Growth October 18, 2020

Which channels have worked for your product in the early stages?

Anton Bacaj @Tony

Would be good to get indiehackers sharing what channels worked for them early on.

The hardest part is generating traffic for the very initial traction, which can take months of experimenting to figure out.

Being a developer first makes this even harder.

For a previous product I worked on, the sub-reddit posts really helped get some early users. The sub-reddit /r/productivity brought in about 500 free sign-ups from a few posts.

It's a slow road and the current product I'm working on has very few sign-ups. Have started blogging so we'll see how long that takes to pick up on search engines.

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    I’ve found that Twitter works exceptionally well for driving traffic to my dev tool (divjoy.com). I’ve also found that offering discounts to various communities that have a deals sections works. Around 20% of my sales come from these discount links.

  2. 3

    I launched Wildkard (https://wildkard.io) 3 months ago. My first customers were 1st degree / 2nd degree connections. I got some sign-ups to get started. Now, we're investing in email marketing because it is: (a) cheap; (b) somewhat effective in my industry. I don't have the financial resources for paid marketing (search ads, SEO, social media ads).

    I would say double down on 1-2 channels max. Determining effective channels depends on the industry and persona your product is serving, and where they live online.

  3. 1

    I've found communities to be good. Listing a free ones as I think paid ones are generally a hit or miss. Good because of pricing barrier, bad because it is based on price alone. Communities such as Mozilla's Open Lab, Viral We Grow http://viralwegrow.com/ and open calls such as TechStars are quite useful to get more traffic and good feedback.

  4. 1

    Never saw anyone said this yet, but Twitter DMs.

    Such an underrated channel for initial traction.

    My first ~5-10 customers for Zlappo came literally from DMing 100 people a day.

    When you're just starting out, the slow channels (e.g. content, SEO, referral, etc.) shouldn't be your focus -- your focus should be the direct, obvious, to-the-point channels like cold email, cold DMs, cold calls, etc.

    Once you get your first few paying customers to validate your product, you can think of branching out to other stuff, e.g. building an audience, content marketing, affiliate marketing, built-in virality, etc.

  5. 1

    here's our mix with MakeSales.io as we're celebrating our 80th user

    1- direct network
    2- referrals
    3- partners (people referring you but that's their job)
    4- communities/content
    5- outbound (email + linkedin/twitter)
    6- inbound

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    Answering relevant questions on Quora has helped me on some occassions. You can use answerthepublic.com to understand the type of questions around your niche/product.

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    Anton can you share the link to your redit post? I want to do a redit post and haven’t found a way to post with a link that doesn’t get flagged as promotional.

    For me, to get my early adopters I did direct outreach and scheduled 1 on 1s. My direct outreach came my LinkedIn network & Conference. I got my first 10 paying customers that way. I learned a lot through these conversations.

  8. 1

    Who are your potential users? What do they do? How are they solving the problem now? Where are they looking?

    I have a tutorial on google sheets, on appsumo, a FB group was 100 sales in the first week. The next 1k came from appsumo's distribution channels. (email, FB, marketplace)

    I have a newsletter, 100 signups in the first 2 weeks came from Direct Emails and LinkedIn Posts. the next 1k came from LinkedIn Connections.

  9. 1

    Email. LinkedIn connection + followup message. Cold calls. In person industry events. Basically, you need to go out and manually find users one at a time. What works for you will depend greatly on the market you're going after and the price point of your product. Think sales, not marketing, even if you don't have a super high-priced offer.

    You may also be able to use paid ads to drive traffic and these might even yield you some. customers if you've got a cheap enough product that conversion can happen right on your website. But I'd still cautious against going this route as a substitute for direct outreach as 1) it costs money, where outbound generally only costs you time and 2) since your product / marketing messaging is new, it's unlikely that your website is going to convert the traffic you drive to your page at a high enough rate that the ads will pay for themselves.

    Blogging and other inbound tactics are probably not going to move the needle much right away -- those are longer term efforts that will help you with building brand authority, nurturing leads that haven't converted yet and potentially driving some traffic via SEO. But when no one knows you exist, writing blog posts without an outbound strategy to distribute them is just giving a speech to an empty room.

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