Let’s face it.
You have no idea what you’re doing.
How do I know?
Because I was… and am… in EXACT the same position as you.
I mean, three months ago I didn’t even know what early startup traction meant.
But then I just started doing sh*t.
Trying something… logging into Google Analytics to check whether our daily traffic had grown from the 10 visits per day we had been experiencing for the past few weeks.
Most of the stuff didn’t work.
But after days and days, coffees and coffees, failures and failures… traffic started to grow:
That is the topic of these three blog posts:
Part 1: 0-1k Visitors – In this post, I will share the EARLY and FREE things you need to do to get your early traffic
Part 2a: 1-10k Visitors – In this post, I will share the plan and early results in our attempt to 10x our traffic from September to October 2016
Part 2b: 1-10k Visitors – This post will share the results of the plan from 2a, did we manage to 10x our traffic from 1 month to the next?
Though before we jump in…
These blog posts will probably be a little different from those you have read before…
You know those that show VERY impressive screenshots and proof, but somehow manage to skip the detail that actually matters, THAT ACTUALLY TELLS YOU HOW TO DO THE THINGS.
I mean, I REALLY respect what this guy has done with Thumbtack:
But if you watch that talk through to the end… you will see that he refers to the part of their early growth as just doing “scrappy things”… clearly, he didn’t want to share these tactics.
Well.. this post is going to be different.
In fact, the only things we will be discussing here… are the scrappy things that actually lead to start-up traction. The things that we have done to grow and obtain (a small amount of) funding for Tina.
As you can see from the image above, we have grown from 0 visitors per month to 1,400 in 3 months.
This post will outline EXACTLY how we did this… spending exactly $0.
1. Determine Your Perfect Avatar
Feel free to jump into the immensely actionable tactics below…
But if you have no idea about WHO you want to bring to your site, it really will be a massive waste of time.
In fact, if you have no idea WHO your business can help, then that will also be a massive waste of time.
Because unless your product is outrageously good, you will not be able to find anyone to use it.
So, let’s get this sorted now, just answer these few questions:
And remember, this is not just 1 specific person, this is an Avatar. The perfect customer for your business.
- Are they male/female?
- How old are they?
- Are they married/single?
- Where do they live?
- What do they do for work?
- What do they do for fun?
- What do they read?
- What do they watch?
- Where do they hang out on the internet?
Exercise 1a: Determine Exactly Who You Want To Come To Your Site
(You can learn more about your Customer Avatar in the first step of the Free Traffic Forever Formula)
2. Set Up Flawless Tracking With Google Analytics & Optimizely
As well as you think you know your users… you don’t.
Instead of relying on your opinions or the skewed feedback from people that you know, you need to use behavioral data to inform your testing cycle.
And fortunately there are two fantastic tools that we can set up in 10 minutes that will allow us to track all the behavioural data we need to iterate fast and effectively:
Exercise 2a: Set Up Google Analytics
Once these are set up there is one more thing to do:
Only now are we ready to drive traffic…
But only with specific links:
Exercise 2c: Create Google Analytics Tracking Links
Follow the instructions in the above video to create tracking links for each of the marketing channels below. This will then allow you to track the effectiveness of each channel you invest time into.
3. Collect The Ultimate Permission Asset
The below methods are going to drive a significant amount of traffic to your site, and we can either watch them come and go… never to be seen again OR…
We can collect a permission asset.
An owned permission asset.
E.g., not a Facebook Like, not a Twitter Follow or a Google+ +1.
Yes, we’re talking about the email address.
Thus, when this boatload of traffic arrives at you under optimized homepage, you will be able to capture 1-45% of these people and will be able to send them nice messages when you have something that can help them.
As you can see here we decided to collect a new type of permission asset: Slack Team Integration.
Though not owned, we believe that holding a space within the tool where many of our ideal clients spend A LOT of time… was somewhat valuable.
To incentivize our Avatar to add Tina to their Slack team, we offer what is often referred to in the online marketing industry as a “Lead Magnet”:
3a: Decide What You Can Offer As A Lead Magnet
What is the high value, quick to consume thing or service you can offer to a website visitor… in exchange for a permission asset, to enable you to re-market to them in the future.
