The Hard Truth About Acquiring Your First 100,000 Users

When running a tech startup you would think the hardest part about building your business is actually creating your product or software. The hard truth is that anyone can learn how to code a website or mobile app and then launch it themselves (or with a team of developers). The challenging part of getting the company noticed and off the ground comes down to marketing and user acquisition.

User acquisition and marketing campaigns have so many different levels of implementation and analysis that it truly becomes the foundation to any early-stage startup. In order for you to target certain demographics or specific markets you need to understand the types of people that are most prone to not only use and enjoy your platform but share it with others. In doing so you can almost guarantee success with organic growth.

The first step is to run as many micro-experiments as possible to determine which marketing campaigns are most effective and least expensive. Once you have run enough campaigns, you must analyze them by importing all of the data you receive into a spreadsheet. By creating as many formulas as possible you can determine the cost of acquisition, activation, retention, customers, and referrals. By using this crucial data you can eliminate all of the campaigns that aren’t truly driving your growth, while focusing on the ones that do.

Once you have found the sweet spot in your campaigns for growth and cost, you can then project your future growth, expenses, and valuation based on industry averages in your space. Doing all of this is not only time-consuming, but very challenging if you have never done it before. Luckily, I have worked with amazing teams who have helped me along the way as well as a vast amount of mentors and advisors who have guided me down this analytical path. I highly suggest you surround yourself by the same types of people.

In the end, the hard truth about getting your first 100,000 users or million users is that you need to understand them, analyze the data you receive from them, and then specifically target them in a way that is most effective to drive your growth at the lowest cost possible. Spreadsheets are your friend in this case, and without them you simply can’t get the results you will need, so make sure you find a macro-ninja to help.

Also don’t forget the power of writing blog posts about your market, regularly engaging in social media, and being a part of your market in a conversational way on sites like Reddit and Quora.  All in all, the more you immerse yourself in you market, the more you will learn about your audience, and the more likely they will join your cause.

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Jason Sherman

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