Here is a detailed description about how to steal your competitor’s clients on a micro budget.
Being on a super tight budget in your (bootstrapped) startup can suck balls. There are so many awesome growth tools that you come across but can’t afford.
On the other hand, it’s somehow satisfying to find cheap ways of generating traffic for your company. To get there, this involves reading…A LOT. And learning A LOT along the way.
What inspired me to develop this hack is an article published at Asktina. To me, it was mind-blowing content and I can assure you everything written there works a 100% if you do it right.
*Update: The asktina project has been canceled and is no longer available.
I can recommend reading both parts that have been published so far. Reading those articles is no requirement to be able to execute this hack, but you can certainly gain a deeper understanding of what exactly we are doing here. No Bullsh*t Guide – Part 1 No Bullsh*t Guide – Part 2
The thing is – my company is no SaaS company. I didn’t need all of the great information written down at Asktina, so I filtered and picked the stuff that’s good for my travel agency Wavebutler.
Now let’s start with my step-to-step guide to stealing your competitor’s customers and driving lots of traffic to your website.
#2 Preparation & Tracking
First of all, make sure you have enough time to steal your competitor’s clients.
At the end of this paper, I’ll sum up all the mistakes I made in the whole hacking process, but not counting in enough time for preparation was a serious one.
Plan with about 2 months of preparation time before hosting the event in order to steal your competitor’s clients.
You see, after first reading Asktina’s No Bullsh*t Guide in early November, I thought I didn’t have much time to act with the christmas time coming up. Somehow I thought that the christmas time would be the ideal time to host a giveaway.
But if you think about it – it’s a time when people get flooded with special deals and offers, which turns you into one offer amongst many.
On top of that, there are sponsors you’ll have to reach out to for this hack.
And some of the bigger sponsors make it really hard for you to notify them about your giveaway.
Often you’ll receive an automated message saying something like “We have an internal process that can take up to 30 days before we’ll respond with a final answer.” We’ll get to that part later on, though.
Before we get to steal your competitor’s clients, let’s take care of appropriate tracking first. If you have all your facebook & google tracking set up properly, please feel free to jump to the next part.
To measure the results of your hack, you’ll have to
- Properly set up your Google Analytics account
- Use the Google URL builder
- Use bitly (sniply is extremely useful, too)
- Set up your Facebook Pixel for tracking and remarketing (so important in later stages!). For the integration of the pixel into your website code, I highly recommend using the google tag manager, but it’s completely up to you.
Please forgive me if I am not covering these bullet points in more detail, but I’m sure in the depths of the interwebs you’ll find a guide a very comprehensive description of how to set up the first three bullet points.
Why write it down again if someone explained it very well already, right?
Don’t forget about the Facebook Pixel, though.
Once you have done this, you can move on the the next (and more exciting) part.
#3 Implement The Basic Strategy
We start with implementing a traffic driving technique from part two of the Asktina guide – recruiting.
Why recruit someone now, you might wonder?
It may bring several advantages to hire someone new, but the advantage we care the most for at this point is traffic for remarketing purposes later on!
Job postings are always super popular and mainly drive people to your website who are interested in what you are doing.
Meaning they are interested in your industry in general.
With Wavebutler we published a job posting we know works well (we were actually looking for someone new) and shared the posting in relevant groups on Facebook. We tracked all clicks with Google and bitly.
As you can see, our job postings always drive about 500 clicks to our website, which is nice. NOT a single penny spent on advertising the job posting, remember that.
Now, I don’t know what type of business you have and how easy it is for you to recruit someone new.
If you don’t want to spend much money on a new employee in order to steal your competitor’s clients, you’ll have to get a little bit creative.
My proposals: Recruit someone who works as a freelancer based on commission. This way you’ll have no fixed costs and might even increase your sales right away. This is the option we went for, since we always work on commission.
At least as good: Recruit someone for a certain period only. Ideal would be something like a remote blogger for a month. You’ll get many clicks from bloggers who are interested in your industry. Driving many bloggers to your website could be a HUGE advantage later on.
I’ll tell you why:
Later on we want to use the traffic from the job posting for remarketing purposes and it is really, really nice to automatically have relevant influencers (bloggers) in your remarketing list.
They could be the reason for you to go viral.
3b) Setting Up a Giveaway Greatness
In the next step, we are focusing on the wrecking ball of driving traffic towards your website.
This is also where the “steal your competitor’s clients” part is rooted – hosting a well thought-out giveaway.
Giveaways are awesome.
Let me tell you why that is.
There are three parties involved in this game: Sponsors, participants, and the hoster (you). Through a giveaway, sponsors can expose their brand or product to a very specific and relevant target group, which is why it makes sense for them to give away a free product or service in the first place.
