Marketing at an early stage startup isn't an easy feat: your budget is often limited and your task is to get people to know about you in a very, very, crowded space. It involves a lot of testing channels and, at times, scrappy work. There are two important things to keep in mind when it comes to inbound user acquisition at an early stage:
#1 Your sole focus should be to identify your MQL, identify where they're looking for you and finally, ensure you're present where they're looking.
#2 You should refrain from thinking of putting processes in place for all your actions and start with things that don't scale—this is a tough one but it's the best way to identify what works and what doesn't.
At Slite, a product for teams to write and share content, we're at this stage of our user acquisition and we've been testing different channels to find out what works best and where we have the most potential of growing our inbound acquisition.
One of the first things we've tried and that's proven to answer both of the points above is engaging with future potential users on Quora. We now get a regular amount of qualified leads coming in every week on our website and signing up. In fact, it's one of our highest converting traffic sources: 12% of leads that come from Quora end up signing up to Slite.
In three months, I've racked up 26.6K answer views and 800 answer upvotes in total. Here, I'll share how to use Quora in a smart way to attract qualified leads to your product in the long term, why it could be worth it for you to spend time testing it as a user acquisition channel and our main takeaways so far.
Where do I begin?
Quora, like most places on the internet, is a crowded space. Chances are your competitors are also engaging with users there. Fear not, if you spot competitors engaging with leads on Quora, it's actually a pretty good sign that it's a strategy to invest in: people are asking about solutions and you've got the best, it's time to enter the conversation.
The first thing you should do is follow topics that are in your field, gather the appropriate links, sort them according to the number of views and date the question was asked in a spreadsheet or Airtable (which is what we use). For us, Slite answers many different needs: knowledge collaboration, content collaboration, remote team collaboration...there are a lot of ways in which we can help teams with our tool: I spent a lot of time gathering topics and sorting questions according to those.
Remember the competitors I mentioned above who are also taking advantage of Quora? They're actually super useful! Check out where they've been answering questions, how people have reacted to them and pitch in there!
Answer in a smart way not in a spam way
You have a long list of questions you've gathered, now it's time to answer them. This takes time so schedule an hour or two weekly in your calendar dedicated to Quora answering.
Use a template according to each category and readapt it according to the way the question's been asked. While you should be straightforward when questions are as direct as "What is a good knowledge sharing tool?", you should take time to give valuable insights when the question is more geared towards "Why is knowledge sharing important?". This is the difference between providing an actual helpful answer versus spamming your brand in Quora users' faces.
Every single time I answer a question, I know that the first goal is user acquisition but I also know it'll work because I'm convinced presenting them my product is the answer to their question.
Track what you're doing
All of this takes time! As with all the different marketing techniques you should be testing, track track track the results. This means adding a utm link with the relevant source (Quora) and campaign (knowledgesharing1, for example). Use this to make your life easier. Add a column "Links" to your spreadsheet, Airtable, whateverfloatsyourboat, and add a specific link with a specific UTM to each of the questions you're answering. This is a tedious and not so fun part but it's so worth it cause then, you'll be able to track how much of your website traffic comes from Quora and which specific Quora question brings in most MQLs in Google Analytics.
Things that make a difference
Some things I've found make a difference is to
- Get answer upvotes: it really does affect how much your answer is viewed. So get your teammates to upvote your questions on a regular basis. An easy way to do this is by sending them your Quora profile link, they'll be able to see which answers they've upvoted and those they haven't.
- How popular the question you're answering is to begin with. A good way to find popular questions to your topics is by typing in your topic "keywords + quora" into Google and checking those out—it's a good way to sort through the noise of Quora answers!
- Giving back to the community. As you start to answer a lot of questions in your field, Quora users will request answers from you on specific questions. Sometimes they'll be totally irrelevant, but most of the time, they're relevant to your field: even if not to talk about your product, you should pitch in to gain credibility in the topic.
- Finally, pictures: at first I thought adding screenshots of Slite would prove to be extremely salesy and work in my disfavor. When it comes to direct questions about looking for a specific product/solution/tool you should be adding screenshots of your product to prove that you're not spamming (like a lot of others might be in the thread) but actually providing a valuable solution.
What we're seeing so far
So far, we noticed that Quora can be totally inconsistent: some questions might get you a ton of views while another might be a huge waste of your time and bring you near to zero views. But it's not always predictable so you have to spread out your efforts!
The great thing is that when an answer does work, it works on the long run and regularly. When you notice those: go and make your answer even better as to maximize your chances of convincing Quora users to click on your website link.
At first we'd be so concerned about not sounding so spammy and salesy that we crafted long and theoretical answers about why we are building our product and why it's important. It makes sense for some questions but honestly, a lot of times it's a bit out of place and no one will read it: they're looking for a solution not an academic essay. Think about why you end up on Quora answers when you look for something: you want a quick link, a clear explanation, a screenshot and voila! So we were quick to change those to more straightforward answers.
Finally, it's an interesting way to assess what people are most looking for: at Slite, our product offers lots of use cases from writing collaboration to knowledge management. We've noticed that the Quora answers that brought us most leads so far come from people looking for newer, easier and modern ways of sharing knowledge—that shows us that there's need that was bigger than we initially thought.
So should you do it?
- - It's a long-term investment: if an answer works, it works for a while
- - It's easy
- - It takes time
- - Quora is becoming a place where people come and pitch their products—it's risking being a less credible source if people use it for spam
So go check out topics relevant to your product and if there are a lot of questions and views: go for it.