How To Build A Sustainable User Acquisition Machine

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concert-768722_640To start your startup, we are looking for growth! You found a problem and solved it (plus, you have identified and validated the audience looking for this improvement). So now it’s time to scale. It is important to get traction for your idea. To do this, develop a business model that attracts users who want what you offer and who benefit from the solution at the price you ask.

Early adopters are a great resource for feedback and for word-of-mouth. Listen closely and read between the lines for clarity.

“They can’t always tell you what they want, but they can always tell you what’s wrong.” —Bill Gates

Your first users will help lead you to leads. They will help “share the love.” Whatever road you take, make sure you have a method for capturing leads, collecting email addresses, getting a phone number. Then, you can nurture the lead and build the relationship.

Here is a look are four key methods for acquiring users.

MarCom. Marketing communication is the broadest way to get traffic. It is also the most prolific in options. Users come to you based on a mix of brand exposure, repetition, and awareness. Advertising is the most traditional method of building presence. Here are key areas to consider once you have created your core message and unique selling proposition.

Search Engine Marketing, or SEM, is an ad option that helps build visibility online. Create a concise, compelling message to attract interest.
Pay Per Click, or PPC, is another way to purchase traffic via online ads. This can be highly targeted and effective in gaining prospect leads.
Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is a tool to ensure that you are found via keywords when potential users search for your solution.
Cross Promotion with complimentary brands can build presence among another company’s audience. Leverage the user base of others via partnerships and affiliate programs.
Content Marketing can help in many ways if you give away helpful information; information that is often shared. This can build awareness and credibility for your startup.
Social Media channels are another venue for building awareness and getting recommendation in your niche market. Make sure to keep a consistent voice and visual presence.
PR is helpful for getting your story out via interested publications or news sources. It is low cost and repeatable, plus it lends credibility. Create the right story. Pitch it with a short, engaging, newsworthy message.

Email. Email is one of the most personal, scalable ways to get interaction. Build your initial audience with early adopters plus relevant personal contacts and connections you can reach via sources such as LinkedIn or Quora. With eMail, you can target and retarget leads in order to turn them into users. Plus, you can build your relationship with existing users.

Referral. One of the most effective tactics is to get users to connect your product with non-users. Make sure your product has features that support this function. User experience should improve with connectivity and the user should benefit from reaching out to a non-user. How many people can you get invited into your experience? This option is a fast and hard-working growth hack that will help your startup scale. Make sure you design sharing features that allow users to recommend your product and invite others to use it. Your MVP—minimally viable product—is the minimal number of features necessary for your product to be successful. Sharing features are a must. Create a viral loop where your product can be shared before or right at the point one becomes a user.

Organic. This is the most valuable because users come to you intentionally. It is hard to generate more of it. These early adaptors want what you’ve got and they found you through an intentional search—so make sure you use the right keywords. Ask them to evaluate the product and provide testimonials. Reward them for telling friends. Word of mouth from this group is a key opportunity. And that is why we repeat: Sharing features are a must.

Test your tactics and then go all in with successful efforts. Get exposure, build awareness, engage, enlist, and then encourage brand evangelism among users. Depending on your budget, the time you have available, and the nature of your offering, consider these opportunities for establishing and then growing your user base, sharing the love.