The ultimate startup marketing strategy for incredible growth

Thinking about ways to build a huge audience for your startup?

This is one of the most crucial problems faced by startups. How does one market themselves to be known by people and also make sure their products or services are being used?

Fortunately, you don’t have to spend a lot of money. Instead, come up with creative marketing ideas to have a huge reach in a short period of time. This kind of creative, unexpected growth is often termed as growth hacking.

Always remember that no amount of marketing will help a bad product gain mass audience.

At initial stages you must focus on improvising your product at every customer touch point instead of focusing on shout-outs to gain customers. What is the use if you managed to gain a customer but he/she isn’t satisfied with your product and decides to opt out?

Once you have a good hold on your product, start your marketing efforts right away. There are a few essential aspects to consider to lay a productive marketing strategy-

1. Growth hacking:

It is a creative marketing methodology used to achieve one key deal called “Growth”.

The ability of a startup to go viral depends on two variables- time and viral coefficient i.e the number of new users each user generates. If the viral coefficient is 1, you will achieve linear growth, assuming you retain your users. If the viral coefficient is above 1.1, then you will achieve exponential growth.

There are two main strategies to include marketing into your product-

  • One is to build a product worth recommending. If a single user recommends your product to two new users, then you will achieve exponential growth.

  • The other is to align your “growth hack” with the channel(s) that your potential customers use to learn about your product. All your marketing efforts would go down the drain if it is not seen by your potential clients. In order to avoid this, you need to understand where your customers go when they are in need of something you provide.

2. Conversion rate optimisation (CRO):

CRO is the process of increasing the percentage of website visitors who take a desired action, be it filling a form, becoming a customer or otherwise. This process involves understanding how customers move through your site, what actions they take and what’s stopping them from completing your goals.

Focus on the problems they face when they come to your site inorder to optimize it for better conversions. You could do this by installing intercom which allows to talk in real-time with your website visitors, or you could ask them to fill out a survey or ask for feedback in forums your customers participate in.

Once you know your customer’s pain points you need to start optimising your site accordingly. The changes could be minute like changing the headline, reducing navigation to avoid distraction or crucial changes like changing the website design, call to actions, etc. Optimisation has to be an ongoing process, you cannot do it once and sit back to see it work its magic.

1. Facebook to find the right audience using segmentation:

Facebook is one of the best customer research tools available to us. You can run several identical adverts over different locations to find out what works for you and where to find your potential customers using conversion tracking.

2. Target lighthouse customers before focusing on the mass market:

Targeting the mass market directly will not take you anywhere as people resist change and don’t prefer to try out something new on their own unless they are being influenced by early adopters in using a particular product or service.

For example, It is proven that when you show the number of likes and users already signed up next to the sign up button, there is a higher chance of increasing the website’s sign up rate.

3. Tell us why you do what you do:

If you want to inspire someone to take action, you must explain why you’re providing a certain service or product more than what and how you’re doing it.

Only if your “Why” is satisfactory, you will gain customers for your product. So make sure your messaging communicates as to why your startup exists.

4. Be unique in your marketing strategies:

Studies predict that we see between 1000-5000 advertisements per day. How will you stand out in this competitive space?

We usually categorize similar information together. So if you come up with a marketing strategy that already exists, you’re just going to be another version of something else and will not create an impact on people.

Always see what others are doing and come up with something that hasn’t been done before. In this way, you will be remembered for your uniqueness and individuality.

Now that we’ve covered on the points you must consider before laying your marketing strategies. Let’s move on to customer acquisition which can be achieved using 3 platforms- Paid media, Earned media and Owned media

Paid Media Marketing:

Should startups invest heavily in marketing at their early phases? Why not! In fact, it is recommended that they invest early to test the market response towards their products, determine the cost per customer acquisition baseline and most importantly, increase traction by

onboarding more customers into their products. It’s a vital metric for a startup’s success and its product validation.

But, it is very important to do this type of marketing smartly using the right mediums, targeting the right audience to realize the right benefits fairly quickly, and of course, not waste money in the process – which is a critical resource for any startup.

So, what are the various options out there for a successful inorganic growth? The top categories are Display, Search and Affiliate Marketing, and lets review each of those in a little detail with some examples.

1. Facebook

Can Facebook actually help with marketing and acquire new customers? Yes, absolutely.

It enables you to promote your product pages effectively through targeted audience marketing, and these enable high traffic and engagement rates into your product and startup as a whole.

