Attracting new qualified customers for your online store is a long process of effective planning, consistent hard work, and deep understanding of the main pillars for a successful online business. Attracting qualified prospects who would, hopefully, turn into buying (and loyal) customers involves a series of integrated steps that should go in parallel.
Attracting a new prospect for your business depends on an understanding of five main factor that you should comprehend well:
- Your website/online store
- Your product
- Your customer
- Your digital presence
- Your service
Let’s make sure first that you understand the meaning of a prospect, and the difference between a prospect and a lead.
What is a prospect definition?
Understanding prospect meaning is very important in the marketing world. A prospect is a potential customer who has been qualified to be a prospect after fitting 3 main criteria:
- Fits your target market
- Is able to buy your product
- Has the authority to make a buying decision
That is to say, when the “ potential customer ” meets all of the above criteria, they qualify as a “ prospect ” who then converts into a “ buying customer ”.
Example for a prospect : if you sell office furniture, then your prospect is the purchasing manager of a company who can afford your product (has money) and has the authority to make a buying decision from you.
How is a prospect different from a lead?
Any potential client you meet or a customer who has shown an interest in your product is a lead. Remember that this lead has not been qualified yet to be a prospect.
Notice: First, you gather leads, then you qualify them into either prospects or not, and finally you move them through your sales funnel/process.
Let’s now explore some steps to attract new prospects for your online store, arranged based on the five pillars we mentioned earlier.
1. Your Website/Online Store
Your website is the first thing a customer sees. Your website is what Google must find when a prospect searches for what you have to offer. Your online store should be beautiful and organized just like a brick-and-mortar shop in the mall. Did you know that a user makes a decision whether to but from a website or not after only 3 seconds? So tell me, what do you think about that?
I am building a website to sell cat food online, named [deliciouslyyummydryfood] !
That’s great.. But why don’t you think of a shorter, more relevant domain name? Google crawlers (crawlers that search millions of websites in seconds to bring up relevant websites to a user’s search) might not be able to rank this name among the top 10 results, and it’s hard for customers to remember/type for future purchases.
Be careful: Twitter, for example, limits names to 15 characters. You will need to use your website’s name on different social media channels to connect with your audience and fans.
My home page isn’t the best thing in the world, but my products’ page is better!
Your home page is a “welcome” message to your customer , shouldn’t it be the best you can do? The home page of an online store should be organized, easy to navigate from and come back to, appeals directly to the customer’s needs, and leaves a first good impression.
People seem to not find my store! I am getting no clicks!
Make sure that your store is easily find-able online, invest some effort in making it search engine friendly. Most traffic is generated by organic search results (free of charge).
My online store is great; ehmm, I mean if you waited long enough for it to load!
A website’s loading speed and reliability are very important factors for improving your site’s search visibility. Try uploading smaller images, checking the server response time, reducing redirects, and some more steps in order to increase your site’s speed and reliability.
I hired an SEO specialist; he has been working on my website for a week now without any noticeable results!
Optimizing your site’s SEO and building authority on the web isn’t something that happens overnight; it’s a time- and money-consuming process.
I don’t have money to hire a professional photography; I upload images directly from my mobile phone!
You need nothing but a cheap light box and some free videos on how to take a good picture to sell online. Customers need to be able to see the product in detail and zoom on it.
Tip: add a very detailed, SEO friendly, error-free description to those professional images you took. A good image plus a well-written product description is a guaranteed formula to convert a qualified customer into a buying one.
No business should base its visibility on paid advertising alone!
That’s correct. Optimizing your website and working on making it SEO friendly would definitely gets you a lot of organic leads and prospects. PPC or Pay-per-Click is only to help you attract customers who are searching directly for the keywords you’re bidding on. Use both strategies wisely as you see suitable as long as it’s working for your site’s best.
Does creating a blog increase search visibility?
A lot. Blog content provides answers to new customers’ questions, unique information, and a channel to connect with fans.
Tip: Add value with content marketing . Create a memorable experience for your customers; give them a blog post, a tutorial video, DIY video, etc.
2. Your Product
Millions of online stores are selling something to someone, what makes the difference? How passionate you are about the product you sell online is what makes all the difference. Understand your business inside and out to the extent that people sense how knowledgeable you are and come to you for advice. Knowing your product backward and forward is critical to being able to attract new customers and sell online .
3. Your Customer ( Prospect )
Needless to talk about the importance of knowing your customer when selling online. Let’s cut to the chase and see where to find qualified customers , how to address them, and why is it important to incentivize them.
I want to be able to speak with my customers; how can I find them?
