A lot of startups fail because they can’t get early traction. In the early stages of a company’s development, the focus is usually on creating a product to address a need rather than getting the word out and making sales. It makes sense to develop a product, but that isn’t enough to bring in revenue. Given the stakes, knowing where to look for your first 5,000 customers would be invaluable.
You don’t have access to volumes of data in spreadsheet form, you don’t have pre-existing market segments, and you don’t know who will buy your product.
Simply put, you are experimenting with many approaches to see the most promising ones.
Attracting your first 5,000 clients requires a blend of marketing and customer development strategies. Each strategy should have its ultimate goal, not just acquiring a new client but also learning more about that consumer and what they care about. Knowing your most loyal customers is essential for increasing your return on investment.
Most startups immediately resort to paid promotion when striving to attract a steady clientele. However, there are several strategies to get initial traction, such as piggybacking on the popularity of others, participating in online communities, focusing on the appropriate social networks, and so on.
1. Contact People You Know
Customer development may be accomplished quickly by reaching out to your current network and asking targeted questions about your offering and the market. If you’re making a product for a specific niche, you will likely already know people in that niche.
One of the main causes of startup failure is that the founders don’t engage with the target market. It’s easy to fool yourself into thinking you have a firm grasp on your market and that your product is essential. However, the most effective marketers recognize that their assumptions may not be entirely accurate. However, they are still willing to confirm them through conversation with their target audience.
Even though you shouldn’t try to make a sale during interviews, you may ask those you speak with if they would be interested in being included in a private email list where you periodically share updates on the status of your company.
As an additional tactic, you should branch out into the personal networks of your prospects. Don’t forget to inquire about potential introductions from anyone you contact. If a potential customer isn’t a suitable fit for your product, they will likely work with someone who is.
2. Start a Blog
There are several advantages to having a blog. You should have begun this process much earlier when looking for strategies to expand your startup. Still, I guess it’s better late than never.
Many people view advertisements as intrusive and annoying.
People are constantly bombarded with advertisements. They are more likely to offend and reject than to attract. Blogs, however, still create a feeling of trust and sincerity. You can effectively convey the value of your product in this way.
Blogs produce need. Need produces demand.
Blogging is not a short-term plan by any stretch of the imagination. It will require a lot of effort, and you probably won’t notice any substantial benefits immediately. But the effort is well worth it since blogs have an unrivaled capacity to subtly implant a concept into the consciousness of the people who read them.
Blogs are a fantastic tool for boosting traffic to your website.
Businesses that maintain a blog receive 97% more links from other sites than those that don’t. That is a big deal.
How? SEO magic of some sort.
Nothing beats well-crafted content to improve your search engine rankings for your chosen keywords. When you have your blog, you may select the topics and keywords that readers will connect you with. To get your foot in the door and your work out there for the world to see, you may select one of the finest free blogging sites from the list provided below. It would be best to encourage others to connect to you to increase your internet presence and reach. Opportunities will arise as a result of this. Once everything is in place, your blog will bring in visitors on its own.
This process may be expedited by establishing connections with social influencers in your field through guest blogging.
You’ve just discovered the fast track to thought leadership.
Get published in authoritative trade magazines by honing your writing skills. That way, you may use the influence and resources of such groups.
People who have never heard of you have no reason to take you seriously. Good reputations are built on a foundation of excellent content that is widely read and shared. Neil Patel is the man to turn to if you need a spark of motivation to get things rolling.
Consider the following suggestions for blog post topics:
A Guide to
Blogs of this sort frequently address readers’ questions and offer solutions to common issues. Choose and discuss specific points of interest to your product and industry and write them for your ideal customers.
Interviews with early adopters of your product are a great way to gather information about how it is being used and the outcomes it is producing. In addition, these blogs can assist in establishing credibility for your product’s value proposition by demonstrating its validity across a wide audience.
Analyzing and Comparing Products
Writing articles that compare your product to others in the market might assist your readers in better understanding the value they’re getting from each option. In addition, these blogs should mirror the decision-making process of actual customers by including information that isn’t included in product descriptions or price sites.
