9 ways to convert leads into paying clients
You landed your dream domain name, built an SEO-friendly site, and people are starting to find out about your freelance business.
You thought you had done the hard part…
But, now you that have some interest, how do you turn these people into paying clients?
Whether you’re offering a specialized service to local consumers, or a broader offer for remote clients around the globe, attracting paying customers can be challenging. This is particularly true if you’re a freelancer just starting out.
Luckily, you’re about to learn nine tips to help you do it.
While it’s obvious that you must communicate with your customers-to-be, it’s not always easy to know what to say or how to say it.
1. Be active on social media (but not all platforms)
New businesses often feel like they need to be on every social network, from Facebook and Instagram to TikTok and YouTube. This is usually not the case. First, as a small business or freelancer, there aren’t enough hours in the day to be omnipresent, and second, you need to work out whether your customers are even using these platforms.
You also need to consider the type of content you’re producing. Beautiful photos are ideal for Instagram and Pinterest, but snappy and striking video content works well on YouTube and TikTok. Lengthy, informative, and educational posts are perfect for LinkedIn, while quick facts and tips are popular on Twitter.
Post daily, whether you’re promoting something, spreading industry news, or sharing customer testimonials. Create a social media calendar so you know when important dates specific to your industry are happening or when a summer sale will start.
Respond to questions in a timely fashion. In this modern, always-on world, people expect answers to their inquiries, and the faster you can attend to their needs, the more positive their brand experience will be.
Facebook Groups and LinkedIn Groups can allow you to connect with truly interested people. It’s easy to spot new customers asking questions and offer them help and advice, giving a great impression of how you would be in business.
If you’re looking for more tips, check out How to boost your social media strength.
2. Send relevant emails
Sometimes prospective clients will sign up for mailing lists, especially if you promise terrific content that will benefit them. Freelance writers may offer tips on writing Google ad copy, and illustrators may share how-to guides on drawing products.
According to Statista, it is estimated that over 376.4 billion emails will be sent and received each day, and the number of global users will reach a total of 4.6 billion by 2025. In other words, email marketing is here to stay. So how do you stay relevant to potential customers in an overcrowded inbox?
One way to connect with your customers through email is to set up welcome auto-responders so that when they sign up to your mailing list, they will automatically be sent a message. You can personalize the message as they will likely have signed up with their name. It’s also an excellent opportunity to include a money-off promo code or alert them to any sales you have running.
Make them feel cared for. If your client fills out a form asking questions about your service, make sure that an automated reply is set up to tell them when they’re likely to get a response. This shows them you’re thinking about their needs and helps manage expectations.
Do your research. What do your customers want to learn about? Create educational emails to share new services, industry news, and content that will make them realize that you understand them and their needs. Before you hit send, read the email back. If you’re bored by it, your customers will be too.
3. Conduct prospect surveys
There’s no point guessing your customers’ thoughts about your brand, product, or service. The easiest way to find out is to ask them. Prospect surveys are a surefire way to gain valuable insight into what customers want and reach a new audience that hasn’t been converted.
Don’t send a survey for the sake of it. Perhaps you want to know what features people expect to see or pricing. Once you have your reason, it’s easier to shape your questions.
Use multiple-choice surveys and give people a chance to answer open-ended questions. Let your potential customers ramble on about a great or terrible experience they had with other companies. You’ll get a much-needed glimpse into their feelings.
The more you conduct surveys, the better you’ll know your audience, and the greater your service will become. Read Best practices for creating surveys for more top tips on creating your own.
People like to feel special, and rewards can help with that. Whether nibbling a chocolate sample in the supermarket or receiving a money-off coupon for that lawn mower you’re obsessing over, rewards make us light up and think more favorably about the company that’s giving them.
4. Offer deals
Whether you’re offering a coupon, discount, or a free product, deals are a time-honored way to make people feel valued. Everything must be planned. How long are you running the deal for? Will it be a regular sale? Your offer should have a purpose, whether it’s shifting old stock or highlighting a new service.
Send out emails and schedule social media posts to alert everyone about your deal. Give them a warning, tell them when it’s started, and remind them when there are 24 hours left. You can’t expect them to stumble upon your sale without being told it exists.
