- A data disruption or network activity warrant could be issued by a member of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, a judge’s warrant is not needed.
- Politicians justify the need for the bill by stating that it is intended to fight child exploitation and terrorism.
- The new Australian surveillance bill signals the end of respect for Human Rights in Australia.
» NextBigWhat’s #Threadmill brings you curated wisdom from Twitter threads on product, life and growth.
#StartupResources: How To Make It As A Solo Founder?
#LeadershipDevelopment: What Great Leaders Should Do (And What They Should Not!)
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Why You Shouldn’t Raise Too Much Capital Before Finding Your Product Market Fit?
Customer satisfaction is the key to any successful business, and customer engagement strategies help the same. The interaction or ‘engagement’ between the customer and the brand as we label it here is done in multiple ways. It is a process that has developed over time.
Well planned strategies take customer engagement from reactive to proactive. They must incorporate two major ideas — the first being how your brand interacts with its customers and the quality of such interactions. Mere acquisition of customers is not sufficient, so secondly, it is also significant to actively engage with your base.
Advantages of customer engagement strategies:
When you engage with your customers, it is more than just fulfilling your business agenda. You form a bond with them, a bond that is not restricted to giving and taking of products, but rather more of emotional relation.
Just like low budget movies with good stories that earn great profits solely on the basis of mouth publicity similarly, word of mouth is equally important for small businesses that cannot invest much in advertising.
It might sound weird and obviously outdated, but “words matter the most”. Even today, word of mouth is of prime importance and assurance in the time of reviews and ratings. The care and tenderness with which you handle your customer relations reflect in the referrals your customer makes to their family and friends. The strategies mentioned below are surely going to assist you in enhancing your customer engagement.
10 customer engagement strategies for your business:
1. Creating custom content
You have a variety of customers, and their needs, wants, and desires vary. So it is equally important to cater to each one of them. Custom content is the key to it, but what does the term actually mean?
We do talk a lot about content marketing. But what about the customers we already have? This is where the idea of custom content marketing hops in. Custom content is tailored to engage with the ‘existing customers’.
2. Rewarding the customers
No matter how old we grow, the thought of rewards always excites us, be it in any way. Suitably rewarding your customers is a great way to maintain their loyalty towards your business. Weird, but true, customers feel happy when you reward them for spending their money.
Rewarding your customers must top the list of your loyalty programs. In fact, a lot many businesses also hire a team just for designing their loyalty programs.
It might sound expensive to some of you, but a little expense to retain your customers does no harm.
3. Implement in-product messaging
Apart from email marketing, in-product messaging can also be a great option to communicate with your audience. In-product messages are highly targeted and are influential in helping new customers get acquainted with the product.
The main aim of using this feature is to enhance customer engagement and motivate them to use your products more.
4. Personalise user experience
Personalisation is the new way of showing that you care for your customers ― that their presence matters and is valued. From Myntra personalising the recommended products we see to Netflix suggesting shows we would like based on our watch history, all the major brands are rolling it off pretty well.
“72% of consumers only engage with marketing messages that are customised to their specific interests. And 80% of those who classify themselves as frequent shoppers say they only shop with brands who personalise their experience.”SmarterHQ
In the world where nothing remains constant, at one moment you might be delighted with the number of customers you have and in the next moment highly shocked with their sudden disappearance. There might come a moment when they cease to use your products. Such customers are labelled as churned customers, and they should top the list of your priority because they have used your product, service or app at some point ― and might need it again.
All you need to do is decode why they stopped using your product or service and make efforts to bring them back. Re-engaging is a great way of dealing with this problem. Establish your connection with lost users via emails and make them realise their importance. Doesn’t everyone love to be treated as ‘special’?
6. Investing in analytics tools
These days customer engagement can be easily evaluated well with analytics tools. The data obtained from these tools can be used to build a dashboard with various pointers, like the features used by a certain group of people or how long aṣ user goes on with your app or product before discontinuing.
The data collected helps you in knowing and analysing the performance of your product or service in both ways, good and bad — this further aids in building new strategies.
7. Take help power users
Each brand has a group of highly engaged individuals who intend to become product champions for its company. You should always keep such people very close and very prioritised as their opinions matter the most. Their views regarding your product can either make it a great success or a bad failure. Keep a tap on their demands and requirements.
