How to get first 100 customers

A case study for a memory storing app Rewind


About 2 weeks ago a founder of Rewind reached out to me to ask if I can offer some ideas that would help him to grow his app. It's not like he has 0 users — he has several dozen people using the app but all of them are his friends. Jon's goal is to bring Rewind closer to "strangers" and make this shift from people who use it because they know the founder personally to others who don't know Jon and would love to give it a try just because they love the product. I had a quick chat with Jon last week and promised to come up with the ideas in 5-7 days. And here I come:)

But first, let me give you the intro. Rewind is a mobile app that helps users to store, tag and do efficient search on different types of files (photos, voice memos, texts). Rewind also has some features of social media — users can create a safe space and share selected files with other Rewind users (like a shared album).


Pros:

  • In general, I believe that the product has a great potential with the right positioning and right marketing mix. Because of the social network features it has an ability to create growth loops — when users onboard other users just to share the value of the product with them.

Cons:

  • Jon had done no user research whatsoever before jumping into building the app. That's because he was just scratching his own itch and created a functionality to organise, sort and share his own files with his family members. Several months into work — and he realised that he could probably build a UI on top of features and turn the app into a product. He asked some of his friends and they obviously said "great idea, go for it!" (a classic "user interview gone wrong")

  • Products with growth looping potential are characterised by the highest level of resource consumption — in other words, it's expensive as hell to grow them fast.


However, here are the things I would do with Rewind if I was in charge of growth and (!) product marketing there. I would offer the founder a strategy that is the most reasonable when there are actually some paying users

CUSTOMER-LED GROWTH



Step 1: Talk to customers

As the app already has some customers, even if they are Jon's friends, he still can talk to them. There are up to 10 people who are already paying for using this service! It's a great indication that Jon is on the right track. Even if the founder is your friend you won't pay £4/ month just to keep them happy. Meaning, these paying users see the value of the app. The goal is to discover WHAT value they see and HOW exactly do they use the app. Jon believes that his target audience should be parents over 35 yo but less than 60 probably. with a high to medium level of tech savviness.


He wants to position Rewind as MEMORY DEPOT — a storage where you can keep all your memories in one place and share them with others. It's a great positioning, and I would definitely go for it if I was on Ground zero — meaning, if I had no paying users. Jon has them — and it makes total sense to ask them what pain points do they have that Rewind allows them to get rid of. Paying users = idea validation. Now, Jon only has to figure out, what is this idea about exactly! Honestly, Jon has already figured that much out, and he sent the survey to his users asking to answer some questions. But in my experience, surveys never provide the value of real-life interviews. You never can get as much useful insights from the survey as you will after the interviews. Besides, if you want the survey to provide you value, you have to include there as much open-ended questions as possible ("How do you use this app on the daily basis?" "Why did you decide that you need a paywalled plan"?) From users' perspective, it's easier to spend 15 minutes chatting over Zoom than crafting the right answers for open-ended questions.


Timeline: 2 weeks

Budget: $10/per user (I always use Amazon gift cards as incentives to make people more willing to talk). Even if they are friends, 15 minutes of their time should be compensated for


Step 2. Fine-tune positioning and the landing page accordingly

Here's Rewind's landing page now. It looks professional, great trendy design, all the correct UX elements...



The problem is — it lacks uniqueness. It looks just like millions of other landing pages


Other problems that I instantly see:

Vague positioning. Yes, there are words about valuable moments in H2. But then — "unsocial network" (what does that even mean?! is it supposed to be a good thing?), "algorithm free" (what does it have to do with memories?), "built for you" (huh, really? did I ask for this?)

No social proof at all! That's the worst — Jon already has users and there are no testimonials, no words of love, nothing!

Call to action is weird. "Mobile app" and "Desktop app" look like the buttons that would send users down the rabbit hole of explainers about different types of apps. Perhaps, there would be another landing page?

The "benefits" (``Why choose Rewind") are sent to the third screen while they should be right after the social proof, before any pricing details. Also, the benefits listed are not real benefits: charity, organisation, cloud storage — they are all features, not benefits.

The last section "Subscribe to receive our Memo" makes no sense to me at all. The idea to jog users' memory is awesome in general but it should be a part of the onboarding process, not a "hook" to get people into the marketing funnel.


