How we acquired the first users


by: Michal Szymanski


We had no budget for MDB advertising. We also did not want to run direct selling, because in the nerd world of open source software it is really frown upon.

Nevertheless, the on-line programming communities was the most crucial for us. That's where, under massive criticism, some projects are buried, another are put on a pedestal.

We decided on time-consuming and long-lasting solutions:

  • We every day monitored hundreds of technical problems that frontend technology users faced in the Internet communities and we helped them.
  • We intensively worked over SEO - but we were aware, that the first significant effects in this field, come within 6 months at the earliest.
  • Based on the problems and needs of Bootstrap users we wrote comprehensive texts of technical documentation and tutorials concerning Internet technologies.
  • We improved our system of related content and dynamically generated content.
  • We conducted thorough analytical activities that provided us with detailed data, crucial for upgrading mentioned before systems and improvement of the product, and our site.
  • We implemented our policy of “Sensational customer service” and developed our own technical support forum. We did not wanted to be dependent on the external tools, like groups on Facebook nor Stack Overflow forum.

By supporting other programmers, we tried to choose problems that solved MDB. Whereas we had a problem that MDB did not solve - then we added a new functionalities to our project so that it dealt with the mentioned problem.

We worked in this way for several months. It allowed us only not to gain the first user, but also to refine product on the basis of real needs and problems of our target group.

(Currently MDB acquires over 50 000 new users per month)


However, getting the traffic for the website is only the first but not the most important step.

The key is to keep the user on your website. Only the returning user has a chance to become a potential customer.

Process of obtaining the traffic by solving very specific problems led us to the trap of meticulousness.

Users visited our website looking for the solution of specific problem. When they found it - never came back to us. They did not visit mdbootstrap.com for the purpose of seeking of comprehensive knowledge and solution about bootstrap or Internet technologies.

We were a kebab kiosk and wanted to be a decent restaurant where customers want to go back.

As the result, we had a lot of traffic, very high bounce rate and extremely low conversion.

The solution to our problems was a related content system and dynamically generated content on the website, based on an algorithm studying users' behavior and preferences. Thanks to it, visitors after finding the solutions to their problem, receive a proposal to read the content related to the issue that was interest them.

The longer they explored our website, the more accurate prompts were sent to them by the system. It also allowed us to search the interest of our users and constantly increase the quality of content on our website and improved our product. This process has continued till today and (hopefully) never ends.


Visualization of part of our automation algorithm. It will be discussed in detail in section on automation.


On which communities can find programmers and their problems? Most of all:

  • Stack Overflow
  • GitHub
  • Slack
  • Twitter
  • Groups on Google + (yes, I know, everyone thinks that is a cemetery, but believe me, there are nerds)
  • Groups on Facebook
  • Groups on LinkedIn

These communities every day generating thousands of technical problems that can be addressed and can draw attention to your project.


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About author
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Michal Szymanski

Co-founder of MDBootstrap and BrandFlow. Entrepreneur, web developer, UI / UX designer, marketer. Dancer and nerd at the same time.

Comments:
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danieldalonzo
Hey man. This is an incredible f&ucking story. Probably the most inspiring story I have heard. Ever. You are a boss. Let's stay in touch.
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