8. All hands support
All hands support is an innovative way of engaging all your company’s employees ― from developers to product managers to the sales team ― in supporting the customers.
This technique boosts growth in many companies by keeping their entire team in contact with their customers’ needs, wants, desires, and pains.
9. Invest in digital Channels
With the money you don’t end up spending on events, you can double down on digital channels and/ or invest in some truly engaging digital experiences. Create an integrated experience when reaching out to prospects by adding more targeted ads and social media layers.
Also, consider putting budget into a piece of interactive content. Consider creating interactive top-of-funnel content, case studies, or sales demos where prospects can peruse through information at their own pace whenever they have time. The possibilities are limitless here and generally evergreen, so you have the opportunity to generate an ongoing return.
10. Collect customer feedback
Feedbacks are a great way of conveying whether the customer likes your product or not. It helps you to view your product from a customer point of view and work on shortcomings, if any.
Asking for feedback from your customers is a great way of customer engagement. It gives you an insight into what the customers think about your product and helps in developing a customer-centric business.
What are some of your proven strategies for customer engagement? Share with us, and we will share it with the masses!
The rise in digitization and seamless connectivity has seen a boom in business development. A news article by the Telegraph shows that in 2016 there were 80 new businesses alone in the United Kingdom! Given this sharp increase and fascination towards entrepreneurship, another report states that only 25% of a new business lasts for 15 years or more, and 20% of the new business fail within a year! Thus, it is essential to understand business or product growth hacking strategies.
There are various strategies that a company or a business might consider to scale and sustain their product. Growth Hacking strategy is a buzzword that allows a business to scale quickly ― a technique that is accepted by experimentation. The process involves all the crucial components – marketing, design and development, engineering, and, yes, data analytics.
Growth Hacking Strategies
Some elaborate strategies are mentioned, which might help your customer find a quick and cost-effective solution to find new leads and build a solid user base.
Strategies to Develop at Pre-Launch
Considering every aspect, an organization must strategize clearly – what their goal is. Even before you start, your marketing strategy should be solid, and you should let the mass know about the new product.
Why not let people know that a new product is coming? Increase the Hype? Well, building hype is excellent! For instance, a popular video game Cyberpunk 2077, made so many promotional events before the game’s launching event that it became one of the most-awaited games.
Likewise, as an entrepreneur, you can strategize to let the mass know about your product. Pre-Launch Email List is a good starting point. It allows one to reach a targeted audience and deliver the correct message.
Pre-Launch Offers and Discounts like an additional one-month free subscription! The strategy allows you to build funds for your product – even before the launch, also you know precisely how many people are waiting in line.
Strategies at Product Launch
A company needs its advertisements. Portals like Product Hunt curate the new products in technology and let the user know.
Leveraging Referral Marketing – once your product is launched, and you have some customers, let them bring you more! Sounds great! Yes, this strategy is applied for products like CRED, American Express, and Google-Pay. There are always some self-cost requirements, but it is an effective solution!
Brand Partnerships and Launch Events
A Launch Event is where you get to market your product and understand new players in the same field. Another excellent advantage is that you get to build new connections that might give you potential good leads for your product – a remarkable growth hacking strategy!
Partnership and Collaboration with well-established business are perhaps one of the best strategies. It gives a solid buzz and news coverage!
Social Media and Digital Marketing
Social media plays an important role. A tweet at the correct time can do wonders! A single tweet by Elon Musk let the dogecoin see a 2800% rise in its valuation!
Well, that was lucky! But, advertisement and building hype in the social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter can bring wonders to your products. It is a very cheap and cost-effective way to let the mass know!
The HARO Strategy
Consider Helping A Reporter Out (HARO) as a forum for displaying your skills as one of the best growth hacking tips. It is not a tool for developing your brand; instead, it is a place to read different questions from journalists that may or may not be necessary to your domain.
Yes, it will take a lot of time, but it will be well worth it if done correctly. Consider it a worthwhile venture if you can spare 30 seconds three times a day to read their newsletters.
Understand various points and strategies that you have applied – and learn which activity is bringing you customers, and which is not – and Why? In short –
- How do I ensure that a transaction is credited to a user who reads material on our blog and then signs up?
- Which paid traffic sources are the most effective in terms of ROI?
- Which landing pages are converting the best for us?
- Do smartphone apps convert?
- Is there a group of users that convert well? How can we define that so that we can find more of them?
