Customer Acquisition · Growth

How do I go about targeting my core audience?

Dhatraditya Jonnavittula Founder at Roundhop

May 21st, 2015

I am a technical co-founder at Roundhop, an online video speed dating application. We have completed a beta version of the application and are ready to test it out with real users. We have put up events online for users to join, but we are unable to reach critical mass at any particular location to start an event. We have decided to start small and target single professionals in SF bay area and NYC to begin with. However, both I and my co-founder only have technical expertise, but no real marketing/sales exposure. What would be a good way to target our core audience? I have thought abou investing in Twitter and Facebook ads, but don't know how effective they are. Any suggestions or insights? TIA.


May 21st, 2015

No, posting your link on those sites is a great way to get *hits*, it is *not* a great way to get *traction*. Traction and hits are not the same thing.

Get off the internet and out into the real world.

Print some glossy, flashy business cards or post-card sized flyers. You can get a lot of something really nice for less than $1000. Drop them off at night clubs and bars in your area.

Go out to singles and social meetups. There are all kinds. Get to know people, and get to make friends with them. You'll naturally end up talking about your work. Get the people you know to come on board.

Be creative, think about it some, and I bet you can come up with a few more ideas. Who knows, maybe sci-fi and gaming conventions would be a good venue. Popular FM pop radio stations do singles events all the time, get on board with them. What about a set of kiosks you can cart around to different locations in parallel, to make a physical connection but emphasize the virtual?

You have to go to your market. It will not come to you. HN and ProductHunt and Reddit users are not your market. Singles looking to have fun are your market. Go to your market.

Rick Nguyen Cofounder @ Spot Trender

May 21st, 2015

Throwing exclusive parties for the "cool kids" and make a big deal about it on social media is another killer idea. Tinder did it, the League is doing it. The key is getting popular people in a specific location to start talking about and using your app.
Photos from the League Parties to give you ideas:
How Tinder did it (Collegiate Greek system aka "Frat Parties"):

Keep in mind that you need to focus on features to keep users coming back for more and incentivize them to share. Else you'll end up spending a ton of cash and have no traction.

Actionable Steps:
-Get an early employee/cofounder with massive community management experience. You'd want local communities who are excited about your app and actively promoting it to friends. Beside FD, Facebook groups are a good place to start, like here:

-Get a budget together (at least $3k for first event) and contact event planners. I know a couple rockstar planners, message me if you'd like referral.

-Who to invite? Make a list of 1000 influencers in your target cities. Based it on Klout score, number of twitter followers, and how much engagements they receive from audience on facebook/instagram.

-Engineering side, work on simplify your app and make it super engaging. Ask beta users questions such as "what feature would make you more likely to share the app?" and code them.

-Have a follow up plan for after the party. For example: get a photographer to take a ton of great pictures. Ask party goes to like your FB page to get the professional pics when they come out. Do you have an Instagram account? If not, get one. Buy some fake users to make it look popular. Populate your account as soon as pictures from parties come in. Tag people like crazy. When you tag people, their friends see it too. This creates the network effect. If you do this right you'll get some of the early traction you're looking for.

-Raise some funding after first party success. Rinse and repeat.

Hope this helps :)

Patrina Mack Experts in global commercialization

May 21st, 2015

There are tons of groups on Meetup focused on singles and some put on big events.  These big events sometimes have vendor tables...I would try a much more focused approach of either advertising on these meetup pages or looking for their big events to see about a vendor/sponsor table.    Also, there are tons of folks who have the specialty of being a dating coach.   I would reach out to them and ask them to invite their clientele to beta your product.   Be sure to have an inducement to the coaches, i.e., they can offer their clients a discount plus a commission to the coach everytime someone signs up.

Amy Weicker Director of Marketing, Marketing Consultant, Social Media Strategist, Customer Experience Enthusiast

May 21st, 2015

I'd definitely give Facebook and Twitter advertising a try. Geotarget, narrow your age ranges on Facebook, target singles only, and go after those who are already following/liking other dating sites.

You can play around with the conversion objectives on each platform to find better rates. Sometimes a promoted tweet, for example, will cost you $4 per engagement... but that same exact tweet set up as a Twitter lead gen or website card will average $2 per lead, while gathering faves/follows/RTs at no additional cost. It takes some experimenting to find what works best for your specific goals, so don't be shy about trying different methods.

You can also reach out to users manually by searching or grabbing followers from other niche or geographically relevant dating services. Just take care to mind Twitter's limits; do it manually and be selective. The goal isn't to do something scalable here, just to get you enough users for a couple events. You don't want your account suspended for failure to learn the rules before starting your outreach.

While you can typically expect to pay more per click on Google Adwords, you also reach a much more highly targeted audience who is ready to sign up. It wouldn't hurt to set up a low-budget longtail keyword campaign. Stay away from generic terms like "dating app," which has an absurd amount if competition -- get creative and go for very specific search queries.

