February 10, 2011

Customer Acquisition – Referrals and SEO

Posted by 2Checkout

If you’re like me, you spend a good part of your day trying to figure out where your next customer is going to come from and how you can drum up new business. New customers are the lifeline of any business, new or old, and they are hard to earn. Here are a couple of the mainstays on the Internet to help you find some new customers.

Referrals – nothing is more powerful than when someone a person trusts recommends your business, there is an implied guarantee that the products or services are excellent because nobody wants to risk their reputation with colleagues or friends. How do you harness the power of referrals?

  • Affiliate networks – affiliate networks like Commission Junction, 2CO Global Affiliates, LinkShare and others enable providers of trusted content to direct potential buyers to your site. Affiliate marketers typically focus on a narrow niche of products or services or keywords and they run deep on that niche. They attract traffic with content or search terms and then redirect to other sites. Depending on the type of affiliate, they can be extremely powerful and cost effective sources of new customers.
  • Referring networks – slightly different from affiliates, you can leverage business partners to refer customers to you as well. Those partners tend to be suppliers of products or services that help you go to market. Referring networks can be particularly effective in a hard goods industry where the suppliers of products have multiple distributors.
  • Existing customers – the most powerful referral is an existing customer who is highly satisfied with your service. These advocates for your business can be very influential in getting new customers to come to your site and buy from you. Make sure that you have a reward system in place to compensate and thank customers for their advocacy.

Search Engine Optimization
– SEO in, my mind, is one of the easiest and hardest things to do right on the Internet. Search engines like Google, Bing, Yandex, and Baidu don’t exactly tell you how their search algorithms work so you have to experiment with your site to gain relevant traffic. Here are a few things to look at in SEO:

  • Pay Per Click Marketing – simply put, these are ad words campaigns. If you have not put at least Google Analytics tags on your site, get on it. GA can help you understand where customers are coming from to get to your site. With a little research with Google tools, you can find out popular search terms and look for variations on those terms that you can bid on to place your ads in front of consumers. PPC campaigns are pay per click, not pay per purchase so control your budgets based on what you want to spend to acquire a customer.
  • Backlinking – fancy term for inbound links to your website. Search engines give your site more exposure if you play nice on the Internet. You should work to have inbound links from third parties to your site and also make sure you have a good number of outbound links as well, a ratio of 10:1 may work very well for you. Backlinks are important because it shows the search engines that other sites on the internet like your site as well and encourages higher scoring and higher visibility with your pages during organic search.
  • Content – remember those keywords you are working on for your PPC campaigns? Try lacing them into your web-site through relevant content. It’s true that you can create a list of keywords on your page and it will help your ranking but ranking is only part of the equation; the content associated with that keyword has to be enough to convince a customer to buy from your brand.

Next topic: Customer Acquisition – Managing Marketplaces and Shopping NetworksChris Daly, SVP, Chief Marketing Officer