Traction and Sustainable Growth – A How-to Guide for Startups

Today’s guest post is by the co-founder of Limk, Oguz Serdar. Get even more distribution tips by following @500Distribution on Twitter and subscribing to our email newsletter.

 

So you’ve built a decent, functional product. You’re proud of it. You tell yourself that your growth curve should always look like a hockey stick—up and to the right.

 

“If you build it, they will come.” At least that’s what you thought. That might have worked for Kevin Costner’s character in Field of Dreams, but in the real world, that kind of thinking will make your startup fail. Since most startups die because they don’t get enough traction, sustainable growth should be your #1 goal.

 

Here’s an overview on getting traction and growth for your startup:

 

Be really awesome or be really trustworthy

 

tony-stark-blows-kisses

 

Some products really are awesome enough to attract 25,000 users on their first day (Instagram) or have 50 million users (Waze) over time because of their unique value proposition. This could be a subject for an entirely different post, but let’s focus on the methods applicable to any startup, instead of looking at rare success stories.

 

When you’re still getting the right product/market fit, you should invest effort in creating trust in your brand by doing the following:

 

Aggressive and continuous SEO

 

catpillow

 

Compared to other sources, visitors coming from search engines are likely to stay on your site longer. This is because people put trust in Google and other search engines they use daily. Use this to your advantage! Be aggressive when applying any of the following SEO techniques to your website:

 

 

    • Build a pyramid around your content: Make sure to have your entire content on the bottom of that pyramid, and start redistributing content by focusing on the keywords that you aim high in search engines.

 

 

 

    • Keep systematically link building: Link building still works to get better SERP rankings. Make sure to do continuous link building in your content pyramid. The algorithms of search engines might change over time, but keep in mind you’re dealing with machines that have specific rules, not with people who do SERP rankings all day long. As long as you’re not trying to fool with them with dirty, spammy methods, you’ll get more traffic.

 

 

 

    • Use the right schema markup, depending on your content: When used correctly, schema markup can greatly increase your SERP visibility and presence. Just be sure to select the appropriate markup, depending on your content type. I’ll give two examples: Do you have video content? Use the video schema markup to get results such as this. Get creative: Do you have song information from Madonna as your content? Make her the page author or, even better, include an official video with video schema markup of the related item—and watch the results over time.

 

 

Create a loyal social media fan base

 

catDJ

 

Don’t underestimate the amount of traffic you can drive from different social media channels. And it’s not just about how many followers you have in your official accounts. Follow these rules:

 

 

    • 1st rule: Social media is not about YOU.

 

    • 2nc rule: Social media IS NOT about YOU.

 

    • 3rd rule: It’s about THEM.

 

    • 4th rule: Keep them interested with GREAT CONTENT.

 

 

Every social media platform has different characteristics, so the best thing to do is have specific game plans for different social media platforms.

Let’s take a closer look:

 

    • Twitter: Try to engage with the thought leaders of your market. Get them to retweet your content. Consider creating imaginary characters in your niche such as FAKEGRIMLOCK or Startup L. Jackson. Be as creative as possible with 140 characters, and regularly encourage your existing website audience to tweet your content.  See this example.

 

 

 

    • Facebook:  Keeping your targeted audience in mind, and run experiments—not only on your official Facebook page but also with related pages that you create for your audience. Is your startup a community for geeks? Slowly grow another Facebook page where people claim “I love science.” Is your startup about web developers? Do the same with another page that’s focused on humor for programmers. You get the point.

 

 

 

    • Stumbleupon, Reddit etc.: Platforms like these are driven by a combination ofalgorithms and user-submitted content. Find boards and channels related to your startup and build a small audience. Once you start getting initial traffic, display some indicators to your incoming visitors from these platforms to nudge your content items back to the platforms. Keep repeating this process.