Exercise 3b: Make It As Easy & Enticing As Possible For A Visitor Consume Your Lead Magnet
4. Start A Media Property
Sound like too much work?
Well, let’s revisit the definition of “media” first…
You could say that “media” is simply anything that aggregates attention of a defined market segment, in a certain place at a certain time.
In order for you to add value to your Avatar, you need to be able to aggregate their attention… in a certain place… at a certain time if you are to have any chance of engaging them in a transaction.
For the same principle above… we want to OWN this media property, as opposed to simply helping one of those big attention aggregators… aggregate more attention.
As when/if your content is good enough to aggregate that attention, you can then sell your thing.
Let’s take a look at an example, I started blogging:
As I knew that someone that was interested in:
Was probably interested in working with me.
Thus, I decided to write a post better than all of the other posts out there on this topic, and don’t just take my word for it…
Then, of course, you need a way to convert the attention that Google will send you into a permission asset, as per the previous step above:
Which links back to:
(Don’t have time to create a blog/media property? No worries, just learn how to outsource it.
5. Drive A Trickle Of Free Qualified Traffic With Twitter & Sniply
There are few platforms better than Twitter for finding and communicating with your Avatar.
- Follow people
- Favourite Tweets
- Retweet Tweets
- DM people
I would test all of the above but remember: you will only get out of Twitter… what you put into it.
So you will also need to be adding value to your community… and it just so happens that we can also still drive traffic AS we add value:
As you share content that is relevant for your Avatar, you can also add a sneaky little call to action and link back to your landing page using Sniply.
Here is a simple walkthrough of how to set up Sniply.
Exercise 5a: Set Up Your Twitter Account, Test Outreach Methods & Add Sniply Links To All Content.
6. Use The “Ask For Feedback” On Your Landing Page Trick To Engage Your Avatar
For some reason…
When you “ask for feedback”, it doesn’t seem like you’re spamming.
There are communities online itching to give feedback to stage startups, and if you’re these people are also your Avatar, then that’s awesome.
If they are not, I would still recommend requesting feedback, but then also find communities of your perfect Avatar and posting these also.
You can ask for feedback JUST of your product or your landing page, depending on where you are asking for feedback.
For landing page feedback, I would head to the various CRO (conversion rate optimization) communities:
And for product feedback, I would head to startup communities:
Post requesting feedback and if possible, provide access codes to make people feel special.
Make sure you like and respond to every comment placed on your post to both collect feedback AND to stimulate further discussion which will, in turn, enable more organic reach (especially on Facebook)
Exercise 6a: Post your startup/landing page in as many CRO/Startup communities as you can with specific access codes if possible (and without spamming)
7. Start “Recruiting”
I am not saying that you should start to recruit if you don’t actually need to recruit someone, but I am saying that if you do… it will drive traffic.
Think of each Job Description as an advert for your startup not just for potential employees, but also for customers.
And fortunately, there are places where you have the ability to post these adverts for… free, yes there is such a thing as free advertising.
If you are based in London, these two will drive traffic… for free:
As per this post, you need to write a Job Mission, not a job description.
The key is to make it so engaging, you have people on Facebook saying stuff like:
Oh, and if you actually want to learn how to recruit an intern for your startup, check out this post.
Exercise 7a: Write A Job Mission And Post To Free Job Sites
8. Post On Product Hunt (But Don’t Worry You Will Get A Second Chance)
I was posted on Product Hunt 5 months ago.
My founders reached out to all the influencers that had recently submitted, similar products through Twitter and a guy called Jeff decided to help out.
Once it was live, I wrote an emotional blog post on our media property (see Step 4) that linked to our Product Hunt listing and then shared this with our existing audience.
If you do not have the luxury of an existing audience then I would NOT spend extortionate amounts on Facebook or display ads…
Instead, reach out to influencers that have an audience of your Avatar and incentivize them in some fashion to share your product (give free access, early access or some sort of recognition).
