How to attract customers: 12 proven techniques

According to Marketo, 61% of marketers indicate that generating high-quality leads is their biggest challenge. This means that all businesses need to put a lot of effort into attracting leads. To make this a bit easier, it’s key to get a grip on some basic but proven marketing tactics - these 12 techniques are essential if you want to know how to attract customers more effectively. This blog will focus on attracting a pool of leads or potential customers who could be interested in your product or service. It’s important to qualify those leads: if there’s a match with your business, they’ll become your prospects or, in other words, hot leads that are worth your sales efforts. Let’s dive into the techniques that will turn your business into a lead magnet:
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Direct marketing: contact potential customers personally

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Direct marketing is a technique used for communicating directly with leads, for example through text messages, calls, emails or even in person. A direct marketing message almost always involves a specific call-to-action, meant to trigger your audience into a direct response. These responses can range from clicking a link to subscribe, calling a telephone number, or visiting a website. A bold call-to-action might even encourage its audience to directly buy a product.

A direct marketing message can be the first point of contact leads have with your brand. Be aware that some people experience this form of marketing as intrusive and annoying. As you often contact leads without an appointment, adjust your way of communicating and highlight the benefits for them.

A well-targeted direct marketing campaign still has some great benefits, as you:

  • Can contact audiences that are otherwise hard to reach.Example: Older generations aren’t very digitally active, but they might be interested in your offer if you call them.
  • Test the appeal of your product or service, as potential customers have to answer right away.Example: You’ve designed a new product, but you’re not sure how people will react to it. Why don’t you call a test audience and see how they react, before you go ahead and launch it?
  • Get clear and trackable results.Example: You can pretty easily assess the impact of your direct marketing campaign. If you sent a direct email to 100 leads inviting them to download your catalogue for free, and 20 of them did, it means you have a positive response rate of 20%. You can then qualify and nurture them to eventually seal the deal… knowing exactly how many leads are converted into a client. Very handy to easily measure success and calculate the customer acquisition cost derived from this campaign.

1. Cold calling: convince leads through real-time conversations

Unsolicited calls to potential customers, or cold calling, used to be a favoured technique, but its popularity has decreased. Understandable, because calling people can be tiresome and time-consuming if they’ve never heard about your business before - and might not appear super interested.

That doesn’t mean that this form of telemarketing is always a bad idea. Having actual, real-time conversations with potential customers, can play an important role in persuading them. And if you aim your efforts at decision-makers, you increase your chances of convincing them considerably.

Focus on clear, targeted audiences with a well-prepared script and compare statistics regarding your activity (the number and length of your calls), quality (how many decision-makers did you reach? how many leads did you qualify?) and conversions (in how many demos or purchases did the call result?) to discover if this is a technique you should invest in. You can purchase call lists for this, or curate lists yourself through e.g. events or online searches.

2. Direct mail: make sure your targeted audience sees your messages

Direct mail, whether that’s through email or post, can also be a valuable technique if you want to target a specific audience efficiently. Make people aware of your brand or grab their attention through creative and interesting messaging. For example: high-level executives might be important prospects for your business, but they don’t have much time to browse the web for information. Make sure they don’t miss out on your content and send them a direct mail with some information you specifically compiled for them.

Direct marketing: the benefits and limitations

It’s clear why direct marketing is a popular marketing tactic: it enables personal contact, helps you reach an audience that might otherwise be hard to reach and provides you with the exact numbers of who you’ve called or mailed.

However, calling or mailing all those leads personally takes up a lot of time. And sometimes, your efforts aren’t even appreciated, as not everyone likes to be contacted unexpectedly or experiences your messaging as a bit too sales-y.

Don’t worry: direct marketing is still a valuable tactic, especially in combination with other marketing techniques. And the best thing is: you can easily do it yourself, without any external help.

Inbound marketing: draw your customers’ attention using interesting content

We already mentioned that if you’re contacting leads through direct marketing, you should share valuable content with them… but what is content, exactly?

Content is the presentation of information to an audience, which can be shared through different formats. There are numerous possibilities: next to e-mails, you could craft blogs, ebooks or product catalogues, create videos and much more.

Content plays a key factor in inbound marketing. By distributing informative, educational or entertaining content, you establish a meaningful relationship with your audience. Providing content for potential customers helps them find what they need and proves that your business is trustworthy. Without talking to them, you help leads assess their situation, look for a solution and make a decision.

