I launched a SaaS product recently, and after a pretty successful HN launch, I've been trying different ways of marketing.
What I learned, and this may be obvious to many, is that the boring path of getting users by gamifying SEO actually works. I firmly believe that you can get your first 1K visitors by just using the formula of writing content. You don't even have to be good at writing -- target some keywords, use good SEO hygiene, have a high enough word count, and people will at least come.
I pumped out some mediocre blog posts with clickbaity titles  just to test it, and I was surprised to see it work, bringing in consistent weekly traffic. A popular Chinese blogger including a one-liner about my product in his blog in February is the sole source that brings ~1-2 Chinese users (actually signed up) to my app every day 3 months later.
Interview from someone who had a problem with the way dating apps monetize, created a competing dating app with all features free, and then shut down because he couldn't monetize.
Basically, I'm not really aware of how you do SEO marketing, and would like to learn.
and watch patio11's talks on microconf.
I don't feel like qualified enough to give advice (also these are short term results, they say SEO takes ~6 months to yield results), so you should refer to his stuff.
Obviously they will push their product but it is very good and popular within the SEO space.
My suggestion is just to write good content that strengthens your brand and can be shared across multiple channels e.g. SEO, WhitePaper, Linkedin etc.
Once you found out, make a post with the title "10 keywords to get you up in SEO and how to use them". That's basically how the meta of SEO marketing works these days. Errr, I meant "this guy uses one simple trick and SEO marketers hate him [read more]" ...
So not just blog post, a mere (but meaningful) comment can get you paid users.
Since you've got a SaaS product, (hopefully) you'll be happy to hear I'm doing a follow-up looking at how the fastest growing SaaS companies got started.
I'd just spend a few hundred dollars on a adwords campaign.
You know which keywords actually converts to paid users and then you can invest in your seo campaign.
If you just do seo you have no clue what keywords convert (unless all seo traffic is from 1 keyword alone)
Suppose a black founder was out in the mall asking to install an app on your phone, security would drag them away.
Most of the founders went to prestigious colleges with enough connections and saved income to let them work on ideas before it became profitable. As the income divide gets larger, less and less Americans have that luxury.
For every founder that made it, they’re prolly 100s that didn’t make it even if they did the same things.
For a large chunk of the planet, surviving to day is a struggle, they can’t weather out months blowing their only savings on an idea that may or may not work.
This is why most founders tend to be white men from mostly wealthy backgrounds. Most VCs are in a similar demographic and would fund them, so it’s somewhat a self fulfilling cycle.
IMO, every successful founder has had at least one of these things in plentiful when starting up - money, connections, or deep insight into a painful problem. Luck, of course, cannot be overlooked.
I think learning what worked for someone is good. But more important is learning what did not work (which is only realised in hindsight)
There is a subreddit called r/shutdown. I keep visiting it from time to time to learn what not to do.
Reddit used the "tell your friends" method first, and then "have PG blog about us", which really accelerated their growth, and falls under "Leverage Influencers".
This statement appears thoroughly contradictory, unless you're using an unusual definition of either appeal or attract. IMHO most people are going to see those words having almost the same meaning in the context you used them
In 2012, Steve Huffman, Reddit co-founder, was honest enough to attribute Reddit's initial ability to attract new users to their fake user strategy first of all . Even while they were doing that, he said, they still needed a few months to get the site self-sustaining so they could stop faking user engagement.
In that talk, Steve Huffman never even mentions influencers. Paul Graham didn't write about Reddit until 3 or 4 months in, after they had retired the fake user posting, though I agree with you influencers and friends must have been a help
Reddit launched on June 23rd, 2005, and Paul blogged about them in the first week of August. Only five weeks after launch. They were definitely still using the fake users then. In fact when I joined the company in 2007, we still had the ability to create new users on submit, we just didn't do it anymore.
Steve probably just didn't mention the PG blog post because he forgot. If you ask him, he'll gladly tell you about how PG basically forced the wide release of reddit by blogging about them despite Steve's objections.
They are referencing the sock puppet accounts the Reddit founders used to make Reddit look like less of a ghost town in the early days.
> Huffman reveals that, “In the beginning Alexis and I submitted all the content.” When they submitted content they created new fake user names so that it would look like the site was populated with a large user base, while, at least in the beginning, it was just the two of them submitting the content.
> Huffman explains that this did two things. For starters, it helped set the tone of the site. “Websites have this kind of inertia, and we submitted content that we would be interested in seeing. That meant the content on Reddit, at least for our peer group, was good, interesting stuff. We wanted a site with the most interesting content online, and so we did our best to find it and then we submitted it ourselves.”