Well-crafted email campaigns are a powerful tool to attract new buyers to your online store: welcome email, suggested products to buy, abandoned cart, etc. Ideas to get your customers’ emails are many: use sign-up forms, gain sign-ups at events, or organize a giveaway to collect information.
Careful: Don’t ever never ever BUY an email list. Emails sent to a purchased mailing list go straight away to spam and then trash. No matter how small the list you collected yourself is, start with it and it will grow with time.
I depend a lot on promotions and coupons to sell online !
That’s great.. People just looove discounts and free shipping.
Tip: Emails with coupon codes receive 2.5x higher transaction rates than those without.
I use pictures sent to me from my loyal customers in my content on social media and website!
That’s user-generated content (UGC) and it’s a brilliant way to attract new qualified customers to your online store. Word of mouth is so powerful; people are inclined to buy a product that is recommended by a friend than another being promoted for.
I post a lot of paid ads encouraging people to buy my product, but get a few sales in return!
People hate being sold a product directly. Try being more informative than authoritative.
I use statements like “every woman out there” in my marketing content, any problem with that?
It is better not to overstate your market, as using phrases like “every man” or “all baby boomers” will prevent you from developing viable targeted strategies for attracting clients. Try picturing your ideal client in your head, and think about what makes them happy, scared, excited. A successful salesman is one who solves a problem for his audience or makes their lives a little bit easier with his product.
What do they mean by “find where your customers live”?
Identify the places where your qualified customers would hang around at: online, offline, in front of the tv, on TikTok, etc., and then tailor messages for them. Online locations could be something like Facebook pages, while conventions in your industry makes sense as an offline location.
I have many satisfied customers, but then ONE bad experience with ONE customer and I find myself in trouble!
It is said that is takes 12 positive customer experiences to make up for one negative. Thereby, make sure that all your clients are satisfied with the service you provide.
I am so busy running business that I do not have time for customer care!
Never ever underestimate the impact of customer care. About 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated. Being nice, helpful, and competent will do the trick.
4. Your Digital Presence
Being digitally present has a lot into it than having a website with good products on it. Qualified prospects are everywhere online, and you need to be present in front of their eyes to keep on top of their head.
I am planning to join ALL social media channels to introduce my product!
That’s a waste of time, money, and effort. Decide on the most relevant social media channels where it’s very likely your targeted audience would be there. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, and other channels are extremely popular nowadays that you cannot be missing out on what’s happening there, but choose wisely.
All I care about is MY site and MY blog!
Interact.. Interact with others and stay active online: comment on others’ posts, answer questions on Ask, react to a blog post that you liked, follow people who follow you, and be part of the huge online conversations taking place.
Tip: Claim your business name on every social network you may ever want to use, you never know. Being consistent in using the same brand name across all channels is crucial to building awareness and branding your business.
I am in my 40s and not into social media and the whole influencers thing; I mean you cannot tell someone what to like and not to like, can you?!
Yes, you can. Consumers, specially the younger ones, usually base their purchase decision on Facebook and Instagram posts. One good example of how a website can use this behavior to streamline the buying process is what Watkinson’s website does. The site allows users to search for products that were featured on social media, as well as items that have received the highest number of likes on the site itself.
I get good leads and deals that seem to have a potential, but then I don’t know what happens!
Follow up on your leads. After your efforts to bring in business, always remember to close the loop. Why waste so many leads simply because you forgot to follow up?
5. Your Service
We are about to finish. This is the last key factor to take care of if you want to attract new qualified prospects and sell online : the service you provide and the customer care you show. Luckily for you, a lot is automated now to make things easy for you. All you need to do is set up a good plan, know your priorities, and spend some time preparing and reading.
I don’t have time to reply to all customers’ inquiries instantly, nor can I afford to hire agents to do so!
Use live chat. Live chat spares you time replying to customers’ inquiries and help them find what they need. If a customer has any questions about product use, warranty, return policy, etc. then having a live chat feature can be helpful. These all help you increase sales and retain more customers.
Whether you are just starting out on your website or a successful online store manager, you will always be searching for ways to attract new qualified customers ( or prospects as now we know the prospect meaning ) to your online store. Attracting customers and selling online can be a one-man job; it just needs a lot of time, effort, and planning (specially at the beginning). Think of all aspects and sides of the process. Identify your target audience and clients well. Give time to the time; do not rush things up. Make use of the tools and apps that automate everything nowadays to help you stay in control without having to hire a helping hand. And finally, your store is your big investment in life, nurture it well to be able to ripe its success later.
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