We all know the old adadge that selling to new customers costs a lot more than selling to existing ones, so perhaps we should just stop chasing new ones – in these austere times that might make sense.

However, as I’ve mentioned here before (Customer Acquisition vs Customer Retention), it does seem that going after these expensive new customers is much more attractive than some boring direct marketing to exisiting ones. However, this blog is not about urging you to spend more time on your existing customer marketing (I’ll leave that for another day – as Chad Bauman says, “Want to get into trouble? Concentrate on new audiences” – so we’ll come back to that), but about how you should approach your new customer acquisition.

Just marketing to exisiting customers is a non starter – old customers go away or die and if you didn’t replenish the existing customer pot, you will soon run out of people to sell to. Remember, your existing customers were new customers once.

Part of the problem is that we think of marketing as a cost, something we have to spend money on and as such something to cut when times get tough. Marketing, done properly, is an investment. You are using some of today’s money to generate an income stream in the future. And that is the key and like all investments it needs analysis and decisions.

It is not enough to compare the cost of a sale to an existing customer to one to a new one. On a campaign basis that is always going to lose. What we need to look at is the lifetime value of a customer and use that information to identify the best source of future exsiting customers.and what ongoing activity is going to maximise the return. So get out those spreadsheets and start looking at your best existing customers and where to get more like them.

Lifetime Value is the key to good new customer marketing.
… oh, so I was talking about marketing to existing customers after all

Just been having a look around some of our friends sites and I am still surprised at how many don’t get the basics right when it comes to search engine optimisation (SEO).

I think the trouble is most people think that SEO is hard and takes a lot of work. Well, it can be time consuming if you want to go the whole hog, but basic SEO is fairly simple. Don’t think of it as just getting up the rankings on Google, think of it as a service to those who want to see what you have to say. What you are trying to do is make it easy for them to find you and decide to pay you a visit – that second element is the oft forgotten part of the process.
So what can you do that doesn’t take huge amounts of time? Here’s 4 things you can do:

1. Treat every page as a landing page: When you think about it what is the liklihood of a saerch result returning your homepage? If someone searches for your organisation by name, then probably your home page is what they are looking for. But if the are searching for some information (say a play or a ballet or some artefact or other), then the chances are that information is not on your home page – it is going to be deeper into your site. So you need to think of the best way to let people find that page – so treat it as if it is its own home page.

2. Give every page a unique title: You’d be surprised how many websites have the same title for each page – this is not good, although it is easy. Not only important in SEO terms but it is the page title shown in a Google search result. By the way, Google uses the first 69 characters so make them count: it is your way to grab the readers’ attention. more on page titles…

3. Give every page a description:  Another metatag that is often missed is the description. This gives you a chance to say what the page is about in a succint way. Google uses the first 156 characters in their search results, so it is this which will bring people to your site – no point of appearing high up the lists if they don’t click through. more on descriptions…

4. Give your pages real names: there are differing views on the importance of this in the SEO world, but I think it is good practice and a great help to your visitors. Even outside of search it is much easier to refer someone to a pagename that describes the content than a random stream of numbers and letter. more on page names…

For more SEO ideas take a look at Masque Arts Search Engine Optimisation.