31Aug

22 ways to get online customers for free

From Michael Ugar at Appster 

High customer acquisition costs are the top reason why startups fail. So we have collated a list of some free customer acquisition tactics to bring your CAC down and help you get off the ground. Enjoy.

1. Direct Sales: Manually reach out and connect with your first 1000 customers. Use email, social media, phone, meet them and manually sign them up. These people are likely more important than the next 99,000 customers your get. The personal connections and direct feedback will make a huge difference.

2. Partnering: Find similar / complementing companies and create a value for their users to access their mailing list free.

3. Piggybacking: Piggyback on big platforms, for example Trulia made a partnership with CNN Money to power their real estate search. Instagram built a cross-posting feature leveraging Facebook and Twitter.

4. Meetup.com: Reach out to meetup.com groups with mailing lists bigger than 200 people and offer a freebie or create some other value.

5. Facebook and Linkedin Groups: Reach out to relevant group owners and provide some value for subscribers or make some trade with the owners.

6. Reddit: Go to /subreddit that’s related to your business and leave comments. Don’t be spammy, be helpful when interacting and don’t forget to mention your app.

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7. Comments: Search 5-10 keywords related to you on Google and leave comments on those related pages (don’t be spammy, offer valuable response, advice etc.  

8. Giveaway: Create a giveaway campaign – offer free content or ask partners for freebies (I once got 20 copies of a newly published business book worth $600 for free just by emailing the author who connected me with his publisher – if you don’t ask you won’t get it)

9. Guest Posts: Write a guest post for any site that is related. Use Technorati to find them. Just write a great post and pitch it to them.

10. Referrals: Email existing users and ask them to refer their friends. Obvious advice but you would be surprised how few actually do it 

11. Competitor Users: Manually reach out to Twitter / Facebook followers of your competitors.

12. Think Outside the Box: Look new channels such as Instagram, Pinterest or international social networks to get new users. 

13. Betalist and Directories: Get listed in as many beta promoting sites and startup directories as possible. Try this list.

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14. Bloggers: Offer top tech commentators like robert Scoble and bloggers early access or free demo.

15. Major Blogs: Pitch leading startup outlets like TechCrunch, Read/Write Web, Mashable, etc. Remeber to find relevant journalist covering your market. Be short and direct with your emails (they get them in hundreds) and always have some news to offer.

16. Local Outlets: Pitch local news and outlets in your region. You’ll likely get a “Local entrepreneur trying to solve a huge problem” kind of articles.

17. Stay in Loop: Setup Google alerts, twitter saved searches, and other monitoring tools for people asking questions about the type of service you provide.

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18. Get Attention: Create controversy related to an industry topic and get attention.

19. Networking: Go to meetups and networking events. Get double-sided business cards with a link to your site and few bulletpoint pitching the signup.

20. Sponsor: You can sponsor most meetups on meetup.com just by buing few beers. In return you will get an opportunity to pitch the crowd.

21. Pitch Events: Pitch your demo on the tech show or other startup event

22. Competition: Monitor competitors for controversy and become a leading source of news about it. Offer incentives for people to switch

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