision you make. Are you spending your time in a place where your prospective customers are hanging out? If not, it's time to try something else.
Launching a new online store is an exciting time. I hope you'll take the additional time required to promote your new store so the world can take advantage of everything you have to offer. Use the checklist above to consider a few of the best places most online store owners are finding their new customers online.