All these sections should go through a huge transformation. Let's imagine, Jon's customers, indeed, feel that the real value of the app for them is that they can store and share their memories with people they love. I would rewrite the copy, change call to action and the hero image. To something like this



The first screen should also contain social proof. Something like this




The next screen should be about benefits (NOT features!)

Again, the goal is to highlight the benefits that are ALREADY working: things that made paying users switch to the paid for plan in the first place. I imagine something like this.




Those benefits also tap into users' implicit motives: affiliation (bond families), safety, happiness, speed of completing tasks, and worries about level of tech knowledge.

The pricing I would actually move to another page to get a better grip on analytics. Having pricing on the main LP pushes you to analyse every single customer behaviour via Hotjar or Clarity recordings (also, Amplitude is very useful for these specific reasons). You need to know why certain visitors bounce: they don't like the pricing? Or the messaging doesn't resonate with them? If you have everything on the same page it's tough to figure out what's the underlying reason. If you split messaging and pricing you'll always know on what stage did the visitor bounce and don't waste your time on fixing something that works perfectly well.

Timeline: 1 week

Budget: free


Step 3. Rethink the product pricing structure

Free plan is great for products that have growth loops potential. Growth loops happen when users start onboarding other users to get the most out of the service. But! Right now a free plan presumes sharing only links. It makes sense in terms of expenses control (text data creates almost no load on the infrastructure) but 0 sense in terms of marketing. You can share links for free in messages everywhere. Users who choose a free plan never get the most out of this service. Therefore, they have zero motivation to switch to the paid plan and no incentive to share the app with someone else. Moreover, a negative experience with limited features most probably would lead to negative reviews in Appstore and Google Play — and it's definitely not something Jon would want to have.


Jon has to make a hard choice: ditch the free plan and hope users would convert to the paid one instantly. Or allow a free trial period instead with full access to the features. Yes, it will shoot up his expenses — but this is the only way to actually grow the app faster and incentivise users to share their memories with others.


Step 4. Build a great onboarding

Whether Jon decides to get rid of his free plan or increase his spending on infrastructure, the onboarding should be totally rewritten. Right now, the onboarding is non-existent: users only get more marketing messages when they download the app and go ahead with the sign up. What Jon needs — is a carefully crafted email sequence that would help to "activate" a new user — meaning, a guideline that would help users to start using the app and get the most out of it in the first 2-3 days.


I would go with Postmark email automations — they have a fair pricing policy, offer bonuses for startups and perfect for those who know their way around HTML and APIs.

The first email that a user receives right after signing up should

— Make an impression that it has come personally from Jon

— Contain 3-5 15 sec gifs that would explain how to use the app, create memories and share with others

— Offer 1 tip on what memory a person can create and share. For example, "My first day of using Rewind: make a pic of yourself with a goofy face (like this), add a short note on what you feel right now and share it with your best friend".

The next email should come on the next day after the sign up and contain: — A "personal" offer from Jon to reach out and ask for help if there's something they don't get

— 1 more tip on memory creation. For example, "Think, how many days are left up to your Mom's next birthday. How do you feel about her? Make her happy and excited by showing how much you really care. The easiest way to do it is to: — Make a voice recording explaining that you're thinking about your mom right now. Describe your feelings. Mark the day. Tell yourself, that you're leaving this memo X days before your Mom's birthday because it's not a special day — and this is a reminder that you don't need a special day to think about your mom. Record directly from Rewind, press Save. Share with your Mom".

Emails like this should be delivered every day during the trial period or, in case Jon decides against it, every day in the first 7 days of using the app. Then — once a week.

Timeline: always

Budget: $10/10K emails/ month


Step 5. Influencer marketing

There are many marketing tactics that can be used but influencers are able to bring the fastest results. They can be a part of an affiliate program and get a fee for every signed up customer, or paid upfront a fixed amount.

First, Jon needs to find the right influencer. Can be done during the interviews actually by asking his customers what social media they use and whom they follow. Can be done by using SparkToro. Let's presume Jon's audience frequently talk about "family" and are located in the UK. So far — so good. Checking out if those "family talking" people align with our customer profile in general.




A free search in SparkTori can land us on several candidates. For example, Jo Middleton has a fair number of followers (not 3M and not 33), posts frequently and has a fair level of engagement.




