In the introduction to Part 1 of The No Bullsh*t Guide To Early Startup Traction series, I shared this image:
And here is an updated image showing traffic during October since that post:
(Bearing in mind that we are still to finish the month of October)
I also made a bold and potentially offensive claim in that post:
Though, as you are here reading this, I assume you have read Part 1 and therefore may actually now have an idea of what you are actually doing…
Am I right?
If not, go back and read Part 1 for a little guidance on how we worked out what we should do to drive a 10x increase in traffic from September to October.
For the rest of you…
It’s time to scale:
*Again, everything you read in this post is working RIGHT now as it being actioned by my team literally as we speak to grow Tina.
As you can see from the image above, we have managed to grow our site from 1,400 sessions in September to 6,436 sessions in two-thirds of October… spending exactly $0 on paid marketing.
1. Google Analytics Goals
Because you can immediately see WHERE the people that took a certain action (Goal) came from.
Which can then feedback into how you assign resources moving forward to optimize the effectiveness of your growth strategies.
For example, during most of October the second stage in our marketing funnel was to encourage people to add me to their Slack Team:
The above image shows WHERE the people that did add me to their Slack Team came from during an undisclosed time period in October.
Pretty important right?
But not important enough for me to walk you through how to do this myself… as quite frankly, I find this tracking stuff pretty boring.
It just so happens that my friends over at Kissmetrics DO seem to enjoy writing about this stuff:
Thanks, Neil and Hiten.
When you have the core stages of your funnel tracked with Google Analytics Goals AND you are using Google Analytics UTM tracking links as per Part 1 you are now ready to move forward.
Exercise 1: Setup Google Analytics Goals for the significant stages of your funnel.
2. Platform Hacking
Regardless of how ridiculous your business idea is… there is probably a marketplace out there that is just as ridiculous AND is currently aggregating significant amounts of the supply and demand in your industry.
This begs the question…
How can you tap into these platforms and drips feed either side of this marketplace over to your business?
Or to rephrase that:
How can you tap into these platforms and drip feed either side of this marketplace over to your business… at scale?
Yes, I headed over to Upwork and manually spoke people that would be ideal candidates for both the supply and demand side of our marketplace:
A 7.89% conversion rate of Slack Adds seems solid especially as 50% of the people I would speak to would work on the supply side of Tina and would, therefore, have no need of adding Tina to their Slack Team.
So how do you automate and scale this just as Airbnb did with Craigslist and PayPal did with eBay?
Well as it happens… with Upwork…
You don’t, they are pretty secure.
Though there probably are other candidates in your industry that are not…
And to find these, you just need to think about the place that your user/customer will be when they are looking for your solution.
For example… with me… where would someone be when they are looking for sales and marketing support?
Potentially looking to recruit sales/marketing freelancers or employees.
How about job boards?
We then wrote a script that would apply to all the job descriptions looking to recruit sales/marketing people:
A little spammy?
Exercise 2: Determine where your potential users/customers are on the internet when they are looking for your product/service, do whatever it takes to find them there and automate if possible.
3. Extreme Google Adwords
When the inexperienced startup founder logs into Google Analytics a week after adding it to their site and is disappointed by the lack of traffic…
It seems likely that they would then search “How to find customers” and will no doubt then head to Adwords to waste some money on the world’s largest advertising platform.
If you become aware of a few simple concepts, you can easily turn that loss into a profitable acquisition channel.
Google’s “Quality Score” and Facebook’s “Relevance” metric exist to overcharge rubbish marketers that try sell irrelevant stuff through their platforms.
And at the same time, reward those marketers that promote well received and relevant products.
So the question is… how can you increase your Quality Score on Google Adwords to drastically reduce your cost per click?
First things first: you need to select keywords that indicate someone IS interested in your product/service will increase your Click Through Rate and hence your quality score.
But there are also some sneaky things you can do to push this up further.
It is well known that Google assess your keyword, ad copy and landing page text to help determine quality score…
So if you can automate the creation of a custom landing page for each keyword you are bidding on, in theory, this will increase your Quality Score.
Here is our initial list of keywords:
Now take “startup sales” for example:
This, in theory, will improve both your Quality Score and your conversion on these pages.
We literally just kicked off this campaign so will be reporting results in the third and final part of this trilogy.
4. Giveaway Greatness
Is it possible to drive MASSIVE amounts of traffic to your site AND explode your email list, whilst spending no cash?
But the only method I know that can achieve this currently… is the giveaway.
Before we jump in with a step by step guide…
Let’s think about WHY this works.
You can incentivize brands to give their products away for free, in exchange for exposure that your giveaway will bring.
