17 Tactics Startups Use To Get Their First 100 Customers – Part 2

first 100 customers

Continued from part 1

Search Conversations In Social Media

Another thing Alex did was to search Twitter, Forums and other sites with competing software as keyword.

He’d look for people dissatisfied with other products and ask if they’d be willing to talk. This helped the Groove team take care of lot of mistakes that could have been built into the tool.

So a great way to find potential customers on social media by searching for the names of competitor products, especially the posts which are complaints.

For instance, here a few tweets that came up on searching for Salesforce.

salesforce tweets

You can then reach out to these people to chat about their experience. And use that experience to make your product better.

Even Josh Nielsen, the founder of Zencastr, found his first 100 customers in a similar way. He reached out to people complaining about podcast recording via Skype. And the growth has been organic thereafter.

And not just social media, you can do the same thing with online forums and communities.

When you get on the phone with these people, ask them if it’ll be ok to stay in touch and share updates on your product. So you kill 2 birds with one stone: market research and list building.

Search Engine Optimization

Organic traffic from search engines is also a great source of paying customers. But for many industries, your competition may already have taken over high-traffic search terms.

So a better way to get leads and sales from search engines is to focus on long tail keywords. For example, instead of trying to rank for a term like “digital marketing service” it’s better to target a long phrase like “digital marketing service for accounting firms”

Over time, traffic from a lot of these long keywords can amount to the same as that from a generic, short keyword.

An easy way to get lots of long-tail keyword ideas is to identify the questions people are asking on forums related to your niche, and question answer websites like Quora. From those questions, you’ll get a sense of what prospects are looking for.

Cold Emails

You may also need to pitch your business to strangers sooner or later. And it’s not that hard to get email addresses of your prospects and send a quick email. Here’s one for example that got a lot of customers to a b2b business, with 57% open rate and 21% response rate:

b2b cold email

The reason this emails works so well is it gets a lot of things right: an enticing headline, enticing offer, social proof and call to action. And it also specifies an expected duration.

Nothing shows people that you can get results better than a case study of how you got the same result for someone else. And the call to action assures the reader that it’ll be quick and shares what to expect on the call.

When cold calling or emailing, it certainly helps if you have a mutual contact. But if not, it’s really important to do thorough research before you email or call a person.

For example, here is a cold email Wade Foster (CEO of Zapier) sent to Andrew Warner. Wade found a question Andrew had posted on a forum, and his product was part of the solution to the problem Andrew was facing.

zapier cold email

There are several tools that make it easy to find someone’s email like Email Hunter & Email Breaker.

Phone/Video Call

The other thing that connects at a more personal level is phone call. The best way to learn about the pains and challenges of your target audience is talking to them, either in person or through a call.

The idea is to find and call as many qualified prospects as you can and let them know about your business.

rype email

(Image Source: Rype Blog)

When someone is interested, close the deal. And when someone isn’t, get feedback. Learn why they are not interested.

It’s important to be in touch with your customers from the very first day, and try to know as much you can about them.

  • What made them buy the product or service?
  • What’s their opinion on your pricing?
  • What features do they want in future updates?
  • What did they use before this product?
  • How did they come to know about you?

That’s how Rype came to know that busy professionals were the most excited about Rype and more loyal too.

As you keep interacting with customers, you’ll gain a wealth of information to apply to your positioning, messaging and the product itself.

Startup Showcase Websites

Many startups have used sites like Product Hunt, Betalist, Erlibird & Startuplist to quickly generate early signups.

For instance, FrontApp used Betalist to get 400+ signups in just a few days. They paid about $49 to feature on the front page of Betalist. And many Betalist users even featured FrontApp in their blogs and articles after they saw it on the front page, leading to even more exposure.

Create Demand With Advertising

Although more expensive than other options on the list, paid advertising is a quick and easy way to get initial eyeballs to your product or service website.

Most people spend hours a day on social media. And when they have a question or query, they turn to search engines like Google to find answers.

So the places you can experiment with are Facebook ads, Google Adwords, Bing ads, Reddit ads, Plenty Of Fish ads and Pinterest ads.

