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After a long and challenging development process, your application is live and well, but the first batch of users are nowhere to be found. Figuring out a sustainable go-to-market strategy is more difficult than you might have thought, and now you’re stuck with a beautiful app for no one to enjoy. Not only do new users give you an insight into the overall experience of your app, the amount of users also attracts new users. Don’t stress, here’s a list of 6 things that can help you efficiently acquire your first users, and retain them, of course.
1. Make use of your network
Networking is probably one of the most important aspects of successful user acquisition, especially after you’ve just launched your product or service. It is the practice of networking that pushes your business or product into what’s called the “snowball effect”. Once someone is aware and has a positive experience with your product or service, they’ll tell their friends, family, or colleagues about it. Which will cause at least some of these friends, family members, or colleagues to try out your product. If that results in another positive experience, they will, in their turn, tell it to people within their community, and so on. The more people with a positive experience, the faster the snowball will roll and grow.
Connect with people who can help you find key opinion leaders in your industry. In other words, search for the “influencer” of your industry. Their voice is often louder than those of people who aren’t familiar with the industry you’re active in. They might be more critical about your product, but when you get them convinced of your ideas, they can easily spread the word among a large audience.
2. Find digital communities that need your help
Where do people go when they try to find answers to their questions and solutions to their problems? Right - the internet. Make your way through the online spheres and try to find out where your main audience goes to ask for help. This can be, for example, certain Facebook pages, LinkedIn Groups, public Slack groups, or online forum communities like Reddit or Quora. Once you find the people that are looking for the solution that you can offer, they can easily become your early adopters and first user base. Making your solution known in these online communities can automatically result in the snowball effect we’ve talked about before.
3. Put yourself out there
Probably the best way to find your first user base is to connect with them in real life. Go to certain events where you know will be people that might be interested in your product. Keep an eye out for networking events in your industry and go there with a well-prepared set of tools you can use to make them interested in your app. You can do this by creating pitch-decks, which are short presentations that explain the purpose of your product, which you can show to potential investors or future users.
A good opportunity to get in contact with other entrepreneurs is via the weekly meetups organized by Venture Café in the Groothandelsgebouw, Rotterdam. Not only can you meet up with other enthusiastic innovators, you can also schedule a meet and greet with Lizard Global while you’re at it. Another example of an efficient networking opportunity is BNI, which is a network organization focusing on actively acquiring and sharing recommendations for your fellow members. They organize frequent meetings, workshops and seminars, in which they tell you all you need to know about recommendations and growing your business.
These kinds of events are also great opportunities for sharing your business cards, which allows people to come back to you at a later time. Attend seminars, conferences, and any kind of meetups, and make sure to register yourself in advance, so you have the time to prepare for it. Sponsoring is also a great way to attract attention to your product. It requires a small investment from your side, but it can stimulate contacts to remember you as the person that rewarded their time with an original gift, like chocolates, gift cards, etc.
Another way of having your voice heard outside of the boundaries of the internet is by getting in contact with radio stations, television programs, newspapers, or any other media source that can help you make your voice heard among the masses. Especially smaller media firms are often interested in hearing the stories of innovative entrepreneurs.
4. Consider (targeted) paid advertising
If you have the budget and don’t mind investing in ways to gain attention, consider investing in paid advertising that targets your end user. Social media channels like Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, or Twitter offer advertising tools that provide an easy and inexpensive way to showcase your business and product on the internet. First and foremost, make sure that you know where to find your target market. Which social media channels will be most suited for your product or service? This way, you don’t have to invest in ad campaigns on multiple social media platforms, only the one(s) that work for your product.
5. Outsource to a BDR/SDR
A BDR or SDR is a type of sales representative, which is an external party that makes sure that potential users hear of your product, so you can focus on other things. Again, this requires a certain investment, so make sure this is a good way for your product to gain attention. They help you find out where your target audience is active, how to convince them to try out your product, and how to generate and implement feedback in order to improve your product or strategies. Because it is such a big investment, it generally doesn’t fit within the available budget of beginning startups. But since it is a legitimate option, we do want to include it in this article.
6. Cold approach
Acquiring your first users is not for the faint of heart. And perhaps the most direct way of finding potential customers is by a cold approach. Although it can feel a bit uncomfortable in the beginning, your product can greatly benefit from directly getting into contact with people who can bring your product to the next level. Be prepared to be ignored or disappointed but keep trying. Important to keep in mind with a cold approach is to empathize with your contact, don’t try to sell them anything but ask for their knowledge instead, and provide clear descriptions of your product and area of research so there’s no risk of miscommunication. A good way to have your first contact is by proposing a meeting in real life, offering a lunch or cup of coffee as a “reward” for their time.
We can help!
All in all, acquiring your first users isn’t a piece of cake. On the contrary, it is exactly how many entrepreneurs end up failing. Especially if you’re not familiar with the concept of go-to-market strategies, it might be useful to find a digital partner who can help you with this challenging task. At Lizard Global, we are experienced in guiding our customers and their product onto the market, and successfully attracting and retaining a loyal user base. Feel free to drop us a line, and we’ll see how we can put your product into the spotlights it deserves!