If you’re a startup company, chances are you are trying to gain as many customers as you can. It can be a daunting task; running into walls, testing channels, and even pivoting or killing features all together because of poor product / market fit or lack of customer validation. Sometimes it takes testing different marketing channels to see what works, what doesn’t and to discover ways to improve your product. Check out these 10 tools (and tips) many startups have used to kick start their customer acquisition process.
1. Grow Your Network – Of Affiliates
Create a network of affiliates who are incentivized to sell your product for a commission on each sale through tools like Commission Junction and Linkshare. This will not only help the sale of your product or service, it will broaden your reach (and network) as those affiliates promote your brand.
2. Get Reviewed
Get reviewed on sites like Yelp, Amazon reviews, and Google Local. Getting reviews helps increase both your startup’s credibility and public perception which often result in increased sales. Reviews are credible sources of information for informed shoppers, so don’t take this step lightly. Ask your happiest customers to write a review and offer them a free feature or discounted monthly subscription in return. And, if you haven’t noticed, reviews show up in search so the more people talking about you (hopefully in a good way), the better it is for your product.
3. Get Connected
Clarity.fm is a marketplace for business advice and is the purestmost pure way to beget featured as an expert in your industry. Not only can you get paid for your advice, it’s a great way to acquire new customers. Though the platform is not a place for open solicitation – they have strict rules about it – if you use your knowledge and experience wisely, you gain instant credibility and thus opens the doors for more potential customers.
4. Start a Conversation
Customer service IS conversation. Conversation IS customer service. With a tool like ROBIN (an all-in-one customer service solution designed and developed specifically for e-commerce web stores) you can have real-time conversations with your customers. Did you know that 85% of customers leave after having poor customer service and never return? If you’re a web store and haven’t started engaging in real-time conversations with your customers, you will lose them.
5. Create Facebook Ads
Facebook ads will generate traffic to your site. You can target those based on interest, region, gender and even relationship status (if that matters). We use Facebook ads all the time to test art and copy, and to test demographics. Sometimes who we set out to target don’t end up being those that are interested in our content or offering. A quick fix in the ad centre helps us to re-align our target and increase clicks. The added benefit to this tool is the option for sponsored stories and /or right rail ads. And you don’t just have to advertise your product. Try running ads to a landing page, an eBook and even free giveaways. It’s fun watching your community interact with your content.
6. Make It POP, With Popups
You want your potential customers to know what you’re selling. Popups distract your readers (for a brief moment) to introduce them to content or a course of action that you want them to take. If you’re offering something that your readers truly want, a popup will not stand in their way of giving up, say their email address. Growing your email list is something you want to do anyway, right?
7. Stand on a Stage
Speaking opportunities allow for your startup to be recognized both by other startups and potential customers. It gives you the opportunity to explain why you created your startup and how you can help the audience. Plus, it certainly gives you credibility as a thought leader in your industry. Who doesn’t respect someone on stage?
Start by creating a list of all potential conferences, big or small, in your industry that you would love to speak at (you can hire someone on oDesk to do this for you to save you time.) Reach out to the organizers and offer your help in promoting the event, follow them on twitter and like their Facebook pages. Show interest and make yourself memorable. Then, if you have to apply to become a speaker, they’ll recognize your name and face (hopefully), which should give you a leg up over other applicants. Worst case, they say no, but may offer you a discounted ticket to attend, which never hurts.
8. Hack Google Forms
Google Forms is the standard way to collect data quickly from your customers. You don’t need to wait for an engineer. Use it for survey’s, as a feedback tool, or even to interview potential blog contributors or new hires. If you have read Sean Ellis’s Customer Validation Survey, you’d know that there is a point in time you need to talk to your customers. Customer Validation is a proven approach to drive rapid product adoption. You ask around 8-10 questions regarding your product to see how your product fares with current customers. The feedback is then used to further refine, develop or pivot your product or its features to help with customer acquisition.
9. Have a Social Media Presence
Ensuring that your company has a relevant social media presence is gaining importance today. It adds personality to the brand and it helps with search results – yes SEO ain’t dead. An active and engaged presence on the most relevant platform tells your audience that you are ready and willing to have meaningful conversations with them; adding to your customer service accomplishments and gaining instant ‘cred’ with your current and potential customers. Companies known to do social media well are more memorable, personable and often times gain advantage on their competitors. But be warned, if you start it, you have to be persistent about it. Like maintaining any relationship, it takes constant nurturing.
10. Mingle Like a King/Queen
By attending conferences you will naturally start to develop relationships with others attendees and speakers. Since you tend to share mutual interests in the topic at hand, it isn’t hard to break off and mingle. Some of the most profound connections I ever made at a conference led me to not only grow my business by 200%, but these individuals have become lifelong friends. And the cool part – they are from all over the world. Free place to stay! Wink wink. But really, your network is your networth.
Jayson Gaignard said it best at this years MasterMind Talks event in Toronto, “I could lose everything, but I will still have my network.” And if you build your network well, over time it will be there for you to lend a hand.
These 10 customer acquisition tools will in one way or another help you gain more customers, whatever the nature of your startup. Don’t go at them all at once. Chose a few tools and do them really well.
Did we miss any customer acquisition tools? Let us know in the comment section below!