 

 

 

    • Quora: This works best for certain niches, like SAAS products. Have someone on your team  answer related questions for your market. If you have a killer feature you can use to your advantage, make sure there’s a question about that pain point and do your best when answering it. You can even ask existing customers to answer those questions and explain how awesome your product is.

 

 

Syndicate Your Content

 

kittenmoving

In a perfect world, you’d get big publishers like Gawker and LifeHacker to syndicate every new blog post you write. Getting them to share your content is hard, but possible. The techniques below are often used to get attention from big publishers:

 

    • Create content directly or indirectly related to your audience. If your product helps people lose weight, blog about health and weight loss—use scientific facts that are applicable to anyone.

 

 

 

    • Reach out to popular bloggers in your niche, and ask them to distribute your posts. Make sure your content is interesting and not overly self-promotional.

 

 

 

    • Use HARO (Help a Reporter Out). Rather than trying to guess what the press is going to write, help them out—even if it’s not directly related to your product.

 

 

 

    • Do your content syndication at first. Redistribute your blog post on Tumblr,Quora Blog, Medium, and other platforms. Create a schedule for pushing your content out onto these platforms.

 

 

 

    • Leverage the content recommendation platforms. My startup is building one, but there are a few other platforms you can use to syndicate or promote your content.

 

 

This isn’t something you can achieve overnight, but you’ll start to see results if you keep at it.

 

Programmable Lifecycle Emails

 

emailtiming

 

Once you start getting lots of traction, you’ll need a process to keep people using your product. There are a couple great services that can help you define required triggers and set an indefinite emailing process to keep up with your users. Here are some tips to consider when planning these emails:

 

 

    • Welcome them personally. Send an email to new users a few hours after they sign up, and offer personal help from someone on your team. Preferably one of the founders.

 

 

 

    • Set up condition-based triggers such as sessions, steps. Think with a pirate mindset (AAARR), and define the most important data points for your activation stage. Encourage your users to complete those steps to increase activation rates in general.

 

 

 

    • Group your users, and reward loyal users. In most web communities, 95% of the total audience is comprised of lurkers, followers, and wallflowers. Use emails to reward and give exclusivity to  your power users.

 

 

 

    • Use time-period-based emails. This is your turn to increase retention rates by encouraging not-so-active users. Don’t email a user more than once, but make sure to use multiple time periods (i.e., if last seen > 5 days, if last seen > 7 days). You can also use this method to educate your users, especially if you’re trying to sell something (i.e., 7 days after signup date, 30 days after signup date).

 

 

 

    • The Rule of Seven. The old marketing adage says that a prospect needs to see or hear your marketing message at least seven times before they take action and buy from you. Use this rule when planning your emails.

 

 

Copy 99% of the time, be innovative 1% of the time — rinse and repeat

 

listentodave

My last piece of advice comes from Sith Lord Dave McClure. Whether you call it “growth hacking” or something else, these techniques—and similar ones—have been around for years. They’re not rocket science. Don’t reinvent the wheel when it comes to planning sustainable growth. Use what makes sense for your startup – then use 1% of your time to try something new and innovative. If you keep optimizing, I guarantee you’ll see amazing results!
Conclusion

Traction is the only thing that matters for startups. And traction even trumps team and vision when going for a big round of fundraising.

Be lean, but don’t use it as an excuse to not take sales and marketing seriously. Focus on traction as early as possible, and set aside time every day to try different techniques. Good luck.

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Mobile App Distribution for Dummies

Do you have an awesome mobile app? Is it the most glorious piece of software you have ever set your eyes on? A true revelation in the mobile app industry that is sure to blow people’s minds all across the universe?

If you answered yes to all those questions, you obviously don’t need to do any mobile app distribution. Since your product is SO awesome, you’re obviously going to attract users and you’ll be at the top of the charts in no time.

NOT.

Even if you have the most amazing app in the world, no one’s going to know about it unless you are acquiring users through some kind of distribution channel. In a perfect world, people would magically gravitate towards the beautiful pieces of technology you’ve created but unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world so that’s not going to happen (most of the time).

