A young male bakery shop owner smiles as he hands a bagged item to a customer.
Tapping a variety of methods, including optimizing your social media and search engine optimization strategy and building strong word of mouth, can help you attract new customers. — Getty Images/Hispanolistic

Regularly acquiring new customers is essential for any business that wants to continue growing. Here are six steps you can take to find new customers and increase your profit margins. As an added bonus, these strategies will also help you engage your current customers.

[Read more: How AI Can Help You Serve Your Customers Better]

Do customer research

You don't just want to look for anyone who's willing to buy from you — you want to find the right customers. The right customers need what your business offers and will continue to do business with you repeatedly.

Customer research involves collecting data about your target market so that you understand them better. You can do this sleuthing through online surveys or by talking to target consumers on the phone or in person. Once you’ve gathered enough data, you need to analyze it to look for patterns and trends you can use.

Do a competitor analysis

A competitor analysis is another crucial aspect of customer acquisition. This strategy involves periodically reviewing your biggest competitors' products and marketing strategies to understand what's working and what isn't. Competitor research helps you stay up to date on current market trends and it can identify any new opportunities.

Optimize your social media channels

Over 91% of individuals in the United States use social media, so odds are, most of your customers do too. Optimizing your social media presence can help you improve your company's visibility and reach more people.

First, you want to make sure you're showing up on the platforms where your customers are most active. You should be able to discover this information during the customer research stage. And now that you understand your target audience’s problems, you'll be able to post content that they will find interesting.

You also want to post at the right times and look for ways to engage your audience. For example, asking questions and running polls are great ways to draw in your target audience.

Research shows that 93% of customers use online reviews to aid their buying decisions.

Create an effective SEO strategy

Focusing on search engine optimization, or SEO, helps you improve your company's visibility in search results. As you begin attracting more website visitors, you'll start getting more leads and conversions.

To improve your SEO results, start by evaluating your website and what the user experience is like. Make sure the design is user-friendly and that your site loads quickly. Check for any dead links or duplicate content.

Once you know your website is at peak performance, create relevant content and include pertinent keywords throughout your site. You can also improve your SEO results by getting backlinks from other websites that have high domain authority.

[Read more: 7 Ways to Use Local SEO to Grow Your Small Businesss]

Utilize online reviews

Research shows that 93% of customers use online reviews to aid their buying decisions. Positive online reviews can improve your company's credibility and attract new customers to your business.

Every time a customer buys something from you, send them a follow-up email asking them to leave your business a positive review. The online review site you focus on will vary depending on your business, but if you can only choose one, focus on Google reviews.

[Read more: How to Help Customers Leave a Google Review of Your Business]

Ask for referrals

Word-of-mouth referrals are one of the most effective ways to bring in new business. Over 90% of customers trust a recommendation from a friend or family member over any form of advertising.

The first step in referral marketing is to exceed your current customers' expectations. You have to give them a reason to be excited about your business and want to recommend it to their family and friends. Going above and beyond for your current customers also helps improve your customer retention rates.

Once you've developed a positive relationship with your customers, ask them for referrals. Offering incentives for recommending your business, like a discount or freebie, can be a good strategy and a win-win for you and your customers.

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.

CO—is committed to helping you start, run and grow your small business. Learn more about the benefits of small business membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, here.

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