Your first online shop is finally live. You’ve put in a lot of time, money, and nerves. Sweet relief at last—we all know that feeling. Now the question is: How can you make sure that your potential customers can find you online? And how do you turn visitors into customers anyway?
On the internet, customer acquisition is quite complex. Sadly, there’s no button to press to make it happen for you. There’s no one right path that works the same for every business. It usually requires a lot of planning, expertise, and creativity in all kinds of areas.
In principle, there are two things you can do:
1. Increase traffic
2. and convert traffic, in other words, increase the conversion rate
Easier said than done. But, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. In this blog post, we’ll shine a light on the most important actions to get customers online.
- SEO on-page optimisation
- Social media
- Company blog and guest posts
- Google Ads
- First impression
- Relevant content
- UX design
But wait, before you fully immerse yourself into customer acquisition, you should have already made some fundamental decisions beforehand and define your brand’s essence and message:
- Who am I?
- How do I define myself? (Niche, price, range, etc.)
- How do I stand out from my competitors?
- Who’s my target audience?
- How do I communicate with my target audience?
- What’s my so-called USP (Unique Selling Point)?
Is there anything for you to catch up on here? This blog post might help you present yourself more clearly in future.
Every action you take towards online customer acquisition should have the exact same purpose. If that purpose isn’t made abundantly clear from the start, your investments might not pay off in the end. So, let’s join forces, roll up our sleeves, and begin!
#1 Increase traffic
SEO – Search Engine Optimisation
The number 1 discipline to gain organic traffic. With the right SEO strategy, you’ll increase your online visibility and effectively improve your Google ranking. That’s something you’ll want to keep in mind because 90% of users use Google as their search engine of choice, but only 1% thereof make it to the second page.*
We differentiate between on-page and off-page optimisation. On-page optimisation includes all actions taken on the page itself. This includes technical, content-related, and structural improvements.
Keep in mind that you’re not likely to achieve top rankings overnight. On-page optimisation is a long-term process and requires a lot of perseverance as well as constant little adjustments. That’s because Google change their algorithm on a regular basis.
⚠️ Stay away from black hat SEO practices and false promises!
Alleged SEO experts predict top rankings for bargain prices in no time—but that’s just not how it works. It is possible to buy top rankings. To do so, however, you need a certain willingness to invest as well as professionals who know what they’re doing.
“Content is king” – no doubt about it. But there’s more to it than that: It’s also about the right niches and keyword research. Keyword analysis is often underestimated even though it’s crucial in order to actually be found by your target audience and set yourself apart from your competitors. Recommended keyword tools include, for example, Xovi, SISTRIX or Google’s Keyword Planner.
In addition to quality content, technical and structural SEO processes are just as important for search engine criteria. Crawling & rendering, HTTP request, robots meta tags, link juice, keyword density, and how are the SERPS actually performing? Yes, we’re still speaking English here—that’s just the harsh reality you’re confronted with when trying to improve your Google ranking in the long run. The good news: There’s hope! An SEO software can do 99% of the work for you automatedly.
Tip: Don’t do it all at once!
It’s a good idea to split up your online shop into themed worlds/areas and focus on optimising those bit by bit. Free SEO checklists might help you keep everything organised in the process.
Social media – our ever-present new friend
As much as we used to avoid social media from a business perspective, the more we should embrace it today. Common social media channels such as:
are becoming more and more popular to the point where they’re a crucial part of today’s online customer acquisition process.
You can achieve tremendous reach with no or next to no budget. Communicate with your target group directly and personally without any scatter loss. Social media is a great way for you to interact with potential customers, stay in touch, and answer questions. Messages can be spread and multiplied within seconds. There’s hardly a more efficient way to use marketing budgets.
Tip: You don’t need to please everyone!
Always ask yourself: Where is my target audience actually being represented? For example, an older target audience is more likely to be found on Facebook or LinkedIn rather than Instagram or Pinterest. Again, it’s all about doing what aligns with your brand’s essence.
Company blog and guest posts
Cue: Content marketing. Think of a blog like your own little archive. Each blog post is another page with quality content on a specific topic. And search engines love valuable content.
Organic discoverability is increased and you can create your own little expert platform in the long run. This, in turn, pushes your credibility and inspires trust in potential customers. Don’t just claim to be an expert in your field, but actually show that you are.
Another welcome side effect: You’re already prepping your customers for a “sales talk” in terms of quality. In doing so, your blog acts like a customer filter. It separates the wheat from the chaff and thoroughly informs those that are actually interested in what you have to say. It also takes the exchange of information to the next level.
But even guest blogs are usually a win-win for both the guest author and the blog host. The guest author benefits from reaching new audiences and can further expand their readership/customer base. By using backlinks, you generally increase trust since you are basically giving a recommendation. In turn, this improves your own ranking and, as a result, traffic to your site. To increase your trust ranking, however, the link giver’s page must be held in high esteem by Google.
The blog host brings a new twist to their blog. They needn’t do much in terms of content and can examine topics from a different perspective. This can have a long-term positive impact on the blog.
Tip: Build series!