But it’s going to be okay because we have this guide here to make sure you DO know how to distribute your amazing app so that you’re one step closer to app stardom, with your app’s name up in lights next to Angry Birds, Candy Crush and Temple Run. So stop waiting, start acquiring!

Mobile App Distribution Slang (i.e. Key Terms)

  • CPI – Cost per Install: The cost to you when someone downloads your app.
  • CPC – Cost per Click: The cost to you when someone clicks on your ad.
  • CPM – Cost per Impression: The cost to you when someone views your ad.

WOAH, HOLD UP.”  You say.

Dude, I want to GET money when people download my app. Why should I be the one paying?

Often, it’s very difficult to be discovered in the app store. Your app is lying right at the 10,000th page of the Games category and it’s going nowhere because, seriously, who wants to scroll through 10,000 pages of apps? So you pay ad companies to display your ads and for every person that clicks/installs your game, you have to pay the CPC/CPI respectively to that company. This process drives downloads which drives rankings for your game and provided you either buy enough installs/have enough people discovering your app organically through social networks or friends, you’ll end up at Number 30 on the App Store! Sure, it’s not Number 1, but being closer to the top drives organic downloads which are your main goal — when people are discovering your app through the app store and downloading it, telling their friends, etc. and no more fees for you! Yay.

So let’s get started with some ways you can distribute your app.

Types of Mobile Ads:

Non-incentivized — (Users have no incentive to interact with your ad)

  • Traditional Banner Ads
  • Video Ads

Incentivized — (Offers users in-game currency for install)

  • Offer Walls
  • Video Ads

Money-spangled Banner Ads

These are exactly what you think they are! A banner displaying the ad for your game.

Pros: Cheap, easily integrated, not too annoying to users.
Cons: Users spend little time looking at ads, ads need to be eye-catching and well-designed in order for users to click through.

What to look for:

Look for a distribution service provider with a low CPI and high volume OR (and this would be even better) customers with a high LTV. You’ll need a lot (and I mean, SERIOUSLY THOUSANDS) of installs to get anywhere near the top of the App Store charts and for people to see your app. It’s also important that your app discovery platform has a large inventory for ads (meaning that they have a large network of advertisers who are willing to display your ad on their app). And lastly, be picky about your banner ad publisher’s designs because you want as many people as possible to click and install your game and there’s no other incentive for that besides the attractiveness of your ad. Ads that are integrated in a native setting do not look out of place from the app itself and are more effective if they seem more like a suggestion and less like a “BUY ME. PLEASE.”

Recommendations: Chartboost, Admob

Show me the money: Offer walls

These are a page of CPI/CPC ads that are incentivized. If a user installs/clicks on the app, they can receive in-game currency.

Pros: Incentive to install your app = increased installs, increased discovery over several platforms.
Cons: Have to compete with other apps that may seem more appealing/give more currency, costs more to increase incentive for users to download, Apple set a ban on offer walls in 2011 and while there are still many apps using them right now, volume has decreased.

What to look for:

Users interested in viewing incentivized apps will have to download the ad publisher’s homepage onto their mobile device. (Since 2011, Apple has banned the use of offer walls within apps.) Look for distribution service provider that has a large pay-per-install network so that you can spread your ad across dozens of publishers and gain access to many users who are totally willing to download your ad for a few bucks to spend on Bread Kittens. I admit, I’m totally one of them and I’m sure billions of people would do the same. It’s a good way to get people to install your app onto their device and from there maybe use it more if they find it interesting. Note: Apple has banned offer walls so use them at your own risk! To quote Paul Graham, do things that don’t scale. Try it out and see what works for you!

Tip: Test different landing pages for your app. If your user downloads your app for the first time, it’s not because they think your app sounds interesting. So make sure you’re homepage looks as attractive and interesting as possible so users will consider trying it out, rather than deleting it straight after.
Recommendations: Tapjoy, Sponsorpay

Video Advertising killed the Radio Star

A newbie to the advertising game, video ads either a. plays during loading screens/wait times or b. gives you the choice to watch the video for in-game currency.