Don’t forget to upsell and cross-sell. Upselling is what happens at McDonald’s when they ask if you want to supersize your meal (upgrade), and cross-selling is when you’re shopping for a jumper online, and a pair of jeans is suggested to go with it (a related item). Both methods help create a better customer experience and increase sales.
5. Provide helpful content
Positive experiences with your brand promote a deeper connection. One of the ways you can improve the impression potential clients have of your brand is to deliver valuable content they can digest.
Let’s imagine you’re a freelance cycling journalist. Sure, you may share screenshots of your best articles, but if your website offers recommended printable cycling routes through France, or monthly tire maintenance tips via email, you’re offering something extra that customers will love.
Here are some examples of some great content you can create:
- Learning course
- Industry tools
- Interviews with industry experts
- Case studies
Not only does it enrich your future buyer’s experience, but it helps position you as an expert in your field.
If the thought of writing a book excites you and you’re bursting with great ideas, discover Why writing a book is good for business and get inspired.
6. Start a loyalty program
Although they take some planning, loyalty programs are a great way to make a prospect feel special. They can help you increase sales and brand engagement — and are a valuable way to gain insight into your customers’ shopping habits. So, how do you get started?
When you think of a loyalty program, you may have a favorite. Try to think about why. Do you receive personalized offers? Are you offered early access to a new product? Is a freebie up for grabs when you’ve spent a certain amount?
A prospective customer nervous about spending with an unknown company will be interested in a first-time offer like Buy One Get One Free (BOGOF) or 50% off your first purchase.
Loyalty programs are great for attracting new customers and can help influence them into making a purchase, but everything must be clear and easy to understand.
If you want to charm a potential client, it’s crucial to be your true self. Stackla reports that 88% of consumers say authenticity is important when deciding which brands they like and support. Authenticity means trust — and trust improves loyalty and, in the future, advocacy.
7. Build your brand
Branding can be powerful and sometimes last a lifetime. It’s a business identity and is achieved by research, developing a brand personality, and keeping your message consistent through your design, copy, and communication touch points.
You may be loyal to a particular brand of trainers or only buy a specific brand of coffee from a specific store. Why? Is it how the brand makes you feel, or does their way of thinking align with your way of thinking? Branding is how you present yourself, and a strong brand is a successful brand.
Read all about branding in Developing your personal brand and How to build a successful business brand online now.
Connections are vital if you want to succeed in business. Whether that’s finding like-minded people who make you feel inspired or a shoulder to lean on when you feel stuck for ideas, networking helps you create business relationships and can improve your reputation in your industry.
The people you meet may have heard of your business — but meeting you in person may lead them to search online for your service and make that first purchase.
Conferences can seem overwhelming at first. Do research, and don’t be afraid to ask for help on Twitter or LinkedIn. People love to share advice if they’ve been attending them for many years. Look out for apps that include a list of attendees, and keep a note of businesses you want to speak with.
Explore Meetup or search for local groups on LinkedIn. You never know who you might meet or the types of things you might learn over a mid-morning coffee!
9. Show social proof
We know that group influence is powerful. That’s why review sites like Trustpilot exist. Stories from other people matter to us — we want to feel accepted, so we do what everybody else does.
One of the ways you can do this is to share testimonials on your website. Show that your customers are real by using genuine photos. Case studies are long-form social proof and can help customers understand how other customers interact with your product.
Showcase your awards. If you’ve been shortlisted or won an award, then make sure it’s on your homepage, in your blog, and on your social channels. Awards evoke confidence and help to build trust.
Influencer marketing can help change your brand perception and provides highly regarded social proof. And it’s not just A-list celebrities. Different levels of influencers can engage niche audiences, which might be perfect for your brand. Read about Why small businesses need social media influencers and find where to start.
Go forth and get your customers
Hopefully, by now, you feel inspired and excited to get started turning your prospects into buyers. Above all, it’s about creating a positive brand experience that your customers-to-be will love. Remember to listen to them, whether that’s on social channels, feedback emails, and surveys. To listen is to understand!
To recap, the nine ways to turn first-time buyers into repeat customers are:
- Be active on social media
- Send relevant emails
- Conduct prospect surveys
- Offer deals
- Provide helpful content
- Start a loyalty program
- Build your brand
- Show social proof
Please feel free to add your ideas in the comments below. I’d love to hear them.
Want to learn more about building a business? Delve into the recordings from our past Namecheap Summits, where you can learn from business experts and entrepreneurs: