If you ask any entrepreneur, the early stages of a startup are the most difficult. There are many reasons why the majority of businesses fail to get past the first phase but getting product to market fit is the most crucial step. This means acquiring users. Growth is the most important startup success factor.
Even the world’s biggest startups including Uber, Airbnb and Udemy are constantly refining and pushing the limits when it comes to differentiating and testing their products to continue their rapid growth. So, what do you need to do to grow your startup to scale?
Whether you are trying to validate product, market fit or scale your startup, you need awesome growth techniques. Many entrepreneurs are not to sure what the best methods are to achieve rapid growth. So here are 11 tips to help you out.
1. Have a clearly defined goal for building your customer base
State clear goals for what you want to achieve in the short-term and long-term.
Have a clear overall goal which can then be broken down into small achievable goals such as:
- How many new visits to our website do we need per week?
- What is our benchmark for time on site for new visitors from Twitter?
- What is the conversion rate for new customers from email campaign X?
At first you may not know what goals to set or if they are achievable. The important thing here is to set any goal, to measure your performance and to adjust both your goals and your tactics based on data.
2. Do things that don’t scale
You must be thinking, “This doesn’t make sense? I need to scale!”. You aren’t wrong here, but if there is any emphasis on the importance of growing your startup in the early stages, it is to prove product/market fit which is essential before attempting to scale.
A key factor when trying to find product to market fit is to be engaged with your early adopters. Give them a personalised experience that doesn’t feel that they are talking to a robot. Not only will you be more successful but you will learn more as you go. Too many startups focus on automating nearly everything and this can be very dangerous.
3. Grow authority with influencers
Influencers are a fantastic asset when it comes to growth and brand awareness.
The power of word-of-mouth and peer recommendation are the most effective forms of marketing. Your marketing effectiveness is amplified when the various people talking about your product or service are individuals who have established their authority and credibility around a certain topic or subject matter.
Where do you find influencers related to your niche? Tools such as BuzzSumo and BuzzStream will help you out.
4. Partner up with the best
Similar to reaching out and connecting with influencers, partnering up with established and successful businesses who love your product or service will seriously accelerate your growth.
Just some of the perks with partnering up with established businesses are gaining credibility very quickly, free advertising through joint email releases and co-branding through social media campaigns. See how this restaurant dramatically increased their revenue through partnerships.
5. Virality through referral campaigns
Referral campaigns are underutilised with many startup businesses. They use methods to encourage existing customers to invite their friends.
The classic example for viral growth through referral campaigns is Dropbox. Dropbox gave away extra storage space for referring friends. Dropbox went from 5,000 to 75,000 users in one night!
6. Don’t underestimate design
Design is pivotal for your startup. It’s your brand. It’s what your customers and users feel when they see or use your startup. One of the core aspects of design is to keep it simple. Simplicity is key to success.
There are many aspects to design, but here are this article highlights 10 essential actionable design tips for your startup.
7. Social profile branding
Social profile branding correlates with the design of your startup. Consistency is also very important for users to have a sense of belonging and strong awareness of your brand. Social media is the best starting point for marketing when it comes to early traction for your startup.
Social media is also a great channel to increase engagement with your customers, especially if you’re a startup with low capital. There are many guides out there to help you grow your social media accounts and engage with users.
8. Distribution through niche communities
There are many ways to interact with niches or topic specific communities both online and offline. Depending on your target customers, online communities are a fantastic channel for your product and your overall online marketing strategy. There are many communities and forums out there to promote your startup.
Online communities aren’t the only answer for distributing your startup to your target audience. Offline can be a powerful way of engaging with your target audience. This can be done through events, meetup groups, promotion flyers for niche community events or even parties. This is how Tinder acquired users when it first launched.
9. Try out as many tools as possible
It’s incredible to see the amount of new growth tools being released each day. Many startups don’t realise that a problem they may have in trying to grow their startup can be solved with a cheap tool online.
Product Hunt is a great daily, list of new tools for growing your business. Also, growth hacking forums and communities such as Growthhackers.com is an awesome place to find the best guides to grow your startup.
10. Content, content, content
A recent survey by WPcurve found that 89% of startups said that content marketing is the most important channel for growing their startup and it’s no surprise why. Great content marketing can be very powerful as great content automatically puts you into a position of authority within your niche.
RJmetrics used content marketing as a focal point of their marketing strategy. It helped the company grow to 100 employees and $22m+ funding round. RJmetrics is now heading towards a billion dollar valuation.
11. Keep optimising your sales funnel
Make sure to be regularly reviewing your sales funnel and looking for ways to increase awareness of your product, remove barriers to purchase and to encourage brand evangelism.
Be careful not to focus only on sales optimisation. If you don’t provide enough value through your product offering and actually solving the customer’s pain point and providing value for them, then focusing on conversion optimisation techniques such as web analytics, copywriting and SEO won’t mean anything. Only if you are sure you are providing incredible value for your customers can you focus on conversions.
Dan Siepen is the director of growth & product strategy at Titan Vine. He is also the co-founder of Coder Factory, a coding school based Sydney. He loves everything growth hacking and you can tweet Dan @dansiepen
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