A Quick Start Guide To Finding Startup Users

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Submit to Betalist, Hacker News, Reddit Startups and Product Hunt

Submitting to these resources is an excellent way to grow your initial userbase. Please note that Betalist only accepts submissions form companies that have not yet launched (you’ll require a landing page with a subscribe form). Also, they have quite a lengthy wait list, so you’re probably better off paying for their expedited service if you want signups sooner rahter than later (it’s worth it — we received around 150 subscribers to our MailPad waitlist from BetaList — at $99, this is 66c per subscriber!)

Furthermore, you’ll require someone to submit your startup to Product Hunt for you, but if you reach out to the appropriate contacts on Twitter, this shouldn’t be an issue, but if you do struggle, reach out to people on Twitter using the #ProductHunt hashtag.

BetaList, Reddit Startups, Hacker News, Product Hunt

An image of BetaList’s homepage

More places to submit your startup

Here’s an awesome GitHub link with a bunch of sites (constantly updated) that you should submit your startup to:

Updated List of Places to Post Your Startup

Updated resource list of places to submit your startup from GitHub.com

Get free online advertising vouchers

Take advantage of free advertising vouchers for Bing, Google, Facebook and Twitter. You’re able to get free vouchers for a couple of these places (depending on location) if you don’t yet have an account with them.

For example, in the UK, Bing Ads are offering a free £75 Bing Ads vouchers for new accounts (until the end of June 2015).


Utilise the power of referrals

65% of new business comes from referrals; it’s quite simple really, if you’re referred by a friend, you’re 4x more likely to buy ← these leads offer higher conversions.

Try and harness the power of referals by setting up your own campaigns. One of the most famous examples of a referrals campaign is by Harry’s — I recommend reading that article!

Harry’s utilised referrals to drastically increase their signups. This is their prelaunch page.

Harry’s offer up some open source Ruby code to help you setup your own referral program.


Use social networks religiously

Setup Twitter & Facebook profiles for your company. If you produce something very visual, use Instagram and Pinterest too. Make use of hashtags, relevant images and post frequently to increase your following. Don’t underestimate the power of social networking — you can bring in high quality targeted signups through this medium.

Search for relevant hashtags on Twitter by entering your hashtag into the searchbox. Reach out to potential customers by publicly messaging them.

Here’s an example for the term ‘startups’:

We searched for startups on Twitter. There were regular tweets with this hashtag and we reached out to a user searching for media articles.

Pitch to TechCrunch, Mashable AND the smaller guys!

Too many founders think that getting on TechCrunch is the be all and end all of startup success. Don’t get too hung up on this. Focus on the smaller outlets as well as the larger players.

Even if you don’t get picked up by TechCrunch, Mashable etc., by focusing on smaller news outlets, you’re more likely to have one of the bigger guys write you up at a later point.


Find websites relevant to your audience

Posting to startup websites is great; you will bring in a bunch of subscribers/signups for people interested in startups, but most of these probably aren’t your target audience.

Start ‘hanging out’ with your target audience on forums, discussion boards, subreddits etc. Be a valuable member of these communities and you’ll reap the rewards.


Blog, create content & guest blog

Content marketing is still an excellent way to pull in relevant customers. Setup a Tumblr or Wordpress blog and link it to your website (e.g. http://www.example.com/blog). Post your blog articles across relevant LinkedIn groups, Reddit subreddits, discussion boards, Facebook groups etc.

Writing blog articles will also increase your organic (search engine) search results, so you’ll get more long-term traffic this way too.

Don’t forget to pitch to other blogs as a guest writer. You’ll be able to harness their traffic and promote your own products/service.


Ensure that you have a smooth user on-boarding experience

If you have a poor on-boarding and UX experience, your users aren’t going to understand your product and they’re going to have a bad time. Take a look at UserOnboard.com, an excellent reference website to help you understand the on-boarding experiences of companies such as Basecamp, Google, Quora and Tumblr. I guarantee that you’ll learn something.

A sample UserOnboard design teardown

Plan out a marketing strategy & keep it regular!

After you’ve done most of the things above, and you’ve experienced a surge in traffic, you’ll probably face a steady decline — don’t fret though. Keep up with your marketing strategy; create high quality content; provide a smooth user experience; perfect and improve your product and you’ll be building the blocks for long-term growth.

Remember: what works for one company may not work for you, so you need to experiment and find something that is a.) cost effective and b.) time efficient.


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