- How do I use Analytics to detect errors?
Company Profile and Reputation
Platforms like GlassDoor analyze a company’s work status based on user reviews of past and present employees. Likewise, research for a suitable venue which your competitor uses – advertise and grow your company’s image.
Build some helping guides or tutorials that will let your user know how to use your product seamlessly. Also, it brings you new customers – since by knowing what it can do, and how it can be done – I might consider using it too!
These are some of the cost-effective strategies that can help you reach out to the masses – bring you valuable customers. One must strategize and choose among these channels – a combination of this and a bit of that!
What was your surviving strategy? What did work for your business? Share your learning with us, and we’ll be happy to share it with the masses!!
What takes a business to grow? Online presence? More sales? Or more profit? Anyway, it all comes down to one factor ― more customers!
By definition, customer acquisition is the process of acquiring new customers or converting potential leads into new customers ― in a way that is measurable, achievable and repeatable. Every business needs customers ― your idea could be utterly awesome, but if it doesn’t serve anyone, it’s practically vague!
Thus, comes customer acquisition. For an organization, be it a small-scale or a vast one, customer acquisition is essential and a significant time-consuming task. A multinational organization might have a dedicated team to handle this process; however, a company with a small team might not be at leverage to spend time. Most of the time, a gap is seen between acquisition and meeting the customers’ needs.
Let’s talk about how one can fill that gap ― with different methods and correct strategies.
Channels for acquiring new customers
Traditionally, customers were brought in using personal selling and marketing. However, a study shows that more than 50% of people agree that a close relationship is necessary to trust a brand. It brings revenue. Yet, the advancement of digital marketing and e-commerce has a massive impact on this model. Starting from an individual to an MNC, reputation and customer feedback is a must. In fact, authors Gabriel and Justin have suggested that any company must divide their time equally between customer acquisition and product development.
These are some of the popular methods and ‘easy to adapt’ channels that can help you in acquiring new customers.
A widely popular technique is viral marketing, where your existing customers and users bring more people. This strategy requires the least amount of time with a minimal investment.
- Word of Mouth – when a customer uses a product, they tell their friends about it. However, the company has no control over this, and sometimes it might have an adverse reaction.
- Virality due to usage – when you use a product, your friends start using it too. A classic example is when Facebook was inducted in 2004, only a few people joined. Gradually, people got addicted, and another social media platform, Orkut, gradually became obsolete.
- Communication and features – some applications like Skype, Slack, Microsoft Teams are preferred in organizations. Looking at their benefits, a user may start using them personally.
- Rewards and incentive programs – applications like CRED, Google Pay, American Express, have expanded their business hugely by providing referral rewards. After all, who doesn’t like freebies!
This process of marketing has seen much positive feedback; however, it has no control over customers. People might switch to another product, and you may not be in leverage as to know why. Also, many times comments and social media impacts can hugely overturn the business. For example, when WhatsApp introduced its new policies, a lot many people rethought and switched to Signal, making it one of the highest-grossing apps in the play store overnight.
That’s where ORM, aka Oral Reputation Management, and PR, aka Public Relations, comes in!
It is basically reaching out to your customer via newspapers, media, and blogs. When you reach a newspaper or a magazine, you use the monetary resource to let the mass know. Blogs are also a choice, but it needs time. Most of the time, positive feedback is circulated; however, you might have to use significant time and money to meet your customer expectations – since reaching out to the masses does not automatically guarantee that all the people will start using your product.
Also brilliant customer acquisition strategy https://t.co/JJzd6SSeCv
— nathan brown (@n8brown) May 11, 2021
Social media platforms, like YouTube, are heavily used today for unconventional methods. Brands take support from celebrities and popular individuals to get their business/ product reviewed. That’s where the term Influencer Marketing comes into play!
For example, YouTube channels like The Linus Tech Tips, Technical Guruji, etc., are viral channels where they review gadgets like smartphones. Based on the channels’ fan-following, you get customers without spending much time.
Search Engine and Social Media Advertisements
Search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo are well known and widely used. All of them provide an advertisement option where you pay to show your product at the top of the search page. Similarly, social media like YouTube, Facebook also have premium services where your products are displayed in-between videos or in the banner to the masses. Social media advertisement has seen a market growth of more than 40% in the last few years (Hoelzel 2004); obviously, the business has gained!
