You had a SaaS or app idea. You and your developers worked hard on it for weeks and came up with something that you believe is a revolutionary product that will solve a lot of the existing problems of the users and empower them with features that they never thought of before.
As soon as you launch your Saas or app or side project, you get a few sign-ups from your friends or maybe random people who came to know about your product through your aggressive social media campaigns or advertisements. You feel happy!
But, soon, the number of signups just drops drastically.
Days turn into weeks and months and you realize that acquiring new customers or even just as basic as getting new signups is even more challenging than building an app or a SaaS product. That’s because just like any industry and business, yours too is overpopulated.
A lot of your competitors are well-established businesses. They are probably doing extremely well, with a huge base of happy customers who wouldn’t even bother to hear about you. These businesses are better funded than yours and they can afford to come up with an extensive marketing strategy or maybe offer a great discount should they feel their customers are moving away.
When we were on the verge of launching Notifier, we too were bombarded with these thoughts. We knew we were going to compete with huge, well-established, financially strong brands such as Brandwatch, Brand24, Meltwater, Hubspot, etc. Just like any small-size startup, we too were financially restricted, so we didn’t include advertisements in our self-promotion plan.
Notifier was (and still is) ridiculously cheaper than the other best social listening tools. Plus, Notifier offered a few unique features that none of those tools had, especially in their basic plans. Still, we had no clue how to spread the word out and get more signups and more users.
Thankfully, Notifier was our tool and we knew what social listening is and how to use it to generate leads. Notifier helped us a lot but we also tried a couple of other methods and they worked too!
In this blog, we are going to share our strategy with you, hoping that it will help you find the first 100 customers for your SaaS, App, or side project.
1.Create a killer landing page
That seems like a lot of work but it really isn’t. All you need to do is to make sure that the landing page i.e. the main (or home) page of your website compels the visitors to spend more time on it.
Well, it’s pretty obvious that the more time they spend on your website, the more they will learn about your product, and the more interested they will get to try it out. You will then have a higher conversion rate and that’s how you will be able to quickly find the first 100 users for your Saas project/app.
See the example below. Which one would you prefer?
We hope now you understand why it is important to work as hard on your landing page as you did on your SaaS project or app.
Here are some of our suggestions:
- Make sure your website is mobile-friendly i.e. it loads equally well on all mobile devices, tablets, etc. Most of us prefer to use our phones for searches, so having a responsive website is indispensable.
- 38% of visitors leave a website immediately if they find the layout or design unattractive. Before you approve your landing page, ask yourself if you are a user, will you spend time on it? If not, redesign it until you are happy.
- Did you know a user typically spends less than 15 seconds on a website? If a website looks too cluttered or distracting, they leave it in less than 5 seconds but they may stay for 10-15 seconds if it truly interests them. You have less than 15 seconds to build your impression. Make it count!
- People leave a website within seconds if the images fail to load. Make sure you optimize the images so they don’t affect the loading time of your website.
- 70% of small businesses do not have a call-to-action button on their home page. Make sure you don’t make the same mistake. CTAs help motivate visitors to reach you out if needed.
94% of first impressions are design-related. Keep this in mind when designing your website. See Shopify’s landing page for example.
Once your landing page or website is ready, you need to divert traffic to it. The next strategy is all about it.
2. Get traffic to your website
It is not enough to create a fantastic landing page and hope (or maybe assume) that people will find it. You will have to proactively divert people i.e traffic towards it. The most obvious way is advertising but small size (and even medium size) businesses won’t have enough advertising budget. If you have, make sure you scroll below to learn more about it. If you don’t have enough money to opt for paid search, here are some of the proven ways to boost your website’s traffic.
Participate in relevant forums and Q&A websites
Websites such as Quora, Reddit, Stack Exchange, and Medium are extremely helpful for diverting organic traffic to your website.
Don’t believe us?
Google any question or product recommendation you might have in mind and check the top 10 results. There are high chances that a few of them would be from these websites. We just tried searching ‘what apps are there for tracking screen time’ and Quora was in 7th position.
The quality of content shared on these websites is highly authoritative and they have to be! This is because the community based websites such as Reddit and Quora have very strict content policies. Spamming is the last thing that you would want to do there. If your content is found to be low-quality, promotional, and uninteresting, the other forum members will vote it down. Downvoted content eventually gets hidden.
The content of these websites is indexed well by Google, making them rank better. Further, people trust the content shared on these websites. If you want to divert organic traffic to the website of your app or Saas project, participating in these forums should be your second step (first mentioned above).
Here are some rules that you need to follow:
- Join only those Subreddits, communities, forums, etc. that are relevant to your project.
- Do not answer every question or participate in every discussion. Only choose topics that are highly relevant. You can choose humor though because that’s a safe genre and liked by everyone.
- Answer something that makes sense. Do not provide repetitive, stale, obvious information. Share something meaningful that people would bother reading about.
- DO NOT SELF-PROMOTE AND SPAM. Reddit and even other forums have the least tolerance for spam. You can share informational, interesting content and then indirectly and genuinely introduce your Saas or app. Some forums let you ask for feedback. Try them too. If you are not sure which places to start with, here are some suggestions.
Check out this blog to learn more about how to use Reddit for marketing your product/app. These guidelines are suitable for almost all Q&A websites.
Don’t ignore old-school email marketing
Since you have just launched or are about to launch your project, there are high chances that you don’t have an already existing list of potential customers. You may have put an opt-in form on your website’s landing page, hoping that people will sign up. Well, they will but only if it is tempting enough.
When we say ‘tempting’, we don’t mean well-designed. The opt-in form needs to attract people by offering them something valuable that they wouldn’t get otherwise, such as a discount offer, an ebook, free access to your app or Saas product for x number of days, or maybe an exclusive quiz for self-assessment. These compelling offers are known as lead magnets. See the example below:
You can say that lead magnets are more like bribes. You give away something for free so they share their email address with you. You don’t have to stick to your website’s landing page to promote your lead magnet. Feel free to promote it on social media, Q&A websites, and any other platforms where you can find your audience.
The most commonly used lead magnets are:
- MP3 audio files
- Access to podcasts or webinars
- Exclusive video tutorials
- Free trials
- Coupons and discounts
- Free quote or consultation
- Tips and tricks content
- White paper or case studies
- Templates, checklist, or cheatsheet
- A calendar or planner
- A printable
- Event ticket
- A free course
While creating a lead magnet, make sure you use an enticing headline, clear descriptive images, a brief, to-the-point description, and a very simple signup form. Complex, unclear forms will kill your conversion.
Once your list is ready, you can start sending them emails notifying about your product launch, updates etc. Do not spam them with too many or too frequent emails. Also, make sure your emails are lead magnets too!
You can hire an email marketing company if you have the budget.
Use social media for lead generation
At the beginning of this article, we told you how we used our own tool Notifier to get the first 100 users for itself.
Social listening is one of the most effective methods for lead generation. It isn’t about creating a social media page for your project and posting there regularly. Social listening is an advanced version of social media monitoring. It helps you track the keywords relevant to your business. Once you track down those discussions where people are talking about the products or services that you offer, you can participate there and introduce yourself.
You get highly targeted and accurate leads from social listening, which is why we claimed it to be extremely effective. Do not miss it out and DO NOT GET ANXIOUS WHEN YOU COME ACROSS THE RIDICULOUSLY EXPENSIVE SOCIAL LISTENING TOOLS such as Brandwatch. Affordable options are available too and they are equally effective. Just that they don’t have too many fancy features.
Social listening is in huge demand these days and numerous tools have cropped up to cash in the opportunities. A lot of them are substandard ones though. To help you select a tool that provides maximum value for money, we have come up with this list of 20 best social listening tools. You can confidently choose any of them but we would obviously recommend you our tool Notifier.
