How to get fans to help you build your business

Posted on May 1, 2012 - 9:00 AM PST

This guide is based on Mixergy’s interview with Gabriel Weinberg.

Four years after founding a startup, Gabriel Weinberg has raised $3 million from investors and runs a search engine that averages 10 million direct queries per month. It was all done using tactics to get fans to help build your business, so we invited him to teach you how to do it.

Gabriel is the founder of DuckDuckGo, a search engine that was named one of the top 50 sites of 2011 by TIME Magazine.

Here are the actionable highlights from the interview.

1. Get feedback to learn how to improve your site and increase user satisfaction

Gabriel set up a community forum and added a feedback button at the bottom of every search results page.

Take Action:
Set up feedback channels, like a message board or contact form, where users can talk about your site, post comments, and make suggestions.


2. Respond to feedback to get users to feel personally invested

Gabriel uses Desk.com to respond to feedback, created a FAQ page, and hired five moderators to help run DuckDuckGo’s message board.

Take Action:
Check for feedback and respond individually or by using services like Desk.com (formerly Assistly), set up a FAQ page to address common concerns, and recruit moderators to help manage the community.


3. Improve user experience to encourage readers to return to and share your site

Gabriel set up a page for DuckDuckGo where users can change settings for search results, privacy, site appearance, and user interface.

Take Action:
Set up your site so that users can tweak settings and personalize it according to their preferences.


4. Encourage participation to build a loyal user base and strengthen your community

Gabriel features logos sent in by users and did a Reddit promotion that encouraged people to talk about DuckDuckGo and use it as their search engine.

Take Action:
Feature user-submitted content on your site and hold contests to reward users for spreading the word about your site.


5. Get publicity to give your site exposure and encourage more people to try it out

Gabriel set up a billboard highlighting the privacy issues of search engines, which got featured on Wired and USA Today and increased site traffic.

Take Action:
Launch attention-grabbing ad campaigns, organize giveaways, and contact reporters or bloggers in your niche to do a feature on your site.


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Premium Members who are logged in, will auto-magically see the full cheat sheet with all the tactics, right here. (Everyone else sees the first set of tactics.) They also get all of our courses.




6. Make continuous improvements to satisfy users, increase traffic, and grow your site

Gabriel integrated several application program interfaces (APIs) with DuckDuckGo, such as Wolfram|Alpha, to provide users with instant answers to their queries alongside traditional search results.

Take Action:
Act on user feedback and add features that will provide added value to your services and differentiate you from your competitors.


7. Define short- and long-term goals to create an action plan

Gabriel’s goal for DuckDuckGo is to reach 100 million search queries per month, so he obtained funding and created 10 action plans to achieve these goals, which include going mobile and turning DuckDuckGo into a pluggable search engine.

Take Action:
Create a list of goals that will improve your company and take action to achieve them, such as raising funds to expand your business or introducing new features to improve your site.


Want to make sure you get results?

Written by Hazel Chua, based on production notes by Jeremy Weisz

  • http://bradonomics.com/ Brad West

    You know those top commenter plugins some websites have in their sidebar? I wonder if there are plugins that track top sharers? Some way to check who shared your content on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere and reward users for spreading the word about your site?

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Good question. I don’t know of anything that does that.

  • http://www.currencyuk.co.uk/ bentoy23

    This 5 tips you gave was quiet great and useful. I am doing business for a years but I think my ideas won’t work, I will you’re ideas. Thank you for sharing this, I hope you will write more informative article like this.. :D

  • http://webdesy.com/ Kenneth von Rauch

    Thanks for the ideas. I like the one about contests. :)

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