Finding Customers

18 Resources to Help You Become Amazing at Acquiring New Customers

An effective user acquisition strategy is the holy grail for many marketers, whether it be a mix of channels that generate a constant flow of new users at a sustainable cost or a clever tactic that gives a new product a boost in users in a short period of time.

If you’re looking for ideas for your product launch strategy or need some inspiration as you test new user acquisition channels, this post will make things a lot easier for you. I’ve compiled the best resources from across the web on user acquisition into one place so that you don’t have to spend hours digging through content.

Now start reading!

Stories From The Trenches: How Successful Startups Acquired Users & Customers

1. How Mint Grew to 1.5 Million Users and Sold for $170 Million in Just 2 Years
Mint, the darling of personal finance apps, launched in September 2007 and quickly experienced exponential growth. By 2009, when Intuit acquired Mint, the application had over 1 million users and was adding a few thousand new users each day. Four years later, by the end of 2013, Mint had over 10 million users.

How did they do it?

This post offers a detailed breakdown of the growth strategy that catapulted Mint to success. The company did a lot of things right, but there are a few tactics that stand out to me: their focus on SEO via Mint Answers and blogging, which accounted for 20% of total new users; their production of educational infographics; and their clever use of incentives.

2. How We Acquired 100K Early Bird Signups with Zero Marketing Budget
I’ve probably read this article at least 10 times. When I was researching and strategizing for my first product launch, this post by Realtime Board served as a springboard for planning our overall marketing and user acquisition strategy. I adapted many of the tactics described here to fit our product and saw great results, particularly from focusing on our existing network and earning reviews and blog posts from users. Don’t miss this gem!

3. User Acquisition, from the trenches
Sendwithus co-founder Matt Harris describes the startup’s user acquisition strategy in this post on his blog. They had great success early-on by partnering with more established companies like SendGrid and MailChimp and then posting on their partners’ support forums in order to add even more value.

Matt points out that cold emails can be effective, but only when they are highly-targeted. Don’t just send them to anyone you think might be interested in your product––Sendwithus focused on companies whose product they had used and noticed that their transactional emails could be better.

4. How I used Quora for User Acquisition
I love Quora because it’s good for so many different things: first, finding answers to your questions (duh); second, customer research; and third, user acquisition, among others.

Kamil Rextin of Organini says they’ve had a 20% conversion rate from page-view to signup via Quora, simply because he took the time to write an insightful and helpful answer to a question relevant to his product.

5. How Guest Posting Propelled One Site From 0 to 100,000 Customers
Everyone knows Buffer––it’s the tool that makes sharing great content across your social networks super easy (personally, I can’t imagine life without it!). They’ve also created one of the best blogs on social media marketing and productivity on the web, and it’s played a huge role in putting their tool on the map and acquiring customers.

But publishing content on their own blog wasn’t the thing that boosted Buffer’s initial growth: In this interview Buffer co-founder Leo Widrich talks about how he used an aggressive guest-blogging strategy to get 100,000 users within the first nine months of launching.

During the time that Leo focused almost solely on guest blogging he wrote up to four articles a day, or 150 in nine months. As a fellow guest blogger this kind of blows my mind!

6. How We (Unexpectedly) Got 60K Users in 60 Hours
If user acquisition is your top priority, why wouldn’t you want to know how a new tool got 60k users in less than three days? Patrick Ambron, CEO of BrandYourself, shows which channels and features brought the most growth for their tool, and how one of their features caused (unexpected) viral growth.

This Slideshare walks you through how to pitch news outlets, how to create a top-performing landing page and how to identify exactly what parts of your product can go viral.

Articles & Guides On User Acquisition Strategy & Tactics

7. Becoming Twitter: A Beginner’s Guide To User Acquisition
Nate Desmond’s guide takes you through the key steps to follow if you want to excel at user acquisition, from finding product/market fit to running quant analyses. Real-life examples of effective user-acquisition strategies from startups and large companies make his tips tangible and actionable.

Nate emphasizes the importance of keeping things lean: “If you don’t establish the definition of success before running user acquisition efforts, you won’t know whether you’re desperately failing or single-handedly making your company succeed.”

