The Secret Recipe to Gain Early Users for Your SaaS [Without Spending a Dime]

The Secret Recipe to Gain Early Users for Your SaaS [Without Spending a Dime]

Have you launched a tech product but struggling to find initial users?

In this post, I will explain how we at OnPage Champ leveraged social media (specifically Facebook Groups) and got more than 100 beta users for our SEO Tool, that too within the first week of our launch.

The key lies NOT in spamming Facebook but being very specific with your requests.

Contrary to popular beliefs, you will find lots of people on social media who are warm, encouraging and open to try out new stuff; provided you approach them in the right way. 

Let’s understand how the majority do it, before I explain how you can do it even better?

A. How do the majority request for feedback online?

As a general approach, people tend to shortlist a couple of Facebook groups where they see their target audience hanging around.

Good. That’s the right step. 

But then, they will just post a 2-3 liner generic request for help & feedback (as shown below).

It’s here where things start falling apart:-

Challenge #1: Posts like these often get rejected by the group admins.

Challenge #2: If the post gets accepted, group members don’t respond to the feedback request. 

Challenge #3: The request soon gets buried under a heap of other posts and eventually fades away.

 

The result: People feel dejected and blame Facebook for the poor show.

Sounds like your story? 

Never mind, let’s see the engagement I generated as part of the reachout effort. I will then explain you why this way of asking feedback is a hit.

Feedback copy_1

 

Here’s another one:-

feedbeack copy_2

8 out of 10 times I posted for help/feedback, I got a similar response. 

By the way, this approach worked way better on Facebook groups but not much for LinkedIn groups.

B. Do you know why most feedback requests fail to generate an impact?

#1. Well, because they are generic.

#2. Because there’s no attempt to understand the needs of the audience. Mass targeting means no targeting.

#3. Because there’s no specific ask from the audience. You leave them clueless.

#4. Because you are not prompting the reader to take action (i.e. there is no CTA).

Understand that no one will come to offer you feedback, unless you are solving a problem for them.

So be very specific, tell your audience about the problem you are solving, for whom you are solving and then ask them for their help & feedback.

C. Components of a great feedback request

When I started my social media endeavors, I was making the same mistake of asking for generic feedback.

But then, I got across this awesome video from Lindsay Tabbas that showed me exactly where I was going wrong:-

Here’s a summary of how I applied her suggestions for Facebook Groups:-

#1. Specify your target audience

Even if you have a niche audience in a Facebook group, there is always an opportunity to niche it further down. 

Be clear and address specific audience group(s) in your copy. A feedback from someone outside your target niche can be misleading because they may not be facing the same problem.

How I did it?

As part of my launch effort, I shortlisted Facebook groups that had startup founders, agencies, SEOs and digital marketers.

I targeted multiple audience groups and fine tuned my messages for each subset.

In one case (shown below), I targeted SEO pros and SEO beginners (I even mentioned that clearly as part of my copy).

Specify the target audience

The idea is that I don’t want feedback from any random person: I want to hear out specific groups. 

Being upfront helps you attract the right audience.

#2. Specify the type of feedback you want

Avoid asking generic feedback like – “What’s your feedback for my tool?” or “What do you think?” 

There are two issues with this approach:-

  • You are increasing the work of your audience by keeping the things open.
  • You are bound to get a lot of noise because you are not letting your user focus on specific aspects. A feedback like – bad design – is not feedback. It’s a fact.

You need to ask what they didn’t like about the feature “XYZ”. Or how much time they think the “feature XYZ” will save for them? Or will they pay for the subscription?

Or anything else that can help you quantify the value your tool can offer.

How I did it?

You will notice that all my copies ask for very specific feedback around the utility of my app, possible use cases and what else my users will like me to build.

Be specific

You must be wondering if people care to revert?

Here are a couple of responses that I recieved as part of the process:-

Response to “Do you think OnPage Champ will help your SEO in any way?”

 

Response to “Will you pay for OnPage Champ?”

 

Response to “Were you able to make out what OnPage Champ does?”

 

Feedback_4
Response to “What features you suggest we should build?”

 

Didn’t ask any question. The user answered on his own 🙂

 

feedback_5
And some of our improvement areas.