> Creating fake users and submitting content through them also made the site feel alive. Huffman says, “Users like to feel a part of something. If they showed up to the website and the front page was blank, it just looks like a ghost town.” He says, “At the time I think we were just embarrassed to have an empty website so we submitted the content, and it worked.” After a few months they had grown their real user base to the point that they didn’t have to submit content anymore.
Did anyone follow through on the links? Some of these "first-hand accounts" just redirect back to this guy's blog, some of them are just blurbs from other media. I looked at the Etsy one and it's a story by an economist with no first hand accounts by anyone at Etsy.
I thought of this since I was reading a discussion last night that made me think "this is a perfect use case for what I'm building!", and I've had the same thought with a few other discussions in the past.
I'd be interested to hear if anyone else has tried something like this.
Strikes me as unethical. Unless their alerts disclosed the relationship.
He talk about something that might be of interest for these people.
It doesn't sound like he was spamming or doing anything annoying.
It sounds to me like a more human way of doing advertisement. The only difference is that he is actually there to have an actual conversation about it.
That's why youtuber put #ad on their videos
I don't know what they count as advertising per se but if endorsement via private message counts then the FTC's page calls this out as "position with the company":
"Connections between an endorser and the company that are unclear or unexpected to a customer also must be disclosed, whether they have to do with a financial arrangement for a favorable endorsement, a position with the company, or stock ownership."
From the FTC
>If you endorse a product through social media, your endorsement
message should make it obvious when you have a relationship
(“material connection”) with the brand. A “material connection” to
the brand includes a personal, family, or employment relationship or
a financial relationship – such as the brand paying you or giving you
free or discounted products or services.
Ethical advertising is honest and up-front. If you need to be clandestine about it, you're doing something unethical pretty much by definition.
Also see: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lie + Find in page: "Lying by omission"
Always wondered about this - do I just email an news outlet and tell them "my story" and see if they roll with it?
I'm starting to advertise my business around with the idea of growing a userbase before the official release. Ironically enough mentioning a link to it on my previous HN comment lead to more visitors than either of the Facebook or Reddit ads that I put up.
With that said, if you're into 3D printing, see https://makely.me
Email them and keep it short, make it timely (what have you accomplished recently, how is it relevant to a current event or trend) and offer to provide other pieces of the story (e.g. do you have a customer or investor who’d be willing to speak to the reporter? Do you have photos, graphics, data you could send the reporter). Offer to jump on a call and speak on the record.
One mistake I’ve seen founders make is they treat the reporters as a marketing channel. I.e they want the reporter to help them “get the word out.” That is not a reporters job. Their job is to bring their readers timely, interesting and novel stories, so your goal is to help the reporter accomplish that.
This is what I am afraid of doing and why I've been a bit apprehensive about it. Thanks you for your advice, it actually really helped.
But as already said nothing really stellar in that particular product I mentioned
1) Enough of my products and/or products I made for corporate clients are known one or the other way.
2) I sometimes talk in non tech topics (even tech ones can be rather political when you talk corporate culture).
Given amount of modern snooping by potential clients (comes from experience) I have zero desire to give them a chance to connect two dots.
SEO juice + new/immature sector = lots of FOS traffic/users.
They started as a mail DVD service, didn't they?
1) PG and Viaweb had no traction until they hired a PR firm. Back in the day, those were $5k to $15k/month.
"It took a painfully long time for word of mouth to get going, and we did not start to get a lot of press coverage until we hired a PR firm (admittedly the best in the business) for $16,000 per month."
YC now has "BookFace", so I suppose you could just promote to other YC'ers if you have an account.
2) Hotmail used a footer on every email for viral mindshare.
3) At Yahoo, new properties were announced on internal employee lists and it was requested that say 500 employees would seed the new service so it didn't look like a ghost town.
4) Most of the social networks spammed your contact list to go viral. Or just changed preferences underneath what you set, like Linkedin and Facebook.
5) Most of the dating sites early on send emails from women, even when you don't have an account on those sites!
For months, the two companies had been feuding over the way Facebook was scraping data from Hotmail and MSN Messenger products. Facebook had its own complaint—as retaliation, Hotmail had begun labeling invitations to join Facebook as spam. According to The Facebook Effect, Moskovitz said that this caused a 70 percent drop in new users.
Later on when Microsoft buys a stake in Facebook, they stop classifying the invites as spam.
IIRC, FB also got MS Messenger chat access for FB messenger for a period of time after MS' investment, then that abruptly ended (likely the day the initial agreement expired.)