CloudHQ managed to grow from 0 to 140,000/month paying customers.
How did they do it?
In 2011, they focused on solving a big problem for a tiny audience: sync and backup services for medium to large businesses already using enterprise cloud solutions.
To get their first 65,000 clients they utilized cold-messaging through LinkedIn and B2B speaking engagements.
Then they noticed that 80% of all their customers were using their service to backup their Gmail accounts.
They decided to focus on creating tools for a much bigger audience – for 1 billion Gmail users.
4.1. So they switched to building free Chrome extensions that enhance Gmail.
4.2. Each extension is super simple (1 feature) and requires zero education (you see a new button, you click on it, and you get what you want).
4.3. The free version is robust enough for the average user. For example, one includes 100 emails saved to PDF per month. Want more? Switch to an unlimited “premium” version for just a few dollars a month.
4.4. They create 2-4 new extensions every month.
4.5. 14% of free users eventually sign up for at least one paid “premium” product.
Where does cloudHQ get ideas for all these freemium products:
5.1. By looking for Chrome extensions that have a lot of users with low reviews (3 stars and below).
5.2. By selling apps they built to solve an internal need.
5.3. By listening to customers.
How do they acquire users?
6.1. Mostly by email. Whenever someone downloads a free Chrome extension that connects to a Gmail account, it adds that person’s information (and email address!) to cloudHQ’s database.
6.2. The rest come from Product Hunt (2-4 new launches a month on ProductHunt), their blog, social media, speaking and PR.