 

#3. Specify the stage of your product

If I tell the world that I have an SEO tool that can help them with on-page optimization, everyone expects it to be at par with the established players in the industry.

Hold on for a second… I have just launched a public beta and I am still exploring my ground. 

Had it been a mature product, I would have been selling it rather than seeking feedback and looking for early users.

Set the expectation right otherwise you will get more criticism than constructive feedback.

How I did it?

Most of the time, my opening statement tried to set the right expectation wrt my tool.

Set expectations right

I was very specific in saying that the tool is in public beta (that means expect bugs and occasional unstability).

Guess what: not even a single person mentioned about the instability of my product. They were focussing on the features and how I can improve that. 

Had I not talked about my product stage and the specific feedback I wanted, I am sure the majority of the feedback would have been “unstable product”.

#4. Specify the CTA for your readers

Ask your users to take a specific action in case they are interested to try out your product/service.

That’s important because it filters out a lot of non target audience. Plus, when someone takes action, they are more likely to follow through and test out your product.

How I did it?

In almost all of my copies, I request the user to comment if they want to try out the product.

Once they comment, I reach out to them one on one via a direct message and share the link of my app with them.

This process takes a lot of effort, but it helps me in 3 ways:-

  • I don’t leave a link out in the open, and that saves me from the wrath of the group admins. 
  • It helps me initiate a conversation with the audience and shows them the person behind the entire pursuit. I have built some great relationships (and great customers) as part of this process.
  • It leaves me with an opportunity to reach out to these people again in the future.

Here’s a working example:-

You might want to leave your link out in the open, but I would suggest otherwise. 

In my tests, I got better results when I kept the signup link hidden. 

If you are wondering why, keep reading.

D. Some growth hacks for better results

#1. Increase the longevity of your post

Facebook’s algorithm is clearly biased towards engagement (that too comments).

That’s why, as a CTA, ask your users to comment below the post to get the access link. 

A post that gets a comment is pushed to the top of the feed, irrespective of its age or previous engagement.

This works as a loop: more the people who comment, more will be the people who will be shown the post, resulting in even more comments.

I hope you got your answer why I don’t leave a URL within my feedback requests. Let people ask for it and feed the Facebook algo.

#2. Reply back to people

Reply back to each and every comment that you get on your post, tagging the person who commented.

It helps you get the attention of the person. This also ensures an increased probability of them seeing your DM.

But most important, as I said earlier, comments help your post push back to the top of the group feed. Even your own comment pushes your post back to the top of the group timeline.

Commenting makes even more sense once your post starts getting buried in the heap of other posts.

In fact, the engagement that you see in my posts, half of it includes my comments/responses.

#3. Reach out to group admins

Relationships never go waste. 

When I started OnPage Champ, I joined a couple of groups focussed on SEO, SaaS and blogging.

I was able to contribute significantly to some discussions, thereby catching the attention of the admins and the moderators.

And when the time came, I asked their permission to post on their groups. All of them agreed to it, mainly because they knew me as a genuine guy. 

Here’s a screenshot capturing my interaction with one of the group moderators.

#4. Double opt-in

Always, always ask for the user to take some action. Be it a comment, DM, follow or anything that will filter out the serious people from the non serious ones.

This also improves the probability of your users signing up. 

I have tried this thing so many times that I now always prefer not to leave the link of my tool but let the people ask for it.

E. Time for action

It always helps to engage in the Facebook groups before you ask for feedback. That helps in building credibility & trust.

In addition, study the group and the audience, understand the type of questions people ask and learn the group rules.

And then include this learning in your feedback copy.

The approach I have talked about is non scalable and needs effort, but it’s a sure shot way to generate engagement and drive beta users.

Over to you now: what’s your hack to get engagement within Facebook groups? Comment below.

2 thoughts on “The Secret Recipe to Gain Early Users for Your SaaS [Without Spending a Dime]”

  1. Tushar, I am honored to have helped you establish a quality customer feedback loop, and equally stoked that you have shared that process with your own audience. You’ve learned one of the BEST outcomes of early market research: It’s also excellent relationship building that can lead to sales and customers.

    • Indeed Lindsay. I have used this technique so many times now, everytime we launch a new feature.

      I couldn’t help myself but writing about it and letting the world know.

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