The participants have the chance to win (hopefully) amazing prizes and only have to invest nothing more but a little bit of time. The good thing about a giveaway is that it is in the hands of the participant to win or not to win. With the software we choose, the participant will gain points for referring more participants and the participant with the most points will win.
The third party, the hoster, drives a lot of traffic to its website and gains brand awareness and popularity at very low cost.
In a few simple words: Everyone is winning.
And that is the best possible equation you can get.
Reaching Out to Sponsors
We have decided to host a giveaway, so far so good.
Yes, even before setting up the software.
This part will probably consume most of your preparation time for said reasons. You’ll want to be smart about the outreach process, so you should lay out a rough strategy.
It could look as follows:
- Setting up an outreach template. Of course, your email template should contain a personalized part where you directly address the recipient, but you can already set up the main body of your outreach email. Alternatively, you could simply message me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be happy to pass both my English and German template on to you (not bragging, but we scored a decent response rate).
- Get in touch with companies you truly like and convince them to join in. I’d start with smaller companies, because their hierarchy is flat and the decision to be a part of your giveaway can be made faster. Also, most small companies quickly see the awesome opportunity to reach a specific target group plus the potential for your giveaway to go viral and often join in based on those simple facts.
- Include brands and products in your outreach email. Once you have a few partners, you can use your current prize pool to convince other companies to join in (or indirectly force the giveaway partner’s competitors to participate). At Wavebutler, the first giveaway partner sponsored an entire free surf vacation, which helped a lot at finding even more partners.
- Continue with your outreach and hit up the big players.
Tip: Try to collect as many prizes as possible, so you can reward as many people as possible.
Now let’s move on to choosing the right giveaway software, that will ultimately allow us to steal your competitor’s clients.
There are many different providers and unfortunately I can’t give you my personal opinion on any of those, because I have only tried one (working on a tiny budget, remember?).
I am sure there is more than one awesome software for giveaways.
The design of the signup forms is beautiful and the entire software is SO easy to set up. No coding skills required. Another feature I love are automated engagement emails that are super important in keeping your participants motivated.
When you use this software, the participant with the highest number of referrals wins the giveaway.
The most important question that arises from this concept is – for how long should I let the giveaway run?
There is no perfect answer to this and you’ll have to decide for yourself.
When making the decision, you should definitely consider the participant’s motivation. It will be very high in the beginning and much lower towards the end. So don’t run it for too short or too long.
I recommend something between 7 – 10 days.
It won’t take long to set up the software.
If you are doing other stuff alongside and just squeeze in some time every now and then for the setup of this software, I’d count in 7 days including various tests.
But you’ll see once you start using it. It can be easily done within an hour.
Alright, you have found sponsors, you have determined the giveaway hosting dates, and your software is set up properly (I’m sure I don’t have to tell you, but test the software beforehand!).
The next step would be to announce the upcoming giveaway (this step is not included in the Asktina guide).
Let’s have a look at the facts.
We are using a software where the person with the most referrals wins the main prize. This means that you have a better chance at winning the main prize if you participate early, because you have more time to invite your friends, family, etc. Hence, we have a perfect situation to produce FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) in our announcements.
Here’s what you can do.
Write blogposts pre-announcing your giveaway.
Include specific dates and post it on social media. Don’t get too concrete or give too many details about the giveaway or the way it works.
Within the blog post, drop a line saying that „the earlier you sign-up, the better your chances“ or “first come, first serve” and integrate an opt-in form to your newsletter.
If you use mailchimp, create a form and a list fully dedicated to collecting these emails. This way you can notify the recipients the second your giveaway is online and compare the open and click results to your regular email list.
Once the giveaway has started, come back to mailchimp one day later and check the opening rates – filter out the addressees that didn’t open up your first email and send a second email to these people using a different headline.
Repeat the same process as many times as you like (make sure you don’t look spammy, though).
In my opinion three to four emails in total should be alright. If you need some tips for a good email headline, you can check out this quick guide I wrote.
This is the first mailchimp list I gained from pre-announcements.
However, the number of 445 pre-announcement subscribers does not display the truth, because somebody in our team accidentally merged two separate lists after we had hosted our giveaway.
I checked the stats of the bit.ly link we placed in our newsletter and it were 93 people who signed up in advance (based on the 46% click rate).
It’s not about those numbers anyways.
I just wanted to show the opening and click rates of the first pre-announcement list, which are clearly strong.
Once you have set up your announcement, make sure to promote it.
This is another mistake I made in this whole process.
I’ll show you why it’s so important to promote the announcement.
I should have started promoting the pre-announcement earlier and much more.
Back then I didn’t know better and had a thousand other things on my mind.
According to my bit.ly statistics, the pre-announcement link drove a traffic of 151 people from Facebook to my page without any money spent on promotion. Having had only 343 facebook followers at that point in time, that was above average for us.
