Finding the first 100 users for your business can feel like an uphill battle.
But those first 100 users are critical. They are how you’ll define your processes, validate your ideas, and gain momentum for future growth.
In this post, I’ve collated 95 fool-proof methods for landing your first 100 users. Let’s get to it.
Break free of analysis paralysis, get out of your own head, and do the only thing that matters: get started.
#2: Be consistent
To reach those first 100 users, you need to create consistency in everything you do. From pricing, to marketing, to processes. Repeatability is key.
#3: Know your buyer inside out
Three words: know your audience. It’s easier than it sounds with handy tools from HubSpot to help you define buyer personas.
#4: Listen to your buyers
Your buyers should be front and center in all your marketing activity. Engage with them regularly to hone in on their core challenges and pain points.
#5: Speak their language
Having the solution to your customer’s problems won’t do you any good if you can’t communicate it clearly to them. Use language your customers understand, avoid complicated jargon, and stay focused on the things they care about.
#6: No BS
Authenticity – and honesty – is always the best policy. If you’re a one-person company – own it. Keep it real and your customers will be more likely to connect with your brand.
Stay agile, stay lean, and experiment to find what works. When you find acquisition methods that work – double down.
#8: Objective focus
Set concrete KPIs and milestones before you begin. These will guide and inform all the decisions you make, and will help you to prioritise ideas and stay on track.
#9: Start with 1
Forget racking up 100 users and start with numero uno. Treat that first customer like royalty and they’ll be with you for life. Word of mouth goes a really long way in business, so putting in this effort early on is likely to pay off down the road.
#10: Build a pre-launch landing page
Create hype before your MVP is even ready with a landing page plus sign-up form. Share it with everyone you talk to about your upcoming business and start collecting emails ready for launch.
The internet is jam-packed with communities full of potential customers. Groups on Facebook, LinkedIn, and reddit are all places where you can engage with prospects and start building brand awareness. Key to this is being helpful. Don’t be pushy or salsey - provide value first.
#12: Create useful content
Showcase your expertise and experience by creating truly valuable content for your prospects. Again: use content to provide value before you start pushing sales.
#13: Pitch your idea
Once you’ve started building relationships with potential prospects, start pitching your idea to them. Position this as an opportunity for you to get feedback. Who knows, those pitches might just turn into sales.
#14: Influencer outreach
With your buyer persona in place, start engaging with influencers who already have a prominent voice amongst your prospects. Share your product, ask them what they think about it. Eventually this may lead to valuable product mentions.
#15: Launch a blog
A blog gives your brand a central location to host content and drive traffic from social channels. In today’s content-driven world, you need one.
#16: Launch social channels
Talking of social channels, take the time to identify just one or two key platforms and focus your efforts on them.
#17: Monitor social keywords
Tools like Hootesuite et al. allow you to keep your finger on the pulse of your customer’s conversations and engage naturally with them. Set up keyword monitoring, and dedicate time to being part of those discussions.
#18: Use video
Video is fast becoming the most popular format on social media. You don’t need to be a video pro to do this well - there are tons of tools like Biteable that offer free and insanely easy solutions.
Assume that when you start your business you know nothing. Your assumptions all need validating, so listening is so more important than talking. Absorb every piece of feedback you can and use it to fuel growth.
#20: Build out an email list
Email is still one of the most effective forms of marketing. Find topics your persona cares about and start sending out content that adds real value.
#21: Track search rankings
Use tools like Ahrefs and SEMrush to keep an eye on your SEO performance and get new ideas for content.
#22: Run (small budget) paid ads
Try small placements on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and reddit to test your creative and copy. You only need a small budget (we’re talking £5 or less) to start testing and learning.
#23: Experiment with paid video
Yep – again. Video really matters. Use tools like Canva, Promo or VEEDio to deliver (and maybe monetise) your content.
#24: Test and learn
Whittle down what works best by running 3 creatives against 3 audiences and optimising based on what performs best. Remove any ads that don’t work (and use these insights to inform broader copy decisions you make).
#25: Paid: Scale
Focus your attention on the ads that deliver results, then gradually boost those budgets.
#26: Paid: Test out messaging
Paid ads also give you the chance to test your creative – both copy and images – to see which generate the best response.
#27: Paid: Take advantage of free credit
Plenty of paid ad services offer introductory deals with free credit. LinkedIn, Bing, and Google Ads all have free £75 credit offers. Snap them up.
#28: Paid: Search
Understand your core buyers’ search intent by running small budget paid search ads. Get clearer on what they’re searching for and comparing and feed this into wider marketing activities.
