Hypefury just passed the 90k ARR milestone. In this article I’ll go through the learnings we had of getting to this milestone. It took us a little over 10 months to reach and it all started with this tweet:
Are there any scheduling apps that do Twitter threads?
— ???????????????? ???????????????????????????? (@SamyDindane) August 5, 2019
Samy asked his audience if there was an app that allowed you to schedule Twitter Threads. There were none. The minute he realized that he started coding. A couple of days later the MVP was ready and he invited people that responded to his original tweet to join the closed beta.
Scarcity builds interest
The closed beta was limited to just a few spots and that immediately created scarcity around our app. People were interested but not everyone could get in (yet). This is an important first step in building a loyal following for your project. Don’t be scared to launch an MVP that’s really minimal. People like to be the first to test something out even if it doesn’t solve all their problems yet. Just get some fans on board who can give you feedback early on so you don’t build the wrong stuff.
The Brand Bank
Who isn’t sick and tired of seeing ads on their timeline, news sites, anywhere on the internet really? It’s something we’ve been very aware of: people hate ads. Every time I see an ad from a company their perceived value decreases a bit. Every time I see them creating something of value (a cool product, a new feature) they add something to their perceived value.
I can’t remember where I learned the term brand bank but I think it’s a great way to look at your own project/brand. Big brands just flip the ads switch and they’ll see an uplift in revenue. That’s not how you should do marketing with your (indie) project.
As a developer, you’re in the best position to do growth marketing by adding value to your brand bank instead of subtracting. Use engineered marketing to create an interest in your brand and product. This YouTube video explains it well.
One of the things we did was create a free course on how to grow your Twitter audience. The course has been downloaded over 2,000 times and serves as a lead gen for our business. People who download the course join our newsletter and we convert about 2% – 5% into users of our app.
Don’t underestimate the power of affiliate marketing
As a startup, you don’t have a lot of resources to do marketing. Affiliate marketing is outsourcing your marketing to the crowd. Especially because our product is so closely connected (literally) to Twitter we can leverage its virality with affiliate marketing.
Our users are our fans and by giving them an extra incentive to talk about us we increased our growth a lot. It’s hard to quantify because not all of the new customers come via an affiliate. But we can definitely see that it works.
There are dozens of YouTube videos that mention us. Hundreds of articles talk about using Hypefury as a Twitter scheduler or engagement booster.
We could’ve done the same but that would mean almost hiring someone full-time to create these articles and videos. We now have the same result but from people who already have an established domain and audience. We’re not only being mentioned by them but we’re also leveraging their existing audience.
The dark side of affiliate marketing
Don’t think that affiliate marketing is all good. You always have people who want to game the system. We’ve had multiple affiliates who started advertising on Google on our brand name even though it was explicitly mentioned in our ToS that it’s not allowed.
Imagine you Google your own brand name and come across this while knowing it’s not the ad you’re looking at.
This is particularly damaging because it doesn’t add anything to our visibility. It just sucks away value from our brand. These are people who already know us and are searching for our brand name. We have no problem if people advertise on terms like a Twitter scheduler and stuff like that, but advertising on those terms costs a lot more than just 1 Penny per click for our branded terms.
Play the long game
While you should always be on the lookout for new distribution and marketing channels I also believe there are a few timeless channels you can use. SEO is one of those.
I recommend everyone to start creating content early on in their startup’s life. It takes a long time before you start ranking in Google but once you do it will become a free lead gen source you can leverage for a long long time.
It took about 5 months before the needle started moving.
You only need to know one thing about ranking on Google: create content your users want and need. Be exhaustive when writing about the topic. Create content that’s at least 25% better than what’s already out there. Use Google’s free Keyword Planner to do research on what topics people search for and how many monthly searches are performed on what topics.
Create content on topics that are closely related to your niche. And again, don’t forget to leverage your current customers/fans. Interview them or ask their opinion on what you’re writing. They’ll spread the word once that content is live without you even asking.
Build the right things
We use Acute to collect feedback from our users. People can vote on different features so we know what’s most important for them. It’s easier for us to decide what to build if a lot of our users want something. Keep in mind though that in order to grow you have to do 3 things. Acquire more users, keep your current users happy (don’t let them churn), and expand the revenue from your current users.
We’re pretty good at attracting new users. Our growth rate has been 20% – 30% month over month in the number of new users. June was actually the first month where new user growth was below 30%. July should be above 30% again.
Our revenue hasn’t grown by those numbers for one important reason: our churn rate is too high. We’re currently at about a 10% churn rate. That’s too much.
We could focus on new features our current users want but that won’t stop the churn. People don’t leave because there’s something missing from a feature. People leave because their needs aren’t met. We’re not providing the AHA moment soon enough and we’re not helping them enough with their “Jobs to be done”.
We’re now focussing on getting people to that AHA / Magic moment sooner and sooner. We have a pretty good idea of what that magic moment is although I think you can always improve and create new magic moments in your app.
The other lever you can pull is the new user lever. Making incremental changes to existing features won’t pull in new users. You’ll make your current users happy, yes. But don’t forget to make some bigger leaps on your product roadmap so you can capture a bigger market.
Keep pulling on these levers. You’ll have a better chance your startup will grow into a nice business!
If you’re active on Twitter and want to build an audience while saving time on tweet creation, try Hypefury! Just go to app.hypefury.com and try it out for free!
Follow me (Yannick) on Twitter here.