Pros: Videos can showcase your app in an more dynamic and exciting way, video is new but growing — you’re ads will look WAY more attractive than most of the banner ads out there.
Cons: Users can skip your ad if it’s boring, ads are more suited towards apps in the mobile gaming space.

What to look out for:

Short HQ videos are great for catching a potential user’s attention, provided that your app is something that they might be interested in and that your video is attractive enough. Look out for publishers that can pre-cache your ad (meaning that there are no buffer times) and who can provide the user with a streamlined app experience (where the user isn’t interrupted in the middle of milking a cow or punching a tree and the ad shows during a loading screen).

Recommendations: Vungle, AdColony

That’s not the only way to monetize!

It’s a pay-it-back opportunity where YOU could be a publisher and earn money from publishing ads on your app. Most (if not, all) mobile distribution service providers and advertising networks allow you to sign up as a publisher too!

PAY MONEY -> GET USERS -> GET MORE MONEY -> EVERYBODY WINS.

 

What’s your preferred way to monetize and distribute your app? Let us know in the comments!

Disclosure: If you have a crappy app, no matter how many installs you buy or what position you are on the app store, nothing can save you from the dreaded install-for-currency-then-delete. Don’t waste your money advertising a bad app, spend your money making your app AWESOME. Then, come back here and read this guide again.
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How to Turn an Angry Customer into an Advocate

Earlier this summer, I had one of the worst experiences with one of my favorite startups. I’d somehow managed to lock myself out of my Airbnb condo in NYC.

 

A simple mistake meant that I was stranded in NYC, with ALL my personal belongings inside a stranger’s condo. Since the place had a 24 hour doorman, I figured getting back in would be as simple as getting a spare key. But the response I received was, “we don’t have any spare keys,” and both Airbnb and the owner weren’t responding to texts or emails. I had no place to go, and my phone was running out of battery.

 

megcrying

 

Even worse, the super said that there was NO WAY to get into the condo without the owner being present. For all I knew, he was in Europe and wouldn’t be returning for 3 days.

 

I was fucked. And pretty pissed (even though, yes, it was kind of my fault).

 

I know what it’s like to be on the other end of this situation. I’ve worked my fair share of difficult, customer-facing jobs (hello, McDonald’s!), and entered the startup world by doing billing support at a startup with lots of customers.

 

eatingburger

 

Working with people can be infuriating, especially when they’re mad, unreasonable or irrational. But keep this in mind – if someone’s angry, it’s because they care enough to stick around. A customer that’s truly a lost cause will just drop your service and never return. And if they paid for it, they’ll issue a chargeback to get their money back (which is really, really bad for your company’s rep).

 

Here’s how to address your pissed off customers – and bring them back into their happy place:

 

Assume what they’re saying is true

 

Unless they’re telling you something completely preposterous, work off the assumption that a pissed off customer isn’t trying to scam you. There’s nothing more infuriating than calling a support number and having a company rep meet your concerns with skepticism or (even worse) condescension.

 

Most customers who are in a bad mood expect to have a horrible time trying to get their issue resolved. Disarm them right away with an admission of guilt: Say “ok, it looks like we messed up. Let’s fix this ASAP” instead of  “are you sure that happened?”

 

When I contacted Airbnb about my dilemma, their first response was a long apology and message asking if I was OK. No debate about what happened or any blame (even though I was the idiot who locked myself out) – just a promise to make things right as quickly as possible.

 

Don’t just apologize, go above and beyond what they expect

 

Talk is cheap, especially when you’re angry. Anyone can say they’re sorry and promise to fix something, so do more than just fix the problem, even if it takes some extra time and money. The word of mouth and lifetime value you’ll get out of the customer will be well worth it.

