This post will be useful for anyone trying hand to drive potential clients to the site.
1. Create a cool product/service
That’s a copy-book maxim, but there is no way to do without it. It’s great if using your product/service will encourage and help users to express themselves. The best incentive to advertise something — is to show your creation, designed and implemented using a new super dope service, to friends and acquaintances. Generally, if every client is sincerely minded to tell about you to ten friends — you’ve got a good chance of achieving your goal.
2. Develop a clear promotion strategy
Oddly enough many people first wait for the project to kick-off, then they write a letter to a few friends, tweet about its launch and hope that everything works out with a wave of a magic wand. Here is the clearly outlined promotion strategy by Mint.com. So, there are two columns: total users (all visitors) and visitors who became your service’s users (confirmed users). It's hard to miss the mark if you first assign metrics and only then lay down the results. Only the actual results really matter. You need to accurately calculate the market coverage received from paid advertising and publications on blogs, microblogs, forums, etc. – you shouldn’t leave it to chance.
3. Identify your target audience
Describe the target audience in as much detail as possible. When do they think about your service/product? What might influence their choices? Try to imagine the selected characters as clearly as possible and then — formulate marketing messages based on their tastes and interests. Keep Google Docs records of your successful and failed forays.
4. Organize your events
If you want to get a media person involved, you can chose someone using Klout — this service has a special algorithm which distributes social network users into groups (opinion leader, unifier and so on.). You can come up with an interesting format: a reality show, an experimental day, a blog by project participant, etc. One of the Kiev-based travel agencies sends narrowly known people (putting it simple: those with a good reputation and a large number of friends) on unusual journeys so that they later describe their adventures, share tips, and keep mentioning this agency on their Twitter, Facebook and Instagram). Then, they organize offline meetings to share their live emotions and impressions and answer questions about the journey – which is definitely good for strengthening the weak social ties. If you need to organize some kind of event – here is the handy EventBrite service.
5. Be exclusive
Some exclusivity before the project’s start-up may go a long way: pre-registration, access by invitation, etc. A good option — provocative teaser (and then — "pleasers") — prints or videos, which are really intriguing and eye-catching. Before opening the first burger bar in Odessa its head manager decided to do without advertising and allocated the entire budget to treating the leading IT-companies in the city — his interview would soon appear in the "business-fresh" category :) If you ever decide to put it into practice — here is the useful polling service: SurveyMonkey.
6. You can establish partnerships with other companies
Create a special promo code that provides a discount or special conditions to track their effectiveness. Agree on “tit for tat” newsletters emailing.
7. If you’re active in social media, try to conduct some kind of a competition
Ideally, you need to get the "Sharing" and reviews of your service/product.
8. Abroad, there are many types of entertaining offline activities like Creative Mornings and Meetups
If you are targeting the US audience, it’s better to attend such meetings and even come up with an inspirational speech about your startup.
9. Publish relevant content on Reddit and Quora
Once again, if your goal is to draw the US audience — it is quite important to publish relevant (and sometines less relevant) posts and comments about your startup on Reddit and Quora. If your startup is somehow useful to Coursera students (where there are oodles of different courses), you can confidently create relevant topics on its internal forums which have a very active and friendly audience. Perhaps, it’s also worth paying attention to Pinterest, Instagram and other fancy services.
10. Google 5-10 search phrases that should lead to your site
Try to leave comments on the sites that appear in search results for your queries. In general, it’s necessary to track your issue-related topics and join the discussions (it’s better to act as an individual user rather than company). Many companies are known thanks to their “poster boys” – just become an expert/opinion leader and it will be much easier to promote your company.
11. Publish useful content
It’s a universal rule, but it is very dependent on the subject. Anyway, you should publish "case studies" — illustrative examples, success stories and some bits of advice. Even if you don’t have such publications, you can try blogging about business. It is important that at least someone will consequently recommend your articles on social media.
12. Find your audience
You need to find out which sites are regularly visited by the target audience, and write articles for these resources.
13. Ask your existing audience to recommend you to someone
It works. Besides, you can offer the most active users a status of an "Ambassador” — if your product/service is really interesting, you will quickly find the most loyal users, and they will contribute to the popularity of your service.
14. Try to make as much video content as possible
For example, your service/product has an unusual name, so you might just ask people on the streets — "What do you think ...is?" with subsequent myths unveiling. Surely, it will result in something quite amusing. Even if you produce socks having a brand new design (but by 8bit!), just make the video! :)
15. Try to get to know your first 1000 clients
Try to get to know your first 1000 clients — personally or at least virtually. Perhaps, you will change something in your approach/product/service, and it will play a key role in your future business success.
16. Analyze your competitors’ clients
You can manually find/analyze your competitors’ clients or at least their active audience in social networks. At least – you will manage to collect data on your potential audience, at most – you will try to lure them away.
16. Send better email
Send regular emails to subscribers. Test your headlines and advertising messages in order to forward the most successful ones to the core list of your subscribers. For more information about email newsletters, see this post. Map out your time according to the following pattern: 70% — on writing a good email subject line, 25% — on shaping the first line, and 5% — on everything else.