With inbound marketing, you give potential customers the exact information they’re looking for. Perfect for buyers who like to inform themselves thoroughly before (or even without) a face-to-face conversation.

3. Content: the fuel for all your marketing efforts

According to Forrester, buyers read three pieces of content for every piece sent by a marketer or salesperson. Buyer self-education is real, and there’s a lot of content out there. It’s your job to be heard through the noise and come up with new ways for leads to find you and offer them the information they’re looking for.

Think of content as the fuel of all of your marketing campaigns, from email to social. High-quality content can help you break through the information overload on the internet and help you gain your leads’ trust.

You already know that you can create content in a wide variety of formats… but where do you put it once you’ve created it? Well, your website is one of the most important places to publish exquisite content. It might sound a little controversial, but you even should do it for free.

Your content is the first step to attracting visitors. Now it’s time to think about turning them into leads. Your content might be free, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get anything out of it: what if you ask for their contact details in exchange?

Using web forms to download your content offer is a great way to gather information about leads. Why don’t you let them subscribe to your blog? A blog can be of great value to your website, as it keeps your readers interested and hopefully, makes them come back for more. What’s more, qualitative written content also plays an important part in improving your organic ranking on search engines...

4. SEO: attract leads while sleeping

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) consists of the combined efforts that improve your search engine rankings. Let’s assume you sell office supplies - it would be great if people found your website if they entered ‘buy office supplies’ as a search query.

People use search engines all of the time, especially Google. With SEO, you make sure the content you’re creating matches with what people are looking for.

The more optimised your website is, the higher it will rank in search engines or SERPS (Search Engine Page Ranks). And that’s what you want because you’ll increase your chances of being found and clicked upon a lot.

When you’re looking into optimising your website, try to increase the relevancy and authority of your website, because Google values informative content and rewards web pages using the same vocabulary as your targeted customers and answering questions they might have.

  • Relevancy is, simply stated, the ability to answer your audience’s question. Related search terms on the bottom of the page, might for example give you some insight in what your clients are looking for. Google will give your website a higher score if you can provide clear answers to their search queries.
  • Authority is measured by analysing the number and quality of links from other web pages - which you establish by creating relevant content in the first place, or even looking for guest blogging opportunities in the second.

Let’s say you sell a wide range of swimming pools. When people consider this kind of purchase, they might be looking for different alternatives. A blog about the differences between concrete, vinyl-lined and fibreglass swimming pools might answer some of their questions and therefore increase your relevancy.

Some of your suppliers find your blog quite useful too, so they link to your website. When a garden designer notices it, he suggests working together. You write some content, which he publishes on his website, putting his visitors in contact with your business. Those links pointing to your website will increase your authority and help you reach a new audience.

Choose to invest in SEO if you want to:

  • Achieve consistent results. It takes a while to get to the first page of the search engine, but once you’re there, you will enjoy sustained traffic.
  • Build an authority website. This is an established resource or ‘go to’ website for a particular niche. An authoritative website will sustainably generate traffic to your page and help your company build a reputation until you’re popular enough to dominate the market - which is only possible through clever content en SEO planning.
  • Increase the value of your website and get more search traffic because you rank higher in the search engine.

Inbound marketing: the benefits and limitations

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SEO efforts have a long-term effect and they’re practically free - that is if you don’t count on the resources you spend on optimising and creating your content. It might all sound a bit overwhelming at first, so it’s a good idea to contact an expert who can guide you through the basics. There are plenty of agencies and freelancers out there who can optimise your website or create effective SEO content for you.

You can’t ignore the fact that people are online, so you should be too. They’re also actively looking for information, so you should provide them with it. Inbound marketing and SEO help establish your company as a thought leader and a trusted, valuable source of information. It also makes your website easier to find. With leads aware of your existence, your contacting them doesn’t take them by surprise anymore, so it’s a great idea to attract leads digitally and follow them up through personal contact.

Paid online advertising: reach a more targeted audience faster

Online ads are a great way to reach a bigger part of your target audience and drive lead intake. Let’s take a look at some of the most common techniques.

5. Display advertising & retargeting: focus on your target market

Display advertisements are ads on websites. They’re similar to regular magazine ads, but with one important difference: you’re fully aware of the results. Display ads are trackable: who clicked it? What were the demographics of people who were interested? The more you’re aware of your audience, the better you can tailor your ads.

