Discuss Home · Bootstrapped Podcast · Scribbleton Personal Wiki · HelpSpot Customer Service Software

How are you acquiring customers?


#1

I think it would be neat if people shared how they acquire customers.

We have been an web first company for a while now. Mobile has always been a second thought. Over the course of this last year we have noticed a big shift. 60% of our new customers come in via the app store. This time last year less than 5% of our new customers were from the app store. We have not had a strong focus on mobile either.

Our online marketing (ie. google adwords) are not performing well as it did in the past.

We still get a fair amount of traffic from social, and SEO but our conversions have gone done. I think less and less of our possible customers are spending time on their desktops.

As a company we are rethinking our marketing efforts.

It would be interesting for others to share how they are acquiring customers. What is working? What is not?


#2

We are selling B2B / enterprise tools so mobile is not (yet?) important for us (>90% of prospective customers evaluate our products when they look for possible tools from their desktop machine at work). We use a healthy mix of methods to acquire customers and for us Adwords, SEO, partnerships and word of mouth* work best.

I think Adwords is underrated by many smaller companies. Even if you have a lot of large players in your space who drive up the prices (and this is the case for us), it can still work well by optimising your ads / account. The only issue with Adwords is that it’s difficult to scale.

*) We found that when people enjoy using our tools and join a different company, they often recommend our products to their new team, which works great.


#3

Yeah we’re similar to Dennis, though we don’t do much Adwords. I’d like to do more, but right now don’t have the time to put into it to really optimize it properly.

One thing I did very early was create a microsite for open source help desk software. This turned out to be very effective as people search for open source even when they don’t in fact care about if it’s really open source or free, they just start their search there by default.

Even 7ish years later it still performs really well. I’ve tried a few other microsites which haven’t reached the same levels, but they’re pretty easy to build. I’ve also been thinking lately about microapps as a more modern take on the microsite, though I’m bad at thinking up small quick apps so I haven’t done much with that yet.


#4

Interesting. Micro Apps. I had not thought of that.

On the web front we have been thinking about micro sites. Thanks for sharing. It might just be the kick in the pants we need to do it.

We build generic tools (Accounting, Being paperless on the go,…). We often land a customer when we can show them how our solution solves a particular pain point. Every customer has a different pain point. We can’t “market” to every pain point on our marketing site. However, if we do a micro site for a particular pain point it might create a tighter funnel. Maybe marry adwords with a particular micro site and you could nail a very particular vertical.

Thanks for the thought on micro sites.


#5

We are very much relying on word of mouth - even after four years. When we started @drewm and I very much relied on our personal reach - we’ve both been working, writing and speaking on and about the web for years. That was made easier as our target audience is web designers and we are to some degree “names” in that field.

Our Perchers are lovely and enthusiastic and we have some great advocates for our product. So we’ve really relied on that kind of word of mouth approach. We do a bit of advertising - preferring to spend our limited budget sponsoring podcasts, conferences and sites that we like mostly, although we do have ads on a couple of designer resource sites.

This year I am starting to look at how we reach other markets, those that we can’t reach by just being us. We’ve had a lot of success in the UK (where we are based) and in Europe - due to the fact our UI can be translated, however less so in the USA. That’s on the up since we started to accept payment in USD but I think there is definite scope to increase our customer base in the USA and it may be that we have to start looking at a more structured advertising campaign to do that.


#6

Yes, micro sites is also something we do. I believe we even borrowed the idea from @ianlandsman or @patio11 back then. :smile: We have a couple of micro sites and recently launched Software Testing Tools (we couldn’t pass on the opportunity when we had the chance to acquire that domain). It still needs more content and work, but the launch contest was quite successful.


#7

If one of your challenges is the desktop/mobile split have you looked at something that will generate landing pages that look and act great on both sources of traffic without you spending ages optimising? Something I’ve been meaning to try is https://www.smore.com/ which seems to provide the tools that let you try different things without a huge time/cash investment.


#8

I am in a bit of a bind as it seems that I have started to reach some of the edges of the more comfortable contacts I have within the industry I am selling B2B for.

Given my history with Non-profits, I have a good amount of immediate contacts in the industry, but I am now beginning to wonder if that limits the seriousness during sales pitch as they tend to see me as the “friend with a product”. They tend to give good feedback but it also seems like they don’t take me as seriously as some of the cold sales leads.

That being said, I am looking for new ways to acquire customers as cold calls/emails are tough for my personality and don’t really seem to set me apart from some of my competitors.


#9

We started, primarily, via word of mouth. Now, we focus on member-to-member referrals, but have experimented with some success with promoted Facebook posts. We have also made some appearances at niche shows that target our market and are not very expensive, specifically The Bazaar of the Bizarre in Montreal and Toronto. Being able to spend a couple of days explaining what we do and why, face to face, was wonderful.

As a web-based store rather than a B2B or B2C web service, and in a unique market, our needs are wildly different than many here. However, meeting with customers and prospects face to face has led to a great deal of referral business, even if the prospects were not interested themselves, they talked about us to those who were.


