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In 2011, a startup social media company managed to get 10,000 signups on its website within three months without revealing the product or service actually being offered. And although Kohort is now defunct, there are lessons that can be learned from its experience.
Marketing a startup isn't easy. By generating curiosity through social media and the press, as well as offering users the ability to reserve usernames for free, Kohort managed to create quite the hype. That’s something most startups could only dream of doing.
So can your startup create hype and win signups? Yes. Here are a five ways you can get more signups.
Disclaimer: none of these suggestions involve, you know, intentionally concealing your product or service. Doing that is probably a bad idea.
1. Create a buzz and bring the customers to you
If you want people to sign up to your service or product, you’ll need to make it appealing. They're not going to hand over their contact information or credit card details for something boring and unimaginative. Create buzz around the offer and make people want to sign up to receive your service.
Here are just some ways that your startup can create a buzz:
- Keep it vague, but not secret. Offer people some insight into what features, services or benefits they may gain from signing up to your product, but don’t reveal everything. Keep an air of mystery around your offer. If you make your service sound exciting, must-have and interesting, people will want to sign up.
- Get the word out by promoting your service or trial on your social media These platforms also give you an opportunity to connect with your potential customers, answer any queries and build a community.
Offer a ‘referral program’ and use your customers to help extend your reach. By giving incentives (such as discounts) in exchange for referrals, you not only open yourself up to a bigger pool of customers, you also delight your current ones.
- Make it exclusive. When the popular website Pinterest began, people were only able to signup once they requested (or were given) an invitation. They were then sent an email and were told that they would be put on a waiting list. This technique created a buzz on the internet and made signups feel like they were a part of an exclusive club. And, let’s be honest, who doesn’t want to feel that special?
2. Offer your service or product for free
OK, so it’d be stupid to give everything you offer away for free. (Unless you’re really that generous.) But do try to give free trials, content or services to entice your leads.
If your startup is trying to keep up with industry competitors, you may benefit from offering these free incentives. Many customers stick to what they trust and what they’re used to: thus, any new kid on the block tends to be ignored. For example, are you likely to try a new brand of instant coffee when you’re used to the taste of your usual brand? Probably not. But if a new brand gave you a free sample of their coffee, it may sway your future decision.
Free tasters can showcase your business and product in a risk-free way. This can give your potential customers the ability to compare what they know with what you’re able to offer them.
3. Make attractive CTAs
Entice your customers by creating CTAs that are eye-catching and clickable. Remember to:
- Place them correctly. Don’t put your CTAs where your visitors can’t find them. Think about where your website viewers’ eyes will be drawn to. For example, if they’re reading a blog post, it makes sense to put the CTA at the end of the text.
- Keep them simple. Keep your text short and punchy. State what you’re offering and don’t leave any room for confusion.
- Make them bold. Use striking colours, fonts and images to help your CTAs look attractive. The use of images is especially useful in attracting attention as we respond better to visual information, as opposed to plain text.
- Use imperative verbs. ‘Download’, ‘read’, ‘watch’ – all of these words encourage readers to do what you’re asking them to do. Be bold and blunt about it.
4. Keep signup forms simple and unmissable
Startups need to keep their signup forms as simple and easy to fill out as possible. Asking too many questions or requiring too much information can put potential customers off. Don’t expect the world: ask only what’s necessary.
Additionally, make your signup forms obvious. Try to keep them big and bold on the page or, alternatively, create a (literally) unmissable pop-up window. It’s always best to test which method works best and generates the most signups - we did this on our own blog and generated more than 3, 000 subscribers in the course of a year. If your pop-up form is too intrusive and stunts signups, try to stick to less invasive forms.
It’s also common courtesy to thank your signups signing up to an offer. Therefore, your signup forms should redirect to a thank you page, as well as an immediate download of their content, offer or program. Don’t leave your signups waiting unless you’re desperate to practice your customer service skills.
5. Give a risk-free guarantee
If your leads are signing up for a service or product, and you haven’t been able to offer an initial free taster, it’s kind to reassure your customers by giving them a guarantee.
You may notice that some products and services offer a ‘satisfaction guarantee’. Usually, these state that customers are able to receive a refund or incentive if they’re not entirely happy with their purchase within a certain amount of time.
Make your signups feel comfortable when signing up to your services. If they know that they have a safety net in place, they’ll be more likely to invest in the risk.
Bonus tip: aim at the right target
No matter how you promote or dress-up your offer, you need to ensure that it hits the right mark. If you want signups, you need to offer a product that solves your customer’s problems. If you create something that just isn’t a market fit, you’ll struggle to receive any signups, no matter how hard you try to sell it.
Therefore, to get more signups, it’s vital that you spend time finding you market fit, developing your personas, honing-in on your TOV and really putting yourself into your customers’ shoes.
At the end of the day, signups aren’t just signups: they’re people. And people love to receive products that help to improve their lives or solve their problems. So if you want to market a startup that gains interest, offer your target audience something they simply can’t refuse.