Display advertising is useful for targeting audiences with different demographics or behaviours. For example, when your business is active in different cities across the country, it might be interesting to only target people in the area of these locations. You can also select where you want the ads to be seen: choose an online publication space where your leads spend time. Imagine you sell cars: you’d like to see your banner displayed on a website that compares car prices.

If you don’t know which websites your targeted leads visit or if want to spread your paid efforts, it’s a good idea to leverage retargeting ads. These ads cookie your website visitors and subsequently appear on other websites they visit. Being reminded of your business helps drive leads to your website, once they’re ready to make a decision.

6. Search Engine Advertising: pay per click to get high-quality leads immediately

You might’ve already noticed that when you Google something, the first hits on Google are ads. Pay-Per-Click advertising (PPC) is a form of Search Engine Advertising (SEA) that shows ads as sponsored results in search engines, on the top and side of the organic search terms. Advertisers bid on keyword phrases that are relevant to their target markets and ads are displayed when a keyword query matches their keyword list. For example, if you were a plumber, you’d try to use keywords like ‘plumbing’, ‘boiler repair’ or ‘repiping’. The advertiser only pays when someone clicks on the displayed ad.

Paid online advertising: the benefits and limitations

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Use PPC as a lead-generating technique if you want to:

  • Get immediate results and an uptick in traffic in a short amount of time, for example during product launches or seasonal promotions.
  • Drive highly-targeted traffic. PPC also allows you to narrow down your prospects based on their demographic data. This means that you define which leads are fit to see your ads, which results in very high quality leads.
  • Try out new things. Test the waters with new products or offers and find out how people react with a small budget. If you notice your idea is working, go ahead and create a campaign over your different marketing channels.

When it comes to search engine advertising, it’s all about Google again. Use their instruction videos to set up a campaign yourself, or consult an expert. If you use paid advertising as one of your main marketing tactics, it can be expensive. Instead, it’s better used for small tests or to complement your other marketing tactics.

Social media: combine community building with lead generation

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66% of marketers notice lead generation benefits by spending as little as 6 hours a week on social media. This can even be further improved when using a social media content calendar. High time to create your account, be visible and active by posting regularly and answer possible questions and concerns. Even just liking someone’s post or commenting on their photos helps users remember your brand.

7. LinkedIn: make new connections to sell more

Generating a lead through LinkedIn can be really simple, but time-consuming. Have a look at the suggestions for your network and assess if they match your offers. LinkedIn also offers a huge variety of groups. Join a group that contains professionals who are likely to be interested in your business and send them a connection request.

Chat with them after the connection is accepted and use the right sales techniques to close a deal. It’s easy - that is if you make time for follow-up and keep track of your connection requests and messages.

If you’re willing to pay for some new prospects, you could also use LinkedIn Ads. The optional feature Lead Collection redirects members who click on your ads to your landing page, where they can fill in a contact request. This is incredibly easy for the user, and it helps you build a list of prospects quite fast.

8. Facebook: reach people who are similar to your target audience

Facebook also helps you to gain more leads on social media. For instance, use the option to get a direct link to your website. The medium also enables newsletter signups directly through the channel, so you can quickly gain the contact details of visitors who are interested in your newsletter.

When it comes to advertising, Facebook provides some easy ways to reach your targeted audiences.

  • Custom audiences: the first method consists of uploading an email list and matching the emails with users. You have now created a custom audience for your advertisements. Custom audiences consist of people who completed an action you specified, like going to your website or downloading your app. It is often used to track current users
  • Lookalike audiences: You could also create a lookalike audience from a customer email list, which creates an audience of people who are similar to your current customer database. In other words, you use demographic data of your customers to reach a much bigger group of people who might be interested in your services. A lookalike audience is useful if you want to scale your ads and find lots of new prospects.

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Social media: the benefits and limitations

The bigger your reach on social media, the more leads you will attract without spending any money. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither are your LinkedIn and Facebook accounts. Be active and create engaging posts in order to collect more likes and comments. Doing this will increase your chances of new audiences seeing your content appear in their newsfeed.

When it comes to attracting a big pool of potential clients, paid options like LinkedIn Lead Collection or Facebook Ads will generate more leads. It’s wise to use this as a tactic to complement your other marketing efforts. Of course, you should be present on social media, because they’re not only valuable to attract or convince leads, but also to delight your customers and keep them up to date.

9. Email marketing: keep your brand on top of mind of potential customers

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Research revealed that email marketing is the most popular lead-generation tactic, with 81% of respondents citing it as the most effective channel.