#29: Paid: Search cost
Paid search can be costly, so don’t throw that investment down the drain. Ensure your landing page matches your creatives and ad messaging to convert on any potential clicks.
#30: Listen. (Yes, again).
With an exit intent widget on your website, you can interrupt prospects as they’re leaving – and ask them why.
#31: Post: ProductHunt
ProductHunt curates and showcases the latest and greatest tech startups. If you land on the first page the impact can be huge for early stage startups - but you need to dedicate enough time to planning an effective PH launch. So rush it.
#32: Post: Indie Hackers
Indie Hackers is a great place to share behind-the-scenes insights into your start-up, start building relationships and learn from others, too.
#33: Post: Betalist
Get the conversation started early (and pick up some beta users) by posting your start-up to Betalist.
#34: Email: Signature
Evangelize everywhere, including your email signature. Every little helps.
#35: Email: Subscription widget
Convert blog visitors into customers (eventually) by encouraging them to join your email list. Add an email sign up pop-up to every post.
#36: Experiment with messenger bots
Chatbots have better open rates and CTR to email, and offer lots of automation options. Look into how you can start having (automated) conversations with potential prospects.
#37: Content: Repurpose it
Break down each piece of content into bitesize micro-content, and explore how you can use it in other formats, and on other channels.
Create something valuable on Notion and share it as a public board.
#39: Host a webinar
Hosting a webinar is a great way to establish authority, start meaningful conversations and generate new leads. Invite a subject matter expert and follow up with attendees afterwards.
#40: Create quizzes
Boost engagement and encourage interaction by turning your content into a quiz. Incentivise engagement by offering prizes if it makes sense to.
Sometimes all you have to do is ask. A market research survey can help you test your concept and reach potential users.
#42: Speak at events
Becoming an authority in your space means showing your face. Speaking at live (or virtual) events can help make this happen.
Re-posting high performing content can help you capture a fresh audience and ensure your content stays relevant (don’t forget to update it if needed).
Content marketing doesn’t end when you publish it. Be sure you spend as much time promoting your content as you did creating it.
#45: Engage influencers
Influencers really are everywhere. Try to bag interviews, quotes , or recommendations from the biggest influencers in your space.
#46: Know where to find influencers
You can find industry influencers across most mainstream social platforms: LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, podcast hosts… and more.
#47: Keep it local
Get out of the digital realm and make an impact in your local area with printed flyers and analogue content.
#48: Network (everywhere)
Networking still works. Go to conferences, events, meet-ups, exhibitions – both physical and virtual.
#49: Experiment with outbound
It’s easy to get hooked on inbound marketing, but outbound matters too. Reach out to potential users via phone or email.
#50: Be empathetic, always.
Everything you do and say should be about your customers, not you. Reflect this in every aspect of your marketing and messaging.
#51: Build relationships
This takes time, and there are no shortcuts. Don’t push for a sale too soon. Instead, nurture real relationships, deliver value, and make yourself indispensable.
#52: Use content marketing for outreach
It’s not just about posting a blog and hoping for the best anymore – offer value by delivering quality content during the outreach process.
#53: Source leads
There are plenty of ways to source leads online – even Google Chrome extensions. Tool up and ensure you’re capturing potential prospects while you’re online.
#54: Enrich leads
Outbound marketing only works if it feels authentic. Find out things about your cold leads (or pay someone to do this) and reflect these insights in your outreach efforts.
Marketing automation tools like HubSpot and Mixmax can help you track your opens and replies and automate follow ups.
#56: Focus on headlines and images (for content)
If you want to improve your CTR on content from social, you really need to focus on creating headlines and hero images that resonate with your target audience. First impressions really count.
#57: Headlines and images (for paid search)
This also applies to paid search channels, like Google Ads. Optimise your copy on an ongoing basis - find what works.
#58: Landing pages: Feedback buttons
Sometimes, finding out what you’re doing right (and wrong) is just as valuable as driving a sale. Add feedback buttons on your site to start a conversation if nothing else.
#59: Landing pages: Review sessions
Gain passive insights on your landing page performance using tools like Hotjar. Actually watching how users interact with your landing page can be a really powerful way of optimising for conversions.
#60: Landing pages: Run A/B testing
If you have enough traffic, then A/B test landing page variations to understand what works and what doesn’t.
#61: Search: Optimise high-performing content
Optimise for search regularly, especially on content that’s already performing well.
#62: Search: Keywords and terms
Use tools like the Google Keyword Planner, UberSuggest or Ahrefs to identify keywords with high search traffic (>100 searches a month) but low competition.
#63: Traffic is vanity
Remember: keyword traffic doesn’t matter if the purchase intent is low. It’s ok to opt for lower traffic keywords if the buyer intent signal is high. Remember: we want sales, not visits.
