November 12, 2020
How and why Connecticut Small Businesses should think about tracking their customers

Tracking how new clients find you is crucial for any small business. It plays a key role in expanding your business by helping you fine-tune your marketing efforts and your brand message.

It also helps you to:

  • Reveal weekly/monthly/quarterly trends about how people find your business and why they are contacting you.  
  • Identify new openings so you can target prospective customers on platforms you might not currently be using.
  • Enable more people to discover how your business can solve their problems or make their life easier.

Word-of-Mouth Referrals

Understanding how word-of-mouth may be gaining you new business is still important in the digital age.

Word-of-mouth referrals occur when you provide goods or services that people rate highly and tell their friends about – a dialogue that revolves around your brand between current, loyal customers and potential future customers.

You can find out whether you’re getting new business this way just by asking if a new client acted on the recommendation of an acquaintance. 

For example, let’s say you are an attorney, asking how prospective clients find you is helpful, but “word of mouth” has limits.  

Online Searches

It’s also important to know how new customers find you online. 

A quick online search for your business name can give you an insight into this. You’ll probably see that new clients are coming across you on outlets such as:

  • Your own website or blog.
  • Your Facebook page or other social media.
  • Review sites like Yelp or Trip Advisor.
  • Online listing platforms like Google.

If you’re not showing up in search results, there may be issues that need addressing with how you’re marketing your business online.

Gathering Information from Clients

Satisfied customers are likely to be willing to let you know how they arrived on your website or at your front door.

Your options for getting this information include encouraging staff to ask for details during face-to-face interaction with new clients.

For example, employees who answer the phone or greet new clients could be given intake forms to prompt them to ask how a prospect found you or remind them to make a follow-up call.

Other methods to determine how new customers are finding you include:

  • Having a section on your website for new clients to tell you where they found out about your business.
  • Setting up an online survey – you can also send this to new email subscribers and post it on social media.

You can put all this information to good use in a spreadsheet, including the date, name, origin, and outcome of every contact with a potential client. This can be set to add up these data points to reveal trends over time.

For example, let’s say you are an attorney, asking how prospective clients find you is helpful, but “word of mouth” has limits. What if your intake form had an initial column that asks, “how did you hear about us?” and the options were a) Online Search b) Advertisement c) Word Of Mouth. Pretend the prospective client indicates c) Word of Mouth. You could have another question of “Who Referred You? a) Past/Present Client b ) Attorney/Law Firm c) Other Profession.” If they respond with “b) Attorney/Law Firm,” you can have a space to record the referring firm’s name.  

Imagine a few months down the line, you can total up all the attorney/law firm referrals, and suddenly you see that two or three firms are regularly sending you clients…what would you do with that information? How about if you see a firm sending you clients has been referring fewer and fewer? In both cases, you know, have information that might lead you to reach out to those firms to cement or rebuild a relationship?  

Another option is…

Keeping Track of your Clients with CRM

Keeping track of contacts – current and new clients and leads (new, warm, hot, and cold) – is essential for analysis to help you identify trends to generate more business in the future. 

Many businesses choose to do this with CRM – a customer relationship management software tool to track clients, origin, and outcomes. Many CRM systems also integrate ways to communicate with your customers – a key extra feature.

What is CRM?

Unlike a basic spreadsheet, CRM can share data across multiple users who can be logged in simultaneously to make edits and assign each other contacts. The systems track everyone’s activity separately.

It enables you to create pipelines that show customer progress through aspects such as:

  • First contact – by email or phone, and what needs to happen next.
  • Proposal – telling the client how you can provide what’s best for their business.
  • Follow-up – staying in touch to answer queries and offer more suggestions.
  • Financial details – how much the deal is worth and your client’s budget. 
  • Closing the deal – and noting future requirements and prospects for continued business.

Benefits of CRM for Tracking Prospects

CRMs can keep track of any communications you have with a prospect or potential prospect. Many can send or track emails, and some even integrate with outbound phone systems. 

They can automate many calculations on your performance in converting prospects into customers and remind you to follow up with them on a timeframe you select.

CRM Options

We tested several CRM systems and decided Nimble CRM was the best for us. However, it may not be right for your business and its budget and technical needs.  They do have a free trial and if you use this link, I get a free month.

The main CRM consideration for a small business is usually ease of use. Here’s the best CRM software for 2020, according to PCMag.

You don’t necessarily have to buy CRM software. Free CRM systems are available, including HubSpot CRM and standalone CRMs.   Many of them also offer free trials and some even have free options if you have a minimal number of users.  Hubspot is one and Streak, which works within Gmail was an option I really liked as well.

Other Ways to Help You Keep Track of Customers

Besides CRM, there are other systems – such as Google Analytics – to help you track your visitors online, how they behave, and what they choose to do and not to do. 

Phone call tracking is also a useful tool that can help you to see who calls your business, when they call, for how long, and how they found you.

Other ways to help you track customers include:

  • Invoicing tools such as Harvest or FreshBooks that act as a digital Rolodex.
  • Online calendars to schedule client engagement.
  • Organizing emails in your inbox with labels or filters features.

Making Informed Marketing Decisions

Your clients are the beating heart of your business. They bring you your profits and keep you and your staff at work. So it’s essential to keep track of them and know how new clients are finding you.

Gathering, organizing, and tracking your clients’ contact information can give you insights into your performance month on month and year on year and help you make informed decisions on future marketing efforts.

Tracking where your new customers are coming from enables you to measure your online traffic so you can’t tell whether a new promotional campaign is working and gauge the return on investment for your marketing endeavors. 

This can help you to:

  • Get repeat business. 
  • Target your marketing more efficiently.
  • Strengthen client loyalty.
  • Tweak your business practices to drive greater customer satisfaction.

If you have any questions about tracking how clients find you or on improving your marketing efforts, The Research Department is always on hand to help.

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