Email should be one of your main forms of communication, as it helps you to stay connected with your audience. Create targeted messages to send relevant content and keep your brand on top of mind of potential customers. And why not segment your different types of audiences and send them tailored content?

An automated, generic email message also is a simple solution to tell who is and who isn’t interested in your business by just asking your leads. Give them the chance to easily answer your message (like using a call-to-action button) and use this opportunity to compile a list of leads that you should ring sometime.

There are a bunch of tools that can help you convert your leads into customers.

Email marketing: the benefits and limitations

Email marketing is cheap. You don’t need expensive software or equipment and you don’t have to waste time emailing all your clients separately. Instead, you can standardise your communication for segmented groups of leads.

It’s also very easy to keep track of the results. With some basic tracking, you know which emails were received, who unsubscribed, the open rates (people who opened your email) and click-through rates (people who opened your mail and clicked on the link in it).

Remember that people see a lot of content every day. If your leads receive tons of emails, how will you stand out? Think about what you want to send and who you’re going to send it to. Using original subject lines might already help to increase your open rates. Tailor every campaign to a specific target audience and send people content they’re interested in if you want email marketing to work for you.

10. Affiliate marketing: let other companies help you sell

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In affiliate marketing, someone recommends your product. Whenever a purchase is made based on that recommendation, the advocate receives a reward. In its most traditional forms, affiliate marketing is established through partnerships. Whenever your partner refers a new customer, he receives a commission. More modern affiliate marketing is placing banners and URLs on partner websites.

Using a tracking URL, you can keep a perfect overview of all the traffic and sales you make via different promotional techniques. Affiliate marketing is similar to Google Display Advertising, but the difference is that you establish the partnerships yourself, instead of having to choose from Google’s criteria.

Affiliate marketing: the benefits and limitations

It takes time and effort to build affiliate partnerships with reliable third parties, especially if you include agreeing on commission costs and setup fees. Plus, commissions of course cut a piece from your profit margin.

But if you do it right, affiliate marketing increases the visibility of your products and services and serves as a good way to get extra sources of income.

11. Referral programs: use word-of-mouth to acquire new customers

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Testimonials and shared experiences of happy customers are a great way to attract potential customers in a cost-efficient way. People love to see social proof and real-life results. Word-of-mouth is also cheap: happy customers are often more than willing to promote your business for free.

Consider who you’re targeting and which similar clients you have. Approach these clients and ask them for a referral right away, or think about incentives that would encourage them to do so. Ask them for a referral when they just had a really positive experience with your customer support give your company a high score… or just approach your most loyal customers. Make it easy for them to give you a referral: don’t make them write lengthy letters, but provide a small and sweet message they can share.

Referral marketing is a bit similar to affiliate marketing, where partner websites and magazines run your ads and promote your business. The important difference is that a referral program invests in advocates who are likely to recommend your brand to friends and family - and studies have shown that this is one of the best ways to attract new customers. Word-of-mouth might be the oldest marketing channel around, but it still has great value.

Referral programs: the benefits and limitations

Referral marketing helps you reduce the length of your sales cycle. People you contact through a referral program will seldom be disinterested, cold prospects and calling hot leads help you to save some money.

Just don’t push it. Let people decide if they want to recommend your business. Even a satisfied customer might not be into it, as referring a brand is a big deal to some people because it affects their reputation.

Just set up a referral program and let people come to you. Don’t try to close as many deals as possible, but cherish the referrals you receive.

12. Event marketing: convince potential customers face-to-face

Since there’s no better form of advertising than sharing the experience of a satisfied customer, why not try to delight them during an event? This is the perfect chance to demonstrate what your brand stands for, show some of the solutions you provide and establish personal connections with attendees. Thanks to personal contact, it’s easier to turn potential customers into strong leads, while conveying your company’s thought leadership and raising brand awareness at the same time.

Ready to attract your potential customers?

None of these techniques is your golden ticket to an endless stream of leads, but if you combine them, they can improve your number of leads immensely. Try to find a balance between online and offline, personal contact and digital messaging, optimising and creating. Test different things, iterate and establish some marketing techniques that will help you attract tons of qualitative leads.

Want to know more about lead generation?

How to attract and identify your ideal customer

Digital has transformed the buying process. More and more buyers do their research online. Businesses need to be digital too, and this impacts the way you attract or generate leads and qualify them. To make your business thrive, you need to find the right method to attract and identify leads so you can close deals faster and outclass your competitors.

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