A short time ago I saw a talk by Michael Geer (formerly of Badoo and WAYN) on “How to get millions of users.” Although his talk was short of real-world examples and I left feeling anyone could have been speaking, he did bring up a few points that are worth sharing:
Myth: A good product attracts users.
Truth: A good product retains users.
Myth: PR, events and articles attract users.
Truth: They attract some but it’s not scalable. You need virility if you want more than 100,000.
The three levels of virality (from best to worst)
1. Inherent– e.g. Dropbox, Draw Something. You get more value if you bring someone else in. Most powerful. Should be 80% of your user acquisition.
2. Trade– e.g. Badoo, Dropbox. Get a premium feature if you bring in people.
3. Sharing– e.g. most medium size sites. Share because you think someone else will enjoy it, should see it etc.
– Adding features requested by initial visitors- their feedback should be no more than 10% input. Stick to your vision for the first year.
– Plugging your site on blogs or forums.
– Doing offline advertising. It has the worst conversion rate.
– Making the coolest homepage ever, or the coolest video ever. It doesn’t matter to users, and if your video goes viral you won’t be able to recreate the success.
– Relying on a popular Facebook page. Facebook pages aren’t a user acquisition tool, they’re just branding.
– Making partnerships, but don’t rely on just this- you shouldn’t be always waiting for someone else.
– Having a private beta for highly connected users which gets you some metrics. Aim to leave beta quickly though.
– To get mentioned and offer discount deals in popular newsletters. Being named in a newsletter is more successful than a blog.
– Working out your ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) as soon as possible.
– Sending emails. Email is still king and has the best conversion rate.
Recommended sites and sources
1. Google Analytics. Everyone should use it.
2. Mixpanel for real time data (similar to Kissmetrics).
3. Temboo.com. Good list of major APIs.
4. Mailchimp or Mailgun for emails.