This post is part of a series on growth hacking (How our startup is growth hacking its way to success… and how you can copy us!)
With the future intention of pitching Keeping™ to potential users, we implemented our idea of sending out surveys to potential customers in order to better understand both our intended customers and their requirements.
Our aim was to generate a list of potential users and to get early market input.
This article is designed to help you understand the following concepts –
- How to obtain email addresses of potential customers;
- How to implement the survey, and
- How to automate the process as much as possible.
Step #1: Find Email Leads of Potential Customers
The idea is to locate a directory or resource that lists your potential customers, and of course this will differ from industry to industry.
In our case, the target markets are online businesses and web retailers. We discovered a site called Angel.co which is a directory of web businesses and startups, and from this directory we were able to export all of the listed companies, including their URLs.
We were able to do this by developing a scraping robot; however it can also be done manually.
Now we were in possession of a list of potential customers, complete with their website addresses, but we needed to locate their email address.
Once again, this can be done manually by visiting each and every site and locating the contact email address: alternatively, the process can be automated by using a piece of software called LinkAssistant.
What is LinkAssistant?
LinkAssistant is a tool used for link-building. In our case we used only one part of the software which is to locate the email address of a specific URL.
Basically, LinkAssistant does the same as a human assistant would do – it visits the site, locates the email address, and if no email address is located it looks at the Whois record for the domain. It’s not perfect, but you’ll be able to find an email address about 60% of the time.
Step #2: Prepare and design your survey
These are both excellent services, and we can certainly vouch for both; however our preference goes to FluidSurvey because it’s a little cheaper and you’re able to send out more invitations per day.
It’s pretty straightforward to create a survey. It needs to be short, straight to the point, and focused on the data you’re trying to access.
In our case we wanted to validate our concept, which is a helpdesk inside Gmail; to understand what our customers are dealing with, and to gain a basic idea of how much they would be willing to pay for our services.
We created an 8 question survey, split over two pages, with no question being compulsory.
It takes between 1 and 5 minutes to complete the survey; and we really do recommend that your survey should be short, and completed in one or two pages.
Some surveys are so long they seem to go on forever, with the customer ending up annoyed and frustrated.
In a moment you’re going to ask people you’ve never met to help you, so be kind to them.
Step #3: Send the survey
You are now able to import your list of prospects and send out your survey request straight away.
However, we have achieved better response rates by first emailing our prospects, rather than randomly sending out survey invitations.
By asking their permission first, you create a sense of curiosity and a personal connection with the prospect, before asking a favor of them.
Another hack is to send a follow-up message a week after the first request, and this can often result in receiving an additional 20% of responses. You can send reminders in one click using FluidSurvey
Step #4: Analyse your results
Here comes the easy part. Because you’ve used a paid survey service, analyzing and interpreting data is very, very simple. You can export your data, study it using graphs, and if there’s a lot of data you can even run a sentiment analysis. Responses come in instantly and it’s quite exciting to ‘refresh’ the response page and watch the new data coming in.
Step #5: Don’t forget to say ‘Thank You’
Remember that strangers have spent their valuable time helping you, so it’s very important to thank them for their time.
You’ll also get a lot of direct email responses, so it’s a good idea to respond to all emails to say how grateful you are for their assistance. It’s very simple to send a ‘thank you’ message to all your prospects by creating a ‘broadcast’ message to all those who completed your survey.
And again, do this directly from within FluidSurvey. Of course when sending your ‘thank you’ message it’s the perfect opportunity to ask people to sign up to your service, your trial, or your beta.
Step #6: Stay connected with your survey takers
You now have a list of potential customers that are personally invested with your project. You know need to stay connected with them. In a future post, I’ll explain how to create an automatic system to keep in touch with your prospects.
Our survey has been sent to approximately 20,000 businesses, and we’ve received more than 4,500 responses.
This result and the resulting input have been extremely valuable to us and confirms that there’s a very real need for us to continue with Keeping™.
It also helped us to prioritize what functionalities we need to develop first; plus the bonus of acquiring a large number of beta users.