10 Ways Merchants Can Find New Customers

Prospects may not be knocking at your door looking to make a purchase. And with the current state of the economy, customers are even cutting back on even the most basic necessities.

So what is a merchant to do? Try new prospecting ideas, and even use some old tricks of the trade.

Here’s 10 tactics that Lori Paikin, senior vice president of client services at co-op NextAction, suggested at the recent Lenser Summit:

1. Expand universe by applying zip models.
Your customer in demand may be across different geographical areas. By understanding which zip codes have the strongest buyers, you can apply this to your outside lists and co-op segments.

2. Expand universe by applying back end demographic suppressions.
Is your customer a 55+ male? If you know that, take that information and apply that model on your back-end lists.

3. Reactivate older house file customers
Sometimes you forget that your old buyers, catalog requestors and affiliate names are a viable source to mail. The lifetime value of reactivating a 5+-year-old customer is stronger than a newly-acquired customer, according to a NextAction customer.

4. Get creative with your initial offering.
A food mailer used a free offer to sample its product. The initial response was through the roof, but since the quality of the offer was there, Paikin said the lifetime value was as well. But be creative so it won’t create a file of promotion-driven customers.

5. Understand which offer or channel yields the greatest ROI.
There’s a difference between someone who gets a catalog and then goes to the Web versus a Web buyer who finds you by surfing the Web. By understanding the difference in the ROI by each channel, you can allocate marketing dollars appropriately.

6. Build models that profile catalog-generated Web responders.
If you share that channel information with the co-op database providers, they can find like customers who are apt to perform the same way.

7. Pre-select acquisition universes that are populated with the type of customer you are generating.
If you are looking for customers who are comfortable ordering online, you need to prospect into a Web-centric source like RedEnvelope. Understanding how different list sources and what type of customers are making up that universe will help you target the type of customer you are looking for.

8. Contact strategy: Combine multiple offer channels to maximize response.
“Anyone who says they have this one figured out is probably exaggerating a little bit, because I don’t know that there really is and enhancer to contact strategy,” Paikin says. But she believes there’s a combination of offer channels that will help find more customers and generate a higher response.

9. Explore online targeting and re-targeting programs.
Someone comes to your site, but they don’t make a purchase. You see them somewhere else on the Web, and you try and drive them back to your site. Profile your users and users out on the Web, then match them up to find those who would be a target for your site.

10. Hit up your friends and family.
Hey, why not? Paikin did not elaborate on this step, but it seems the friends and family couponing specials that have been somewhat of a success at the bricks and mortar level have made their way to the Web.

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