8. The B2B Referral Sales System – The Magical Outbound Growth Engine Most Startups Never Use
The referral sales system works like this: upon closing a customer you ask them to refer you to at least one other person who would benefit from your product. There are ways to automate this from within your product, but asking in-person or via email each time you make a sale is also (maybe more) effective.

This article includes scripts you can use to ask for referrals and reveals the optimal time to make the ask (it’s not when I thought!).

9. Places to Start Acquiring Users
You’ve gotta admit that marketers today are incredibly lucky: there are numerous online communities already full of people who fit our target markets, like SlideShare, Quora, Hacker News and Meetup. All we have to do is know how to leverage these communities to connect with potential users.

GrowHack explains that the key to successfully attracting attention to your company within these communities is to create content that is relevant and useful for each platform (in other words, native content). Also, be sure to engage with members in a way that is helpful and authentic (rather than salesy and phony).

10. The Ultimate Guide to Customer Acquisition
It can be tempting to try to get as many users as possible as quickly as possible, but that’s not always the best strategy. In fact, it’s essential to make sure that your product is ready for users before you go out and promote it.

This article tells you what questions to ask in order to make sure you’re ready to execute a user acquisition strategy. You’ll also learn what to do once you’re ready––like how to estimate your CAC, how to create demand and what to measure.

11. Pre-Launch Email List Building With Directories
Want to build a solid email list prior to launch so that you can announce your new product to people who are likely to become users? This article provides a long list of directories where you can list your app in order to get the attention of your target market.

12. Content Marketing Growth Hacks [with Infographic]
Technically, this article isn’t about user acquisition, but great content marketing can be one of the most powerful drivers for conversion, so it deserves a place on this list. Garrett Moon of CoSchedule shows you how to optimize your content to drive growth with tactics like gamifying your blog and testing share button positions.

13. 4 Viral Sharing Tactics For Your Product Launch Strategy
In this article I talk about four tactics used by businesses to get people to share their product and increase visibility. When done correctly these can have a viral effect, resulting in people clamoring to get access to your application.

14. Beginner’s Guide to User Acquisition for Mobile Apps and Games
This Slideshare is perfect for companies looking to acquire users for a mobile app or game. It tells you which metrics to track, which ad networks to test and which app discovery platforms to use. You’ll also learn what it takes to break into the iPhone app store Top 50.

15. What are key strategies to acquire first 100K users with zero marketing budget?
This Quora thread is a goldmine of battle-tested tactics for user acquisition, with answers from experts like Noah Kagan and Ryan Holiday. The title focuses on the first 100K users, but the answers on this thread are also relevant to companies who already have their initial user base and are looking to scale.

User Acquisition With Social Media

16. The Hacker’s Guide to Twitter User Acquisition
In this post Austen Allred, co-founder of Grasswire, shares his system for using Twitter to acquire users. He says that Grasswire gets at least 50 sign-ups from Twitter plus 150 new followers a day, so listen up!

Austen recommends increasing visibility of your Twitter account by following people who are likely to be interested in your product. He also gives tips on how to connect with people on Twitter and how to use Twitter Cards for conversions.

17. How to Master Social Customer Acquisition
“Social customer acquisition isn’t about being on every platform possible, it’s about choosing the right platform(s) for your demographic and building a strong community,” says Shanelle Mullin, Director of Marketing at Onboardly.

Once you’ve figured out which platforms you should be on, how do you excel at utilizing those platforms for customer acquisition? In this article Shanelle gives battle-tested tips for succeeding on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn and explains how to measure and optimize results.

18.  Facebook Targeting: User Acquisition
One of the main reasons Facebook ads are so appealing is that they allow you to create highly-targeted campaigns. You can be sure you’re reaching exactly the kind of people who would be interested in your product, making Facebook Ads ideal for a smart user acquisition strategy.

This Slideshare explains how to use Facebook for user acquisition, starting with a few case studies of brands who had great success with the platform––one saw a 60% higher CTR using Facebook lookalike audiences over other display media.