No More Cold Calls: 10 Simple Ways to Find Retail Customers Online

Retailers face an interesting challenge in today's social media-driven marketing world. They want to reach customers, but they struggle to be heard over all the noise. Big-box retailers leverage their large budgets to purchase TV and print ads, as well as paid advertising online. This can leave small retailers struggling to find a way to market big on a limited budget. Here are ten easy ways to locate and win over retail customers online.

1. Build a buzz

The best way for a small business to spread the word is to get every friend, loyal customer and employee talking. Ask everyone to spread the word on their own social networks, then retweet and share those posts.

2. Engage with customers

Social media is most useful when communication goes both ways. Interact with customers on your page, and they'll begin to feel a loyalty toward your store.

3. Join a community

Finding customers who might be interested in what you sell is as simple as locating the groups they join. Network within social media groups and forums that are specific to the type of products you sell.

4. Host web-exclusive events

Offer something special to online customers, whether that's a special discount code for first-time customers or a special event for your social media followers.

5. Share your story

People can be especially moved by an entrepreneur's personal tale. When you're promoting your brand, focus on the reasons behind what you do rather than the products themselves.

6. Get publicity

Journalists are constantly searching for great entrepreneurial stories for their pieces. Join a site like Help A Reporter Out, and scour queries daily for free opportunities to get your brand into big-name publications.

7. Use SEO

Discover the keywords customers use when searching for products like yours, and make sure those phrases are included in your content, including blog posts. Don't overdo it, though—simply identify a few key phrases and pepper them into your content in a way that feels natural.

8. Join marketplaces

Sites like Amazon and eBay can be a great way to get your business name in front of customers. Over time, they'll seek out your website directly, and you'll be able to avoid the fees you were paying to those marketplaces.

9. Participate locally

Your most loyal customer base will come from your community. Whether your store is brick-and-mortar or online, local residents love to support nearby businesses, which boosts the economy. Seek out community groups on sites like Facebook, and get the word out about what you're doing.

10. Focus on helping others

Customers are growing tired of seeing promos in their social media feeds. Instead, focus on helping others by creating and linking to useful content on your site. Support other businesses in your industry by sharing their posts. When you share interesting content, customers will naturally want to learn more about you.