This has also given a boost to the Performance Marketing career. Brands pay huge amounts to experts just to maintain their ROAS!
Content Marketing and Search Engine Optimization
There was a time when Search Engine Optimization had outcasted everything ― and it still does, however, content rules!
And as I’m writing this, there will be another viral content ― in the form of photos, video or blog ― making users gaga.
55% of current marketing spend is on new customer acquisition.
— TidySurveys.com (@TidySurveys) May 14, 2021
Hoardings, banners are not dead! They are pretty much used widely and are an efficient way of bringing customers if appropriately used. Again it’s all about what kind of content you are putting on it ― great content attracts customers and grabs attention!
Business Development and Sales
For serial entrepreneurs, nothing beats if you have a proven record! If your previous product were widely accepted, likely your new product will be too. Similarly, if your product has a good reputation in sales, it will generate qualified and close leads.
For businesses who are new in this space, if you try this channel, bear in mind that you should still be on the lookout for areas of your pipeline that are slowing down the sales process. Are there any inefficiencies or items that prospective buyers might get hung up on that you can smooth out and make the purchase decision as simple as possible? The fact that you are contacting people explicitly does not preclude you from maximizing your pipeline as well.
The bottom line
Given all the above points and channels of customer acquisition – now is the crucial time to decide which is the best one and choose your medium. The below points should clarify some doubts.
- If your product is similar to some other service in the market – use the same channel to let people know. Your competitor should have done their study, and you should minimize research and work. Precisely, understand where your competitor lacks and use it to your advantage.
- Budget is crucial; some channels cost you more! Goals are the third most priority. Do you gain by reaching out to mass? Can you handle your product if your customer increases exponentially?
- A strategy is to choose three channels and study their reach, effect, and customer growth.
What did work for your business? Share your learning with us, and we’ll be happy to share it with the masses!!
As marketing automation has become more mainstream, the barriers that businesses experience are also clearer.
Expectations from marketing automation platforms have not matched reality. Prior to adoption, companies imagine marketing automation platforms to out-of-box solutions that can completely overhaul their marketing with very little effort.
The reality is that marketing automation platforms are not simple plug and play tools.
You need to invest time and resources to generate returns just like any other operations system that your business adopts. To see high returns from marketing automation platforms you need:
- A clear strategy of how the system fits into your overall marketing
- Knowledge of marketing automation and data management practices
- resources who can manage and scale the system
Companies continue to invest in automation platforms without realizing the investment required in resources to make it successful.
A 2019 report by SmartInsights idenifies data, resources, talent and strategy as top barriers to success of marketing automation implementations.
Email campaigns remain the primary objective
London Research reports that even though 86% of companies are using email campaigns as a primary activity, less than one third are using features that make automation platforms truly valuable – behavioral scoring, lead nurturing and predictive personalization.
By not using these core features, the marketing automation platform is reduced to merely a campaign launcher. And there are cheaper, simpler tools out there that let you blast emails.
Why spend so much on marketing automation? The whole idea is to automate processes.
Our real-world experience of working with businesses from all over the world also validates these challenges. Throughout our journey we’ve asked ourselves – what’s the difference between companies that see great results from marketing automation and those for whom the impact is underwhelming?
We continue to see a massive opportunity for companies to better utilize their marketing automation capabilities. This can supplement or even replace decisions based on legacy knowledge or intuition.
From our experience, we recognized 4 things that successful companies do best.
1. Define a clear data management strategy
Success with marketing automation relies on accurate, complete and valid data. Good data practices ensure customer information stays relevant. ‘
An ad-hoc approach to data is detrimental as it creates pools of low quality, junk or irrelevant data. These pools become indistinguishable from good quality data. When you try and run campaigns on these mixed data sets, you are unable to cleanly separate bad data from the good. This leads to poor ROI as you don’t even know which users deserve your attention.
Lack of data strategy also severely limits automation capabilities as it makes it harder to identify actions taken by customers. Thus, it becomes impossible to segment users into relevant buckets for creating nurturing personalized nurturing campaigns.
You can start building a data management strategy by taking 3 key steps:
a. Setup data hygiene standards
It’s important to prioritize quality of data at every stage.
Letting data hygiene slide even on a few occasions can snowball into bigger challenges. Over time your growing database becomes harder to sanitize – simply because of the sheer volume.