Also, we already know that the sign-up rate of the pre-announcement was really high, thanks to FOMO.
Keep in mind that for your giveaway, you want as many participants as possible from day 1.
The participation curve of your giveaway is likely to go down after day two or three, because people tend to think it’s „hopeless“ to participate after a while. It can be quite frustrating to see that you start for example with place 628 and have 627 people in front of you.
Later on, in the “kicking off the giveaway” part, I’ll explain how to work your way around this problem a little bit. Right now we want to focus on the pre-announcements.
Another small tip: It’s best if you create visually attractive images to draw clicks. If you don’t have a designer or can’t afford one, you might want to use free services like Canva to design your promotion material.
So, how can your announcement reach as many interested people, considering you are on a super low budget?
- Target ALL of your Facebook fans. Your fans are interested in your services/products, in your industry and probably in your collation of products for the giveaway prize pool. If necessary, spend a few bucks on Facebook promotion in order to reach all of your fans.
- Target your website visitors on Facebook. Remember the job posting you hopefully released earlier on? This is where the generated extra traffic comes in handy. Especially if you drew relevant bloggers to your website, who might promote your giveaway through their channels once it kicks off. All you have to do is create a solid Facebook remarketing group and start promoting.
- Contact your entire existing email list.
- Share in relevant forums.
- Force your employees and anybody else you know to share it.
- Share on Instagram, Twitter and any other channels you run.
- Share your post in relevant Facebook groups.
- Install a plugin like Hello Bar and convert visitors who haven’t heard about your giveaway yet. Again, I installed this plugin too late and most of the traffic came to my website because of the giveaway already. But in general you can see that it works.
A Word About Reaching Out to Influencers
Earlier I mentioned that it would be smart to share your posts in relevant Facebook groups.
I also said that it makes sense to raise awareness amongst relevant bloggers and influencers in general. It would even be great if you specifically reach out to influencers and ask them to share your giveaway.
But really you have to decide if you want to do this from an ethical perspective.
Bear in mind that those influencers can participate your giveaway as well and IF they do, they won’t leave much of a chance to the regular people to win.
You’ll probably get the email of those people anyways.
Kicking Off The Giveaway
Check if you have everything done right – built a nice landing page, included terms and conditions, … and then do EVERYTHING you’ve done with the pre-announcement.
Do it even more intense and give all you’ve got to increase the chance of your giveaway going viral.
Of course, you should also consider promoting your giveaway on Facebook. Build nice target groups and see the number of sign-ups bounce up.
Even $50 can make a huge difference.
Aside from promotion, the biggest challenge you’ll encounter in the “steal your competitor’s clients” process is keeping participants motivated.
The Maître software already has a smart email system included for this problem. It will send out automated engagement emails, which is nice.
But that’s not enough.
Situation: Let’s assume you discover the giveaway on day 6 of 10. You sign up with your email address and you receive your placing number…1263! You’ll have a bit of a shocker, but try anyways and manage to refer one person. You see that you improved your rank and now sit in 980. Still very disappointing and you might doubt your initial enthusiasm and determination to win the main prize.
What can we do about this situation?
I hope you collected at least 10 prizes.
The more the better.
What we did after a few days was to publicly announce on Facebook how many referrals you’d need to land a prize. After that post we saw the referrals go up again.
The next difficult situation will come towards the end of your giveaway.
Naturally, the top referrers will start competing more and more, minimizing the chances of the lower ranks.
Think of it as letting the air out of an air-bed – in the beginning it’s so easy and towards the end you’ll struggle way more.
Solution: Around day 8, you should announce (on social media and through engagement emails) a new prize for the lower ranking participants.
Find a prize that you can give to a lot of people without causing yourself much extra cost. Something like a discount, a freebie, or whatever you can come up with.
All of a sudden, you can give prizes to 50 people instead of 10 and so many more people will smell their opportunity to win something after all.
The very last step to push your engagement rate during the final stage of your giveaway is to send out an email using a countdown like the one from Motion Mail.
Use Motion Mail to count down the final hours until the giveaway ends. It will trigger the urge to act immediately.
#4 Steal Your Competitor’s Clients
Finally, we are at the stage where we can get to the real business.
The thing you came here for, right?
To steal your competitor’s clients.
Our situation is the following: We have sponsored products in our prize pool that our competitor’s clients probably find enticing. That’s good for you.
We have a system set up that brings people to give you their email addresses. Even better for you.
Now combine those two somehow and you’ll get something amazing – the email addresses of your competitor’s clients. Think of as many ways to steal your competitor’s clients with this giveaway as you can (and let me know about it).
I’ll give you one way right now and it has to do with Instagram.