#10

I have 38 years of experience in the advertising business (agency level) and honestly, our best promotions come from word of mouth, local flyer distribution and some online directories. Although we are toying with cable ads for our new company’s model: http://www.webwizardsnetwork.com/video-sample/


#11

For consulting, it’s still 90% word of mouth. Phone calls still come in to the office from people who found Cogeian in a Google search for web design or web apps from time to time. But mainly, new jobs come in as a result of being referred by old jobs.

That said, moving into Saas products looks like it’s going to demand a heavy reliance on “content marketing” of the sort that Bidsketch does so much of (and apparently, does so well).


#12

I’m in a strange situation where I want to give a feel of the mom & pop intimacy while still having the trust of a larger SaaS (non-profits are very risk averse and like the comfort of stability).

In face-to-face meetings I make it clear to clients that they have my direct line and I want to give some of that feel to the general copy in my general marketing as well.

Right now, one of my problems has been being scared of not having a big pool of traffic or leads right now so I’m a bit risk adverse of trying to much change in message, etc.


#13

I too have had some success with micro-sites. Well, calling them micro-sites is a bit generous. They’re more like landing pages with their own domains. Here are two of five: http://lispjobs.com/ and http://erlangjobs.com/.

The micro-sites do exactly what I had hoped: rank extremely well for the intended keywords (“lisp jobs” and “erlang jobs” respectively), and drive traffic to my main site. By keeping them as simple as possible it really helped to keep the required investment low.

Also, Twitter has always been a strong source of traffic for my job board. One day I would like to try sponsoring functional programming related tech conferences, but I don’t have the budget for it at the moment.

The key is figuring out where your target audience hangs out (either online or offline, but I think most of us would prefer online) or where they will go to search for your product/solution. For example, I know that functional programmers love to participate on FP related mailing lists, and I’ve had success reaching out to them there.


#14

Following up on my previous post…it turns out that if you put a “not accepting new clients” message on your website for 2 years, word-of-mouth referrals fall off significantly. Who woulda thunkit?


#15

Interesting how word of mouth is such a big source for everyone. It’s never really been a big (measurable) source for me.

Right now, I’m mostly getting customers through:

SEO - Blog posts focused on specific keywords, and resources (like templates) that potential customers are searching for. My main SEO strategy is indirect phrases like web design proposal templates and freelance marketing vs direct proposal software. Though, nowadays I’m ranking well for most of both kinds. Going after long tail keywords has also worked well.

Distribution deals & integrations - Basically, links from being listed on add-on pages, partner pages, or doing cross promotion deals. You can find lots of ideas for that here: http://moz.com/blog/how-to-grow-21-tactics-to-acquire-customers

Content + email marketing - This has been nice in accelerating growth a bit. Being aggressive with capturing emails from pages that get the most traffic, has helped. I hired three writers that already know how to get traffic (and create shareable content), use my email list to help kick things off, and sometimes do special experiments (like infographics). This has been the hardest of the three, but it has totally been worth it.


#16

When you don’t know where the heck these people came from they go in the word of mouth bucket :smile:

All of those tips are great, but that link is gold. Hadn’t seen that before.


#17

Thanks for the link @earthlingworks (aka - Ruben) - just what I was looking for.

I would also like to hear of anyone having success with Linked In, Facebook Ads, Stumble Upon - or really any other paid traffic source. I am planning on trying as many of these as I can over the next couple of months to see what sticks.


#18

I talked to a fellow last night who gets huge results on Facebook as they can target very specifically for B2C. I guess if you’re B2C and have a specific niche it might make sense to give that a serious look (as icky as it may feel) since you can target very specifically to people who have attended certain events, gone certain places, etc.


#19

We use LinkedIn ads for one of our properties and saw immediate results. The nice thing about LinkedIn is you can get very specific with what audience you target.

For example, you might want to target only managers who work in the staffing & recruiting departments of online media companies in North America. LinkedIn will then display exactly how many members in the network fit that description, allow you to set your CPC, and daily budget.

But we have hit some really dry spells with LinkedIn too. Sometimes our impressions go from thousands down to almost nothing. Very inconsistent. Probably depends a lot on when your target audience is actually hanging out on LinkedIn.


#20

In this post I’ve seen a few comments about relying upon word of mouth. I always look at the whole “word of mouth” vs. paid advertising from this angle: If your product isn’t growing by word of mouth, even by a teeny bit, then it might not be worth talking about, and therefore not really even be worth paying to market. However, once you are gaining at least some growth by word of mouth, your quest is to find the right tool to act as a catalyst to that growth, and it will be different for every product. Like @andyjohnson mentioned above, LinkedIn worked great for his (our) app for a while, I know others that have great return from Facebook, and others who live by Google Adwords. Some businesses will experience great results from hiring salespeople, purchasing booths at tradeshows, or sponsoring conferences. Some people throw conferences, speak at conferences, of just wear the same t-shirt for days promoting your product while attending a conference. In my experience, the time taken to write blog posts on certain subjects has always surprised me in the traffic it can generate when you strike a hot topic.

Speaking of blogs, these days I’ve been gleaning a lot of great guerilla marketing wisdom from the Neil Patel’s Quick Sprout blog (http://www.quicksprout.com/).