But understand that it does require a hefty budget to begin with and you won’t flood your business with clients overnight.

You’ll need to keep running the ad for quite some time and put it in front of your prospects again and again to get both mind share and market share.

Daniel Kingsley, the founder of Inbound Ascension, wanted to get the clothes he designed into retail stores. He started targeting locals with Facebook Ads. He’d show the products and ask the locals to get them from their local store, even though the local stores didn’t have the products.

The stores started getting so many requests that they approached him to stock his products, which led to better bargaining and pricing for Daniel.

When launching an advertising campaign, make sure you’re sending traffic to a landing page focused on the one thing you want the visitor to do.

This one thing can be capturing their email or phone number, making them sign up to a trial, purchase your product or something else as per your objective. Don’t send people to a generic page or your website homepage.

Build An Email Marketing Funnel

One of the greatest tactics to sell your product as soon as you launch is to build an email list first and then nurture it towards a sale.

You create a series of emails in which the first few emails are purely based on providing a ton of value to your audience for free. Then gradually, you persuade your audience to buy your product in the last few emails.

Nathan Barry used this exact method to generate $16,000 in sales from an email list of 1200 subscribers.

Influencer/Media Outreach

To get your product or service featured in the media, you need to making efforts to build key relationships with influential reporters, bloggers and social media personalities even before the product launches.

The major problem with most new businesses is that their PR strategy is mostly around doing an email blast to thousands of reporters/bloggers and hoping for the best.

They get a few pieces written about them, and then they abandon the press until the time comes when it’s needed again.

For instance, once Groove had its beta version ready for launch and testing, they sent around 30 press releases to various outlets, out of which only one -The Next Web – featured them.

the next web feature

(Image Source: Groove Blog)

And that too didn’t happen just the first time.

The PR got ignored at first. But then someone brought it up again with a tweet directed towards The Next Web. And then they actually tried, liked and wrote about Groove, bringing about a 1000 new signups.

It’s hard to make and maintain genuine relationships with the press, but the payoff is huge in the long term.

In order to find influencers in your niche, you can use a tool such as BuzzSumo. Then start building relationship with them by identifying their needs (research about them and stalk them on social media) and doing something to help them.

Additionally, consider engaging with them on social media and leaving comments on their articles. Another great way to get featured in blogs and magazines is HARO (Help A Reporter Out).

When you sign up with HARO, you’ll get several emails daily from bloggers and journalists looking for people to provide insight for their upcoming stories.

When you see a query relevant to your business, you can just message the reporter with the information he asked for. If your pitch gets accepted, he or she will quote you in the article.

Turn Current Traffic Into Buyers

Getting quality traffic is just one part of getting customers. The other is converting the traffic into sales.

Rype makes use of a tool called Optimizely, which is free, to test what changes to the website (messaging, pricing etc.) help convert more visitors into subscribers. Other similar tool is Visual Website Optimizer.

Such testing alone has literally made a difference of thousands of dollars to their business.

Even if you can increase the percentage of visitors who buy from 2% to 3% with some tweaks, that alone is a 33% boost in sales.

Pricing is something most crucial to test for any new startup, as it can make the biggest difference in ROI.

Conclusion – Go Get Them!

As you can see, there are a lot of approaches to think about in getting early traction to your startup. And there isn’t anything magical or quick about it.

Good old principle of hard work and hustling still works today. Getting traction takes legwork. You don’t even need to wait to get the product launched. The ideal time to start is when the product in still under development. While the product is in the works, so should be customer development.

It’s be a struggle first to try these ways, get them right and see what works best, but in the end it’ll be worth it. And you’ll reach a milestone that few startups can boast of.

It’s a slow process as you start finding clients and customers, delivering great work and delighting them. But after a while, something gigantic will start to happen.

Your clients will become your biggest advocates. They will spread the word about you to their friends, post positive reviews online and jump in social media conversations.

Your business will grow without having to work so hard for each new client. Once you get to 100, the next 100 will be easier.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *