Many believe that building a successful startup is usually either 100% luck or 100% grueling, sleepless nights, and hard work. In reality, the truth lies somewhere in the middle; a successful startup takes luck, hard work, and consistent application of a few winning strategies.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach that works for creating something that people will love, or to build a cult-like following for your product. But regardless, building a following is essential to startup success.
Once you have a product that you know works, the next step is to acquire customers who will start using it. There is no such thing as “build it and they will come” in the startup world. You need to have a clear plan in place to attract customers to your product and achieve long term growth.
First Things First, Define Your Target Audience
The first task in a successful customer acquisition strategy is to define your exact customer persona. The SaaS landscape is full of several different companies, and many of them essentially do the same thing. There are a host of martech tools that perform analytics or content management work; there are several project management products that can help your team manage their day to day tasks.
One of the ways companies differentiate and better align with their target audience is by niching down. You can either try to be the project management tool for everyone, or you can be the project management tool for healthcare professionals working at mid-sized hospitals.
To properly define your niche you need to conduct surveys and interviews just as if you were building your product. The results can help you identify some key problem areas you might have been missing when you first started building your product and can help you add more features to your product that help you acquire more customers.
Another benefit of identifying your audience and interviewing more people is that you can discover where your target audience congregates. Knowing the locations where you can find your audience will bring you one step closer to getting them on board with your product.
Now, let’s discuss a few customer acquisition strategies that can help you acquire customers.
Blogging is a popular way for you to attract customers to your product since you can use it to build an audience and establish yourself as a thought leader in the industry you’re targeting. The internet has changed and guest blogging isn’t as simple as setting up a personal blog and just writing about whatever topic comes to mind. You will need to do proper research to understand what topics interest your potential audience and most importantly, meet them where they are.
Which blogs and publications does your audience read the most? These blogs represent the best opportunity for you to build a relationship by becoming a common theme in the places where they congregate. The more your customers notice your brand in the places they go for valuable information, the more they’ll associate your content, your brand, and what you’re selling with something that can help them.
Guest blogging provides targeted exposure to your ideal customers, helps you to establish your credibility, and gives you access to qualified leads who might not have known about your brand otherwise. Finally, guest blogging is a great way to do link building, which will help with the next strategy on our list.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is another great customer acquisition strategy that you can utilize to grow your brand. Whereas guest blogging is primarily for building your brand and reputation in the industry you’re part of, SEO targets your potential customers by providing them answers to the things they’re searching for.
By optimizing your website for the specific keywords and questions your customers are searching for then you can rise to the top of the rankings and put your brand in front of billions of people. In fact, Google gets about 5.6 billion searches per day, so it’s a common way for the average person to search for the answers to their problems.
Still, SEO is a lot more than just posting a few keywords in your articles and waiting for traffic to start pouring in. Instead, you need to focus on creating content that’s relevant to your audience since the competition can be fierce. But, when you get it right and end up on the first page of the rankings it can be worth quite a bit to your bottom line.
Launch a Podcast
Acquiring customers boils down to how well you’re able to connect with them, solve their problems, and establish your credibility in the industry you’re targeting. Connecting with other influencers or thought leaders in your industry through a podcast helps to do that by tapping into the growing number of podcast listeners. Roughly, 32% of Americans, or 106 million people, listen to podcasts at least once a month, and that’s just in the US. In our increasingly digital and remote world, podcast listeners and your potential audience can come from a worldwide audience.
Podcasts don’t need to be complicated either. Simply start by interviewing others in your industry about the work they’re doing. More than likely, the problems they have been finding solutions to are the exact problems your audience has been having.
Start a Newsletter
Email marketing is a nice way to keep your current customers up to date on what’s happening with your product. But, it can also help you acquire more customers.
Newsletters have been growing in popularity in recent years and they offer a huge opportunity to place more relevant content in front of your audience.
Newsletters provide a way for you to not only update your audience on what your brand is doing but to also curate content and keep them up to date on the industry as a whole. The most popular articles in your industry, upcoming virtual events and conferences, and tips and tricks related to solving the latest problems others in your industry have found.
Partner with Influencers
Who has the most important voice in your industry? Influencer marketing is ideal for B2C companies selling their products to several people but it’s an option for SaaS brands as well.
People buy or associate themselves with things that they trust. To gain trust quickly and acquire more customers you can partner with key influencers and use them as spokespeople for your brand.
This also works for more complicated products and industries as it can boost authority and credibility for new products when an experienced and trusted face endorses it.
Double Down on Video Marketing
Video marketing has grown into an ideal option for companies to share information with their audience. It allows experts to explain complicated concepts faster and usually with more visual assistance than just a blog.
Unlike other forms of content which might take more time to consume quickly, short videos that are less than a minute long are an easy way for SaaS companies to educate their audience and go viral.
Launch a Referral Program
Finally, you can launch a referral program to encourage your current audience to help you find your future audience. Referral marketing can be combined with any of the other customer acquisition strategies we outlined.
By providing your audience with an added incentive such as a discount code or free monthly subscription, you can build an additional marketing team that can help you bring more customers to your brand.