Nail it…before you…Scale it

Nail it before you Scale itMarketing forms an essential part of the growth strategy and each startup looks for new ways to create its place under the sun. However, the basics remain the same on how marketing works and is scaled as the business grows. But, before any company looks at what marketing channels should it deploy to grow the business, there are some key questions, which should be asked to see if the results would match with the expectations of the long term business plan.
(Real) Cost of Acquisition – 
Often early stage companies haven’t tried different methods to acquire customers and thus do not know what channels work best. The best method is not to deploy budgets around one or two channels but rather use small test budgets and use multiple different tactics to find the cost of acquisition from each of the channels.
Startups should deploy monies post validation on the ‘efficient’ channels and calculate the blended Cost of Acquisition from the across the working channels to see how is matches against the predicted Life-Time-Value of the customer.
Conversion Rate – 
Every marketer goes through this common dilemma, i.e. if I can generate X qualified visits from a certain channel, what would be the conversion rate from visit to customer? Conversion rates vary on different parameters each of which should be studied closely – quality of traffic, the UX to sign up or the quality of the product you are selling?
The iterative study of which parameters are affecting the conversion can be done by checking traffic quality from different sources, different landing pages, steps to signup etc. Also, ad-retargeting is a good way to amplify the reach of the ad to traffic visiting the site and engraining the message of the portal to improve conversion.
The Funnel – 

Bottom Funnel : Optimising the bottom of the funnel is the first priority for a startup to increase its customer or user base. It also helps in boosting the renewal or repeat rate of the customers.
Top Funnel : This is the way to send new people to your site, who have not heard about the product.  This should be only done post product-market fit validation. Startup marketers should invest in building the top funnel using influencer marketing or PR.
Depending on the stage of the business, marketeers need to invest either in the bottom or the top of the funnel. Once the bottom is working well and the business has paying customers, one can then scale the top of the funnel to start hitting bigger targets.

Long Term Value Advertising – 

Startups should invest in advertising which creates long term effects rather than short term bursts. Display advertising is good to create impressions and traffic but has an ‘out of sight – out of mind’ effect.
Marketers should think about strategies to create long term effects from the different strategies they adopt to help in brand building and in turn leading to more customers. Blogging, Influencer Marketing, PR, etc. create long term effects.
Long term advertisements create additional value besides the first impression. Some examples of long term advertising include – Social Sharing (Twitter, Facebook), SEO, Native advertising (as reading content creates better impression and brand retention).

Blogging – 

Blogging is especially important as part of the long term advertising plan especially if its a new business or in the case of an established business launching a new product.
Blog posts help in the long term indexation of the portal, add value to site visitors and build trust. It is a good base to engage with customers before investing in off-site advertising and marketing tactics.  Blog posts can be structured to direct the customers to the product one is selling to further understand the value proposition and thus improve conversion.

A/B Testing – 

If marketers are investing in the Top Funnel approach, A/B testing is a must. A/B testing helps in directing visitors to different pages to help define future layouts as well as in improving conversion rates.
A/B testing involves making slight changes in the page structure, language, colours and pictures to see which changes yield the best conversion rates. If marketers are investing in the top of the funnel, A/B testing is an absolute to grow the business.

Ad-Retargeting and Email Marketing –  

Ad-retargeting helps in amplification of your message and in improving the mid and bottom funnel. Marketers should place retargeting pixels on the webpages and images in the email signature to create further links to direct customers to the portal.
A good retargeting strategy helps drive people back to the site, improves signup or conversion rates (in case of abandoned carts) and is overall beneficial for the brand building initiative of the site.

Pay Attention to Social Media –  

Listening to the voice of your customer is ever more important in the world of social media. Social plays an important role in creating the impression of a brand amongst your target customer group. So, answering questions on social media creates to direct customer interaction and helps customers in similar situations to know that humans run the business.
Besides questions, being active on social media help you to engage socially to convert (otherwise lost) opportunities, turning compliments in to customers or engaging with sharers of the news of your company to become influencers.

Marketing is about strategy, relationship building and timing. The recipe varies from company to company but the essentials remain the same. The one essential fact to always bear in mind is, nail what you do to perfect it before you scale it…
Adrian Lloyd
Half Swiss. China obsession at Oxford. Tech obsession at Stanford GSB. Strategy consulting to Venture Capital. Tennis, skiing, Cresta riding. 4 young children, a boxer. Fabulous artist wife, Print-maker.



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