Top 16 Client Acquisition Tactics for a web-design startup

Every web design startup has one major challenge initially- How to acquire new customers? And while it’s easy enough to determine that new customers are vital, attracting, converting and retaining them is not less than winning a war. It’s because very few people are familiar with your products, services, and brand. As a result, business owners have to employ the best of the best customer acquisition strategies for startups to even experience a sliver of success. In order to promote the acquisition of customers for your startup, here are top 16 proven strategies:

1- Media Publicity – Publicity is very much required to put your name out there. There could be many channels through which a web-design startup can do publicity. For example-via traditional media outlets like news outlets, TV and through print media like newspapers, magazines etc.

2- Unconventional Public Relations – There are two major ways one can apply an unconventional PR. The first one is a publicity stunt. A publicity stunt is anything that is engineered to get media coverage, for example, one can introduce some offbeat features/offers and gain media attention. The second type of unconventional PR is customer appreciation. That could be small, more scalable actions (like holding contests or sending handwritten notes to customers) that both increase reputation as well as generates press coverage.

3- SEM (Search Engine Marketing) – Search engine marketing (SEM) refers to placing advertisements on search engines like Google, where online marketers spend a bomb every day.

4- Online advertisements – Display ads are the banner ads that you see on Web sites all over the Internet. Social ads are the ads on social media websites like Facebook, twitter etc. and are one the most popular way to promote your product lately.

5- Offline Advertisements – Even after so much of digitalization, advertisers a lot on offline ads apart from the online ones. There are many kinds of offline ads — TV, radio, magazines, newspapers, yellow pages, billboards, and direct mail.

6- SEO (Search Engine Optimization) – In this ear, almost all the internet users turn to search engines for answers. Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving your ranking in search engines in order to get more traffic towards your website.

7- Content Marketing – Having good content on your website is great but unless you market it well, it’s futile. Popular websites have copywriters who write magnetic headlines, persuasive landing pages, and conversion-driven emails. Posts that receive hundreds of comments, lead to major publicity and result in thousands of shares. This massive engagement leads to massive growth.

8- Email Marketing – Email marketing is one of the best ways to convert prospects while retaining and monetizing existing customers. Email marketing is a personal channel. Email marketing works best when the messages are customized as per the user’s needs.

9- Viral Marketing – Viral marketing consists of growing your customer base by taking referrals from existing customers. In the context of startups, literally “going viral” means that every user you acquire brings in at least one other user. That new user then invites at least one other user, and so on. This creates true exponential growth. Though difficult to sustain, it’s been the driving force behind the explosive growth of consumer startups like Facebook, Twitter, and Whatsapp.

10- Affiliate Programs – An affiliate program is an arrangement where you pay people or companies for performing certain actions like making a sale or getting a qualified lead. Companies like Amazon, Zappos, eBay, Orbitz, and Netflix use affiliate programs to drive significant portions of their revenue. In fact, affiliate programs are the core traction channel for many e-commerce stores, information products, and membership programs.

11- Trade Shows – Trade shows offer you the opportunity to showcase your products in person. These events are often exclusive to industry insiders and are designed to foster interactions between vendors and their prospects.

12- Conferences and Events – Sponsoring or running offline events like meet-ups or public conferences can primarily lead to traction. Offline events give you the opportunity to engage directly with potential customers about their problems. Such events are especially important when your target customers do not respond well to online advertising and do not have a natural place to congregate online. Attracting these customers to one location or going to a place where they meet in person can be the most effective way to reach them.

13- Community Building – Community building involves investing in creating, growing and maintaining real selfless connections among your customers, fostering those relationships and encouraging them to bring more people into your startup’s circle. For example Companies like Wikipedia and Stack Exchange have grown by forming passionate communities around their products.

14- Analytics– Building an online business without utilizing analytics is like driving with your eyes closed. There are lots of online tools available for the designers to keep a track of the visitors they have on their website like Google Analytics, Mixpanel etc.

15- Start a blog: A blog could be the best way to talk about your work, process, and portfolio. One can also put in client’s testimonials to build more credibility among the first time visitors.

16- Go the extra mile: The biggest advantage a business can have is the personal touch. So whenever possible, take the extra step to set yourself apart.

