After the turbulence of the last 18 months, retailers across Australia have thrown open their doors to the promise of longer-term stability. Awaiting them is pent-up demand and shoppers eager to return to normality this summer. However, the end of lockdowns and soaring vaccination rates nationwide won’t automatically result in roaring trade. To stand out, retailers must be strategic.

How, for example, can your retail business cut through the noise in a saturated market? How can you identify quality targets, turn them into leads, and convert them into loyal, long-term customers? And if you’ve spent much of the last 18 months relying on ecommerce, how can you once again leverage your brick-and-mortar store? The answer to these questions – and to achieve long-term, sustainable success – is through a customer acquisition strategy.

Define your goals and targets

The first step in creating a ‘conversion funnel’ is determining the shoppers you want to acquire. Your target customer dictates many of the decisions your business makes. After all, what resonates with one demographic of shoppers could differ entirely from another group. Are you trying to develop new leads or re-engage existing customers? Is your ideal customer Gen Z, Millennial or a little closer to retirement age? Are they online shoppers or do they still love the thrill of the high-street? And are your products something that can be easily bought and shipped online, or does it require a more tactile, considered and engaged in-store experience?

Your shoppers will have a big impact on how you target them. If your business has more than one target group, through a Customer Relationship Management platform like Zoho CRM you can group your different customer segments and target each through different channels, with tailored approaches and targeted calls to action.

Grab their attention

Once you’ve determined your target audience, it’s time to demonstrate the quality of your products and the service you provide. There are many ways to do so. A limited-time offer or discount is a great way to appeal to new prospects and existing customers alike. Not only do limited offers create a sense of urgency that draws people in, they also demonstrate that you value your customers and want to reward them.

Identify products that might be in high demand. For example, using business analytics on your website, identify products with a high number of views but a comparatively low number of purchases. To help turn those leads into conversions, you could consider a short-term discount on the product, or add glowing testimonials which could influence potential buyers.

Create strategic closing points

Identifying and utilising suitable channels for customer acquisition can be tough. One way to test this is by running promotional ads in search engines or on social media like Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram or Facebook. It’s important to also try offline channels, such as promotions in your physical shopfront.

Once you’ve decided the channels you’re going to use, you need to find the right closing points that will help you convert leads into customers. This involves a compelling call to action (CTA) and unique selling point (USP), which explains why it’s imperative a customer purchases from your business. Build a good rapport with your leads, be confident in your offering and explain to your customers why they stand to benefit.

With global supply chains struggling and concerns about receiving orders ahead of this year’s festive season, you could consider using your website or automated marketing to incentivise customers to shop in-store. Not only does this alleviate slow delivery times, but it could also increase your ability to upsell at the point of sale. It’s also a great way to create an omni channel presence that ties your online and offline strategies together to create a more convenient service and effective conversion strategy.

Turning acquisition to retention

Customer acquisition is the first challenge. The second is retention. Offering a customer occasional rewards can enrich their experience and boost their loyalty to your business. Over time, your customers’ needs will evolve, while external factors such as the pandemic could easily change. Your acquisition plan should be flexible. If you’re agile, deploy the right technology and are prepared to refine your strategy based on evolving consumer needs, you might find it easier to turn leads into loyal customers this summer and beyond.

Vijay Sundaram is chief strategy officer at Zoho.