We all want our graphs to be ‘up and to the right’, and it’s easy to think that to do that you need to pull out the big moves and just ‘go hard’ on user acquisition. But if you don’t have a system in place to backup these outlandish moves… you’ll sink.

Last night I was reading an article on the story of Ambarish Mitra and his journey from the slums to founding a billion dollar company. In amongst the story there was a quote that made me put my iPad down and think:

You can never fire a missile from a kayak. I think I found my warship. I had the right people and the right mix to build this business – Ambarish Mitra

In context, he was referring to his ability to build and harness the relationships he’d made while working his way up through companies and his ability to know when to make the right moves based on these relationships. He called it ‘finding his warship’.

But it got me thinking, that the same is true for ‘going hard’ on user acquisition and marketing strategies.

Since in essence, user acquisition is the creation of a relationship between your company and a new customer, you need to build up an aura of trust and professionalism before people will feel comfortable in handing over their money to you.

If you try and convince people to part with their cash with you too early, you’re wasting your own time and money.

There’s plenty of research out there about how quickly people make up their minds about a person, and a company, and once their mind is made up it’s super hard to change it. So this first impression isn’t something that you can take lightly.

We’ve made this mistake. When we first launched, we were so eager to get people using our product, that we neglected to make sure we had everything in place. We had poor calls to action, poor customer engagement, and poor on-boarding.

We had a huge rush of traffic at our launch that was wasted, our trial to conversion ratio was almost non-existent. It was a huge hit to our egos.

We’ve since worked on a lot of our business, including the pain points that we knew crushed us at our initial launch. Once we’d sorted those out, we tried to win over some of the early users… nothing. It was too late.

It’s in processes

Having at least a partial plan for what happens when a user visits your site is crucial. Keeping with the theme of finding your warship, you could call this your battle plan.

You know what you want your user to do, so guide them towards that. Don’t assume they’ll figure it out themselves. If it means you need to spoon feed them, then spoon feed them (see The 6 User Types and How To Please Them).

Someone registered? Great! Your job isn’t over though, it’s just changed focus. You need to ensure that you’ve got processes setup to educate them about how to use your product, how they can get help if they’re stuck, and most of all to support them in the way they prefer to be supported.

It’s in user acquisition

The same principle holds true for paid user acquisition. If you’re aiming to grow your company through paid ads on Google / Facebook, sending masses of traffic to your home page is a fools’ game.

You’re likely targeting certain keywords for your ads, so part of building up your warship would be crafting custom landing pages to send the traffic from those ads to. This helps to build confidence that the product they’re looking at satisfies the need they came looking to fill, as a result of seeing your ad.

If it doesn’t match, they’re outta there. Good luck getting them back.

…It’s everywhere

When you start to think about it more, you can apply this thinking to just about every facet of your business. It’s like cold calling vs being introduced.

So for each area of your business, from build to relationships to marketing, and everywhere in-between: Ask yourself if you’ve got the systems in place to back up what you’re about to undertake.

Because you only get one chance.

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  • Excellent observation. I’ve noticed this as well.

You can’t fire a cannon from a kayak

by Chris Duell time to read: 3 min
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