A blog about productivity, workflow best practices, company building and how to get things done with less work.


Archives for April 2012

Getting early traction for your new startup can be tough.

Sometimes it feels like the only way is to attract any attention is by being internet famous. But to be internet famous you have to be successful. And to be successful you have to be internet famous. Seemingly the classic chicken and the egg problem.

However, there are a few ways to find your early customers and get early feedback that don't rely on internet fame and success.

Jumpstart Your Site

If you aren't internet famous then social strategies are going to be tough. You might get lucky with a viral post on reddit or hacker news, but there are better ways to slowly build traffic and a reputation than by playing the social media lottery.

So if we aren't going social what do we do?

Eye on the Long Tail

Start by building out a home page that targets several mid to long tail keywords that you suspect might relate to your target market. Google's Keyword tool is your friend here.

Build a network of landing pages that target various other long tail keywords in a subdirectory on your site. The goal is to target keywords that you can rank for quickly. These days they'll need to be really long tail, but the more landing pages you create the more traffic you'll get.

It's not insane to think you can reach 100 unique visitors a day in a months time using this strategy. We used this strategy with our integrations library and were able to rank on page one for several keywords within a week.

Build Some Links

If you're like us you likely have a stockpile of half maintained sites across the web. For all of your old sites - especially the ones with authority - link to your new site.

If you have a personal blog, write a post or two with specific links back to your landing pages. Make sure to use the long tail keywords as anchor text. That'll almost guarantee page one in the search engines for the keywords you are targeting.

Don't forget social profiles either. They may not have a ton of link juice, but updating all of your profiles to include a link to your new site can't hurt.

Install Live Chat

The end goal isn't to sell visitors on anything right now. In fact you may not even have anything to sell. The goal is to find and engage with them. Live chat will let you accomplish this. We're big fans of Olark but there are other tools like Snap Engage and Zopim that provide similar functionality.

Once you have some traffic and live chat installed you'll start getting questions from users. Use this opportunity to find out their problems, their needs, their backgrounds. Anything you can get will help you start testing your hypothesis and narrow the scope of your initial product.

Try to find a way to follow up. If someone seems like a particularly useful contact with a particularly strong need for a solution - ask for a Skype call. Being able to dig deeper into issues via a video chat can help you dig that much deeper into the problem/solution space.

Ask for Email Addresses

On every page of your site ask for an email address. If you don't ask for an email address most of your traffic will drive by and never think twice about you. If you can snag some of those drive bys email addresses you'll be able to follow up and ask more questions.

We even put links to surveys inside our confirmation emails and promise goodies for more information.

If you haven't figured it out yet, the goal is to connect with your site visitors at any and all costs.

Some Sidenotes

Why landing pages and not blog posts?

Landing pages are inherently built for selling something. The visitors to those sites are thinking about buying something. Visitors to a blog post probably aren't.

How can I build a business on low traffic long tail keywords?

You might not be able to. The goal is to get quick traffic so you can start engaging with visitors. As the site grows you can start going after more traffic heavy keywords when you know the investment will pay off.

Can't I just cold call people?

Sure. I've heard of people making this work for their first customers. I prefer inbound traffic though since those users want to engage with me and I know I can get traffic this way. Whatever works best for you.


  • Hard to find early customers in social
  • Instead build a site with lots of landing pages targeting long tail keywords.
  • Use that traffic to start interacting with customers via live chat, email signups, surveys, skype, etc.
  • Scale when you have more information

About the Author

Wade Foster is a Co-founder and CEO at Zapier. He likes to write about process, productivity, startups and how to do awesome work.

When we released the current version of Zapier the goal was to get a functional product out that users could start using. By that measure our MVP (minimal viable product) has been a success.

We never intended for the MVP to be the final product. So months ago we started work on a version of Zapier that would greatly improve on the current experience. The video above demonstrates some of the cool new features and benefits of the new Zapier.

Zapier has been totally redesigned for speed, usability, and functionality. It's faster, easier to use, and looks better than ever.

Some improvements you'll enjoy:

  • Speed: The new Zap creator fits on one page and let's you build Zaps 5 times as fast.
  • Names for Zaps: Zaps used to be hard to identify. Now you can name Zaps so you can find just the one you're looking for.
  • Stay up to date: A new dashboard makes it easier than ever to see quickly what Zaps are active or inactive + a whole new feed shows you what's been automated for you lately.
  • Easy Access: All of your Zaps are shared between the old and new UI so if you need to switch to the old UI for some reason you can.
  • All New Services: New Basecamp, Trello, RSS, Campaign Monitor and a few more new to Zapier services are now available for integration.

Check out a preview of the new Zapier above and then go check out all the powerful new features available in your Zapier private launch account.

As always, if you run into any problems feel free to use the support site or ask us a question via live chat.

As a comparison here's a video of the old interface. You can see that creating an integration or Zap with the new interface is much quicker and less painful. The creation in the new video takes less than a minute while in the old it takes almost 2.5 minutes. Much quicker.

About the Author

Wade Foster is a Co-founder and CEO at Zapier. He likes to write about process, productivity, startups and how to do awesome work.

Get help