You always hear folks say finding the first 10 customers is the hardest, but getting from 10 to 100 is much easier.
This couldn't be less true for our journey.
I agree that once you have a repeatable customer acquisition strategy, landing new customers becomes substantially easier and more importantly, by definition, repeatable.
But, there are many ways to get 10 customers without having a repeatable or even thought-out acquisition strategy.
Our first 10 customers came from BetaList and Product Hunt launches and accordingly, they weren't our target customers. Their feature requests, their budgets, and their usage did not match that of our target customers. So while it was a nice boost of encouragement early on, that's about all that it was.
Finding a Repeatable Sales Strategy
Given our pricing model, we knew that we would have to find a repeatable acquisition channel to build an interesting business.
We started with cold calling our target customers. In the first 6-months or so, Ross called about 500 marketing agencies to better understand their needs and land our first pilot customers. The pilot customers weren't going to pay the bills, but they did teach us what features they cared about which informed our product and marketing efforts.
Knowing what our target customers cared about, we hit the ground running to find a channel where we could reach them. This is what we tried over the next 9 months:
While we did land a few customers from a handful of the channels (conferences, posting on forums, FB groups, AdWords), it was unpredictable and fickle.
We ran as many micro-tests ($20 - $50) as our tiny budget would allow until we found a channel that worked.
After many iterations on the copy and the objective, we finally found a Facebook and Instagram ad set that started delivering results.
Almost overnight (from starting the ad), new inbound leads started flowing in and we were closing a new customer a day.
This all happened around October of 2018, one and a half years after starting the company. With Ryan's savings quickly dwindling, we had agreed to take a step back and reconsider the project if we didn't have noteworthy revenue (more than $2k) by the end of the year. So, finding this new channel couldn't have happened at a better time.
Now that we had a source of leads, we started optimizing the rest of the sales funnel. Capturing the leads, screening prospects, scheduling demos, and onboarding customers.
We had an unreal conversion rate, 87% from some sources, but we were losing customers out the backdoor due to activation churn. About 20% of our customers wouldn't use the product and would churn within the first month.
After meeting with a handful of mentors, we decided to strongly incentivize integration calls, which has reduced our churn to about 2.5%.
With a solid source of leads and a good retention rate, we figured it was time to scale things up a bit. In June (2019), we hired an account executive, Andrew, and really ramped up our advertising spend ($4,500 --> $9,000/mo). We're now adding about $4k - $5k of new MRR per month and grew by 32% last month!
We're excited about the journey ahead and are even more excited about all of the small business owners who get to claim their day back by using our product.