Each year we recommend that catalog and ecommerce companies be prepared to test up to 10 customer prospecting ideas, with the understanding that only one or two might be home runs. Expect to have some failures and learning experiences along the way, and that’s ok. It’s important to test several ideas – even if some of them seem a stretch – because the goal is to learn from the test outcome and to not rule anything out in advance. Who knows – you might be pleasantly surprised with some of the results!
Here are some customer prospecting ideas that can be tested in a variety of channels…
- Shared mail – These are both upscale and lower-end mailings that include a postcard with offer in the envelope with other vendors. Negotiate to have category exclusivity.
- Blow-in programs – this is an old-school, inexpensive catalog program whereby a small slip of paper is loosely inserted between the catalog pages. The blown-in insert promotes your brand in a catalog that aligns with your market. And it’s not just for prospecting…some catalog companies will blow in an insert promoting clearance items.
- Consider poly-bagging a trifold brochure in select magazines. Many magazines already polybag and insert renewals. You might be able to tag along for a nominal fee.
- Refer a Friend. This is a very popular option for customer acquisition. Here is a different spin on it. Send a triggered email to anyone who writes a positive product review on your site and ask them to share a link with their friends. Anyone who clicks on the link and places an order receives a discount off their first order and the reviewer gets a discount for every new customer added. If this test proves successful, then roll it out to customers who haven’t reviewed your products but have placed at least two orders.
- Online Contests can promote and celebrate your business’ milestones such as an anniversary or new product line. Invite customers to contribute their new product ideas, product usage ideas, and how your brand is a part of their lives. Don’t take the easy way out by running a generic sweepstake offer. Involve and engage your customers!
- Leverage social media and work with a few blogger influencers to promote your brand. Look to micro influencers who love your category too. Read more about this in our earlier post on trends.
- Create a customer advisory board based on your most loyal buyers (length of time on file, wide range of purchases, high annual spend), then survey them or invite them to a teleconference to get feedback on how you’re doing. Find out about their interests and how they discover new products and consume content.
- Add brand ambassadors to actively promote your business. This is very popular among ecommerce and catalog companies that sell to college kids.
- Leverage pop-up shops in high-traffic shopping destinations that fit your brand. Retail can be an expensive investment and isn’t for everyone. Pop-up shops are great for traveling across the country and gaining exposure and new customers for your brand.
- Grassroots Marketing. Sponsor conferences and events where your audience is going to be in person. Chances are you’ll reach a large audience, including customers, prospective customers, bloggers and influencers. Insert samples in the goodie bags that are handed out to attendees, advertise in the program materials and signage, or set up a booth at the event.
Are your catalog or ecommerce sales slowing down because it’s getting harder to find new customers? Are you testing new programs but aren’t sure whether they’re really working (even though the vendor is claiming a high ROI)?
We help clients analyze the performance of existing customer acquisition programs. If you would like a fresh perspective or an objective analysis of your existing catalog or ecommerce customer acquisition program, contact us today.
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