Get your SaaS off the ground: 5 ways to acquire your first customer

Starting a SaaS business is like planting a seed, it takes time and eff… Nah, that’s not what you want to hear for the 108th time. Starting a SaaS business is hard work. It’s a lot of building, market research, user calls, iterations. Add growth on top of all that and it gets a bit crazy. However, they say getting that first customer (or first 100) is the hardest.

Let’s look at 5 ways (and 1 tool) to help you acquire first customers:

  1. Use Your Network
  2. Create Content
  3. Leverage Social Media
  4. Pay For Ads (No, I’m not mental…)
  5. Try Reddit (Soo underrated)

1. Your network is your net worth or whatever...

Your existing personal and professional network can be a great source of early customers but also feedback and some encouragement. Reach out to your friends, family, and colleagues to let them know about your business and ask for their support. 

Whenever we were building a new tool we always reached out to our own network first - they might not necessarily become your customers but they will be willing to give you valuable feedback to improve your tool or forward it to someone who might actually need it to solve their problem.

LinkedIn, for example, is amazing for this but keep in mind that quality > quantity. Avoid lazy automation tools and rather handpick people and reach out to 1 by 1 with a customized message or even video. When we were growing a podcast recording tool we were sending people Looms showing how we re-designed their podcasts in our software and the reply rate was crazy and every interaction counted.

2. Content is king and you dropped your 👑

Creating valuable content, such as blog posts, videos or a podcast, can help attract potential customers to your tool. By providing helpful information, you can establish yourself as a thought leader (hate that phrase) in your industry and build trust with potential customers. You can even invite potential customers to your podcast. Make sure to repurpose your content too - a longer video for YouTube can be turned into 5 extra videos for your TikTok to boost your reach.

And when I say content I also talk about SEO - it’s generally a long-term strategy which is not something early stage founders want to hear but it’s not always the rule. You can start with landing pages or blog posts for easy-to-rank, longer-tail keywords and bring in just a few people a month. However, if the keywords are high-intent it will still make a huge difference in your early journey and it’s extremely scalable.

But content doesn’t necessarily have to help you with just growth - when we were building Welder, one of our older tools for producing a podcast, we were using it to record a super short podcast every Friday and thanks to that content we got noticed by a different SaaS founder and eventually acquired.

3. Leverage socials (couldn’t think of anything funny here…)

Social media platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook can be powerful tools for reaching potential customers. Use them to engage with your target audience and share information about your product. However, It’s important to realize and pinpoint where your target audience usually hangs out.

Think twice if spending a lot of energy on Facebook when your target audience is young product builders is the best bang for your time.

4. Use your (not so) fat pockets

Paid advertising, such as Google AdWords, Facebook ads, and LinkedIn ads, can be an effective way to reach a large audience very quickly. This can help you drive traffic to your website and generate leads for you to follow up on.

We are generally not the biggest fans of this approach especially if you’re bootstrapping as it’s quite expensive and not very scalable but it can be an amazing way to initially drive traffic and help you collect as much feedback as possible. We would often pay for ads right after releasing our MVP just to learn how to quickly iterate.

5. Experience the wrath of Reddit users

Being active on Reddit is one of the most underrated strategies for SaaS founders. Not only when it comes to growth itself but also market research, competitor research and brand monitoring. Imagine always being part of a relevant (and authentic) conversation and being able to pitch in and maybe even plug your solution. Sounds little bit like a cheat code, doesn’t it?

Sure, it doesn’t exactly scale like SEO and it’s a lot of grind but it’s what you have to do to get your product off the ground. Just make sure that you actually provide value and are not spamming like a madman. 

We built Surfkey exactly for this purpose and actually used it to grow itself to first 250 customers in just a few weeks. And we are still using it to grow even further, see what people like or dislike about our competitors and what nasty stuff they say online about our tool.

Just set up keywords relevant to your niche and target audience (you can even filter by specific subreddits) and you’re good to go. Once the Reddit threads start rolling in, you can become part of the conversations, provide value and plug your tool where it makes sense. This way, we found a lot of people trying to solve the exact problem we’re solving with our tool. And that’s what you want

In summary, starting a SaaS business is not easy. You are initially forced to do a lot of stuff which might not scale very well but it’s necessary to get you off the ground and most importantly give you enough information to make calculated decisions and iterations. Good luck!

Oh and try Surfkey - a simple tool to grow your business by jumping into every relevant conversation on Reddit.

Never miss any relevant conversation on Reddit

Grow by listening, providing value, and sharing relevant stuff

Search keyword reddit

Set your keywords

Type in topic of interest, your competitors, your brand to set a new keyword watchdog

Reddit keyword notification

Auto-scan Reddit

Whenever your KWs are mentioned in posts, comments, usernames or URLs. btw you can scope subreddits as well 😌

Reddit Keyword Alert

Get realtime alerts

To email, Slack or Discord. Not enough?

Build with our webbhooks!

Set Reddit keyword alerts