Getting your first 1k users is a lot different from growing your customer base up to 100k or even just 10k. In your startup’s early stages, you don’t need to worry about scalability as much as getting the biggest bang for your buck. That requires getting crafty, which also makes it fun.
At Codegiant, we just hit 1k users. We’re celebrating this milestone with an educational tour of our first month, analyzing our tactics we used in our growth story so you can use them to enrich your own.
First of all and most crucially, the secret to marketing is…
Building a great product. No amount of SEO wizardry, paid advertisements, or cold emails can replace the power of a truly satisfying product. Keep this goal in mind for the future, and always circle back to it when you are feeling “a little lost”.
Here’s three things we always strived to achieve throughout our journey:
- Build something that users love! You cannot substitute user passion with own fire. You need your users to feel engaged and excited.
- Talk to your users! Without their feedback, you’re working in a vacuum. You’ll never make truly exciting progress without the thoughts of your users.
- Design UI with the user in mind! Our UI has a beautiful design. Nearly all of the positive early feedback was related to our design and user interface. Our beautiful UI was a pleasure to use for our users and that helped our growth.
You’ll notice that all three of these points are centered on the user. This is because your audience is your biggest marketing tool. Nothing can match the power of an energized user base.
Despite our energized user base, however, we still had to take some extra steps to spread the word about our product.
Growth Hacks: Generating a Buzz About Your Product
Here’s five tactics we used to “get the wheel turning” about Codegiant:
Tip #1: Launch on Product Hunt
We did a very effective launch on Product Hunt and managed to get good traction and feedback from the launch. We got about 450+ sign ups and some amazing feedback. We utilized Maker’s comments, made sure to update often and professionally, actually announced our launch on PH, and adapted to feedback. ProductHunt is an incredible platform for startup seedlings to draw some attention to itself, so aim to stay very engaged with your PH listing for the near future.
Takeaway: Don’t underestimate the power of ProductHunt. Even if you don’t top the charts, it’s still worth it to make sure your ProductHunt listing is well-curated, informative, and open to wider discussion.
Tip #2: Attend Technology Meetups
It is vitally important to connect with your target audience and gather important feedback from these users. Physically meeting with your target users is worth its weight in gold. For example, a product like Codegiant is focused on making developers’ lives easier. Consequently, we scoped out a few developer meetups.
We felt that as a part of our launch strategy, we should take part of at least one developer meetup and get better connected to our audience. So, we attended and introduced our product at a React developers meetup in Bangalore (“ The Silicon Valley of India”.)
Additionally, attending these meetups gives you a focused window to validate your seedling idea. By polling your target audience directly, you can double-check (and triple-check, and quadruple-check) that your idea has merit and value. If you attend a meetup and your hopeful audience feels lukewarm on it, you should take that as a sign to reassess.
Takeaway: Go where your users are going. If you have a tool that is focused on developers, go and talk to developers and gather as much feedback as possible. If you’re trying to help business people stay more organized, find a conference to engage with. Physically meeting your target audience is a powerful tool in growing your startup initially. The bonus of meetups is that you also get to validate your idea directly with the target audience.
Tip #3: Strengthen Your Online Discovery
Online discovery (as in, catching people’s attention online) is crucial to growing your baby startup. If you’re a SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) tool, getting listed on varied business tools directory is doubly important. These directories allow users to find you through their own efforts, saving you energy. Additionally, users have a high level of trust in these directories, which often transfers to the products listed on it.
We listed our website on different business tools directories such as:
Takeaway: Make it incredibly simple for potential users find you in different business directories. Strive to be listed as an alternative when businesses are looking to switch from one tool to another. Saturate the search with your product.
Tip #4: Engage the “Twitter Chatter Multiplier”
Twitter is a brilliant channel to keep your users connected and engaged. Throughout our journey, we ensured that we were active on Twitter to answer user queries or concerns. This not only made our users feel listened-to and seen, but also helped amplify our Twitter Chatter Multiplier. It’s a beneficial effect that grows organically from the buzz about your product on Twitter. Engagement with the community is key to early growth; your product name should be in the tech conversations.
Some visual examples of what we’re talking about:
Takeaway: Twitter is no longer optional. As a business, you must go to where your customers are. A Twitter platform should be a big part of your marketing strategy; it’s free and easy, and most of the work is done by your excited and engaged audience. It’s also a point of easy-access for your audience, giving you low-stress place to start collecting feedback.
Tip #5: Get Blogging (With an Evolving Content Strategy)
The saying is everywhere: Content is king. In all honesty, to say we were “blogging” back when we started would be a massive overstatement, but we did write a few pieces that got shared, and brought us some new users consequently. Funnily enough, the piece that brought in the most new users was about how we had just gotten a whole bunch of users. Content draws eyes to your website and product. Even if your posts aren’t going viral or blowing people’s minds, the metrics don’t lie: blogging generates traffic, and traffic is vital to a seedling startup’s early life.
However, when you do start getting traffic, be ready. Create an Evolving Content Strategy, which will take the most advantage of your newfound blogging traffic. Enrich your posts with helpful advice, reach out to a wider audience (or sharpen your gaze onto just your target audience). Whatever you choose to do, just be ready. Nothing hurts more than scrambling for a revitalized blog when the numbers start pouring in.
Takeaway: Start blogging, ASAP. Think about what content your target customers would find valuable, and give them lots of it, for free. For early stage startups, it’s one of the most cost effective ways to establish your brand and build an audience.
Getting the first 1k users for your product does not happen overnight or at the snap of your fingers; it takes time, effort, and energy. But with the simple and effective tricks above, you can set up a strong foundation to skyrocket from. If all goes well, your first 1k users with these tips will lead to thousands and more in the future.
We hope you learned something from our cherry-picking tips of our first month. If the IndieHacker community wants more, make sure to say so in the comments and upvote this article! Have your own tips for baby startups looking to hit the ground running? Start a discussion in the comment section below. Who knows, you might make it big from the ideas you get, and go on to write your own article like this one. 😉