Make sure you’re developing and optimizing your blog articles around keywords that get a fair amount of search engine traffic yet have relatively low levels of competition.
Include them in the design phase
Customers interested in utilizing your product should be engaged and brought into the product development process as soon as possible. Get the details on the why and the how right here.
3. Join a community of like-minded people online. Try to blend in.
Meet your consumers where they are. The Internet connects individuals to billions of pages on any imaginable topic. There must be a forum where people can discuss their business or specialty issues.
These are the places where people are most active on the Internet. Upvotes and downvotes are the fuel that propels social news to the main page of the Internet. This is the type of news that tends to get far more momentum among early startup customers than more conventional forms of media coverage.
Learn where these groups are and join them. It’s important to find out where your target market is, discuss issues you can address, or search for products like yours. You may locate customers, share knowledge, expand your professional network, and hone your skills. What this means is growth for your business and you personally.
Here’s some inspiration to find like-minded people:
Reddit is rife with dog GIFs, memes, and memes in general. Subreddits are discussion communities devoted to certain topics. Find the ones that are important to you and make your imprint on them.
Quora finds the best answer to every question. It was intended to offer unique knowledge.
Quora has a wealth of high-quality material and a community of professionals and influencers. As a result, entrepreneurs may obtain valuable guidance and connect with early consumers. Make sure when someone asks a question, you can answer it perfectly.
Every day, it seems, new software or product hits the market. If you’re like me and always looking for the best of the greatest, you’ll feel right at home on Product Hunt. It began as a mailing list but rapidly evolved into a website where subscribers could vote on which new goods should be featured first.
Product Hunt has become a hub for the IT industry’s up-and-coming companies and innovators. If you get highlighted, you should expect a surge in visitors and maybe even a few new customers. If you’re interested in trying it, you should review these top recommendations.
- How I launched the #1 most upvoted product of all time on Product Hunt
- by Bram Kanstein ✌️
- Product Hunt: Beyond being featured
- by Darren Bounds
- Top 7 Product Hunt Best Practices For A Successful Campaign
- by Luc Hancock
- GrowthHackers — for growth marketing news and ideas
- HackerNews — for general tech news and discussions
- Growth.org — for growth marketing inspiration and discussion
- StackOverflow — for programming issues
- Designer News — for designer news and inspiration
- The Moz Community — for groundbreaking SEO tactics
- Product & Growth — Facebook group on growth marketing
- SaaS Growth Hacks — a Facebook group specifically for SaaS founders and marketers.
4. Use Twitter for Market Research
Searching for internet complaints is an excellent method to locate possible clients suffering from the pain you want to relieve. Twitter and other social media platforms make it simple to accomplish this.
Searching Twitter for searches like “Mailchimp too expensive” might be helpful if you’re seeking to launch a solution that competes with Mailchimp. These are some of the comments that come up:
Those customers complaining about Mailchimp being too expensive might be approached privately and asked to provide their thoughts on the matter.
Similarly useful are other online discussion groups. Search Google for “Mailchimp too expensive,” and you’ll get plenty of results with complaints from users about how expensive the software is. You’ll have a clearer picture of the issues your product has to address and the features it must provide. Then, when the time comes to produce high-converting sales copy, you’ll be able to do it confidently since you’ll know exactly what your target market is experiencing and how they’re describing it.
The results of such a search might help you verify or refute your theory. If, for instance, you’re not finding many results for inquiries related to Mailchimp issues on either Twitter or Google, there may not be a significant enough problem to address.
When speaking with these potential buyers over the phone, it is important to find out if it is OK to keep in touch and send periodic updates on your forthcoming product. As a result, you may gather data for your market analysis and start forming a pool of possible beta users.
Suppose you know any successful entrepreneurs, investors, or social media influencers. In that case, they may be willing to help you spread the word and grow your audience. Not only do they have a sizable following, but their followers actively participate in their content, earning them the title “influencers.” Generally speaking, recommendations from B2B influencers are taken very seriously because of their high level of trustworthiness. Therefore, knowing influential people like entrepreneurs, investors, and marketers may be invaluable in situations like these.