Although being an affordable social listening tool, Notifier provides enterprise-level features. Here is why we recommend it:
- Most other social listening tools only track your brand mentions and not the keywords relevant to your business. So, they don’t really help with lead generation but Notifier does.
- Notifier is the only social listening tool that offers instant alerts even with its basic plan. It can notify you within 30 seconds (on supported platforms), which means you can participate in a discussion as soon as it takes place. The faster you respond to those interactions or queries, the more will be your chances of attracting the leads. Other social listening tools charge a whopping amount for instant notifications.
- Notifier can help you track your competitors and the industry in general. Competition tracking will help you stay ahead in the business. It also helps refine your social media strategies.
- To provide you with highly specific leads, Notifier comes with whole word matching search, boolean search, and string search. Highly targeted leads can save a lot of your time and effort to generate the first 100 users for your Saas, app, or side project.
- Notifier has a user-friendly, responsive website. You can access your dashboard from all types of devices including your mobile phones, tablets, and notebooks. The flexibility to work from anywhere can mean a lot to startups and small-sized businesses.
Read this blog to find out why Notifier is the best affordable social listening tool for getting your first 100 users for your Saas, app, or side project.
3. Create great content
The type of content you create reflects who you are, what you do, and how well you do it. Your content helps communicate your message to your prospects. It also educates them and persuades them to choose you over your competition. No wonder why content marketing is still in trend and will always be. Here are some content marketing strategies that worked for us.
Blogging is time-consuming but it is a proven way to divert traffic to your website as well as to emerge as a well-informed, modern, helpful brand. So, make sure you blog as often as possible. Here are some tips to come up with blogs that provide highest the ROI:
- Choose topics that interest your audience (even though they don’t interest you). Remember that you are not writing for yourself but for your audience. For example; if you are a VPN provider, some of the topics that could interest your prospects are ‘how to choose a good VPN provider’, ‘mistakes that you shouldn’t make while choosing a VPN provider’, ‘7 common issues with VPNs that you should be prepared to deal with’, etc.
- As obvious, the blog posts shouldn’t be promotional. They should be highly informational. But, you can always gently promote yourself in the article. Do not over-promote though or else you can turn off the readers.
- Always have a backlog of content, so when you are busy launching or upgrading your product, your blog will still have something for your readers.
- Optimize your blogs to make them rank better. Write your content around the right keywords, so they get a chance to be seen.
- Make sure your content has infographics, useful videos, stats, etc. so readers don’t get bored.
- Make your content readable. The 15-second rule we mentioned above also implies for blogs. 95% of the readers won’t read your blog word by word. They will probably scroll through it. So, add enough headings, subheadings, infographics, etc. to make it easier for them to understand the perspective of your blog without reading it. We came across the fantastic blog from Neil Patel that lists down how to write scannable content.
Do guest blogging
Guest blogging is another proven method of sending more organic traffic to your website. But, it has numerous other benefits such as building brand awareness, improving your website’s domain authority, improving your overall search engine ranking, establishing yourself as a reliable business, building relationships with other bloggers, and ultimately helping you find your first 100 users for your App, Saas, or side project.
Guest blogging delivers faster and better results than blogging for your own website, especially if you are a completely unknown business. By blogging for others, you basically get a chance to tap into their traffic and their audience.
But, why would anyone let you do that?
That’s because they too want to enrich the content of their website. If you provide something extraordinary, it will help them get more attention and rank better in search engine searches. So, it is safe to say that the benefits are mutual although you have more to gain and they have more to lose.
Not sure how to find the right websites for guest blogging? Here are some tips to help you.
One tip that we want to share is that you should always stick to those websites that are relevant to the industry you cater to but they aren’t your competitors. For example; if you have created a social listening tool, you can submit guest posts for websites that are into email marketing, content management, etc.
