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The power of early adopters: how to get the right first 1,000 users for your product

Ranit Sanyal
7th Jun 2018
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Being associated with a design-driven app and web development company, we often come across numerous startup ideas. While communicating with them during the design or development phase, I usually ask the founders, “What is your strategy to circulate the app and get initial downloads?”

I am astonished to see that many of them don’t have any. Today I am writing this article to share some advice with all the startups out there, something I’ve picked up over the years. Maybe you already have a few tricks up your sleeve (it’s not rocket science), maybe not, but the most important thing is execution. So here are a few tips to keep in mind that can help expand your audience:

Image: Pixabay

Have a user gathering plan ready

This is the first thing you must consider after your groundbreaking idea, the sooner the better. While the product is in development, don’t just wait, but try to get your user gathering methods ready and in place. When the product is ready, you need to focus on execution, not strategic thinking about circulation.

If the strategy is clear, you might need something built in parallel to the product development phase, like building a lead capturing landing page. Before rolling out a beta, try creating a viral loop. In order to do that, you need a few development/integration tools at your disposal.

Let’s discuss some fast and proven user acquiring methods for your app.

Create a lead capturing landing page

Even if your logo is not ready, you can start with text as your logo. How easily you can convey your product to your end user will matter a lot. It will help you capture some email addresses even before you launch your product/service. Sending emails beforehand lets you share your product with those who are already interested.

You can contact your designer or developer to help you with this landing page. Also, you can use services like Launchrock, Lead pages, and Wix to create a quick landing page. But be sure to keep some key points in mind while designing the page:

  • Easily convey what your app is all about.
  • Keep an email address capturing field.
  • Keep your social accounts linked on your website from the beginning.

Identify the early adopter communities for your product

Identify your customers well. The product UX/UI depends on it, along with the marketing/brand strategy. If your app is a product targeted at college students, you must discover where those students hang out. If your target is school students, you might want to consider where the parents will get the maximum visibility for your product.

Knowing your early adopters well from the beginning will help you identify niche online communities to target for marketing your product. Online platforms to keep in mind to push circulation of your app include Reddit, Hacker News, Product Hunt, BetaList, AngelList, Betabound, Facebook groups, and Google+ communities.

Once your landing page is ready you can circulate it to the prospective online communities. It will help you understand your prospective users’ mindsets. Sometimes you might even get questions to help you sharpen your product. Keep the following points in mind when checking out early adopter communities:

  • The audience.
  • Finding a niche community must be your top priority. For example, in Reddit, find niche SubReddits, and in Google+, find niche communities.
  • Read and behave according to community guidelines. Don’t get carried away.
  • Keep the email addresses or phone numbers handy in a CRM or an excel sheet.
  • If you use MailChimp or a similar service, remember your user data will be in the database of that service. For safety, you might want to keep an additional backup of the data elsewhere.
  • You can send your product link to the same email addresses later once it is launched.

There are plenty of startups who have managed to crack their early adopters, resulting in excellent traffic and growth. Here are some examples:

  • A startup called Savonbox got 4,000+ upvotes and over 900 comments and had over 10,000 people come to their site, from a single Reddit post.
  • Betalist says it can provide over 1,00,300 signups to upcoming early internet startups.
  • Levels.io got over 25,000 page views in a day from Hacker News. But they got it when they trended at #1 on the platform for several days.
  • Final, a secure credit card alternative was listed in Product Hunt and they got nearly 10,000 signups overnight. Within 48 hours, they broke 20,000 signups.

Always keep in mind that to get a high-quality result from a community, you need to keep in mind several parameters, mainly uniqueness and usability of your solution, and the title and description of the post along with the timing of the post.

Don’t expect the same results mentioned above for your posts too. Success on user communities depends on lots of factors like the unique appeal of your product, USP, content crafting, time of the posting, niche forums you are posting in, etc. But be prepared and give your best always.

Keep your eye open for influencers

With simple text searches, you can find posts related to your target audience on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+. Identify the posters who have good followers, are related to your industry and are evangelists themselves. Once you’ve identified the influencers who can possibly help you out, you need to tap them. Here are a few simple steps to get you started:

  • Try to build a good rapport with influencers.
  • Comment on their posts and try to provide value in the comments or tags.
  • Subscribe to their newsletters and write to them. Up to this point, don’t try to push your product. Have patience, your day will come.
  • Once you ready, pitch your product to the influencers, on Twitter or via email. You can even add your landing page link in your email signature from the beginning.

Top publishers with small blogs also play an important role in a startup’s journey. They are nothing less than great evangelists. Before and after a product launch, they can give you a continuous flow of traffic.

Here a great list of tech publications you can look into. Another trick is to provide backlinks of your competitor or similar websites. In the process, you will come across a large number of blog names. All you have to do is pitch to them via email or social media. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Collect all names and social links in an Excel sheet
  • Also collect their pitching emails/process. You can often find these by searching on Google.
  • You can reach out to authors. You can find their email addresses on their Twitter profiles or from the author bios in publications.
  • You can also use tools like hunter.io to discover email addresses for a publication.
  • Once your app is launched, you need to pitch your product to them. A single good piece of media coverage can give you a good number of app downloads.

Work on the product circulation content

Once you start circulation, content will be your only saviour. From interactions to your social posts, people will keep looking at your content. Creating eye-grabbing, clickbait-y, descriptive, inquisitive content will allow people to interact. Let’s have a look at the content you must keep handy:

Product pitch line: Revise this over and over and see which one is best to convey your message. Try to make it interesting. Test it with friends or among peer entrepreneurs. Try various titles and sizes for Twitter, Facebook, influencers, Hacker News, etc. Each of them accepts different title sizes and post types, and in each case, your audience type will be different.

Product description: Apart from the tagline, you will need a concise description which will be able to convey your app details in a simpler way to make people more interested towards your product. You will need it in your website descriptions, app descriptions, forum discussions, and email pitches to help people quickly understand your product.

Your inspiration: To pitch to people on Hacker News, Reddit, or in media publications, you need to tell a good story, which you need to practice again and again. A lot of early adopters and influencers take a keen look at the inspiration behind how you got your idea. You may have to tell the story multiple times in many ways to make it heard.

Email subject lines: To pitch to media houses or influencers, email will your prime medium. When sending an email, the subject line is something that attracts the eye. Journalists get tonnes of email every day – your email needs to stand out, from subject line to the email body message. 

Social circulation content variation: Social media doesn’t see all posts at a time. You need to post multiple times to capture attention. In order to do so, you need a solid social media strategy for each platform. Without going too deep into any of them, I can say that keeping some variations is always handy.

Associated images: In social media visuals are a very important factor. If you notice, a lot of posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin extract images from a URL and use them. Good images attract the audience, but be sure you have your copyright sorted!

Don’t waste time by trying to ace everything from the beginning. It will help to understand the market and interest via early adopters, and so capturing them matters the most. Be consistent, keep track of what you are doing, and the result will help you in the long run.

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.) 

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Ranit Sanyal
Ranit is the co-founder of RedElegant Technologies, which helps businesses with UX-driven web and mobile app based product development. They improve user retention, business goals through UX analysis, UX design, and product enhancement. You can learn more about product design, development, and startup growth on their blog.

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