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Distrosnacks are “daily bite-sized” tips on distribution and growth from the 500 Startups Distribution Team. I’ve been subscribed to this newsletter for a few months now. I decided to round up all the tips I’ve been sent during this time. I’m sure there are more, but this is what I have.
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(Note, all unusual spelling/slang come directly from 500 Startups, not me.)
1. Product Vs. Growth
Use a Smoke Test to validate “new ideas” & prove them out BEFORE building moar product — because that way u don’t stunt growth.
Don’t let product roadmap hi-jack growth — use growth 2 drive ur product roadmap.
2. One Metric That Matters
While measuring overall conversion or close rate is important, it alone won’t help u drill down on drop-offs in ur funnel.
Watch CTR on each specific call to action in ur funnel 2 see whether weaknesses in your close rate are coming from content & marketing, or from ur sales process.
3. Press Hack
Big press outlets on the web are BUSY and rely HEAVILY on other sources 4 credible content to syndicate.
Contacting ppl from best-known news sites can be a long-shot.
Instead, track who they’re linking out to / sourcing from (or scrape external links), pitch those outlets, and get featured thru syndication.
4. Slack Use Cases
– Team communications
– Freelancer workflow
– Customer support (Step 1: get THEM to add YOU to their Slack)
– Customer insights / research / OUTREACH (Step 2: ping them on their Slack)
Don’t be boring / spammy, you’ll get deleted in 1 click 🙂
5. Call to Action Button
A great rule of thumb when determining a call to action is to make your button text complete this sentence:
“I want to ___.”
Your CTA in your customers’ words, not yours.
6. Facebook Lead Collector
Facebook Lead Ads (a NEW thing) lets people subscribe to you in 2 clicks / taps.
FB auto-fills key info:
their full name
Streamlined leadgen + many targeting possibilities = TEST NOW.
7. Traffic Leaks
Outbound links help SEO by signaling to Google what sites you’re associated with — ie, link to sites of brands whose products you’re selling or to media you’re mentioned in.
Contrary to being a traffic ‘leak’, relevant / high quality external links makes ur site more useful & authoritative.
Join the party, link OUT!
8. Untapped Channel
SMS is instant, short, direct.
– Average SMS response time is less than 5 min
– Average open rate >95%
– Only 160 characters to think about / optimize
– Other personal channels for outreach: FB Messenger, WeChat, Line, WhatsApp, MOAR
Be personalized & high touch, don’t blast.
9. Don’t Retarget This
Reverse-retarget to EXCLUDE people who’ve already signed up:
1. FB or Twitter Custom Audience of registered emails
2. EXCLUDE that audience
Don’t waste acquisition $ on people who are already your users — onboard them with an engagement campaign instead.
10. User Reviews 4 SEO
User reviews help ur SEO b/c comments = content, and reviews’ unique wording + long tail phrases are better than a bunch of pages with the same product or service descriptions.
1. Ask for reviews & make it easy
11. Buy On the Backend
Nobody gets married after the first date, and most customers don’t buy from your landing page.
Nurture ur leads:
– free or $1 trial
– email drip campaign
– bake into their routine / lifecycle / habits
12. Conversion Rate Levers
If u kill ur low quality traffic sources, conversion rate will go up.
If u go after bigger / new / emerging channels or leads, conversion rate will go down.
1. If you need to show off a higher CR (investor deck?), cull the low grade leads
2. If you’re focused on filling the top of your funnel, be ready for lower CR till u optimize further
13. Content Penalty
Syndication can be good 4 expanding your reach and authority,
BUT know that Google gives the higher authority site technical / SEO credit, even if you publish first.
– ask them to use rel=canonical
– ask them to use no index tag
– do it anyway if it’s high visibility + new audience
14. Pricing Strategy
Pricing = positioning, and can be ur competitive advantage in the market.
Use pricing to communicate to the market whether your product is a premium, mid-market or low cost alternative.
To be effective, a startup’s pricing strategy must align with its marketing case studies, website messaging, PR releases and sales pitches.
If all the arrows point in the same direction, then pricing becomes an asset to reinforce the company’s position in the market.
15. Facebook Scraping
Facebook now checks whether you really have permission to target user IDs you upload, by requiring App ID.
Don’t get banned. Get leads the legit way: ebook, webinar, tool, freebie
16. Ad Leaderboard
Amazon books, Upworthy, Digg, and Reddit are headline & copy leaderboards.
1. Look at what’s winning
2. Test as ads
17. Scraped List
Mailing a cold / bought / scraped list?