You may get them to send targeted visitors to your site or landing page by simply asking them to recommend your items to their followers. Email addresses from this audience can be collected for further follow-up and conversion.
6. Send Cold Emails. They Work
When executed properly, cold email marketing may be a fruitful channel for businesses to connect with potential customers. A significant amount of time is devoted by users to sorting through their inboxes. This fact alone should be enough for business leaders to give cold emails their full attention. It has been shown that the average person in America spends at least two hours per day on personal email and three hours per day on professional email, according to a 2019 study by Adobe.
Businesses may increase their response rate and exposure to potential clients by regularly using cold emails.
Cold emailing is effective because it is persistent and may bring you in front of your intended audience. Social media campaigns, for instance, are a great example of how to quickly and efficiently spread your message to a wide audience. However, they have no way of knowing which customers will be online to see the ad. When you send cold emails, your message goes straight to the user’s inbox, which has a much lower chance of being overlooked.
When it comes to expanding your business, it’s crucial that you’re able to track the results of your marketing efforts. The information gleaned from cold emails can be used to inform future email marketing efforts. Some of the data that companies may examine are deliveries, opens, clicks, and bounce rates. Furthermore, organizations may use this data to scale up their email marketing efforts for better future outcomes.
Having established that cold email marketing may benefit your company, you should now focus on improving your email skills to maximize your ROI.
Composing the Ideal Prospective Cold Email
For fear of being labeled as spam by potential customers, many business owners avoid cold emailing. However, here’s how company owners can design the perfect cold email and enhance their response rate.
Start a Targeted Emailing List
Just because you’re sending a cold email doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work on establishing a targeted email list. Including a certain type of customer on your email list increases the number of people who click on your emails. To define your buyer persona, outline the attributes of your ideal consumer.
That way, you tailor your email to your prospect’s interests and raise the likelihood that they’ll respond positively to it.
It’s crucial to know that there are two methods by which companies may normally construct a list. This may either be by manual prospecting or purchasing a list from a website. Creating high-quality leads manually takes effort but might pay off in the end. On the other hand, buying a list can provide rapid and efficient results. Unfortunately, however, certain businesses give out half-truths and misinformation. That said, obtaining a quality list from a reputable website is a good idea.
Writing an Email
There is an art to composing a cold email. As a result, companies shouldn’t send customer emails that look like they were created with a template. Not only is this generic, but your prospect may have seen a similar email to yours and immediately classify your email as spam. Instead, learning the skill of producing a terrific email every time is worthwhile.
For starters, it’s crucial to have an effective subject line. Your subject should be honest, direct to the point, and excite the recipient’s curiosity. There is more to an email than just the subject line, and businesses should also pay attention to that. The body of your email should likewise be direct and to the point, but ensure that it is relevant to the recipient to keep them engaged.
Ultimately, your email should offer value, which means you need to be able to answer a few key questions. What follows is a short list of considerations.
- What will the receiver get from the material in this email?
- Is there an issue this email could solve for the receiver?
- Does this email have a clear goal that the receiver can quickly identify?
After you’ve given your answers to these questions, you should craft your closing arguments. Most business owners are instructed to deliver a clear call to action. While a call to action (CTA) is still necessary for cold emails, it’s ideal to be subtle rather than aggressive. Bear in mind that you and the possibility are not currently connected. And yet, a successful cold email could well be the beginning of such a relationship.
Even if the recipient isn’t ready to buy anything or set up a phone call with your business right now, they could be curious about what you have to offer and sign up to receive weekly emails.
Scale Your Cold Email Campaigns
Business owners who want better results from their cold email campaigns will need to scale them. Consequently, you should focus on open-rate data if you want to learn how effective your subject lines are. Your email’s CTR may tell you a lot about how successful the body content itself is.
Take advantage of this knowledge to improve your future actions. Using your data more effectively will get you one step closer to sending effective cold emails.