Just to clarify this in advance: Nobody said the stealing part was going to be a pleasant job to steal your competitor’s clients. In fact, it will be an even more annoying job for people who like to scroll through their Instagram feed a lot.
Find out why.
Determining The Target
I don’t know about your industry, but within the travel & hospitality industry people like to follow companies a lot.
Even before the whole follow and unfollow culture to gain popularity came up. Especially surf camps were good at connecting with customers, because they are selling a lifestyle to their customers.
A customer liking a surf camp meant that the customer was embracing their lifestyle (at least in the head of many customers).
Now, Wavebutler is a travel agency.
I’d say not many people are truly a fan of a travel agency, right? So why should we try to steal the customers from other travel agencies?
We had to think a little bit outside the box and decided that we wanted to steal the customers from surf camps instead.
I’m going on a bit of a limb here and state that surf camps were the perfect target for our stealing action, even better than targeting our competitors.
A) Their customers have booked a surf camp before.
B) It’s quite likely their customers will want to surf different locations at some point, so why not ask a local (Wavebutler) for advice and let the local plan their next surf trip for them for free?
The “Steal Your Competitor’s Clients” Part
First: Make sure you have 3 appealing giveaway-related fotos posted last in your Instagram account. As suggested earlier – if you are on a low budget (which I assume), you can create some good stuff with Canva.
Second: Adapt your Instagram biography. In the last line, add something like “Epic Free Giveaway” with a emoji finger pointing down. Also exchange your company website with a customized bit.ly link (e. g. bit.ly/epicgiveaway). Double check if it’s clickable. The link should link to a pre-announcement or your giveaway landing page.
Third: Go to your target’s Instagram account and check their followers. Unfortunately, the follow & unfollow culture has taken over, which is why for example nearly all surf camps have 10k+ followers. But I know that especially the recent followers of our competitor’s account are NOT relevant to us.
See the image on the left?
It shows the followers of Pinsider, all the way scrolled down.
I was the second person to follow our friends from Pinsider.
Even before Nils, one of the founders.
I then unfollowed Pinsider and followed them again. Now, as you can see in the right image, I am one of their latest followers and listed on top of the list if you click on their follower list right now.
What I am saying: Instagram stills sorts your followers by follow date.
I have checked with many different people and accounts.
This also means that you can find the true fans of your competitor’s if you scroll down all the way on their follower list. The people on top are likely to belong to the follow & unfollow gang.
They are not really helping you to steal your competitor’s clients.
Next you have to scroll down on your competitor’s follower list and then follow ALL of your competitor’s oldest followers. I know, I know. There is an hourly limit.
But you can set yourself an alarm every 60 minutes and continue with your shenanigans.
Just a tip, but it’s up to you: Avoid browsing Instagram for beautiful women or men and leave the competitor’s follower list opened until you come back. Then you don’t have to scroll all the way down again.
Just control yourself, after all you are trying to steal your competitor’s clients, right?
The reason why we do this: It’s quite likely we are following genuine fans of your competitor. They’ll get a notification in their account and probably check your profile.
And now let’s hope your profile conveys all the awesomeness of your giveaway and makes your competitor’s fan click on the link in your profile. He’ll be lead to your giveaway and give away his email address.
That’s how you steal your competitor’s clients.
If you start doing this with your pre-announcements already, you can easily track how many sign-ups you got from Instagram by sending those people to another blog post / landing page with a dedicated sign-up form that sends the sign-ups into a separate (mailchimp) list.
Do this all day and all night long.
Forget about sleeping, you don’t need that.
You can get SO many email addresses from your competitor’s true fans.
Remember, you want to steal your competitor’s clients. If not that, what does fuel your motivation?
Let the stealing begin.
#5 Summary & Mistakes
The reasons we take all those actions to steal our competitor’s clients.
We grow our email list. A lot.
We get a very nice and useful target group for cost efficient remarketing purposes. Use it! You can keep people in your retargeting list by pulling them back onto your website over and over again. This has some kind of filter effect, because in the long run you’ll get high quality traffic.
We steal your competitor’s clients.
Here are the results without applying this hack:
Money spent – 150€
Unique visitors – 2,5k
Pageviews – 7k+
New Subscribers: 445
I know that SO much more is possible on the SAME budget, if you stick to the following steps. Including stealing customers from your competitors.
You might have read about one or another mistake I made, but I’ll sum it up again for you:
#1 Didn’t have a prize / offer for spots 22 – 50 to promote during the last days of the giveaway to increase encouragement.
#2 Didn’t use insta hack intensively
#3 Didn’t promote pre-announcement early enough.
#4 Didn’t take enough preparation time.
#5 Hosted giveaway at christmas time.
Let me know in the comments what you did to steal your competitor’s clients.