#64: Paid: Content marketing
Drive more traffic to your content marketing by running small paid ads on channels like Facebook or Twitter (and remember to make sure that email sign up pop up is active!). The sales funnel will be longer, but you’ll start to build brand awareness.
#65: Site not converting? Arrange a roast
If your landing page isn’t converting and you don’t know why, arrange a landing page roast with yours truly and get some fresh eyes on the problem.
#66: Add testimonials
Few things are more important to buyers than social proof. Build trust by incorporating testimonials and unbiased reviews front and centre on your landing page.
#67: Focus on value / USP
If you don’t understand your core value proposition, neither will your customers. Make sure your USP is clearly and succinctly communicated up front in your messaging.
#68: Go easy on the CTAs
Asking your users to do something over and over again is just overkill. Limit your CTA use to one or two per page.
#69: Use video to showcase your product and users
Showcase your product features (or your customers) by integrating video onto your landing page. Sometimes it’s better to show, not tell.
#70: Optimise for the traffic source
Your landing page should reflect where the traffic has come from. Create subtle landing page variations depending on which channel your visitors have clicked through from.
When it comes to SEO, quality not quantity of content matters. Focus (and invest in) one really great piece, rather than lots of little ones.
It’s the professional choice of social network, and it’s a great spot to find early adopters to fill the ranks of your first 100. Connect with at least 10 people a day and then send them a follow up message.
#73: Share, create, or curate
Build your authority status with daily posts on LinkedIn.
#74: Get on a call
Don’t be afraid to hop on a call and talk to your ideal customer for authentic insights. Ask them what they need and what they think of your service as is. Most people will be willing to engage in this kind of feedback as a gesture of goodwill.
#75: Know the marketing cycle
Know the marketing cycle inside out (educate, awareness, consideration) and tailor your messaging and content to each stage.
#76: Paid sponsorship: YouTube or podcasts
Audiences don’t get much more engaged than YouTube subscribers and niche podcasts. Sponsorship deals can get you in front of the right people.
#77: Paid sponsorship: Industry mailers
Paid industry mailers will allow you to target a really nice (and likely very relevant) audience. This could be especially helpful for local businesses.
#78: Remember to review performance
Don’t forget to keep tracking your key metrics across all of your marketing experiments and optimise based on those insights.
#79: (But don’t get too obsessed)
It can be easy to get lost in numbers rather than action. Set clear budgets and KPIs, and move onto the next experiment rather than dwelling on anything that doesn’t go to plan.
Use tools like SEMrush to discover who is linking to your competitors – then reach out to offer your content instead.
#81: Paid search: Bid on competitor’s brand terms
Cheeky? A bit. Effective? Absolutely.
#82: Engage journalists
Create a relationship with industry journalists – follow them on social, comment on the blog, and start building brand awareness.
#83: Take regular breaks
Your business will only ever be as good as you are. Take regular breaks (I’m taking holidays, not lunchtimes) so that you don’t burn out.
#84: Show, don’t tell
Most marketing is bland and boring. Do something different with vivid, captivating messaging. Find a way to stand out from the crowd.
#85: Know your funnel
Optimise your funnel from first click to final conversion. That starts with understanding the full picture.
#86: Nurture leads
Launch an email nurturing campaign to gradually raise brand awareness and start introducing your product’s value when it makes sense to.
#87: Hook influencers
Yep, this lot again. Offer early access to your product for a quick shot of promotion.
#88: Use your credibility
If you’re sitting on a host of past accolades or achievements, shout about them! This will add real weight to how much trust people have in your product.
#89: Ask your mum
When all else fails, there’s always one person who’ll be happy to be your first customer.
#90: Create advocacy
Early adopters will often be the most passionate users. Reward them and transform them into the brand ambassadors. Word of mouth is really powerful.
#91: Partner up
Find like-minded but complementary businesses. Start whitelabeling, or just offering affiliate sales. With your powers combined, you could make real progress.
#92: Comment regularly on relevant posts
Find relevant industry blogs and leave 5 comments a day. Slow and steady.
#93: Add a powered by link
If other services use your product, offer them a “Powered By” link to drive brand awareness and referrals.
#94: Early referral
When onboarding early customers, ask them who they think you should be talking to.
#95: Focus on the power of one
Remember it all starts with one step. One great review, one viral post, one advocate, one customer. The rest will come from there.
Ready to bag your first 100?
Phew! So there you have it: 100(ish) effective strategies for getting your first 100 users in the bag.
Want even more expert advice and actionable insights? Get in touch today and organise a landing page roast for just £199.