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Growth Hacking for SaaS, SMB & Startups Bootcamp PART I: What is ACQUISITION? – Getting the RIGHT Early Customers for Free
- by Lance
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Welcome to our four-part blog series on Growth Hacking for SaaS, SMB & Startups Bootcamp. Over the next few articles, you will get some great tips for implementing a high-performance growth hacking strategy for your business.
PART I: WHAT IS ACQUISITION? – GETTING THE “RIGHT” EARLY CUSTOMERS FOR FREE
In the first article of this blog series, we will be discussing what growth hacking techniques work well, and which ones should be avoided.
Let’s briefly understand the various acquisition goals. The primary goals of acquisition are typically:
- Driving traffic to your website.
- Making the most of your traffic by engaging with your audience effectively once they visit your website.
- Converting traffic to leads and acquiring new customers.
Now you understand what the goals of acquisition are, we’ll now discuss various growth hacking techniques that will help to acquire new customers by driving traffic to your website.
GET YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY TESTING YOUR PRODUCT
Close friends and family always remain a great audience when you want early and genuine feedback about your product. They also won’t mind receiving product-related information from you.
So once you’ve built your Minimum Viable Product, ask your friends and family to test your product. This way you can get the first set of honest reviews. This will help you further improve your viable product and market it effectively to your future customers.
Since they are trying your product with an intention to help you in your business, their heart is in this task. However, you need to direct them to be “honest” and not “nice” with their opinions. You may need to pry them for more info and details in why they liked or disliked your product. These people are not professional testers so they will need guidance on how detailed and specific the feedback will need to be so it’s useful for you.
You should also motivate this close circle of people to visit your website and social media channels so that they give you valuable feedback from a “fresh eyes” perspective.
BETA PROGRAM – COLLECT EMAIL ADDRESSES FOR PRE-LAUNCH
Small businesses and start-ups often underestimate the potential hype they can create by marketing their beta products. It is essential for businesses to build a pre-launch email list. Start collecting emails specifically for beta releases through lead generation forms in guest blogs, Facebook and Twitter lead ads, etc.
You could also collect subscribers for your beta releases through your regular email campaigns by including an opt-in for beta releases. Focus on quality over quantity while building the list because the aim here is to attract early adopters for your products.
More companies are launching their beta products to early adopters. Hence, beta testing is not limited to the professional testing teams anymore. Instead, it has become community driven. And marketing your beta testing should go hand in hand with the actual product beta testing.
PARTNERS – CROSS PROMOTIONS AND JOINT MARKETING EFFORTS
Partnering with other companies in your space that may offer complementary products or services (not your direct competitors) is a great opportunity to attract a new audience. Or you could look for channel partners like wholesalers or distributors.
Through such partnerships, you could cross-promote each other on blogs, social media, etc to drive more website visitors. You could also run promotions on a partner website or cross-promote on each other’s email newsletters driving website visitors whom you can nurture to become leads. Co-marketing and creating ebooks or webinars with your partner can reduce the content creation efforts and at the same time reach a wider audience of both the parties.
DRIVING TRAFFIC THROUGH REFERENCE SITES
Reference sites like Quora and Reddit are a great start for small businesses that want to grow their website presence. Even founders of Airbnb, Dropbox, and Groupon used to spend a lot of their time creating content and answering questions on Quora and Reddit. This helped them drive a lot of website visitors.
Small businesses should invest their time and efforts on these platforms. Start by identifying relevant topics in Quora and industry subreddits in Reddit. Once you have narrowed down the list on where you could answer questions related to your industry, pick questions where you could talk about your products and solutions and start referencing your website.
If you feel the topic doesn’t warrant explicit mention of your products and solutions, you could give subtle hints motivating reads to take the desired action if they want more information.
Create “how to” videos, problem-solving videos, etc for your brand and share them on video sharing platforms like YouTube and Vimeo. You could also create thought leadership videos on industry-related topics to educate your target audience.
Comparison videos would drive top of the funnel customers to your website while product demo videos would drive bottom of the funnel customers to your website. Have a balance and create content for various stages to drive them to your website. Clear call to actions at various durations of the video is essential to get desirable results.
NEW PRODUCT REVIEW SITES
New product review sites like Product Hunt, Kickstarter, and GoFundMe are a great way to get more eyeballs on your newly launched products. These sites talk about the best new products in the market by reviewing them. Since there are high probabilities for early adopters to visit these sites frequently, it is a brilliant platform to engage with them and drive them to your website.
DRIVING NEW CUSTOMERS THROUGH REFERRAL PROGRAMS
Design and launch a referral program for your business such that it is mutually beneficial. DropBox launched a referral program where users can earn storage space of 500 MB by inviting new users.
This simple referral program became a viral loop and DropBox grew by 3900%. So a referral program where you could offer some concessions or exclusive benefits for your participants could prove to be a great strategy to acquire new customers for your business.
LINKEDIN – CONNECT WITH PROSPECTS
LinkedIn is a goldmine for list building prospective customers. Small businesses can send automated connection requests to their target audience using tools like LinkedAutomate and LinkMe Tool. You could then export your LinkedIn connections and then communicate with them by sending email marketing messages.
If you want to know more about using LinkedIn for growth hacking, please read our article LinkedIn Growth Hacking for Small Businesses, Start-Ups Solopreneurs and Bloggers, where you can understand the various steps involved in identifying and reaching potential customers via LinkedIn
USE INFLUENCER MARKETING TO DRIVE WEBSITE VISITORS
Influencer marketing continues to remain one of the popular ways of driving website traffic. People prefer listening to other people instead of brands or businesses. This is where influencers play a key role because they are industry experts or leading professionals who have a wide audience base that you could target. Identify the list of influencers who would be more apt considering the industry your business is in.
Narrow down the list based on analysis of their posts, reach, budget, etc and finalize the influencers you want to promote your brand. Then start reaching out and build long-term relationships with them. It can take time for them to eventually partner with you so be patient.
CRAIGSLIST IS A GREAT PLACE TO START
CraigsList gets over 10 million unique visitors per day and there is no question that Craigslist is one of the most powerful marketplace websites in the world. Businesses like Uber, Airbnb, and Etsy got their first 1000 customers by using this platform. Despite its simplicity, marketing on CraigsList would need some basic planning and strategy. As a small business, decide on the locations you’d want to market your products and then also understand which of the 300 communities should you be on.
Ads on CraigsList are either free or a very low cost (starting at $5). So start building ads for CraigsList and also get involved by interacting with your community on CraigsList. Respond to posts by others and participate in conversations across discussion forums where you could discuss with potential customers as well as other sellers and establish a presence for your business within the Craigslist community.
PAID ADVERTISING – SEARCH ENGINE MARKETING AND SOCIAL MEDIA ADVERTISING
Spruce up your lead generation efforts by launching paid advertising campaigns on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and search engine marketing platforms like Google AdWords and Bing Ads. Even though organic means can help you in driving traffic to a certain extent, if you want to boost your traffic in a shorter span, paid advertising will help.
Test your ads using A/B testing, now available with the platforms like Google AdWords and Facebook. Testing will help you understand which of your ad formats or what kind of messaging does well for your target audience so that you could optimize future campaigns based on the insights derived from testing and analyzing the results.
There are a variety of various acquisition techniques for your business in this article. One technique will not solve all your business growth issues. Experiment with some/all of the above-mentioned solutions to see what works for you. Planning carefully and strategizing is what would help you achieve the desired results through these techniques.
Stay tuned, next week we cover the best practices about creating FUNNELS. Don’t forget to sign up for the “Perfect Funnel” CHALLENGE.