Although cold email, like cold calling and direct mail, may not be the most thrilling marketing strategy, it is, in fact, quite effective. When executed properly, cold emails may significantly influence your digital marketing and company development plan. In addition, most people check their email regularly, which is a great channel for businesses to reach their target demographic, build their brand, and nurture leads.
7. Use Betalist
You’re likely familiar with social news aggregators like Product Hunt and the content discovery platform Reddit. However, there are other platforms like Betalist where you can buy exposure to a large tech audience.
Many startups have utilized Betalist to quickly generate an early adopter list of interested users. Take Upvoty for example, a product that gives instant feedback to build better products. You can turn user feedback into actionable product optimizations. Not only did they get more beta sign-ups, they also saw an increase in site visitors from Instagram and Twitter followers; they were also featured on BetaList. A definite win-win!
Another example is FrontApp, a tool for enhancing collaboration and productivity inside groups. They were able to get 400 qualified users to sign up in only a few days, thanks to Betalist.
Since FrontApp needed beta testers for their software, they went straight to the source and tried various “beta user” groups. FrontApp uploaded their product to sites like Erlibird and Startupli.st to get in front of a focused audience of people and perhaps gain some early adopters.
With only a $49 investment, FrontApp was able to have their software highlighted prominently on Betalist’s first page and attract over 400 new users (from a total of 832 direct visits). As a bonus, many Betalist members are early adopters in the startup sector. After seeing FrontApp highlighted on Betalist, some published articles about it, leading to even more inbound links.
Those interested in consumer goods are the best target audience for such sites. But if your product strikes a chord with the community, you may see hundreds of qualifying signups in a couple of days.
8. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing may be a robust approach for rapidly expanding a user base. There is little danger and a lot of potential gains. You incur a cost only when a user completes the desired action on your site.
This is how it works:
1. Affiliates are given their own URL.
To determine which affiliate is responsible for a certain amount of clicks
2. Affiliate markets your product
There are a variety of methods an affiliate may use to promote your product. They can employ AdWords, and other paid advertising methods, create a podcast or video for YouTube, send out cold emails, publish blog entries, and so on. You can do everything you set your mind to.
3. The user makes a purchase
An affiliate’s hard work pays off when one of their referrals becomes a paying client.
4. Commission paid to the affiliate for
You may think of affiliate marketing as outsourced marketing. This is because you only pay for visitors brought in by third parties if they become paying clients. Also, search engine optimization (SEO) benefits greatly from affiliate marketing because of the additional content and backlinks to your site that is generated.
Affiliate marketing is an excellent strategy for getting Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) and prominent bloggers to write about your brand. Bloggers and influencers love passive income, so you can be sure they’d be at least mildly interested in being paid for their participation.
Online advertising is another way to reach your target audience of early adopters and potential customers. In a short time, advertising items like search and display advertisements may bring in thousands of qualified leads. However, if you want your ads to be successful, you need to make sure they present the benefits of your product in the most compelling way possible.
Try out multiple age ranges and niches in your ad campaigns before committing to one. This facilitates finding your target demographic among the many users of these ad networks.
That way, you can concentrate your advertising efforts on your website, collect email addresses, or make sales.
Facebook’s success is on its ability to let advertisers target certain demographics. You may narrow your focus based on the people, places, and things that interest you (i.e., relocating to a new area, purchasing a home, etc.).
Adidas promoted a soccer-themed marketing campaign on Facebook aimed squarely at soccer fans. The case study claims its Facebook page attracted over a million users and increased brand awareness by 8–21 percent.
10. LinkedIn Messages
If you’re looking for a way to increase your conversion rate, try using LinkedIn messaging instead of cold email. Your cold emails may convert at a low rate for several reasons. Still, one major factor is how impersonal the medium is. Although possible, it is more difficult to convey your credibility, offer, and what your firm does while sounding personable.
Since your LinkedIn contacts can view your whole profile, your message will have a more “human” feel.
