The Ultimate Startup Customer Acquisition Guide

The Ultimate Startup Customer Acquisition Guide

The Ultimate Startup Customer Acquisition Guide

Building a startup is really hard. Having to think about not only what to name your company and creating a logo, but how to incorporate, build a website, handle delivering your product or service, let alone letting people know you exist so that they become paying customers.

It’s A LOT to think about and all a learning process full of testing and trials.

Here are some tips to shortcut helping you find customers.

Before Launch

Send your startup to BetaList. BetaList features pre launch startups globally and they have a ton of traction, 15,000 plus followers and more than that number just eyeballing the website.

When my startup got featured I got over 500 signups!

SaveBusinessTime

Here’s proof from my Aweber stats tracker…

signups

And most importantly, the BetaList team truly cared about my success; they didn’t treat me like a number or a company trying to capitalize on a trend, which unfortunately is exactly how I felt when I tried out some similar sites. Here’s the story of another startup  that was featured and got $7,000 worth of clients before launching.

Use Twitter

Duh… I know, but seriously U-S-E  T-W-I-T-T-E-R. What better way to find your customers than in the moment they need you. You want to be searching Twitter regularly for conversations by putting alerts on keywords that relate to what you do.  I’ve been using Rowfeeder for years, which is great because they import all the tweets into a Google spreadsheet to take action on.

Here’s an example;

rowfeeder example

For Twitter engagement tools, the popular ones are TweetDeck (acquired by Twitter) and Hootsuite, but I think the most promising Twitter CRM is actually Commun.it. Commun.it focuses not just on facilitating a tweet-versation, but also it identifies who you should be connecting with.

twitter_crm

You see on the left side of the image above you can optimize your account to find leads for you. The company touts themselves as being the only CRM tool for Twitter.

Lastly, as you hopefully already know, TribeBoost is a great way to easily gain new Twitter followers.  I am not just saying that because of this post, I have actually experienced it for myself.  In just a couple weeks my account @savebiztime went from 85 followers to 436 followers. These are real like-minded people, not bots.

What’s key isn’t just increasing the follower count, it’s reaching out to all people who follow you, and igniting a relationship so that they can begin to know you and your brand and you can learn more about them, your potential customers. A simple way to track people who follow and unfollow you is by setting up a daily email notification via unfollowers.com

Follow Up With Your Leads

I like to handle follow-ups in two ways; utilizing private Twitter Lists and using a tool called Contactually.

How many times does a random someone reach out to you on Twitter with a pretty cool tweet and you reply and then never think of them again? A ton of times I bet.  It’s nothing personal, you have a lot going on in your life; you go to a ton of entrepreneur mixers, meet all sorts of people, have several Facebook messages and newstreams you’re behind on, not to forget your email inbox. So how in the world would a newbie stranger permanently stick in your brain… they won’t, just like you wouldn’t stick in theirs.

You want to create Twitter lists based on interests or groups like “SXSW” for people you met while at South by Southwest, or a Twitter list with your favorite bloggers called “Bloggers”. Make sure to mark the lists you create as private unless you want the people you’re adding to know you’re adding them to a list.  That’s fine. I prefer private because the lists I create are just for my personal follow-up.

So that’s Twitter lists, now for follow up in general – Contactually. Contactually syncs with just about all of the important social networks, email accounts, CRM’s like SugarCRM, Highrise and Salesforce. It’s akin to a high-level mega FBI like contact mastery platform for your eyes only, to orchestrate being the most authentic relationship builder of all time.  Yea, I’m a little super fan of the tool, but it works and it’s awesome. Plus they raised 1 million dollars in venture money so they won’t be disappearing.

contactually example

Speak at Events

Nothing accelerates a relationship more than meeting people in person.  I know this one may not be for everyone, but it’s an effective way to gain startup awareness that most don’t put the effort into doing.  Public speaking is a number one fear, (supposedly), along with death and taxes. Listen, we all get afraid, but it’s a matter of not allowing our fear to stop us.  A ton of people learn how to speak in front of a crowd in the safe haven of an organization called Toast Masters.

I say F that. We’re startups, we have pitch fests and demo nights and co-working spaces. Why not learn how to better communicate your brand while training yourself in public speaking?

Here in LA there are a slew of startup events. You can see them on this LA tech events calendar. If you’re not in LA, reach out to your local co-working spaces. Use ShareDesk, Desktimeapp or Desksurfing to find places in your city, then ask them if they know of any events going on where you can either pitch or demo your startup.

startup pitch

Taken at CoLoft co-working in Santa Monica, CA

Guest Blogging

Research the bloggers who write about what your startup is all about, the industry it relates to, the people it serves, the type of problem it solves – then formulate guest posts that would make sense to their blogs.

Start by putting together a spreadsheet of bloggers. To do this you can either start internet surfing yourself or delegate it to FancyHands. Have them compile a list of all the blogs they can find related to a series of keywords you give them that connect those blogs to your company offering. Have them write an overview of what each specific blog is about. There is no blog too small. Every piece of content out there about your brand helps catapult you into the eyes of a new lead. Today someone signed up for my email list by seeing my Google Plus profile (which I rarely, like never, use) on someone else’s Google Plus profile.

Once you have your list of bloggers, add them to a private Twitter list and start scanning all the headlines to see what they like to write about. Get inspired. Review their tweets. That may tell you more about who they are and their interests. Then think of topics that you are an expert in, which can feed content to their blog. Note all of that in your spreadsheet.

Start forming relationships with each blogger via twitter. Don’t wait ‘til your research is done. No one likes a person who says “hello” then immediately hits them up for a favor. When the time is right (go with your gut, and don’t speed into it) ask them if they’d be interested in writing about your topic. Tell them you could even write a guest post. Who doesn’t want to save time, and their having to write one less blog post is saving them a ton of time and gaining you publicity.

Most startups don’t make it because they weren’t able to attract enough customers that created the revenue they needed to survive. Don’t let that be you.

Cover photo by erikaow

Espree Devora is known as “the Girl who Gets it Done”. She is Comms VP at Semaphore, in addition to being a contributing journalist for TechZulu. On her blog SaveBusinessTime.com , she curates and reviews the best business software for startups to be more productive. She has provided seminars in entrepreneurship and technology to many corporations and universities including CBS, Disney and USC Executive MBA.

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