Below are some examples:

  • Demo Website: Instead of directly jumping into telling people that you can build them a website, give them a mini mock work of the site they are looking for. Most of the prospects will respond positively.
  • Human touch: Once your email address (or contact form) is out there on your website, you become immune to seeing bad cold emails for SEO, web development services, graphics and everything else. It’s always better to send top 20 target businesses a customized letter and t will be more effective than emailing 1,000 with a generic template.
  • Thorough Research: The more you can make it about them, the better. Check out their current website, see how long they’ve been in business, find out if they are active on social media, etc.
  • Follow Up: There are so many distractions in today’s world which can make people forget things. If they showed an interest in working with you but you don’t hear from them again, it never hurts to touch base after a day or two. One can send a brief email to understand what is holding them back from making a decision.

While considering these 16 traction channels, try your best not to dismiss them as irrelevant for your company. Each traction channel has worked for startups of all kinds and phases and don’t let the right channel become an underutilized one.

Winning customers is more of a creative as well as analytical task. You have to put together all the data points, analyze your customers’ behavior and mindset, and devise a campaign that is creative and informative and exudes innovation.

Need any further guidance or have questions. Shoot us those on the comment below.

Are you selling it right?

I’m not a good marketer. Neither a good sales person. ( my mom warned me not to use businessman and salesman in my words, so I’m writing sales person 😛 ) But when I’m in sales mood my conversion rates in sales go real higher. So here is a little secrete that can improve your sales much higher, as high as 20-35%. Especially effective for people who also understand what their service or product really is.

When meeting a customer don’t talk project or price from the start. Listen to your customers explaining why they want the product in the first place. In web design business, I used to ask, “What do you think a website can do for you?” or like, “Why do you want a website for your business?” You know it’s different than I’m telling what we do and how we are different.

Then listen. Listen till they drain up all their motivations and influencers who told them to make a website in the first place. This is really wonderful. You get to know who they really are. What’s the situation of their business. How their friends make them to think about designing a website can solve their issues. I heard like “My offline business is doing good. But you know I’m missing ways to scale up my market reach and sales. My XYZ friend who came for a dinner last month told me by creating a website I can get lots of inquiries from people who are searching for services like me. Also my YYN I HATE THAT GUY competitor is growing by creating a website.”

Then see when influencers are these, you can’t talk a lot about branding and colors. You should be better talking about if this piece of design can solve their issue. You also need to tell, what else may be required to scale this up too, like may be SEO etc. if you want.

Then I agree to what he said, “Yes! We could improve the sales of XXR OF OUR SWEET CLIENT to some X% by creating a better website.” And they inquire more and I try to confine the discussion to few more lines.

Then I ask, “How does your company want to represent it to your client? What’s the way you do market? And what your customers ask you often when doing sales?” or “I heard about XX company in your space. How is your solution or customer segment is different than them?” See here you are gathering ways you can make them successful online too. For new businesses it may be difficult to get a real picture.

Then listen to them carefully. See I don’t talk the design, look and feel of the website. I talk about their vision of their own company. Listen to phrases like “We want to be caring”, “We are actually good at XX, which can solve XX in the whole process”, “We make products with lot of care and heart”, “As we grow we want to be different than other companies and make our customers save more”, “We hate this, the other company is doing”. If you are listening to stuffs like our customers love it, then it’s time making customers the center piece.

Understand, for every company owner, his company is really good and he wants his company should look good as their sales man. And frankly they don’t know what color is best for them or what style, they just saw it somewhere or think of that would be best. It’s your job to recommend them a color. But understand their brand color and why these colors are or should be there. If indeed.

And when it comes to telling about price, just tell what your best upper price is. Never hesitate to tell. Or else they’ll feel you are cheating them. If they are that comfortable, which often they become, when they reach to this point. They would tell either “OK! that sounds good when should I pay?” or they would tell, “look I don’t have this amount of money?” or “The others say XX REAL LOW PRICE, your price is really high”.

If you get the first one then congratulations. You owe me a treat :P

If you got the last two, this is the time to tell why you are different. They just experienced a bit of it. It’ll help them compare the money they are paying vs the benefit they’ll get for it. If possible you can give them a ROI demo. And then tell how taking low money like others force you not to do good work. Explain them your expenses including salaries etc. if you can. People don’t want to hurt you. They would be OK and love to help you and also themselves.

If they stick to the price stuff, you should understand they are not yet well convinced. Often I say thank you at this stage, because I knew my time is much worthier. And I say “loved talking to you, You can look for X, Y and Z good designer out there who work at low price. They may help you? Wishes for your business, it’s just that my expenses are little higher and I can’t help reduce it :)” Don’t make them feel guilty. Sometimes they bring you more clients or comeback when they have money.