You can also try influencer marketing... identify singles with large followings, young local celebs, or dating experts in your target areas and reach out to them. Sometimes you'll find people willing to promote your service for free; other times, offering an incentive will get them on board.

Might consider taking your promotions offline. Print up some club flyers (you can get 5000 high quality glossy, full color card stock prints for about $100) and hire a "brand ambassador" or 3 to go hand them out where your target demographic spends time. (Avoid tourist spots! You want locals.)

For all your efforts, make sure you are tracking everything. Your online efforts need a campaign identifier carried through the whole process and saved with your user account data so that months from now, you can look back and analyze your traffic sources vs conversions. You'll want to know where your ideal users come from so you can replicate the process as you scale. Get that set up now. For offline promotions, use campaign-specific promo codes, unique subdomains or trackable QR codes wherever you can; doing so will help you track the effectiveness and tell you if it's worth continuing with each specific method.

Peter] Peter Jones creates solutions for product USP, market messaging, team building, venture and other commercial capital

May 21st, 2015

You need to test both your product and your marketing message before throwing money at advertising.

Do you have local Meetup groups near you?

Go there, find marketers, ask them for actual live references, and then ask the references what services were provided and what the results were.

Better though, find social Meetups for your age demographic, take your App, and test it on a live audience!

When testing the App, listen hard for what your testers say it does for them.

Then use their language, the benefits, not your technical language, the features.

Good luck!

Karl Schulmeisters Founder ExStreamVR

May 22nd, 2015

>>We have completed a beta version of the application and are ready to test it out with real users. 
o o o
 We have decided to start small and target single professionals in SF bay area and NYC to begin with. However, both I and my co-founder only have technical expertise, but no real marketing/sales exposure.<<

So you are both techies - and yet you have already built an app in an area that is heavily dependent on psychology and user preferences.   I don't hear that you have

  • Validated that your idea with your potential market
  • identified what your USERS think is the Minimum Viable Product
  • Tried it out a prototype on a small group of users to see what they want
  • Consulted with a relationship psychologist on what are the things that work (think about the various online dating services.  the most successful ones have a highly educated relationship researcher as part of the core team).

Now I may well be wrong - but  I think you need to shelve what you built and go do some product research.  And part of what you are finding with "not getting critical mass"  is that perhaps you have not accurately identified either your user population or the needs they have

Sara Hammes Leading Companies into New and Emerging Markets

May 25th, 2015

I think there are all good suggestions here with plenty for you to think about. I would just add that you should also plan for exceptional user experience once you get your target test audiences. A poor experience could negate all the work you did to get the initial audience and kill your product early on. Also plan on continuing to deliver, because as others have mentioned it is a crowded market for your product and brand will be important going forward. And you build brand not just on aspiration but delivering stellar service. Finally, continue to conduct deep market research to continue to validate and gain insight on the real reason people will say "yes" to your product. Your initial assumptions may get you started but to maintain momentum and ultimate success you need to have deep insight into why customers really need and will use and recommend your product- your initial assumptions may not be strong enough to carry you through all the way to full launch and sustainability.

Marcus Glover Founder/Partner at T-List Inc.

May 21st, 2015

Its not about marketing per se, as much as you much concern yourself with building a brandA brand that lives up to the values, beliefs and promises that you make to your core constituents. You are operating in a category which is well defined with dominate brand players. A slight tech advantage wont hold as an advantage for very long so youll have to really deliver brand aspiration which captures the sentiments of excitement and desire in the marketplace. Remember if everyone else is selling bottled water, go the opposite direction and sell, thirsty. Best of luck.

Trevor Collins Crowdfunding Entrepreneur & Co-Founder of 100 Danish

May 21st, 2015

Hi Dhatraditya, there are definite draws to using a channel such as paid Facebook ads. You can actually gather a ton of data - if you have a healthy ad spend - to zone in on who your target demographic and audience is. A firm I worked with here in Boston has done this successfully for a number of bootstrapped and venture-backed startups. I'm happy to make an introduction if that's helpful. Cheers!

Anthony Levy Strategy Intern at Tribal Worldwide

May 21st, 2015

Hi there, I'm no "expert" in segmentation and targeting, but I have spent the last 3 years of my life studying these concepts at the Leeds school of business at the University of Colorado. I think this depends largely on how you decide to segment your audience, and where your target audience spends most of their time. It would be specially helpful to understand which dating apps and sites they are already using as well. It is my experience that facebook and Twitter ads are very expensive. I would start a blog and take the Hubspot inbound marketing certification course. The course is free and will teach you everything you need to know about inbound. As for outbound, there is a very cool new company called Visibl which allows you to hyper target video ads for as little as $40 check them out here Let me know if there is any way I can help out more. Cheers, AL Sent from my iPhone