You may contact individuals on LinkedIn in two ways:
Direct Messages on LinkedIn
LinkedIn inmails are a way to privately communicate with anyone on LinkedIn who is not already a connection of yours. Still, you are allotted a specific number of inmails each month. Once you’ve used those, you may buy more Inmails for a fee, usually around $10. LinkedIn’s Inmail feature is distinct from the site’s free messaging feature, which allows users to communicate with their contacts via text or a pre-written message.
One such application is reaching out to prospective early adopters outside your existing network. However, they could be more accessible via other social networking platforms.
Sponsored Inmails are distinct from ordinary Inmails in that they enable you to send out your message to thousands of professionals simultaneously. In contrast, regular Inmails can only be targeted individually.
LinkedIn suggests using this function to promote webinars, e-books, and other content designed to generate leads.
11. Speak at conferences
Conference speaking is a tried and true method of promoting a new business and gaining new clients. Make it your mission to master your field thoroughly so you can confidently approach event planners and volunteer to speak at their gatherings. Schedules for conferences are often determined six to twelve months in advance, so plan ahead if you want to attend.
After attending 239 conferences, Neil Patel found that the ideal tactic is to avoid interacting with one’s peers and focus instead on speaking with one’s future consumers. For example, suppose you’re into SEO; it’s not worth your time or money to attend a conference when everyone else is already an expert in your industry. Instead, you should visit a gaming event and demonstrate how to attract new clients. It resulted in a $100,000 monthly contract for Neil.
Tips to Start Speaking at Events and Conferences
It’s a great PR opportunity. Sending a representative to speak at industry events helps to maintain the company’s standing as a leader in the field and the distribution channel. Consider creating a special hashtag for your discussion. In addition to potentially reaching more individuals in real-time, the discussion may continue after the event ends.
It’s good for the industry. Conferences allow professionals in an industry to network with one another and brainstorm solutions to problems that affect the whole industry. Conferences play an important part in the advancement of businesses and sectors via networking and the sharing of ideas, and speakers play a vital role in this process.
Generate leads. Acquire contacts (email addresses, names, handshakes, friendships) and future clients (client inquiries) from influential people in your field.
It’s a huge brainstorming session. If you want to get people thinking about their businesses and what they could/should be doing, giving a talk at a conference is a terrific way to accomplish that.
Speaking comes with perks. In most cases, the speaker is exempt from paying the full registration price (which might be several hundred dollars) for the conference. Not bad for preparing and presenting a topic you already know. Plus, speakers get the opportunity to get up with colleagues and meet new partners in the company.
Creating a reality TV program about the process of developing your business would be the next logical step in building in public. The Startup podcast from Gimlet Media is a fantastic illustration of this type of production. Similarly, Mid-day Snacks broadcasted a live program on Instagram centered on the company’s growth.
A Tool That is Easy to Sell
To make it easier for property managers and landlords to advertise their properties on the five most popular rental websites, Zumper developed a software application. After two years, they controlled over 80% of all active rental listings in New York City and San Francisco.
Pointless and Awesome Geek Stuff
Kapwing, a video editing firm, developed the Firemap web app. Firemap is an interactive online program that uses satellite pictures to show the status of homes evacuated by wildfire. The app was hosted on their website and was published in various local media. As a consequence, the company’s Google rating improved significantly.
More than half a million views of Yarn’s movie clip search engine were generated by automated Twitter bots. Similarly, Mixpanel developed an automated script to monitor the social media activity of individuals writing about the issue they are trying to solve.
They were able to generate a large number of accounts by using this method.
The founders of Atlassian handed out 15–20 cases of beer with the company’s label during the JavaOne conference.
A Tiktok video
The creators of the new dating app Snack used Tiktok to get over 150,000 views for their video describing the product’s value proposition.
An Ambassador Program
Thanks to the ambassador program that Snackpass created, they were able to roll out on ten campuses and generate over $10 million in gross merchandise volume (GMV).
Before releasing their product, Ladder grew the number of people who got their email about remote work to the “tens of thousands.” Every one of their first 1,000 customers signed up after reading their email.
A lot of content
This presentation from Leadpages is a useful tool for developing original content. They went from 0 to 16,000 consumers in under a year using content marketing.