Hygiene process begins when you first use the automation platform. At the early stage you can take steps to stop junk and irregular data from making its way into the system. Any lists you upload must be cleaned prior.
As you execute campaigns, and more data gets generated, hygiene management must continue. To encourage compliance, you can setup guidelines and share them with the team.
Some basic ones to start with are:
- Exclude junk or test emails – if a few test emails need to be added, they must be appropriately flagged using a ‘lead status’ or ‘source field’ set to ‘Test’.
- Reject irregular characters – create forms that reject invalid phone numbers, public emails or randomly typed strings letters. You can automate this detection.
- Pre-validate contact details – upload emails that have opted-in, have not hard bounced and are valid (they can receive emails). You should implement OTP verification for phone numbers and link verification for email addresses.
- Upload external opt-out lists (if any) – if you are switching from another platform you can import the historical opt-out list to the new system. You can also choose to purge such data permanently prior to uploading it.
Once a month or quarter, review your data and see if there are any loopholes which are adding bad data in the system and include new guidelines to keep it out.
b. Add and customize fields to segment users
Users interact uniquely with your business. Each user takes different actions at different times. Some may take weeks to make their first purchase, while some may buy on the first day. You must be able to distinguish them based on the actions they take so you can setup different ways to convince them.
This is where one of the most underused features of marketing automation can help – custom fields. Most platforms have a few pre-defined fields for segmenting customers, but you can also add new fields to reflect your business process.
Once you add or customize the fields you need, setup workflows to change their values as your users interact with your business. These fields become identifiers of user behavior. They indicate which users are at what stage of their journey with your brand.
Here are some fields you can define to start with:
- Source – which channel or program was the origin when you acquired the user
- Source history – which channels were touched on their journey before sign-up
- Lead status – identify whether the contact is new, in a stage of nurturing, is a returning customer, is a high value customer. is invalid, and so on.
- Engagement level – define a scale or score to measure user’s overall engagement – a sum of all his/her interactions
Let’s take a quick example. Assume you create a field that tracks the first purchase of a customer and sets its status from “Signed up” to “Made first purchase”. Then you set up a nurturing flow that automatically detects when a user is set to this status. The system then sends a series of emails and notifications over a week to convince the user for the next purchase. Similarly, you can set up flows for inactivity, abandoned carts, category stickiness – the possibilities are endless.
By using custom fields properly, you can be confident that your users are bucketed and targeted accurately. This is an important steppingstone to platform maturity before you can use automated campaigns.
c. Fine-tune the strategy as your business grows
Revisit your data strategy at regular intervals to ensure everything is working as desired and make changes if necessary. Reviews scheduled once a month or once a quarter are enough for most businesses.
During these reviews your team can set aside time to clean data that escaped the agreed standards.
As you discuss gaps in the policy and make changes you can also make enhancements such as adding new fields or value, proposing new standards and rethinking some of the automation processes.
2. Build a deep understanding of your customers
Collecting data on your customers is important but it’s rarely the complete picture. It’s just as important to pin down their behavior. 70% of marketers struggle to create a unified view of their customers’ behavior.
As the graphic below from a research by McKinsey & Company shows, returns from deep personalization are growing rapidly regardless of the industry you operate in – retail, travel, CPG, banking or any other.
Investing in understanding your users, with a mix of data and behavior, is essential to offering deep personalization that people are becoming accustomed to.
Marketing automation platforms can take you closer to fully understanding your customers. They combine static demographic data with behavioral signals to clearly identify unique purchase patterns that require personalized content.
Lead scoring is a classic mechanism for this. It’s one of the core features of any automation platform.
To setup lead scoring, you assign scores to every foreseeable customer activity. Then you set up rules to tell the system how to change the total score of a customer based on different actions. Once the rules are set the process is automatic.
For example, you can add 5 points if they click on an email. Add another 30 points if they make a purchase. This way a customer’s total score is a cumulative measure of their engagement with your brand.
As the score changes based on user actions, you can setup milestones that trigger branches of nurturing flows to engage them further. This is an ideal way to understand behavior as buyers with similar preferences will gravitate towards the same nurturing flows. You can target these groups with even more specialized content.
Track this process regularly to adjust the score and add/remove actions as your users keep maturing.
Progressive profiling is another great tool to create frictionless experiences.