It’s worth building little series for relevant topics. This way, the user can easily follow along and get excited for the next “episode”. This establishes a connection and helps position yourself as an expert in specific areas.
In short: Setting up advertisements on Google. Shop operators bid on certain keywords for which they want their product to be found. When a potential customer searches for exactly that keyword, they’ll see the ad displayed at the very top of the search results.
Paid ads can temporarily increase traffic. However, shop operators need to spend quite a lot of time and money to do so. If you don’t do your research on the subject matter or key figures, you might end up investing in irrelevant keywords, in other words, “costly nonstarters”. These may direct users to a page that is not of interest to them.
Tip: Round off your offer!
Google ads are great for temporarily supporting special deals or promotions.
#2 Convert traffic
We now know how to direct traffic to our online shop. Next, how do we turn visitors into customers? Let’s have a look at conversion.
You rarely get a second chance for a first impression. Users take an average of 3-4 seconds or even split seconds to decide whether to stay on a web page or leave it immediately. And what good is all the traffic that you worked so hard to get when your potential customer bounces after just a few seconds? That’s right, not much.
Everything is extremely fast-paced nowadays. None of us have a lot of time. The Internet is basically bursting at the seams. So, when a user actually makes their way through a dense forest of offers and lands in your shop, you should give them what they deserve: straight to the point, relevant content.
Your target audience needs to identify with the look & feel of your website at first glance. Here’s where that good old gut feeling comes into play. I either like it or I don’t.
And the most important question of all: Have I come to the right place? Will I find what I’m looking for? The first third of the page already needs to make your brand message clear. Once you’ve overcome these initial small hurdles, you’ll finally get an opportunity to present yourself.
Tip: Place the USP at the beginning and create trust!
Your brand message reflects your USP, for example, in your claim or in the form of a snappy headline at the beginning. The user knows exactly what to expect. Safety can also be an important element of trust. Applying safety strategies, such as data protection, SSL and certificates such as “Trusted Shop”, strengthens your credibility.
However, you can quickly lose that initially established trust if you confuse your visitors with irrelevant content.
But what actually is “relevant” content?
In short: It’s a mix of
- what the customer is interested in
- what the business wants to communicate
- what’s being talked about on the market
It’s not just the user who values good content—Google also loves relevant, holistic content and rewards it with better rankings.
Tip: Add value!
Relevant content is crucial, especially when it comes to lead generation. If you want to collect leads amongst your visitors in the form of email addresses so that you can send them your newsletter in future, you need to provide them with true value.
Example: “7 tips for better Google rankings: subscribe to our newsletter and we’ll send you the whitepaper.“
User experience design goes way beyond usability, interaction design, or a service. It’s more about considering and creating touch points before, during and after the user’s user phase with the product. Think of this as a sales funnel. At the top, you capitalise on quantity before quality. You want to get as many users into your funnel as possible to make it perform a specific action in the end. In principle, a funnel is based on:
1. Awareness: Raise awareness
2. Interest: Pique interest
3. Desire: Spark a desire
__4. Action: __Call-to-action
These are the various touch points that users undergo on their customer journey. Prospective customers can jump off during this buying process many times. But with the right guidance and relevant content, your new customers will come out at the end of the funnel.
Tip: Create and evaluate themed worlds!
Visitors love little stories and themed worlds. It helps them identify with the product and understand it better. Monitor these themed worlds to evaluate their success and slightly adjust them accordingly over time.
CTA – Call-to-action
The best UX won’t do you any good if you don’t repeatedly tell your visitors what to do at a relevant location on your site. In the end, it’s the call-to-action that matters. This doesn’t always have to be a request to make a purchase. As always, it’s about being relevant. Let’s say a user is currently in phase 2. They won’t want to be prompted to make a purchase yet. In the worst-case scenario, it might even come across as unpleasant and result in the user cancelling their session. A contact request at the right place, however, can have the opposite effect. If a potential customer is interested, but may have some unanswered questions, they’ll feel well looked after and gladly accept the offer.
Tip: Respond quickly!
If a potential customer is about to make a purchase, it makes sense to offer a chat feature to establish contact. No one wants to wait around for an email response at this stage.
When is it worth consulting an agency?
Tackling online customer acquisition yourself requires lots of time, a strong will, a willingness to invest, creativity, and patience. But it’s always worth it in the end.
However, many agencies offer free consultation sessions and happily support businesses with their online customer acquisition. Therefore, it’s always worth comparing and getting some information. As an official Shopware partner and ecommerce expert, we here at mitho® are always happy to help.
There’s no right or wrong answer. Online customer acquisition is and always will be a broad area and there are seemingly infinite ways of exploring this path. The above-mentioned aspects are only part of the journey, the basics so to speak. We at mitho® wish you the best of luck and lots of traffic!
About the author: mitho®
mitho® is a new media agency based in Berlin. They mainly deal with developing e-commerce, CMS, and enterprise systems as well as creative and conceptual areas. This agency covers it all: concept, analysis, strategy and production.
You might also be interested in:
- Step by step to an online shop concept
- Photos for your online shop: Five tips and a checklist
- Basics of conversion optimisation for online shops
* Refers to users in Germany. Compare search engine statistics, Statista, 2019.