How to Acquire New Customers Online


ChannelAdvisor and Brand Republic recently conducted a survey on the biggest e-commerce challenges that retailers face in 2016. The results of this survey revealed that the overwhelming majority of respondents ranked acquiring new customers as their key priority for 2016. Nearly three-quarters (74%) aim to focus their attention on customer acquisition this year, and 47% stated it was currently their biggest e-commerce challenge.

To help you attract new customers in 2016, we’ve compiled a few of our favourite tips for putting the focus on new business.

Expand Your Presence on Multiple Marketplaces

Don’t narrow your marketplaces horizons. Amazon and eBay are great places to list, and they can offer you an exceptional level of exposure. But there are also millions of consumers waiting to buy from you on other marketplaces, such as Rakuten, Zalando, Cdiscount and Tesco.

  • A big plus point about Rakuten – you can customise the design of your shop and actively interact with your customers (the marketplace encourages it!).
  • Cdiscount boasts 900,000 visitors a day and has 13.5 million customers.
  • German fashion-focused marketplace Zalando currently boasts 16.5 million customers and is continually increasing its reach to give you access to more buyers..

Consider Using New Digital Marketing Campaigns

If you haven’t tried out Google PLAs, they’ll most likely be worth your while. According to Google, businesses that use them experience higher CTRs than they do with traditional text ads.

To make the most of PLAs, optimise your feeds for Google Shopping. Think about SEO when creating your titles and descriptions and test content regularly to identify what works. Make sure you submit the largest, highest resolution, full-size image that you have for the product, up to a file size of 4MB. While you can’t include promotional text on your images, you can differentiate your PLAs from the competition by including sales, free delivery and any other benefits in the promotional copy to grab consumers’ attention. And use sitelinks, too.

Recent improvements to PLAs mean they afford even better exposure for your ads. You can now apply remarketing lists to them and extend ads to YouTube videos.  There’s also Google’s Merchant Promotions feature – it’s a free way to list special offers – and it can significantly boost your CTR.

Google is also proposing introducing its own buy button to facilitate the path to purchase for consumers searching on mobile ads. This is something you’ll want to keep an eye on.

Stay Alert to New Social Media Trends

A whopping 86% of survey respondents saw social media as an important e-commerce channel, with Facebook considered the most important. Social networks are increasingly turning into online marketplaces that offer you a place to connect with, engage and even convert users.

  • Facebook, for example, now offers you the option to use its retargeting ads to help you bring back shoppers who viewed your listings but decided to abandon the purchase.
  • On Pinterest, you can take advantage of visual content by creating Rich Pins that show interested users more detailed descriptions of your products. And if users pin your item, they can also be sent alerts if it goes down in price.
  • Twitter currently has over 300 million monthly active users, and you can advertise to them via Product Cards, which attach to tweets to showcase your products and drive traffic to your site.
  • Other social sites that could become big players include Wanelo, Polyore and Houzz, which are growing in popularity in the US.

Scale to Additional Countries

Improved logistics and safer payment options mean online consumers are becoming more confident about buying from overseas merchants. Global B2C cross-border e-commerce is booming and predicted to increase to $1 trillion in 2020, up from $230 million in 2014.

It’s also becoming far easier for sellers to start selling internationally. Both eBay and Amazon have loyal customers all over the world, and you can sell to them quickly and efficiently via each marketplace’s dedicated seller fulfilment program. These are Fulfilment by Amazon Global (FBA Global) and eBay’s Global Shipping Programme (GSP). Opting in allows you to ship your orders to fulfilment centres in the UK, at which point the marketplaces take on logistics for you, in particular the fulfilment process.

If you’re confident there’s demand for your products abroad, you can list on international sites (making sure to localise your listings for individual countries). It’s also important to optimise your checkout processes for international orders and take note of the legal requirements for selling into specific international markets.

Put the Focus on Mobile

Up to a half of website browsing is occurring via mobile devices – both smartphone and tablet. And purchases are predicted to be increasingly made this way. So how do you keep mobile shoppers interested?

First off, consider piggybacking your mobile efforts on those of mobile trailblazers like Amazon and eBay. There, the mobile audience is already established, app functionality is seamless and payments are integrated and secure.

On your own site, make it simple for customers to browse and check out. Keep your menus concise, and enable search by including a site search at the top of each page. Shorten the checkout process to expedite mobile sales. For example, you could enable postcode lookup, provide a checkbox to replicate billing information for delivery or eliminate the Card Type field to remove unnecessary steps. And make your contact details or store details easy to access so customers can reach you if they need assistance.

Want to learn more about how to acquire new customers online this year? Download our Understanding the Digital Consumer eBook for tips on what customers are looking for.