For users with strong engagement scores you can progressively request their information in phases rather than all at once. This makes the experience less overwhelming for the user.
During acquisition, for example, you only ask for their name and email. As they take more steps that require additional info, you append those pieces to build their complete profile.
Retailers like Amazon do this well. They ask users for shipping, payment and credit information only when they reach those steps. Progressive profiling improves acquisition rate as users are not as overwhelmed. It also promotes a more seamless experience and gives them greater control over their personal information.
3. Think multi-channel, multi-touch campaigns
Online purchases are becoming more complex with an endless stream of information available to users.
Buyers comprehensively research and compare products before finalizing a purchase, but they also transact more often with brands that maintain an ongoing interaction.
Companies who understand their users better can maintain these interactions with automated content sent over a mix of channels – emails, SMS, push notifications, in- app messages, etc.
As an example, for buyers who just made their first purchase, you can setup an automated flow of 3 emails, at 1-day, 3-day and 5-day intervals, with recommendations for the next purchase. You can include products from the categories that the user already browsed or additional recommendations based on what other buyers purchased. This is a great way to enhance your interactions with the buyer using personalized content.
There are endless ways of designing nurturing flows over email, SMS, notifications and other available channels. Some basic ones are:
- Welcome and on-boarding series – welcome users and offer ideas for their first purchase
- Abandonment flow – remind users that they have items in the cart and include suggestions for other products they can combine with their purchase
- Event flows – designed around birthdays and anniversaries to create brand loyalty
- New category flow – sent to buyers that don’t respond to existing flows. You can use experimental content to measure their response.
The benefits of automated multi-touch campaign are clear. One, it keeps your brand name in active memory of buyers. They are more likely to buy from you if they remember you.
Second, it builds trust and loyalty. Users enjoy personalized recommendations and start building an affinity towards brands that they feel truly understand their preferences and choices.
Finally, it makes your marketing more efficient. As you can automate a series of touches with a large percentage of your users your team has more time to create content and improve underperforming campaigns.
With multi-channel, multi-touch campaigns you will start seeing results that are closer to your expectations from the platform.
4. Manage and grow your marketing operations
Ultimately, you must realize that none of this is a one-time fix. There is a reason marketing automation companies charge thousands of dollars for ongoing consulting.
As a platform, marketing automation gives you all the tools, but you must put in the time and effort to customize and extract value from it.
Companies that generate maximum returns from their marketing automation platforms strive to continuously improve it. Treating it as an ongoing project is necessary.
You can assign a dedicated marketing operations team to manage and grow the platform. This team can work with your wider marketing teams to ensure that data, automation, tracking and reporting processes support marketing programs smoothly.
Additionally, they can identify gaps and improve those in short sprints.
If it’s not possible to assign dedicated resources to marketing operations, you can allocate 10-15% of time of your marketing team at regular intervals for improvement. This can be done for example, once a month, once a week or a few times a quarter depending on your scale.
Marketing automation maturity is a journey that takes time and resources, but the results are worth the effort!
Companies that are successfully using marketing automation platforms have grown exponentially. Remember to start small, do the right things, and keep improving.
About the author: Avadhoot Revankar is Chief Growth Hacker & Product Evangelist at Netcore.
Did the chicken come first or the egg?
If you the founder of a startup, you will know that it is extremely difficult to get the first 1000 users. The growth is easier when you have to get the numbers from 100000 to 101000. Even though it is the same 1000 user increment.
Most of the startups die at number 1001.
They went through the grind, created awesome product, created online advertisements, spend money on marketing but the grind of getting the first 1000 users would let them down and mind you it is not a small effort.
This is a common problem for all the startups. Dropbox, reddit and quora all went through this. They are billion dollar companies now. So how did they do it.
How did they went from the limping frog to the galloping horse.
Lets take dropbox first. Dropbox was spending 300 dollars to acquire one customer who would spend 99 dollars. That is when idea stuck the founder. Why not create a video explaining the benefits of dropbox. He created a video and posted in on Digg (yes, back then it was Digg all over the place). The video got upvoted to the front page and dropbox had 75000 in waitlist overnight. That is how they solved the chicken and egg problem. He also did another nice trick. Invite your friend and for every signup you get extra space. This too drove a lot of people to refer their friends and get that extra space.
How do you solve this if you have a forum / discussion platform?
