Growing a startup is hard, really hard. In this series, we talk to companies who share with us the strategies they applied to build successful businesses from scratch.
Every business knows that it needs to be on social media. But being on social media requires time – which typically translates as hiring someone!
Alternatively, you could use a tool which can save you countless hours of manual work on social media. There have been several social media scheduling tools in the market, yet all of them have had several drawbacks – can’t recycle posts, can’t schedule visuals, too expensive, etc.
A couple of years back, I had even thought of building a tool that could overcome those drawbacks. The fact is, someone did – and it’s called Viraltag!
Viraltag is a social media marketing tool for sharing visuals. It’s actually a lot more than that, but more about that in a minute! Today, visuals give you more traction across all social channels and not just Pinterest or Instagram. Today, the company has over 10,000 customers who are using the tool to get some serious traction on social media.
In this interview Sudheer Someshwara, CEO of Viraltag shares their growth story from inception to 10,000 customers.
Viraltag: From Zero to 10,000 Customers:
What inspired you to build Viraltag?
Visual content was growing and performing the best across social channels. Instagram was founded in 2010 and Pinterest debuted in May 2011.
Between 2011 and 2012, there was a 4,225% increase in the time users spent on Pinterest online sharing visual content. That being said, there weren’t enough tools to schedule posts on Instagram, Pinterest and Visual posts on FB, Twitter etc. Moreover, these tools were heavily focused on text/link posts and did not have the required functionality for visual marketers.
I came up with Viraltag to solve the problems marketers face with curating, creating, optimizing and scheduling visual content.
How did you validate your product-market fit?
Today, we’ve reached a stage where almost every Business and Brand – small or big, has realized the importance of Social Media Marketing. So, the Market for a Social media marketing tool like Viraltag is huge.
Initially, we started off with a social media tool exclusively for Pinterest, and was free to use. Within 6 months our user base had reached almost 20,000 users and we were growing at a fast pace. This validated the need for a product like this in the social media space, and thus we improved further, added in more features and released Viraltag which has a usage fee.
Our customer base and revenue is steadily growing each year, and the increase in sign ups and positive reviews from our users makes me believe we have a good product-market fit in our hands!
What are the key growth strategies that you have implemented?
That’s a very interesting question. Before I answer that, let me begin by saying our growth is majorly organic and driven via word of mouth. We actually have minimal press coverage or SEO optimization ever possible for a startup at our stage revenue-wise.
So firstly, it was building a product that people actually wanted. Now, once that was taken care of we put the right systems in place i.e. monitoring our traffic and engaging with our customers via live-chat, product demos and Thursday webinar sessions.
The second thing we implemented was Social media influencer outreach. In the beginning phase itself, we were lucky enough to be covered by Jeff Bullas, who is among the top #10 social media influencers, which truly made a lot of difference and helped us get the word out. Some of the best known names in social media have liked our platform and talked about us which provided us with great credibility right at the beginning.
Thirdly, we created great content on our website. While it did not help us much with getting sign-ups, it helped us create value for the audience.
In just 3 years from our inception, we now have over 10,000 businesses using Viraltag, which we hope to grow bi-fold by the end of this year.
What’s worked and what hasn’t?
I have some counterintuitive observation here. As a growing new business, we’ve put in a lot of effort and resources into creating excellent content for our blog about social media marketing. While it is definitely an excellent repository and helped us establish authority on Linkedin etc in our niche, I definitely think we could have followed an alternative approach if I had I to do it all over again.
I would have put greater effort into our outreach via social media influencers, press, collaborating with successful bloggers etc. This year, we’ve gotten more members in our team to focus growth and outreach for us via more collaborations and speaking sessions.
What I think we’re really good at is maintaining customer relationships – Your customers need to know that they are important and their feedback is valued, and we take a more consumer-centric approach towards our Marketing.
You have an impressive lineup for enterprise customers. What’s your advice to SaaS startups who wish to acquire enterprise customers?
Thanks. I strongly believe that if you build a product that people really need then customers would come and it cannot be more true for anyone than for enterprise customers. More so because enterprise customers need to grow while also keeping their tools and platforms to a minimum so that the employees can be really productive at their daily job.
The advice I would give to SaaS startups is building a one-stop platform for whatever is it that you are trying to do and doing it the best and really listening in to the customers.
For eg. we figured it was painful for a user to clone the visual posts on various social media networks manually since the dimensions for an acceptable image are different. We automated the whole process where Viraltag automatically resizes your images to go on different social media platforms.
Another example would be recycling evergreen content. Sometimes businesses post a consumer success story that receives huge traction and then months later forget about it while the story would be equally good a couple of months down the lane. We automated that too.
We obsessively focus on making the interface as intuitive as possible so the learning curve of every customer is basically close to none. I guess that is according to me what separates any successful company from a failing one. First, great product. Second, truly listening to the customer’s frustrations. And third, a learning curve that does not need any external effort of the human willpower.
Sudheer keeps reiterating about the need for the product being the number 1 ingredient in your success. And I agree. The best marketing hack is to create something for which there is a genuine intent to buy.
What does that mean for you if you already have a product or service? Keep listening to your customers and prospects and figure out what they really want. During this process, you might figure out a new way to position an existing product, or create features that can make a huge difference to your customer acquisition and retention rates.
This isn’t a one-off activity but something that you need to keep doing.The most successful companies never stop listening!