How online tools can help you gain new customers

There are numerous ways to attract new customers to retail stores. My favorite ways include; store websites, social media, search advertisements, press releases, and phone applications.

The first tool to gathering new customers is creating a store website. Ideally, the website should be named after your retail store. This does two things. Customers searching for your store will find the website in the top of the search links, and customers can browse your website in order to gain valuable information such as current sales, hours, locations, and products. Your website can also let customers know which social media sites you have accounts on so that they can "follow" or "like" your store.

If your store also allows online purchases, customers can also remotely purchase merchandise and have it shipped to their homes, which increases sales.

It's also relatively inexpensive to start and maintain a website. Yahoo! Small Business offers business web hosting for as little as $9.95 a month, and that includes the ability to design your own site with photo galleries, videos, audio, customizable forms, maps and driving directions, the ability to add PayPal for online store purchases, and Facebook and Twitter integration.There are also plenty of other low-cost web hosting services available.
Social media

Social Media is a great way to interact with customers and let them know what you have on sale. It also makes finding your stores sales exceptionally easy. All customers have to do is "like" or "follow" your store Facebook or Twitter page, and all your status updates appear in the customer's news feed. It's a very low maintenance and free way to attract and keep customers.

To make things even easier, Yahoo! Small Business web hosting allows for Twitter and Facebook updates via your store webpage which means you don't need to pull up separate pages for Facebook and Twitter.

Search and paid advertising campaigns

Another way to increase store visibility and your customer base is through search engines and advertisements. This is my favorite way to advertise because creating the ad is usually free, and monthly amounts can be set to pay for clicks on ads. That means that if I want to spend $100 a month on ads, the ad runs until I've accrued $100 in clicks. That means that I never go over my allotted monthly advertising budget. I can also see how many clicks each ad has generated which lets me keep track of expenses and estimate the monthly expenses or when my advertising money runs out.

Press releases

Press releases are another quick and easy way to attract new customers. The typical press release involves a 500 word article on the release of a new product, service, or store opening, and there are lots of press release websites including PRWeb and Mashable. If the press release is well written and informational other news sites will pick it up.

Phone apps

Phone applications like Foursquare allow customers to check into your store and post their location and your store name on their Facebook page. Foursquare also has a merchant side that allows businesses to login, claim their venue, and then add specials to attract new customers.

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