 

This can be as small as sending them a shirt, a gift card, or offering some sort of free upgrade. If you go the upgrade route, don’t make it for only a week or a month. Upgrade them for life.

 

thumbs up

 

When Airbnb was sorting out how to get me back into my condo, they immediately agreed to refund me for the night I was locked out. They also told me to have brunch and do fun things in NYC (on their dime) while I waited for them to contact the owner. It didn’t make up for being locked out all night, but free brunch was music to this San Francisco yuppie’s ears. And it was totally unexpected.

 

Don’t use generic language

 

For the love of god, NEVER use a canned response hen someone’s pissed. If you or your support team is sending out standardized “we’ll get back to you as soon as we can” emails, get into the habit of taking 5-10 seconds to customize each one a little bit. Getting a robotic response when you’re angry might even be worse than no response at all. Plus, hearing from an actual human is such a relief when things are going wrong.

 

Jump into the conversation

 

As the founder/CEO, you should already be talking to your customers regularly – regardless of the size of your company. If Steve Jobs was able to make time to respond to customers, you can too.

 

Take 5 minutes to jump in and let them know the person at the top cares about their experience and wants to make it right. Want to really impress them? Call them instead of sending an email.

Pissed off customers are just a few steps away from being your biggest advocates, so take the time to deal with them – even if they seem crazy at first. Instead of a story of how Airbnb left me homeless, I’m now telling people about how they offered to buy me brunch.

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Getting Early Social Media Followers (Besides Grandma)

This post is part of the ongoing Distribution Tuesday series. Every week the 500 Distribution Team highlights actionable resources for marketing your startup. Get even more tips by following @500Distribution on Twitter and subscribing to our email newsletter.

You want to be social. You want your new brand to bask in the glory of many thousands of adoring fans on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. However, each day you look at your page only to see that cobwebs are forming. If your social pages had a soundtrack, it would probably just be the sound of “whomp, whomp” played on a sad trombone over and over again. Your social channels are not growing, and that sucks.

So, how do you get things going? How do you get started building your audiences on social platforms to the point where they can contribute significantly to help grow your business? Here are a few recommendations and things that I have used in the past to get that initial social growth.

Posting Consistently

cat-meow

This is probably the most important and least common technique deployed by early-stage companies. This problem exists mostly because there is a bit of a chicken and egg problem here. Why bother posting daily content when you have all of 12 followers, 5 of whom are probably family and/or team members? Well, just like most things in life, you have to start somewhere. In this case, it’s helpful to get into that rhythm sooner, rather than later. You also want to be ready as your social channels begin to scale and require more attention/content.

In terms of how much content you should be posting, that can vary depending on your business and audience. What’s more important is that you’re consistent about it. So, if that’s one post a day or 5 posts a day, pick a number and stick to it. This helps to train your audience regarding what volume they should expect from your brand while at the same time bringing some publishing discipline to your organization.

If it’s still very early stage, you may simply not have much to say. Totally get that. Here, you might want to consider aggregating relevant stories to your industry. This is great way to fill in the gaps until you have more content of your own to share. Some tools to help automate things in that regard include:

Give Stuff Away With Contests

free

You or your brand might be too high-class to run a contest, but for those who are not, here’s another very effective way to build your audience (and have a little fun). Online contests are nothing new, of course, and while some are a bit scammy in nature, it is possible to pull off one without looking totally gross. You can also get some nice social growth in the process, thanks to Rafflecopter, easily one of the best little contest platforms out there. Another option is Wildfire, although that’s typically more expensive and for later-stage companies. In terms of the prize, if you’re a service, offer a nice healthy amount of free service. For example, you can offer 3 free months or more. If you’re building something like an iPhone app, it’s fairly easily to give away an iPod Touch or some other iDevice. An ideal prize can vary widely, but make it something compelling. This usually means something of $100 value or more.