Facebook is a very diverse community and your customers can be as diverse too, and it is important to be very creative in the way you promote through this medium, because those are the ones that really get the bang for the buck and the traction that is really needed for any startup.

Also, Facebook’s way of optimizing the budget and reach of your ads along with segmenting the ads to the right audience at the right time, makes it an effective medium to invest quite a bit for experimentation, exploration, and traction.

2. Google AdWords

Does your product answer a search query? if yes, then this channel is going to be your best bet. Enabling your product presence through Google Adwords in search results will land you with more customers knocking on your doors than you can possibly imagine.

Optimizing your presence in search will be the key driver for customer acquisition and success. For example, if your product helps people find great stays for the lowest prices, you may want your product to come up for searches for ‘stays with deal’, ‘stay for lowest price’, etc. Google Adwords enables you to optimize your marketing for the relevant search terms.

3. Google Adwords (Display)

Similar to search, Google Adwords enables you to promote your product in their vast network of banner ads in various websites. You can optimize these ads to apply on a particular category of websites, or for certain keywords.

4. Reddit Advertising

Reddit is a very unique platform to advertise your product. The effectiveness of your marketing in Reddit veries heavily based on the research you have done on the various subreddits you might want to advertise in and most importantly, based on the type of the subreddits, the audience in it, and the recency or relevance of subreddit.

While it involves some effort on your side, despite being a paid marketing channel, it is unique in a way that the audience can provide honest feedback on your product / startup and can provide diverse perspectives towards on how you can shape your product / startup in the subsequent stages.

Well, this is also the place where you can get some diverse early adopters to test and provide you the right feedback. So, it’s worth exploring this medium by investing light initially, to align your startup on the path for rapid growth in the next stages.

5. Google Remarketing

Google Remarketing is a way of getting back the audience who once visited your product and left without converting. It’s a technique more towards adaptive learning, where the information towards what users did on your product page and after they leave the page or website without completing the purchase funnel is used for retargeting and remarketing to the customers who are already aware of your product.

In fact, what makes this effective is that you are targeting customers who had an intent to purchase your product at a particular point. The key is to use this in recency to this purchase intent, a provide a reminder or nudge to get the users back to the purchase path. A cookie with this relevant information is created for that user on her computer, and it is leveraged in display banner ads when users visit other websites. This is primarily using the reach and power of Google Banner Ad network along with contextual information about a user’s interaction with your product at any point.

This medium provides a very effective way of reminding the potential customers to come back, continue from where they left off in the purchase flow, and further, even target incentives to make them close the deal accordingly.

This is definitely a good nudge for increasing traction and customer base for your product, but it is critical that is used in a controlled manner and not annoy the user by spamming on every website they visit, after yours.

6. Facebook Exchange

Facebook Exchange is Facebook’s version of Google Remarketing, using the Facebook Ad network. So, a user’s Facebook feed may contain ads towards your product/ startup after they visited your product website and dropped off in the middle. This is an effective way to retarget your potential customer base, and the recommendation is to use one of Facebook’s partners for Facebook Exchange.

7. StumbleUpon Advertising

StumbleUpon is a very different marketing platform that makes visually great content go viral. It’s low cost and it typically works great for travel related marketing. For the other categories, it might not be the best platform to use for paid marketing.

8. Twitter Advertising

Twitter Ads can be a very effective medium for create a ripple marketing effect. It simply means that when you promote your content/ product, Twitter Ads takes it to a very large audience, who can eventually promote and influence more users in their circle.

It’s great for startups with the right budget for marketing, because Twitter Ads can be a bit pricey for initial stage startups.

9. Content Discovery Platforms

Content Discovery Platforms is a very powerful way to promote your product alongside major websites, and can drive traction towards your product. There are many platforms that can be partnered with to help promote your product, and can vary in terms of cost and effectiveness based on the quality of your content.

10. LinkedIn Advertising

LinkedIn Ads work effective when the ads are run targeting people by their job title and industry sector, but these ads can be pretty vanilla by the way they appear causing less than expected traction towards the ads and a dip in the effectiveness after the initial stages.

11. Video Pre-Roll Advertising

This is a very powerful way of marketing your product, and it is vital that you have a promo video of your product to use on major video platforms like YouTube, etc. The way it works is that your promo video plays as an ad before main video content plays.

YouTube video ads are pretty common, is also provided with a skip button for people to skip the ad after 5 seconds. This could be seen as a limitation and an interesting challenge. While most people do skip ads, it is hence a challenge to market your product effectively with the first 5 seconds to generate maximum reach and also keep it interesting enough to make people watch the full ad without skipping. So, it’s important that the initial video hook is done right to make this marketing platform very effective for your needs.