13. List company on
F6s is a great site to list your company if you’re looking for a high return on a minimal investment of time and energy. In addition, over 4 million entrepreneurs use F6s to gain discounts on software.
ThingTesting (for DTC)
Similar to how glassdoor serves the corporate world, ThingTesting serves the consumer market. Get early adopters (testers) & reviews for your brand by posting your product on the website.
Product Hunt’s website gets over 100,000 visits every day. After launching on product hunt, Loom attracted more than 3,000 users.
Capiche (for B2B)
Capiche is a user-driven marketplace for SaaS product pricing data and user feedback.
Capterra (for B2B)
Over 5 million people have used Capterra to find and compare business software. Capterra was the source through which I learned about customer.io.
The founders of Lambda School, Allbirds, and Peloton all raised their initial funding using the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter.
If you’re having trouble finding early adopters, try posting an ad on Betabound. Around 50,000 unique visitors each month is a decent amount of traffic.
14. Post On
Product discussion boards maintained by competitors (for B2B)
Zapier found their early adopters by searching product forums for people who wanted the feature they were making and by leaving a comment pointing people to the Zapier website.
On Indie Hackers, the teams behind Prospects, Virtual Mojito, and Dorik attracted their initial 100+ users.
Both Segment and Supabase were able to generate many potential customers after putting their initial minimum viable products (MVPs) on Hackernews and soliciting user input.
After demonstrating Discord in real-time in a gaming community, the company quickly gained traction.
Quora is a great place to identify early adopters, but answering questions on the platform takes time and requires little work. For example, with the help of Quora, Anand from CB insights was able to raise brand awareness for his business (without getting banned).
“In one month, we launched the website and went to other gaming Discord groups to tell them about this new site we built. We got a ton of traffic just from other Discord groups without spending anything on marketing.”
– Brian, Cofounder of E-Pal
Among the major social media sites, Linkedin is one of the last places to get significant organic reach. Wonsulting’s founders used Linkedin extensively in their efforts to establish the company.
By presenting in front of a New York tech meetup, DigitalOcean was able to attract its first 50 paying clients. Similarly, Github’s first user base was drawn through product demonstrations at Ruby on Rails user groups.
In its early days, both Etsy and Nike exhibited at trade exhibitions. At least twice a month, Etsy staffers hit the convention circuit in search of new vendors. Similarly, Nike debuted its sports shoes at the industry’s largest trade exhibition, the National Sporting Goods Association Show.
Client’s Offices (for B2B)
Every day at 7 a.m., Bloomberg would stop by the Merril Lynch office to provide coffee (or tea) to the workers who were already there reading the paper. One of his first major corporate clients was Merrill Lynch.
At Techcrunch Disrupt, Trello made its debut and attracted its first paying clients. Over the next two days, they received over 130,000 unique visitors to their site.
Conferences (for B2B)
During SXSW, Kismet and Twitter found their initial audiences (South By South West).
16. Build a Personal Brand
The process of attracting followers is less challenging on an up-and-coming social media site than it is on more well-established ones. Here are some emerging app options for you to consider while expanding your user base.
Diamond App: A web3 Twitter
Popparazi: A friends-first photo-sharing app
Callin: A social podcasting app
Racket: If Tiktok were an audio company, it would be Racket
Discover, Engage, and Convert Customers Who Have a Strong Intent to Buy
As founders and entrepreneurs, we strongly desire our companies to succeed. While product development has been held up as the pinnacle of a successful business, there is much more to it. Your product’s early success will depend greatly on the challenges you’re trying to solve with it. But, of course, it’s impossible to do this without a group of people watching you.
Finding your first 5,000 consumers is no easy feat, but I learned that having an audience helps you do that. You must find your early adopters and keep them engaged long before launching your product. As a result of their intimate familiarity with the product’s value proposition, they may subsequently become your most ardent advocates.
Pay attention to the path your consumers follow as well. With customer journey mapping (CJM), you can see in one place how consumers interact with your product at each of the stages they use it. If you do this, you’ll be able to think ahead beyond your first 5,000 consumers and anticipate their needs and wants.