Create your YouTube channel
Did you know 90% of customers have stated that a product video, demo video, or just an information video has helped them make a confident buying decision?
Videos have a high engagement rate as well as conversion rate. No wonder why YouTube is the second-most visited website worldwide. The number one is Google, of course.
The tips for creating successful YouTube channels are the same as that of blogging; create quality, entertaining, engaging content. Make sure you make videos on topics that interest your audience the most. Do not choose the most obvious, abused topics. There is enough content about them. Be creative with your content ideas. Also, make sure you use professional-grade equipment to get a clear audio and video quality.
Once you have created a good number of videos, you can start sharing them on forums, Q&A websites, your social media handles, etc. to divert traffic to them.
Also, make podcasts if that’s possible for you and share them too!
4. Get social
Social media is inevitable for any business, no matter what it is about. It can help you reach out to your target audience and build your brand’s reputation. So, make sure you leverage its power to find more customers for your new project. Here are some tips that worked for us:
- Initially, register with only a few social media platforms, which obviously include Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Instagram, Linkedin, and YouTube.
- While registering, make sure you complete your profile by adding your brand’s logo, contact details, etc. Do not leave out any field. A complete profile will reflect your genuineness and sincerity.
- Connect with your employees. Let their circle know that they work for you. Let their circle like whatever you share regarding them. This way, your posts will get more views, likes, shares, and comments.
- Do not share self-promotional content frequently. Ideally, only 10% of your content should be promotional. The rest has to be informative, interesting, and entertaining. Be creative with your content. You can always post your YouTube videos, blog content, or guest blogs. But also try to include some humor to your social media posts by sharing gifs, memes, etc. Humor is highly appreciated by social media users and has a high chance of getting attention. The better your content will be, the sooner you will be able to grow your social circle.
- Do not wait for people to find you and be a part of your social circle. Be proactive and reach out to people who you think are suitable to stay connected with such as industry leaders, people who aren’t your competitors but still cater to the same industry, prospects, employees, existing clients, references, etc.
- Use your website’s landing page and signup form to grow your social circle. Offer some form of discounts. That helps!
- Use the right hashtags to get more visibility to your content.
- If your budget permits, go for paid social media advertising and sponsored posts. They have a high ROI and are worth their price. Make sure the content of the sponsored post is really lucrative such as photo contests, caption contests, comment to win, etc. People love participating in these contests.
- Try to post more videos and images than text. We hardly notice text posts but we do not mind looking at an image or watching a video.
- Try to engage with your audience and build a relationship with people. If someone comments or asks a question, respond immediately. If someone complains, do not sit back. Respond to the negative comments and backlashes too. Take care of their issues and do everything you can to win back their trust. This will help you emerge as a customer-friendly business. The better social media customer services you offer, the more customers you will get.
- Participate in relevant discussions and share your opinion.
- Use LinkedIn messages to contact your prospects. They work just like cold emails but they do have a higher conversion rate.
5. Consider paid promotions and ads
Let’s be honest, paid advertising is the fastest way to acquire more customers for your side project or app, or tool. Paid promotions make your posts appear at the top of the search results, which increases their chances of being clicked by manifold. Once they reach your landing page and they find it worthy, they will opt for your product.
Please note: before you opt for paid promotion, make sure you have a well-designed, flawless, attractive, informational, and helpful landing page. Otherwise, it doesn’t make sense to spend money to send people to a page that just disappoints them.
Acquiring the first 100 customers is definitely challenging. No one wants to buy a product that is just launched and has barely got any reviews (genuine ones that are not from friends and acquaintances). Even when you buy a battery you prefer to go with a renowned brand with lots of positive reviews and feedback. Don’t worry; every business has to go through this struggling phase. But, a great marketing strategy will definitely help you cut short the struggle.
Our last tip: Be patient and don’t give up. If your product actually serves its purpose, it will sooner or later, get recognition.