7 simple, low-cost ways to acquire new customers

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Experts in new business acquisition discuss the best places and ways to find prospective buyers for your products or services.

Even the most successful brands need new customers if they want to grow their business, or stay profitable. And while there are more places, and ways, than ever to find prospective customers, you can waste a lot of time and money by choosing the wrong customer acquisition strategy.

So what are some of the best, most cost-effective ways to attract shoppers to your products or services? Marketing and sales experts share their top seven low-cost strategies for new customer acquisition.

[ Related: 12 easy ways to lose your ecommerce customers ]

1. Have a great website. “It’s so important to have a good foundation [website] that is well branded, engaging and user friendly,” says Maciej Fita, managing director, Brandignity, a digital marketing agency. “Your website is typically the first and last thing people see connected to your business, and you have less than 5 seconds to really grasp their attention. Make it stand out [by having great content and design].”

[ Related: 12 ways to improve the customer experience for online shoppers ]

And while you can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a website, you needn’t to make it stand out. Most ecommerce solution providers offer attractive customizable templates as part of their hosting service. You can also find plenty of free or low-cost templates online that you or a designer can customize for a few thousand dollars (or less).

2. Provide helpful information on social media sites. A great way to attract people to your product or service is by “answering people’s questions and talking about your company and product [on sites like Quora],” says Dylan Osborn, founder and CEO, NiLi, a nightlife app. “Quora is great because it allows you to answer people’s questions related to what you are doing, so you can be an expert in the field.”

Similarly, join Twitter discussions and LinkedIn Groups that pertain to your industry, and provide thoughtful, helpful answers to questions.

[ Related: 7 ways social media can improve customer satisfaction ]

To find out who and what to follow on Twitter, search for keywords, such as “your company name, your product or service’s name, and keywords related to your product or service and your competitor’s company and product names,” says Mark Thabit, CMO, Cision, a provider of PR, marketing and media relations software and services. Looking “for these keywords will allow you to identify potential leads, with the understanding that not every lead will convert into a client.”

Facebook groups are also a good place to find prospective customers.

“No matter your niche or vertical there is a Facebook group that you can contribute to,” says Bryan Clayton, CEO, GreenPal, a lawncare service provider. “We have found this tactic [joining in Facebook conversations and answering questions] to be very effective for our marketplace. We monitor local groups and neighborhood groups, and when anyone is asking for a recommendation on a lawncare service, we kindly let them know about the GreenPal community,” he adds. “We tracked [our] success, and 60 percent of the time we make a recommendation, people sign up for our service.”

3. Showcase your products on Pinterest and Instagram. “For companies selling products with a strong visual component, Pinterest is a huge opportunity,” says Leeyen Rogers, vice president, marketing, JotForm, an online form builder. “Pins should feature high-quality images with easy-to-read text. Optimize your pins’ reach by pinning them at peak times [times when your target audience is likely to be online],” she advises. “If you'd like to pin content like blog posts, make sure that the title is attention grabbing and representative of what the customer should expect to read about. Tips and advice are particularly popular on Pinterest.”

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