Test her accounts on social media to see that her impressive Twitter presence is almost useless — the level of engagement there is very low. But Facebook and Instagram are nice. She gets min 5-10 comments and likes on every post. Add her to our Influencers DB to reach out.

Repeat and get 10-15 more influencers like Jo in the database.

Now, the cold outreach time. Jon can use his accounts on social media to send a personalised DM to every influencer and explain that he has built an app for parents to share their memories, build bonds in the families, create a legacy, and interact within a friendly and positive environment. Add personal details from every influencer's account (like, "this exactly what you wrote about in your blog post in November 2020 — link"). End up with : "I would love it if you could give the app a try, and so that we could discuss options for our collaboration with the goal to make your followers more connected to their loved ones and bring my product in front of their eyes". Send out 10-15 letters and wait for the response. If the outreach is done right, the expected open rate will be about 70%, and there's a chance to have at least 2 influencers interested in the app and agreeing to mention it for free.

Timeline: 2 weeks

Budget: free or up to $1000

Result: based on data on influencer's impressions, the message can reach over 70K people and even 0.1% of conversion would yield up to 70 new users.



Step 6. Social media ads

I did not manage to find any ads for Rewind in the Facebook library, though Jon told me that there was an agency that deals with ad campaigns for Rewind. There were 0 results for Google Ads. I'm not sure where this agency runs the campaign but I would not recommend going with Google ads at this stage. Rewind is not exactly the kind of product that solves a problem users would be googling up. What search query might land a user on Rewind's landing page? "memory cards"— ? — not exactly what this is about

"family album" — ? — again, doesn't nail it

"how to share memories"— ? — not quite there

Answerthepublic.com

shows that we might get some luck with "best way to store memories", "where to keep memories".



Probably, can give those a try and run a campaign for 14 days to see if there's going to be some conversion. But I'm skeptical in this. Moz Keyword Explorer shows that In UK most of requests on "store memory" subject are connected to the way brain stores memories, not the apps or devices. Also, monthly volume is very low to send any consistent traffic to the app's landing page.




Therefore, the best option is to go with social media. Here, I suggest setting several tests and seeing what copy would work better. I love the framework suggested by Trevor Longino from the CrowdTamers. He offers to test 3 types of the copy and 2-3 versions of each: analytical, emotional, social. It corresponds very well with the types of persons explained in Never Split the Difference — the best book on negotiations, and the Limbic mapping system advocated by Dr Häusel. But at the same time we should address the benefits that we have discovered on Seap 1.

Let's see what we can come up with.


Social proof copy
  1. This app has helped hundreds of families to improve their bonding ties. Families use Rewind to store and share the meaningful moments of their lives within a completely adds-free environment with full privacy data protection.

  2. Can a simple app make you a happier family? It did just that for dozens of families in the UK. Families use Rewind to store and share the meaningful moments of their lives within a completely adds-free environment with full privacy data protection.

  3. These people get and share only positive emotions. Do you want to do it too? These people use Rewind to store and share moments and memories that matter in a friendly, positive environment where they can invite their kids and elderly members without risking their mental health.

Emotional copy
  1. I've made my mother a gift that made her cry with tears of happiness. Do you want to make a gift that stands out? My 75 yo Mom got an annual Rewind subscription. She's ecstatic because she can leave the best legacy for her grandkids now — memories that matter

  2. Stop this frustration about searching for the moments that matter — get RewindRewind helps you store, share and make a search across your memories x5 times faster.

  3. Amazingly fresh memories — in 10 years just like todayGet in charge of the most important moments of your life — store, make a search across moments and share them with someone who matters.

Analytical copy
  1. Better memories storage for less. An app that provides the best value for money rate and stores your visual and audio memories. Forever.



I would take these copies and $200 for testing the most performing one on the traffic as a goal (the one with the lowest CPC (cost-per-clock) and the highest CTR (click-though-rate). Then I'd take the champion and go all in with at least 14-days marketing campaign. As we already have a very precise buying persona (or customer profile), we can send 85% of the performance marketing budget on ads with precise demographics. But I suggest Jon send 15% of experiments with a wider location (not only UK, for instance) or wide age (below 35), etc. He can also use data from SparkToro research on Step 5 about audience and their interests (what websites they frequent, what influencers they follow, etc.) to make ads more performing.

Timing: 3-4 weeks

Budget: from $1K

Result: those 100 paying customers