Cheap Thrills for Cheap Virality

pugg

Just like with contests, you might be willing to take a bit of the hit brand-wise in order to get that initial growth. The technique in this case is to post content (typically images) that are inherently viral in nature. Think of things like Some Ecards, for example, or the type of content that you might find at www.facebook.com/WTFJOKES. That stuff can be less than pretty, but it is highly sharable and has been proven to aid growth, especially on platforms like Facebook. If you’re really crafty, create your own viral images with some subtle branding on it. Time to put those hacky Photoshop skills to work.

Buy Likes and Followers

nonono

Sometimes when you talk about buying Facebook or Twitter followers, it’s sort of like that moment when someone walks into a party and the record comes to a screeching halt. You might actually think or hear things like, “It’s so unauthentic! It’s just not right! Our brand is being built organically as Mother Nature intended it!” soon after mentioning paid growth. People have opinions, but most of the time, opinions suck, so just ignore those people for a moment.

The truth is that many brands, large and small, spend big bucks to acquire followers on social channels. There is nothing wrong with that, especially when it’s done right. While there are a lot of nuances to launching these campaigns, there are really two important things to note. The first is that any service that will directly sell you Facebook likes or Twitter followers is typically junk. Unless you’re trying to attract audience in countries like Indonesia or you really enjoy bots on your channels, those users are almost never worth paying for. Adding them would be purely for optics.

However, when you intelligently buy fans, it can be a meaningful way to build your social audience. The best way to do this is to use Facebook Custom Audiences or Twitter’s native ad system. Both offer several options for precision targeting your existing audiences or the audiences of your competitors. In most cases, you’ll be paying around $1 per like/follow, so budget accordingly.

Emailing for Likes

Last, but certainly not least, don’t forget to leverage email as a way to build growth in your social channels. If you’ve been good about building up your email marketing prowess, you hopefully have some semblance of an email database. Don’t be afraid to send them dedicated emails about following you on a social channel of your choice. In this case, you want it to be a straightforward request with a very clear and single CTA (call to action) to follow and or like your social page. Below is an example of an email that I used at my startup, Wittlebee, that helped us grow our Facebook audience quickly to 50K+ well-qualified fans.

Don’t forget to also put these social follow emails into your email drip marketing campaigns, as well. This is one best-use cases for those emails. Good luck, and happy social growth beyond grandma.

Screen Shot 2013-08-21 at 10.50.48 PM
About as literal as you can get when fishing for likes. 

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Our Search for Secret Agents is DONE! Applications Closed for Batch 007

Did you make time to get your application in for our Fall Accelerator batch? We hope so – because applications CLOSED last night at 11:59pm PST. Over the last month, we’ve received hundreds of applications from potential secret agents, and we can’t wait to see who has what it takes to be part of next global team of badass founders – Batch 007.

If you applied, be on the lookout for an email from us sometime soon. We’ll do our best to contact all applicants about their status over the next few weeks. For those curious about our next batch, check out the 500 Blog over the next month or so for news about the #500Strong agents of Batch 007.

Didn’t make it this time, but still aspire to join our global network of not-so-secret founders? Applications for the Spring 2014 batch will open up later this fall, so keep checking back.

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How to Suck Less at E-mail Marketing

This post is part of the ongoing Distribution Tuesday series. Every week the 500 Distribution Team highlights actionable resources for marketing your startup. Get even more tips by following @500Distribution on Twitter and subscribing to our email newsletter.

You suck at e-mail marketing.

That’s OK though; many companies, especially early-stage ones, also suck just as badly. So winning in your space in some cases may simply be about sucking less than your competitors do. While social media sites and marketing tricks come and go, e-mail has remained a consistent driver of growth for start-ups. To that end, here’s a few recommendations to help:

Start Early

babybear

You can never start early enough when it comes to collecting e-mail addresses. This is probably the most important tactic to nail. Growing a good e-mail list is going to take more time than any other task will. Therefore, the earlier you start the better. If you can gather up a few thousand qualified e-mails pre-launch, you’ll find it much easier to get your business off the ground.