Reddit solved the chicken and egg problem by creating content on their own. The founders had to spend months creating content before users started posting their content. Initially there were no subreddit. Subbreddits were introduced once traffic grew.
The founders of Quora asked questions and answered it themselves.
You could drive lots of traffic to your website, but if the website is empty, nobody gives a flying fuck. All these websites wanted people to know they were popular than they actually were. This is the first lesson in marketing for startups. To get traction, you need to create it.
Tinder did a nice trick in their early days. They threw a huge party near University of Southern California, and for people to come they had to install the app. You can imagine the word of mouth publicity they got from this.
Airbnb. It is a different ball game altogether when you have to create real listing from real owners. Fake profiles and own content are not enough. Airbnb got email address from craiglist and emailed them. Below is the email they sent out. Of course they deny this.
I am emailing you because you have one of the nicest listings in Craigslist in the Tahoe area, and I want to recommend you feature it to one of the largest vacation rental marketplaces on the web, Airbnb. The site already has 3,000,000 page views a month! Check it out here: http://www.airbnb.com
People started listing their properties fast in the new gen service. After all these efforts and getting the listing Airbnb found that they were having very less transactions. They realized that majority of the pictures in the website were terrible. The founders got a good camera and personally clicked the photos of many listed houses. Rest as they say is history.
- Creating amazing products is just the beginning, you got to communicate the value clearly.
- Look for places where your target market is concentrated and market aggressively.
- Sometimes you need to look beyond the codes to find out why there are no sales.
- Make the customer/visitor believe your website is more popular than it actually is. No one likes an empty website.
Think of unconventional ways to reach out to your audience.
[About the author : Charles is a startup consultant. That is a job title I just made up. If you have a startup and want me to critically analyze your product or offering, send an email at
email@example.com. Image credit: shutterstock]
[Editorial Notes: Some do it. Some don’t. Growth hacking comes naturally to few founders. Here is presenting an analysis of few companies who growth hacked all the way to glory. Guest article contributed by Laxman Papineni, cofounder of AppVirality.com]
FreeCharge.in is an Indian company based in Mumbai, which lets you recharge your prepaid mobile balance, Internet data card and DTH (TV) packs through their website and mobile app … free of cost. Yes you read it right.
Here is how it all works.
You log onto the website, enter the relevant details of the pack you want to recharge, and make the payment. The payment can be made through Debit or ATM card, Internet banking, credit card or cash card.
Then you will receive coupons of the same amount you have paid. FreeCharge has partnered with some top notch companies like McDonald’s, KFC, Costa Coffee, Café Coffee Day, Myntra, Barista, Domino’s, PVR Cinemas, etc. and these coupons will allow you to make a purchase at these companies and your coupon amount will be redeemed.
Today FreeCharge is one of the most popular websites in India for recharging. But they did a lot of marketing to reach this level.
Below I will attempt to explain the growth hacking methods employed by FreeCharge to become so successful.
Identifying the target audience and reaching out to them
The target market of FreeCharge mainly consists of youngsters.
In case you don’t know, in India it is the youngsters who are the more tech savvy. People in old age don’t use smartphones, computers or Internet that much.
Additionally it is the youngsters who go out to places like McDonald’s, Barista and Café Coffee Day. At least much more than the old people.
Hence FreeCharge was pretty sure it wants to target the younger people. And they decided to do that manually.
They had some cousins and friends in top notch colleges of India like the IITs and IIMs and they reached out to them urging them to try out their free coupons and also telling them to distribute the coupons to their friends.
Naman Sarawagi, one of the members of the company, even visited the IIT Bombay campus to assist the students to recharge.
Some of the students there didn’t had debit cards, so Sarawagi sat down in the campus on weekends and transacted on the FreeCharge.in website through his own card and collected cash from the students and handed over the coupons immediately.
Soon the word spread and coupons were delivered to all IITs and IIMs.
In fact, the team also created a fake Facebook id (a beautiful girl) that immediately got to a few good thousands of friends. The idea was to reach out to several college kids using the fake id, which they did (with mixed response – watch the video towards the end for more on that).
One of the best ways to attract an audience to your company is to steal it from those who already have one. In other words, if you want a lot of visitors to your website then show yourself on other websites which are already getting a lot of traffic.
