Going from a hundred to a thousand customers is a really exciting time period because it means that you’ve already validated your business. You have a hundred paying customers and you have probably figured out to some extent product market fit. The question though, is how fast you can go from 100 customers to a thousand customers?
And when you hit that 1000 point, it becomes really sweet because it often is associated with hitting 1 million ARR at a minimum. So in this article, I’m going to be sharing with you the five tactics that I use to go from 100 customers to a thousand customers in my old SaaS company.
Tactic #1: Hyper-focusing email outbound marketing
If you watched my last video where I shared exactly how I went from zero to a hundred customers, you know that during those early days, I was essentially doing just a broad brush approach of contacting any prospect under the sun that might be interested in our product and service. However over time, what we realized is that we really had to focus in on the prospects that were most likely to actually be good fits and fit our ideal customer profile.
So what we did was we targeted the top 2000 prospects that we considered to be high fit potential. In other words, we looked at different publicly available information like demographics around the different geographies of where these organizations are based out of as well what they had previously spent on similar products to ours to know exactly who might be a good target for us to actually really zero in on.
And then from there, what we did differently than our first wave campaigns is we started personalizing campaigns to these individuals. When personalizing these campaigns, we would actually do research on every single person that we possibly could and then craft unique campaigns to each individual so that it felt like they were the only person that had it in the entire world. And it was incredibly effective for us because we would then use this to funnel them into a free trial experience that we had come up with.
I’ll dig into that free trial experience in a future video, but what’s really important for you to take away is as you’re going from a hundred to a thousand customers, you are no longer the new kid on the block. Sure, you might still have overall newness in the space, but you have to start to be cognizant of your reputation from other people.
And so it’s really important to start zeroing in on the best prospects of the bunch and then create unique campaigns for those people in batches of 50 to a hundred at a time. If you need more guidance on this, just go on Google and search for something like account-based management to learn exactly how to take this sort of outbound approach.
Tactic #2: Encourage customer referrals
We created a referral system in which any existing customer that helped refer us to a new customers was going to save 10% off their annual license. We allowed our customers to stack these up to five times, which meant if they referred five customers to us, they would save half of their annual subscription with us.
And so this became a really incentivizing way for people to talk about us in their different networks. And it’s in this way that you can really start to get a flywheel going, because if you’re creating an awesome product experience for your customers, then you should want to try to encourage them to share that with their friends.
One of the most important things for any SaaS company or any growth team at a SaaS company is to remove as many friction points as possible for getting their existing customers to invite their friends. It’s the reason why companies like Gusto incorporate that really large call to action when it comes to referring your friend for a $100 visa gift card.
Aside from just introducing that overall referral program though, something else we did was we would start to have our sales people get into the habit of asking people if they knew someone else that might benefit from our service. You’d be shocked, but by simply incorporating that into our standard operating procedure of our sales team, we would be able to pick up a handful of referrals every single month.
Tactic 3: Target key industry conferences
The third tactic that we use to go from a hundred to a thousand customers was we started to target key industry conferences. Now, something I want to caveat here is that you’re always going to find that there are conferences in whatever space you’re in, but what you have to figure out quickly is how to read the prospectuses to see exactly which ones are actually the ones where good prospects are going to be at.
Sometimes this might take some learning experiences where you literally have to go to five or seven of the different conferences in your industry to figure that. But after one round of doing so, you will quickly be able to decipher which ones are actually worth your time. What we did in this situation though, is we targeted the big one of our space and then we created a world-class experience in terms of our exhibitor booth.
We essentially copied the style of an Apple store layout, and then use that for our exhibit booth. And it was a complete hit at our conference. That first year that we did it, we were the cool kids on the block still, and we also were just so much younger than all the other companies in the space that people are naturally interested in our product.
So these industry conferences, once a year became a really big moment for us to showcase all the new innovation we were introducing in our space while also giving us an opportunity to introduce ourselves to new prospects, but even more importantly, to meet our existing customers face to face.
There are a few things more powerful than being at an industry conference where you have a customer of yours that’s already paying you raving about your service in front of other people that are not your customers yet. So this became a major driver of new business and interest every single summer when that conference would be held.
Tactic 4: Specialize the revenue functions into different teams
The fourth tactic that we use to scale from a hundred to a thousand customers was we started to specialize the revenue functions into different teams. Before when we were just a 10 person company, we would pretty much do a little bit of everything. But over time, we realized that we had to segment out the core functions of the company in order to really drive revenue and customers.
This meant that we had to create a customer success team, a sales team, as well as a digital marketing team. These three teams played a critical role in our growth because each one played an important part in the business continue to add the next customer. Our sales team would make sure we were talking to enough new customers. Our customer success team would make sure that our existing customers we’re super happy and actually using our products. And then our digital marketing team would make sure that the overall funnel was wide enough that our sales team was getting enough leads inbound in order to convert them into customers.
As you start to get to a hundred customers or so you really have to start looking to bring on full-time hires. And the reason why is because you simply cannot keep doing every single function of revenue by yourself. It’s simply not scalable and it’s going to be what’s holding you back from really focusing deeply on particular problems in each of the core buckets around growth.
Tactic 5: Scale content marketing
The last key tactic that we use to 10X our customer base was scaling our content marketing. As I shared in my last video, content marketing always played a huge role in our business in terms of generating inbound leads. We would create these ultimate list of tips and then share them with different prospects in our space or we would create one-pagers of helpful resources that would be branded to our company.
Whatever the content marketing piece was, it was all centered around providing a ton of value to the prospect while also raising their awareness of us as being a company and space that could help them solve different problems.
We quickly realized that content marketing was super cost-effective. So what we did was we hired a team of two digital marketers in which they would essentially manage a team of Upwork freelancers. And we would pump out content pieces every single day. Pretty much for a year and a half, we would release anywhere from two to five content pieces that were at least 1500 words each.
So over the course of a year and a half, we published hundreds of thousands of words, and as you can imagine, some of that content ended up ranking really, really well in our space. So it would become really common, which you would just search for anything, whether it was informational or buying intent, and you would come across our company.
And that would be a major driver for us in going from a hundred to a thousand customers. Our competitors were not investing in content marketing at that time. And so by publishing all of this free content out there, we were creating a ton of goodwill with our prospects and they were naturally coming to us when they were ready to learn about our solution.
By flooding the market with a ton of content, we essentially overwhelmed any other company that was trying to do the same thing in our space. Scaling our content marketing was a huge feat for that team of two full-time employees because that content base of around a thousand or so posts became the foundation for our inbound engine.
And from there, it was that inbound engine that would continue to give us more and more leads every single year because we would naturally get more backlinks to our content. And from those backlinks, it would raise the overall domain’s authority. And then from the raising of the overall domain authority, we would end up getting even more organic traffic from Google.
There are countless examples in the last 20 plus years of businesses that have built massive SEO moats in order to scale their businesses. You can just look at examples like Airbnb or Zapier to see great instances of using SEO to get in front of different parts of the buyer’s journey.
If you liked this article, be sure to check out my YouTube channel to get new videos every single week. I’ll help take you from zero to self-starter as you grow your business, get more customers, and hone your business acumen. Also, feel free to share this with anybody that you think might benefit from learning the tactics that will help you go from 100 to a thousand customers.