Those early e-mails of course might be the toughest ones to get. You may need to really claw and hustle to put them together. To get started, I recommend running contests (Rafflecopter and Sverve); even though they’re not always very pretty, they do get the job done. Next, I would test landing pages (Launchrock and Unbounce) and small marketing campaigns that collect e-mails. Finally, don’t forget to “look in the couch cushions.” By that, I mean take all those business cards, e-mails addresses written on napkins, old databases you stole from your last job, and so on. Consolidate all of that data early on before it gets lost.

Double the Frequency

Many companies has asked me, “How often should I e-mail my users?” The correct answers varies based on your business and demographic, but a good rule of thumb is about twice as often as you think you should. Yes, you should probably be doubling the number of e-mails you send, especially to users who have yet to convert or take the action you need them to take.

Think about companies that send a lot of e-mail. LinkedIn and Facebook might come to mind immediately. Of course, they are both considered social networks, so they likely have more reason to e-mail you. Still, they send a fuck-ton of e-mail and make a bigger fuck-ton of money. Related? What is likely an annoying amount of e-mail to you, the techie, is an acceptable volume for more mainstream users.

*Of course, if you have users who have converted and/or taken a preferred action, you may want to actually reduce their overall e-mail volume. Don’t turn their e-mail off completely, but in these cases, don’t bug these customers more than necessary.

Set Up Autoresponders

If you’re a later-stage company that has already dialed all your drip campaigns and trigger e-mails, good for you. Take some time to pat yourself on the back and revel in how much you don’t suck. For everyone else, it’s time to set up some quick autoresponders. These are time-released e-mails that go out to all (or part of) your e-mail list at times you designate. It’s incredibly powerful and automated and is often ignored by most early-stage companies.

The simplest way to get started is to utilize Autoresponders in MailChimp. If this is all brand new to you, then I recommend setting up a simple 30-day cycle of e-mails. For example, think of four to five e-mails you want all your users to get after they sign up for your website. Here are a few use cases/examples to get you started.

    • Welcome Letter from the Founder

 

  • Follow us on Facebook

 

 

  • Complete On-Site Action

 

 

  • Invite a Friend

 

 

  • Coupon for E-commerce Site

 

 

  • Product Marketing Feature Highlight

 

 

For each autoresponder e-mail, I also recommend utilizing a very clear and single CTA (call to action). Don’t dilute the message with other things and keep the recipient laser focused on the task at hand. Remember you can send multiple e-mails with this method. So don’t try to cram multiple requests into a single e-mail. The below mock-up is roughly the ideal format for autoresponder e-mails. Yours may vary, so go ahead and test multiple layouts and subjects to be sure.

8-13-2013 8-28-40 AM

Get All NSA on Your E-mail List

E-mails are interesting because they can often serve as a unique identifiierfor a user. From there, you can learn all kinds of interesting things. Yes, privacy is sort of dead unfortunately, but that’s also good news for online marketers.

To start with, you might want to consider a data service like Rapleaf. It’s been an industry secret for many marketers and had its own share of controversy and changes to its business . Today, however, it offers a fairly straightforward way to learn more about your users based on their e-mail addresses.

You can upload your data and get a ton of demographic information that you can then reimport back into your ESP (e-mail service provider). From here, you can do all types of interesting segmentation to dramatically improve your campaign’s performance and engagement. This could be a simple gender split test or you could use the zip code data for regional targeting.

Be Aggressive, B-E Aggressive

cheer1

I know that you love your users/members/customers. We get that. You want to cuddle them and never ever, ever bug them. Totally understand that.

Consequently, being too aggressive on e-mail marketing probably feels like the last thing you want to do. At the same time, I see a great number of companies love and cuddle their users so much that the companies never gain any more . Of course, there’s no need to be spammy and jerky about it, but please, don’t feel too bad stepping up your e-mail game, especially early stage. Just hit that send button when you need to.

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