THE BLOG
10/07/2014 05:04 pm ET Updated Dec 07, 2014

6 Ways to Acquire Customers Online

Acquiring customers is one of the best ways to grow a business. An increasing population of customers not only leads to higher sales and profit, but also spreads awareness about the business name, and is ultimately one of the main drivers of the business's success.

Of course, acquiring new customers is not as simple as sending out invitations, and it often requires a well-crafted strategy executed with precision. Fortunately, the Internet and its popularity offers a convenient medium by which a targeted demographic can be contacted directly and efficiently in order to achieve a business-customer relation. To help provide for the success of your business, consider the following six ways of acquiring customers online.

1. Content Marketing
The notion of content marketing has established itself as one of the dominant ways to acquire customers in the modern era. The concept is simple: content marketing involves the creation of content with the aim of converting the audience into potential customers. You can achieve this through the publication of blogs or e-books, or the creation of videos, photos, or any other type of media. And the statistics are staggering; an infographic posted in Entrepreneur claims that blogs on company sites result in 55% more visitors, and companies with blogs get 97% more inbound links that others.

2. SEO
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a tactic that results in a website becoming more visible in search results on engines like Google and Yahoo. It involves measuring search analytics (such as who is searching for what using specific keywords), and using this knowledge to alter website content, modify links, and take other actions to rise in the search engine ranks. Moreover, according to a post in Forbes, location is now key; "20% of searches on Google are related to location," meaning SEO tactics can be used to target local demographics.

3. Social Media
Social media use is greater than ever before. Facebook touts over 1 billion users each month, and Twitter is the launchpad of 500 million daily tweets. Best of all: it is free.

Naturally, there are also specific trends within social media that may lead to better marketing. For example, sending Tweets of less than 100 characters and including images may yield some of the best results.

4. E-mail Marketing
It's rare that we encounter someone who hasn't yet signed up for an e-mail account, either free or otherwise. By May of 2013, there were over 400 million Outlook users, and Gmail boasts another 500 million; and this doesn't include the numerous other services available.

With much of the world logging in each day to check their inbox, there is an open opportunity for a business owner to send messages out to a targeted market, advertising goods or services. And e-mail marketing lets you track your success; a guest blog in the Harvard Business Review theorizes that "with e-mail, you know within 24 hours exactly which messages have been opened, by whom, what links the openers clicked on, and what part of your message was working."


5. Reputation Management

The Internet now acts as a massive domain on which customers can comment on and review businesses everywhere. As can be expected, this creates both positive and negative results; a positive review for a business can yield interest from other customers, while a negative one can detract.

In order to control the effects of these voices, a business owner can engage in reputation management, by which he or she can use SEO tactics to highlight the positives, target for removal any defamatory or libelous words, and use other strategies to ensure a positive online presence. Many businesses may actually benefit from the words and services of a professional.

6. Affiliate Programs
In some cases, if a business owner wishes to reach a wider base of customers, it may actually be useful to capitalize on the online presence of others, which can be performed through affiliate programs (also known as affiliate marketing). Affiliate marketing is a process by which a business can place ads on a separate site (known as the affiliate), which will then be broadcasted to all visitors. The incentive for the affiliate lies in the provided benefits; often an affiliate program will result in a set monetary bonus for each click on the advertisement.

Business owners beware, though; a popular Forbes post from 2013 detailed a scam resulting in the overpayment to affiliate programs due to implanted software. Those interested in affiliate programs should do their research before diving in.

Look to the Internet for a New Wave of Customers
It's undeniable; the Internet is king, and it has become a dominion of endless marketing opportunities for business owners across the world. If you are interested in using this tool to acquire new customers, start with these six steps to build your brand and grow your business.