Do not worry about it being your one and only chance… as when your product changes significantly over the next few months, you can always request a re-post:
Exercise 8a: Find A Product Hunt Influencer, Post Your Product & Promote
9. Share Your Story On Reddit For Massive Traffic
Again, if your Avatar could potentially learn from what you have achieved to date, then this tactic can drive MASSIVE volumes of traffic if done correctly:
Though you have to be very careful with Reddit.
If there is even a hint of self-promotion, it will not go down well.
Follow these 3 steps to avoid ridicule and to drive massive traffic:
- Construct a BIG value heavy, detailed, step by step text post explaining what you have done and what you learn and include 1 link back to your landing page
- Write 10 headlines, test using this and ask an Avatar that you know to choose
- Distribute to your network as soon as you post and encourage upvotes/comments
And of course, small tweaks can be made so the post can be replicated in other subreddits:
10. Get Beta Testers
There are a whole host of startup enthusiasts out there ready to test new technologies (and of course, if they like you, could become your first customers).
These are free:
And these require a small cash investment:
Though will drive more high-quality traffic than free sites, so potentially worth it if you have investment.
Exercise 10a: Post your startup to each of the free/paid Beta test communities above
11. (Very) Basic On-page SEO
As you start to get the word out, people should start Googling your brand name.
You need to make sure you are ranking for your brand name, and maybe even some other long tail keywords as we saw above.
This will start to generate the all important traffic baseline your site will receive over its lifetime, here is my organic traffic acquisition over the past 4 months:
So make sure that all of your web pages and meta descriptions are optimized for:
- Your brand name
- Any keywords you are looking to rank for
Select keywords that are not MASSIVELY competitive, yet still, have a significant monthly search volume as shown by the Google Keyword Planner.
Exercise 11a: Optimise all web pages/blog posts for your brand name and selected keywords
12. Start Spamming (Properly)
You used to be able to buy/scrape an email list, blast out 10k emails to make your first sales.
Unfortunately, people are becoming more precious about their inbox at around the same time that your inboxes are getting more diligent about unsolicited emails.
That said, there are intelligent ways to email people, where it doesn’t come across directly as SPAM, and can actually convert some sales:
This is the email I used to attract my first few early adopters.
Unfortunately I can only let the serious start-up owners have access to it, or of course, it will become less effective.
Though if you are serious, click here, enter your email address and I will email you the template right away.
(In the doc, I also break down exactly how/why it works so you can edit for your startup).
Exercise 12a: ask me to find you some leads, have me send you the template and send 10 emails out each day, every day.
13. Reach Out To Influencers In Your Niche & Help Them Create Content
There are a whole host of people out there that have the permission assets of thousands if not millions of your Avatar.
If these people are your friends then that is awesome…
You can collaborate with them on written/video content in exchange for getting your brand and link in front of their audience:
E.g. My founder is friends with the guys over at WP Curve:
If not, there may still be a way…
And as these are people that it would be VERY useful for you to develop relationships with anyway… it’s probably a good idea to start making friends with them now.
Find a list of the top 10 media properties that have a boatload of your Avatar’s attention (you can check basic audience demographics with Alexa or Facebook Audience Insights if they have a Facebook Page) and then start being nice to them:
- Follow them on Twitter
- Retweet their Tweets
- Comment on their content
- Like/comment on their Facebook/Linkedin/Google+ posts
And then after this, you can reach out and propose that you create a piece of content for their audience that you KNOW their audience would like, based on their previous popular content (use BuzzSumo for this) AND the topics that you cannot find on their blog currently (again, use BuzzSumo for this).
We will go into more detail on the Guest Blogging topic in Part 2a of this post as there are other higher leverage, faster methods to get your first visitors.
Conclusion: Part 1
As you can probably see Part 1: 0-1k Visitors is almost exclusively focussed on those small, free scrappy things that can bring you your first 1k visits within your first/second month…
With just a few hours of hard work.
Though if you do achieve this… you are well on your way to building a solid foundation of traffic that will be built upon significantly with Part 2.
And if you’re sat here thinking… I have no idea what I am supposed to do.
Just start doing sh*t.
And be vague to your investors when they ask about what you’re doing 😉
(And if you don’t trust yourself to action each of the steps above to achieve early start-up traction, use the social icons below to share this post with a business partner/spouse/friend to keep yourself accountable)