Now there are many ways to do that. Either write a high quality article and submit that on a top notch website with a backlink to your own site. Or, if your website is ground breaking, you have something awesome to offer, then reach out to some website owners and ask them to mention your site on theirs. If your website will be of interest to their readers then they may respond in the positive.
FreeCharge was covered in top notch websites like Pluggd.in, Trak.in, Alootechie, telecomtalk, Rediff, The Hindu and Outlook.
ET Now airs a show about startups named Starting Up and they requested them for a coverage. ET Now thought that they will be a good fit and hence they did a story on FreeCharge bringing them more publicity and more visitors.
Video spoof on Emotional Atyachaar
Emotional Atyachaar was one of the most popular programs amongst youngsters in those days. It was a reality show based upon the state of romantic relationships amongst the Indian youth.
Suspicious lover contacted the team of Emotional Atyachaar, requesting them to do a loyalty test on his/her partner. Their team carried on the investigations with hidden cameras which recorded the entire episode and then aired that on national television.
FreeCharge approached The Viral Fever to do a spoof on the show, advertising FreeCharge.in. The Viral Fever had already done quite a few spoofs on some other popular shows and movies and their videos had become very popular on YouTube hence they were the right candidate.
The video runs as follows.
A girl named Pooja comes and narrates the story of his boyfriend whom she decides to call by the pseudonym Subramaniyam Raju to the host Grih-Pravesh Rana. She suspects that her boyfriend is recharging the phones of many other girls besides her. So she asks her friend Neha to do a loyalty test on him.
She sends Neha to his flat telling her to ask him to get her phone recharged while she is hiding in the flat already. Raju opens the door, Neha tells him she wants him to recharge her phone and Raju welcomes Neha in cordially.
Then he uses his smartphone to recharge Neha’s phone through the FreeCharge app. Note this is the first time that FreeCharge is mentioned in the video. The video is 15 minutes long and this scene appears at 10:03.
Then Pooja suddenly jumps out from behind the curtain catching Raju red handed. She accuses him of recharging the phones of other girls and thus “cheating” on her.
Pooja, Neha, and the hidden cameramen then all start beating Raju. Raju keeps crying out – “Please listen to me” but no one does.
After the beatings are over Raju confesses to Pooja that yes he did recharged other girls’ phones but only because of Pooja. He says he used FreeCharge to do all the recharges and hence he got a lot of free coupons from the site. Then he used those coupons to take Pooja out for coffee, burger and movies.
This shot occurs at 11:38 and again FreeCharge is mentioned only in passing. They didn’t dwell too much on the company or their business model so as to not distract the attention of the audience away from the main storyline of the video.
Pooja, understanding the complete situation, forgives Raju and they patch up with each other.
Hearing this, Rana gets extremely annoyed because he says he only invites those lovers on his show who have been cheated by their partners. Since Pooja was not cheated on, Rana asks the security to throw her out of the studio.
In the ending credits the following text is displayed: “Issued in public interest by FreeCharge.in.”
This is a classic example of native advertising. The whole attention is on the story and the humor and FreeCharge appears only on the side, hence not boring or detracting the audience.
So did the video resonate with the audience? Oh boy! At the time of writing of this article the video had got more than 1.5 million views on YouTube.
I hope the three methods discussed above would have helped you understand how FreeCharge became so popular. Let me know in the comments below what you think of this piece.
BONUS : Watch Freecharge Founder, Kunal Shah talk about human behaviour and technology startups (and how Freecharge cracked the model).
If you are a SAAS entrepreneur, optimizing each stage of the customer development funnel is extremely important.
Plus, knowing when to optimize (and when to start thinking scale) is all the more important. Do checkout the slides below – this pretty much tells you all you’d need to know about funnel optimization (and growth hacking behind it).
Did you know that Buffer used a very simple technique to enroll 100,000 users, in just 9 months? HelpScout got 36,733 subscribers on their email list by using the same simple technique?
No rocket science, but the technique is called Guest posting on relevant blogs and content sites.
You will find active blogs for every imaginable topic. Simply put, Guest Posting is identifying such blogs and contributing quality content to them. And in return you use their audience to drive high quality traffic to your website and as a bonus you also get linkbacks which improve your search rankings!
As part of growth hacking series (read the first part : Understanding SEO), let’s take a look at how growth hackers can use guest posting to increase traffic to their product.
Watch the art and science of growth hacking from Ankit Oberoi, cofounder of AdPushup.