Couple this by incentivizing entrants to bring more entrants to the giveaway by increasing their position in the rankings…
And everyone wins, especially you 😉
Exercise 4a: Identify products/services that your perfect avatar LOVES
Exercise 4b: Reach out to each of these businesses with the following email:
Apologies, I have to hide this mail behind an email gate as I can’t give it to everyone, as then it will become less effective 😉
Once you have a number of businesses signed up, you can then edit the email to include the names of those joining, thus adding some social proof to the request.
Bear in mind that after your first Giveaway, you may not actually have to reach out to businesses to fuel your prize fund as they will come to you:
You now need to get the giveaway system setup.
Fortunately, there are some awesome, affordable software solutions out there.
We chose to use Maitre as it has ALL the features required for a viral giveaway AND you can purchase their widget once and then use multiple times.
Exercise 4c: Head over to Maitre and get your widget
Collect the logo’s of each of your contributing businesses and place them on a landing page that includes the Maite Widget with a compelling headline and sub headline:
You will have to fiddle around in your Maitre Dashboard to get the design right and to tweak a few settings and then you’re ready to launch…
Exercise 4d: Design your landing page and configure your Maitre widget
It is now nearly time to start promoting…
But just before that, you need to take advantage of arguably Maitre’s best feature… Engagement Emails:
These are automated emails that trigger based on actions taken by your contestants and can include dynamic fields such as:
- Position in giveaway
- Amount of people referred
- Amount of people above them in the giveaway
You can even send an automated email when someone drops a position in the giveaway.
Exercise 4e: Create your Engagement Emails
You are now ready to start promoting…
The goal is to send a big rush of traffic to your giveaway on day 1 to kick-start viral growth and to get people inviting their friends.
If you think of all the people that are associated with your business in concentric circles moving from those within your business all the way out to the rest of the world.
You need to start by ensuring that the maximum amount of people in the inner circles enter the giveaway and then share their unique referral link with their friends.
Here are the main categories of people that you should promote the giveaway too on Day 1:
You must physically force everyone in your team/coworking space to enter the giveaway and then share the link with their friends.
- Email List
Send an email out to everyone on your company mailing list with an early invite to the Giveaway and encourage promotion.
- Social Lists
Throughout the time period you need to be distributing the Giveaway page on your social channels, but do engage in a BIG push on launch day.
- Retargeting Lists
You should have your Facebook Pixel set up on your site so you can go in, create an ad showing the logo’s of all of your prize contributors and push that out to this warm audience.
- Website Visitors
Head to Hello Bar, whip up a top bar that suits your home page’s design and adds a compelling headline. Have this show to all site visitors that hit your homepage.
This should be enough for launch day to kick-start some viral growth.
Exercise 4f: Launch your Giveaway and promote to your low hanging fruit.
Now as time passes during the rest of the Giveaway (ours ran for 10 days), there are some more advanced tactics to adopt.
There are some giveaway aggregators online that people may tell you to investigate… my advice is that you don’t.
The few entries they will provide are people interested in giveaways, not your prizes or eventually, your business.
When you are pitching your business or your content, it can sometimes feel like you’re taking more value in terms of attention and currency than you are giving…
Though with a Giveaway, there are no reserves, I recommend going all out and requesting each and every influencer you have a relationship with… to share.
Whenever anyone Tweets your content:
You can jump in and promote the Giveaway.
You can add a promotion to your Giveaway in your email signature…
You can post the Giveaway in ALL the online communities (subReddit’s, Facebook/Linkedin Groups) that are relevant to your niche.
I would recommend blocking out 1 hour of your day EVERYDAY that the Giveaway is live for promotion…
And when I say promotion I mean placing the link to your Giveaway page EVERYWHERE you can (that is relevant) on the internet.
Exercise 4g: Block out 1 hour per day for Giveaway promotion and relentlessly place the landing page link in all relevant places.
OK, it’s day 9 of your Giveaway and the leads and flowing nicely…
But place yourself in the shoes of your entrant that has just referred two friends and is currently sitting in 119th place with no hope of winning any prizes.
Are they properly incentivized to further promote?
I think not…
So when your Giveaway is 1-2 days out from closing, you need to send a mail to ALL entrants offering a low cost but high-value bonus for EACH of the top 100 entrants (that don’t receive your actual prizes).
Ideally, this would be a premium piece of content that does not accrual incremental costs with further delivery.
It just so happened that we were about to launch a new service that needed to be tested by hungry marketers anyway… so this was offered to our entrants that drove a nice spike of activity on the final day:
Exercise 4h: Reveal a high value, low-cost bonus to your top 100 entrants at the end of your Giveaway.
And the end result?
With a couple of days to go, we obtained 784 email subscribers for a total financial investment of $20 (Facebook ad) and time investment of a few hours.
