How Hunter went from 0 to 1 million monthly sessions and what's next
Hunter has had a pretty fast growth over the last 2 years. I already wrote about how our freemium model is fueling our growth, but wanted share more about our acquisitions channels and what we’re up to.
From 0 to 1 million monthly sessions
Step 1: Launch on Product Hunt
The launch of Hunter at the end of April 2015 exceeded our most optimistic expectations. After a few days, we entered the top 10 of most upvoted products in all time on Product Hunt.
Like any startup launch, our traffic looked like this after two weeks:
Daily sessions on Hunter during the first 2 weeks.
But this curve is not as bad as it looks. After a few days, we already had a few dedicated articles presenting Hunter.
Step 2: Referrals
This trend amplified during the following weeks. New articles were talking about our product, we were mentioned in some newsletters and people were talking about us on social networks.
To my mind, the successful the word-of-mouth about Hunter comes from three main factors:
- The product is useful for many people: who in B2B never had to find the email address of someone?
- The fact that the product could be tested immediately from the homepage and usable with a free plan.
- And of course, the good results the demo gives. A great proportion of people have a “wow effect” 10 seconds after their first visit.
Our exceptional score on Product Hunt was also a good validation enough for the people considering mentioning us in their content.
Three months later, we launched our Chrome extension which amplified the dynamic.
Weekly sessions on Hunter during the first months.
Step 3: Organic search
Here is where the ephemeral traffic turned into a sustainable acquisition. All the backlinks Hunter was collecting were good signals for SEO.
We made sure to get the most from it and targeted two main groups of requests on search engines:
- All the requests around “find email address”, that lead to the homepage.
- All the requests around “verify email address”, that lead to the Email Verifier.
The biggest acquisition channel switched from referrals sources to SEO after a few months.
The two work together in a double virtuous circle. The word-of-mouth boosts itself (virality) and improves the SEO at the same time.
How word of mouth and SEO work together to fuel Hunter’s growth.
The result after 2 years
We had a continuous growth in sessions from the start, even if the importance of each channel has evolved.
Weekly sessions on Hunter from the launch to mid-August 2017.
We are taking up new challenges in SEO and now betting on the long tail. We created a directory of companies containing thousands of company pages optimized for search engines. I find the first results promising and believe it will become a major source of traffic before the end of the year.
We are progressively widening the index, resulting in increasing traffic.
Daily sessions from search engines to the company pages, before and after significantly increasing the number of pages indexed.
A lot remains to be done to make the most of these pages. But the opportunity is exciting!
With our Freemium business model, the revenue per visit is relatively low compared to other SaaS products. Investing in advertising is hardly profitable unless we have more specific targets.
We are currently testing advertising with custom audiences to target precisely users that have a higher potential in revenue. Typically, people that used to pay and might want to re-use Hunter a little later.
We will create more content in the future, but not really to acquire new users. Writing in this blog is a good way to tell more about us, share our beliefs and —I hope— inspire.
On this point, I really like the view of Jason Fried:
Q: “What’s your content strategy?” A: Not calling it content. Not thinking of it as content. We write when we have something to share.— Jason Fried (@jasonfried) August 3, 2017
A lot of users are asking us if they can have more free usage in exchange for promoting Hunter. This is something we want to take the time to study. We need to find the right balance between a program generous enough to be attractive but with a reasonable impact on the conversion.
30 Aug 2017