But if you feel the customer worth it, then you can ask, “What should be the price, you think?” And tell “See I can provide you this much in that price and you’ll be loosing XXX”. Look customers love getting value more than the discounts, though discounts can quicken the process. Read my upcoming book “3 Ways to Price: Part-I” releasing coming Sunday, before giving a discount.

Understand sometimes customers really don’t have money to pay you. That’s OK. If you can’t help with price, just refer them to others. I usually tell “Ask me any other help when you need like advise on designs if I’ll have time, I’d love you help you grow.” Sometimes I sit with the customer to figure out where they should start with the little money and then as some money flows in how to improve bit by bit.

But if you need to get to the conclusion. You need to understand why something is important for them and why they put money into it. Customers often don’t tell you what they exactly need from a service and you can’t guess either. Better ask them to explain, why it’s important. You’ll figure things out much better.

Small business website best practices

At 8i Creations we were helping businesses and design firms to bring more conversions/orders/inquiries from their websites. Here’s what I’ll sum up as the best practices. (Please don’t inquire 8i creations, we are no more accepting projects) 

1. Define your business in 5 words. Headline it on your home page.

2. Solve 3 questions that customer would be asking when coming to a page & follow it up with a contact number/email id/form for further discussion.

3. Navigation text is important. Name links as customer would like to search it, not what your product name is. Eg. “SEO” may be defined as “Increase website visitors”. Similarly ‘Machine for tamarind processing’ is more suitable navigation text that ‘HP terminator 500’. Dharma Agrotech, one of our clients, has a multipurpose machine that can process Peeper as well as Groundnuts. But their customers may not search that way. See how we created different links to the same product. And the conversion was wonderful.

4. Be definitive about who your customers are and who are not.

5. Use videos & photos to describe your products and how it’ll benefit customers. Real photos can make you more authentic than stock images.

6. Customer testimonials are powerful. Use their photos or videos.

7. Clear and simple looking websites convert in an average 5 times more visitors than a website that looks very flashy & complex.

8. Give yourself a face. Put your pictures, pictures of where from you work and a complete address.

9. Invest money in SEO & Blogging if you can afford the money and time. It worths it. The more people come to your site, more you can convert.

10. And most importantly, make contact methods clear, visible and within quick reach. If your phone number is only at “contact us” page, you’ll loose 50% of possible leads. Wit says, convert them as soon as they make their decision. The low touch the contacts will be the better. Phone number or a form is better than only email id.

11. Did I forget to mention about content? Spend on a good content writer. Clear and conversational content are your best investment. Else ask the person-in-charge of your marketing or sales, if he/she’s good at content writing.

It works in this order:

1. More people know about your site: SEO & Blog
2. More people found the solution they were looking for: Site content & Navigation
3. More people contacted you: Clear and instant contact methods.

Hope you would like this post. What are the other best practices do you think?

Do you know how different your customers are?

Customers are different even though they purchase the same products or services from you. They all require different treatment, isn’t it? And you are responsible for building an organization that can better serve the kind of customers that gives you more value. 

Once you have some customers, profitable businesses figure out the customer segment worth focusing at and weed out customer segment that don’t bring them any value or profit. All good managers and entrepreneurs know the power of this kind of data. They separate their customer base and continuously segment it. They continuously understand who their customers are and how they are changing.

Now let’s see how different and unique your customers are. Use a spreadsheet (or a CRM software). Add the following columns to your spreadsheet against all your customers name.

1. Channels they came from

2. The geography they belong to

3. The business they are in

4. The older or younger the organization is

5. The older or younger the decision maker was

6. The size of the company

7. The revenue of the company

8. Who in the organization contacted you

9. Who authorized you the money

10. Who got benefited directly from your service in the company (eg: the marketing team or the CEO or COO etc.)

11. The sales they gave you

14. The services they got from you

15. The quality & support they demanded

16. The profit you got from this customer

17. The effort you needed to market/sell them

18. The effort you needed to service them

Now apply 80-20 rule to this. Focus 80% of your energy and staff on serving the most valuable customer segment and 20% serving less valuable. Both things are equally important. While most valuable customers will give you most of the cash, less valuable customers may show you a different future. They can show you if there’s a new market segment emerging or a new kinds of product you can launch to capture a big potential.

Focus your marketing, sales, copy of your website, the product, the contract, the investments accordingly.

As a small business want to grow big this will make you focus your energy and resources in building more value and wealth. You save time, become more knowledgeable about the outcomes and bring more profit.

What else? What more can you do with this customer data? Do this and comeback and comment how this helped you understand your business better.