How’s that for Cost Per Lead?
5. Bangin’ Content
As you can see:
The two pages on our site that aggregated the most attention (in terms of Avg. Time on Page) were two BANGIN pieces of content that I created during the month of October.
But how much money was spent on driving this traffic?
0 (though of course, quite of bit of time is required).
So how do you do this?
As we mentioned in the first step of Part 1 you NEED to know exactly who you are helping before you start to help them.
That’s what we’re doing with the content by the way… helping people.
And this is the only way that you are going to get thousands of page views on your site FOR FREE.
Interestingly, helping people can actually take on various different forms:
- Making people laugh
- Making people think
- Shocking people
- Being EXTREMELY useful for people
This final bullet is the one that we choose.
And then the question becomes…
What is the 1 piece of information or series of pieces of information that your perfect avatar would find immensely useful?
For us, it was educating about how to grow their presence online in the early stages of their business, so that is exactly what we did with Part 1 and is exactly what we are doing with this post.
The key here is to focus on making the BEST piece of content that has ever been created in your niche.
As if you get this right… it may get featured in industry specific roundups, bring more free traffic:
Exercise 5: Understand how you can help your perfect avatar with a piece of AWESOME content and then MAKE IT!
6. Proficient Promotion
Now, you have this immensely useful piece of content that your perfect customer LOVES, how do you get it in front of them?
There are a number of things that you can do but it really boils down to:
GETTING PEOPLE WITH EXISTING AUDIENCES TO SHARE YOUR STUFF
If your content IS truly awesome, a percentage of the people that do find their way to your post… will share it with their audience (everyone had an audience these days by the way).
Exercise 6a: Ensure you have nice looking social icons at the top and bottom of each post on your blog, we use AddThis:
Exercise 6b: Reach out to YOUR audience: email, social followers, blog commenters, social sharers
As soon as your post goes live, mail your list (ensure all previous blog commenters are on your email list) and post on your social channels.
You can then use BuzzSumo to easily Tweet everyone that has shared your content before AND that has shared similar content before:
Sounds pretty simple right…
But it’s got more complex.
Instead of sharing the direct link to your post, you share a link to your post WITHIN one of the online communities where your perfect avatar hangs out…
For me, it’s usually one of the following:
Technically this probably does reduce the number of eyeballs you actually get your content from your own audience…
But if you reach “trending” status in any of these communities the upside is far greater:
There are two keys to driving massive traffic from these communities:
- Irresistible headlines – Write 20 and test with this before posting
- Getting early upvotes – Personally, send the link to 10 friends and request an upvote
Next learn how to do this in Facebook Groups also…
Make sure you mention and link to people with large audiences of your perfect avatar within your content, in Part 1 we mentioned and linked to Sniply:
And then be sure to email/Tweet them when your post launches to simply tell them that you gave them some publicity and ask them if they would like to change anything… the majority of them will share.
Exercise 6c: Mention people with relevant audiences in your content and reach out to them when you go live.
7. Gangster Guest Posting
As well as creating AWESOME content for your blog, you can also create AWESOME content on other blogs, that enable you to tap directly into their audience.
Now those traffic figures are not astounding…
But there are other benefits.
I now have solid relationships with other people within my niche that have a significantly larger audience than I have, that could potentially be leveraged in the future.
But how do you get in such prestigious publications?
Build a list of all the blogs that your perfect avatar reads.
And then propose a specific post that you KNOW will add massive value to your perfect avatar and hence the audience of their blog (See Section 5).
Here is the perfect outreach email:
Again, sorry… I can’t share this with everyone or it will end up becoming ineffective so click here to download instantly. 😉
Exercise 6a: Identify the top publications that your perfect avatar reads that accept guest posts and then reach out using the email template above.
Once your target has received your outreach email and accepted your proposal, agree with a posting date and get creating…
When you send over the draft ensure that you include relevant but prominent links in the post and in the author bio, back to your homepage… or even better a specific landing page with an email opt-in targeted at the readers of your partner.
And then on publication day, make sure you promote with the same level of intensity we outlined in Section 6 to ensure that your content is successful, laying the foundations for an awesome relationship with your new partner.
Exercise 6b: Promote your awesome guest post as if it was one of your own using techniques from Section 6 above.
Conclusion Part 2
So you used Part 1 to help figure out which channels may work for your early growth…
In Part 2 we doubled down on those channels that worked and continued to experiment with further.
But the conclusion remains the same… regardless of the fact that you now have a better idea of what works.
Keep doing sh*t.
And don’t tell your investors where the traffic is coming from 😉
(Does your growth person or do your Twitter followers NEED some fresh ideas? Use the social icons below to send it over)