Measure customer attraction as you begin your business.
Build your business by monitoring customer growth. — Getty Images/pixdeluxe

When you’re building a business, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by everything that needs to get done. But your main goal should always be traction.

Customer traction is one of the most important metrics for new businesses. If you have traction in your business, this means there are clear indicators that your business is viable and that you’ve achieved some degree of product or market fit. You don’t need to be profitable to show traction, but you do need to be able to show consistent growth.

There are many ways to measure traction, but customer traction is probably the most important. If you have customer traction, that means you have paying customers who are invested in your product.

Not only that, but the number of customers is growing over time. You’re demonstrating that there is a demand for your product and you’re gaining market share.

Here are five steps for gaining customer traction:

Focus on solving problems

A successful business solves problems for its customers. And these don’t have to be big problems— you can solve very small and manageable problems for your customers. But the customer must have a pain point that purchasing your product will help them fix.

Any easy way to focus on the problem you’re trying to solve is by asking yourself, “What is the behavior I’m trying to change?” If your business were successful, what would people do differently?

If your business is solving the right problem for people, you will continue growing and bringing on new customers.

Focus on sales — not vanity metrics

Have you ever caught yourself focusing on the number of website visitors you have or how many people downloaded your free white paper? If so, then you’re probably distracted by vanity metrics.

Vanity metrics are things that sound good on the surface but don’t provide any actionable insights into how your business is growing. The real problem is that vanity metrics don’t provide meaningful data on customer traction — sales do.

For instance, growing your email list is great, but how many of those subscribers are you converting to customers? That is the real data you want to track.

[Read more: 10 Free Sales Tools for Your Small Business]

As you’re reaching out to people, you should always be focused on how you can help them.

Get the word out about your business

In the beginning stages, you need to do everything you can to get the word out about your business. Your potential customers don’t know about your business, so if you don’t already have an online presence, you’ll have to work extra hard to find them.

Getting the word out could include any of the following actions:

  • Cold emailing potential customers.
  • Submitting HARO requests to get free press.
  • Offering your product to potential customers for free in exchange for feedback.
  • Reaching out to influencers about potential partnerships.

As you’re reaching out to people, you should always be focused on how you can help them. You should always focus on providing value and making your offer relevant to that person.

[Read more: 7 Ways to Build an Effective Marketing Strategy on a Budget]

Improve your customer retention

As you continue to grow and add new customers, it’s important to continue improving customer retention. What is your customer churn rate?

For instance, if you have a subscription-based business, how many customers cancel after a month? How many customers make one purchase from you and then are never heard from again?

Customer retention matters because it affects your ability to scale. If your customer retention rates are low, then customer acquisition costs will continue to rise as your business grows. And if you hope to eventually bring on investors, they will look for high customer retention rates as well.

[Read more: 10-Point Checklist to Use Before Pitching Investors]

Track your analytics

Going forward, it’s important to continue tracking your analytics. By regularly tracking your numbers, you’ll identify things that are negatively impacting your company's growth. And you may be able to spot positive trends you can capitalize on.

For instance, you may notice that a certain subset of your audience is converting much higher than others. Or you may notice that certain landing pages are converting very well. The right analytics will help you find ways to improve customer conversions and continue to grow.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published December 15, 2020