As far as pricing goes, it fits your budget and its charged only for people who watch the ads fully without skipping in the first 5 seconds (most people skip the ads), which makes it a sweet deal too.

12. Affiliate Marketing

This type of marketing works best for established startups and it not recommended for initial stage startups. The way it works is by partnering with other networks through an affiliate programme and getting high traffic back to your product for quick conversions. This is used as a catalyst for known products with good sale conversion rates.

Earned Media Marketing

Earned media can be related to publicity. You don’t pay for this media to be created. It is an online word of mouth. This type of media is always published by a third party in the form of reviews, recommendations, likes, shares, etc .

The reason why earned media is so effective is because people trust a product when its already been used and appreciated by others.

Now how do you earn this trust?

12.1. Do something out of the box

If you want to get people talking about you, you need to impact them the right way. This is possible when you provide something different and exceptional that people don’t see very often.

There is no straightforward way to do this. Try to do something that hasn’t been done before or do it in a way that people aren’t accustomed to.

12.2 Connect with influential people in your industry

Knowing the biggies in your industry is an added advantage because you can leverage their fan base/ clients who might possibly end up being your customers too.

12.3 Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Google receives over 63,000 searches per second on any given day. People are constantly on the look for something on the internet. If your product is something that people are looking for, then you can appear on their search results right when they need you.

This is in contrast to Facebook, YouTube or LinkedIn where you try to gain people’s attention while they’re seeing something else. With Google, you’re helping people find what they are looking for at that very moment.

So it is always better to invest on a good SEO service. You also need to be patient to see results in SEO as it takes a minimum of 3 months to see an increase in SEO traffic.

Owned Media Marketing

Owned media is any marketing channel owned by your startup. It can be your website or social media channels that you operate.

Owned media is like the face of your startup. Anything you do has to be broadcasted using your owned media, only then people become aware of you and the things you offer.

Here are a few tips on how you can leverage owned media marketing

12.3.1 Build a blog that converts

Building a successful blog, comes with a lot of effort and customer research. You need to write a blog about what your customers want to read rather than what you want your customers to read.

Once you understand the difference, you will have a better idea on how to use your blogs to convert visitors to customers.

If people find value in your blog posts, they are more likely to get back to you for more.

12.3.2 Email marketing

Once you hear the word “Email Marketing”, you would imagine yourself sending out emails to potential customers marketing your products/service. But it doesn’t work that way.

It is highly unlikely that people will open your email considering their busy schedule. Inorder to get their attention you need to ask yourself if this email is even necessary in the first place and how is this helping the reader.

You cannot send out emails randomly to people whenever you feel like, spamming their email feed. It is always a good practice to ask them to subscribe to your email newsletter if they are interested in knowing more from you.

Once they subscribe, you can send out relevant emails on a timely basis for them to stay in touch with you. Make sure you experiment with your subject lines and templates to know your best fit.

Experimenting with different frequencies of emailing is equally important, like the days of the week and the time to send it. In this way you can make sure you send out emails to people when they can actually open and have a look at it .

12.3.3 You must use YouTube

YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world. People are now inclining towards video based information than text based and I don’t see a point in not leveraging this platform for your marketing.

The views and shares for videos on YouTube multiply every minute if it provides value to people. This could be your best bet if you want people to know you and gain their trust by sharing your values with them.

12.3.4 Up your content game with excellent content marketing strategies

You see people saying “Content” is King. Its true. Good content is your key to success, but what is your definition of “Good”?

Coming up with good content is one thing, but coming up with content that will work for you is the real deal.

You need to know what your audience is interested in and what will create the most buzz.

Knowing what works and what doesn’t in your niche is the ideal way to start your content marketing efforts.

12.3.5 Build a presence on Social Media

Let’s talk business here, you and I both know that likes, shares, retweets etc are meaningless. They don’t help in growing your business. What really matters is signups, retention, revenue, customer lifetime value, user satisfaction, etc.

Social media becomes valuable only when you can leverage your likes and shares to achieve the above mentioned metrics.

How frequently you post content is another aspect to consider. You must have a regular stream of interesting content to be shared within your social networks to have an impact on people who also see a hundred other posts on a daily basis.


Finally I would like to conclude by saying “Experimenting” is the key. The above mentioned points might or might not work best for you. In this fast growing digital world, online marketing strategies change from time to time.

Considering all of the above points, choose what works best for your startup and get your business growth kickstarted.

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