In many ways, effective software marketing is a long game. In order to build a strong, lasting brand, there’s ultimately no getting around putting in the time and resources to organically grow your customer base.
But there are times when you really need a quick boost to your marketing results, without having to spend a lot of money to get it. In this article, we’re going to show you how to do that.
There’s a single core principle that unifies all these techniques: for the fastest results, go to where the customers already are. Because while nurturing your own homegrown audience is a worthy pursuit, it’s not going to get you the quick wins you need right now.
The good news is that this isn’t an either-or proposition – if you employ these tactics skillfully, they’ll also help you attract long-term fans. So read on for the four ways you can jumpstart the next phase of your user growth:
Reach out to forums and online communities
Online forums and communities are a great place to find potential customers. Not only do they conveniently pool together groups of people with common interests, they’re also inherently social platforms, and users are likely to spread the word if they like your product. This tactic works especially well if you’re a member yourself, as you’ll already be in tune with the community’s culture and norms.
There are many ways to reach out to online communities. The most common is to look for questions or topics related to your product and post relevant answers in those threads. But a much higher leverage way to get attention is to offer truly interesting original content of your own.
Dropbox employed this tactic to great effect with their original 4-minute explainer video, which got them from 5,000 to 75,000 subscribers overnight:
Founder Drew Houston designed the video to include references to memes and inside jokes only other members of the Digg community would understand. Shortly after posting the video to Digg, it went viral and launched the young start-up into the limelight.
Poach users from competitors
What better way to find promising customers with a validated need for your product than from a competitor’s user base? If you’re confident that your solution is better than your competitors’, this can be a very powerful tactic to quickly gain new users.
AirBnB’s infamous Craigslist growth hack is the prime example of this tactic in action. AirBnB knew that many Craigslist users went on the platform to look for alternative travel lodgings. They also knew that this segment of Craigslist was filled with scammers who would demand hefty upfront deposits and disappear without a trace. As Craigslist does not offer any protection for renters in such circumstances, AirBnB knew they had a better offering – the question was how to attract these users to their new and relatively unknown platform.
To do this, AirBnB implemented an ingenious automated system that would scrape listing info from Craigslist, put it into their own system, and email a link to the listing owner that allowed them to post the ad on AirBnB with one click:
This made posting AirBnB ads virtually effortless for the Craigslist user, resulting in very high conversion rates. And due to the superiority of AirBnB’s platform, many users ended up switching after their first posting, skyrocketing the company’s user growth.
Create High Quality Content For A Well-Known Blog
In any industry, there are a handful of high-profile blogs that command the lion’s share of attention. Chances are, many of your customers are reading these blogs, so getting exposure on them will allow you to instantly reach a large segment of your market.
The bad news is that your competitors probably know that as well, which is why these blogs are often saturated with content submissions. The good news is that quality content is still hard to come by, so if you can produce a piece of truly exceptional, preferably evergreen content, you’ll have no difficulty finding takers.
Unbounce’s classic article, “The Noob Guide to Online Marketing”, is an excellent application of this tactic. In 2011, Unbounce was a brand new start-up looking for some early traction. And being self-funded, they didn’t have massive marketing resources to spend on paid advertising.
Instead, the company chose to double down on content marketing as their main promotional channel. Founder Oli Gardner wrote a massive post explaining everything a start-up has to know about digital marketing, and included a 15-million pixel infographic showing each of 60 important marketing tasks in detail:
Then, instead of putting this masterpiece on his own site, he submitted it to the Moz blog as an exclusive.
Despite Unbounce itself being completely unknown, this was such an amazing piece of content that it was a no-brainer for Moz to publish it, thus giving Unbounce the huge exposure it needed. And if Moz had passed on this content, you can be sure that there would have been ten other leading blogs clamoring to publish it.
Host Webinars with Influencers
Influencer marketing is not just for Instagram-friendly B2C businesses. B2B software companies can also leverage influencers by organizing educational guest webinars for their customers.
Since your guest influencers will be promoting the webinar to their own followers, you’ll be able to quickly build up a very large audience by tapping into their star power. The ideal webinar strategy will have a good balance between top, middle and bottom-of-funnel content, and have specific webinars targeted at each of your major customer verticals.
Kissmetrics is an undisputed master of this genre, using weekly guest webinars as one of their primary growth drivers. In fact, collaborating with influencers is such a strong channel for Kissmetrics that 75-80% of their webinars involve a guest influencer, such as the one below:
Initially, Kissmetrics used these webinars mainly as a lead generation tool, but have since found them to be effective at increasing customer engagement as well. They promote these webinars very heavily on their website, email list and social media channels. Over time, a virtuous cycle is created, where those channels attract many new webinar viewers, who then subscribe to their newsletter and social media channels, in turn creating an even larger audience for the next webinar.
So not only do webinars provide a quick boost to your lead generation efforts, they can also be very effective at driving long term growth.
Go Forth And Seek Your Customers
Your ideal customers are already out there on the internet, waiting to be found. All you have to do is actively seek them, and meet them on their own turf. By utilizing the four tactics in this article, you’ll be able to quickly grow your customer base by taking advantage of the audiences other people have already built.