Warm it up with email pre-targeting BEFORE u send:
1. Make re-targeting campaigns on FB / Twitter / Google
2. Focus campaigns on brand awareness; no “hard sell”
3. Mail to list, with CTA
4. Also retarget un-opens
18. Competitor Tracking
1. Google Alerts — monitor mentions of ur competitor’s name / branded keywords
2. Moz for your competitor’s site / keywords
19. Own vs. Rent
OWN = ur site, ur app
RENT = ur FB, YouTube, Twitter etc
Use OWN 4 ur DO and THINK audiences. Use RENT b/c it’s where ur See and Care audiences already are (YouTube & Facebook each have over a billion actives).
But, if u only have money for one — own first, rent next, then rock both.
20. Flat Traffic
Traffic is all around you.
Give ppl a reason to click ur ad / subscribe 2 ur list / open ur welcome:
toolkit / resource list
free product trial
21. Reddit Keywords
Instead of / in addition to Google Keyword Tool, try Reddit:
1. search main keyword
2. scan threads
3. select highest frequency / recurring longtail phrases
4. check volume in GKT
5. GET MOAR TRAFFIC
22. Secret Account
Your public account = your brand marketing.
Set up secret social media accounts 2 follow competitors / peers / whoever you want to observe or monitor without your audience or customers knowing or judging.
23. Top Users
Top users can market your product better than any marketing campaign.
1. Sustain their enthusiasm
2. Take them to the next level of engagement w/in your product
3. Make an ask to amplify your brand
24. Google Relevance
There’s more to SEO than SERP position.
Higher organic CTR brings in more traffic and actually boosts your ranking for keywords b/c Google prioritizes RELEVANCE.
– page title
– content-keyword relevance
– value prop / offer
– brand recognition
– how ur result looks compared to others on the same results page
Good content marketing influences not just ur customer, but those who influence ur customer.
Influence the influencers:
Review them / list them / mention them / INTERVIEW them
And always link out.
26. Blog Traffic
Option #1: Grind away at ur blog, publish on a set schedule, and HOPE u get traffic (“Publish and Pray”)
Option #2: Create & promote a few pieces of irresistible, shareable content that higher authority bloggers want 2 share and ask 4 a link back to ur site. (Tip: INFOGRAPHICS)
BuzzSumo is good 4 more than just content marketing.
Use it to research keywords, topics, and demo / psychographics for paid acquisition, landing pages, email onboarding / user activation and MOAR.
28. Before U Retarget
Before u get fancy w/ email marketing or retargeting, you have to have a list.
Are you collecting user emails:
1. In your personal email footers — yours + all the people on your team
2. On your home page
3. On all your social profiles: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube channel
4. At all offline events & promotions
5. On your company / team About pages
6. Persistently throughout your site in the header AND/or footer
7. As part of content you publish on a blog, slideshare, infographic, YouTube descriptions and annotations, downloadable white paper or report
8. Via a Qualaroo widget (insights poll doubles as email collector)
29. Founder Press Kit
In most cases, ur professional image still matters. Doesn’t matter ur specific style, just keep it consistent:
– Professional (looking) headshot that’s uniform across channels (LinkedIn, Angelist, Crunchbase, Twitter, FB)
– Bio boilerplate — short, med, long
– Universal username
– Motto u can get known for (example: AARRR!)
30. Competitor’s Marketing
Ghostery lets u see what technologies ur competitors are using for their marketing campaigns so u can copy what is working for them.
It’s also useful when I size up a company. If they are big talkers and I go to their site and it’s not pixeled up, I know they’re not ponied up.
31. Big Spenders
Women are everywhere:
– Ur customers: 70% of consumer spending worldwide
– Ur potential hires: 51% of workforce (in US)
If ur going to be gender-specific (ads, emails, landing pgs etc) BE SURE.
Otherwise, be inclusive.
32. Slack Hack
Decisions are being made in Slack. Measure the signal:
1. Go to Google Analytics
2. Acquisition > Referrals from side menu
3. Search for “slack”
4. See “whichcompanies.slack.com” are talking about your product
Bonus: even includes usernames (click on referring subdomain)
33. MOAR Mobile Downloads
Have a great product.
- Incentivize installs. Vendor list here.
- User reviews averaging 4+ stars – ask at the right time.
- WOM, press, partnerships
- Optimize ur app name, keywords, icon, description, tracking, and updates. App cheatsheet here.
34. Core Users
Core users can help u acquire new users better than any campaign.
- Sustain their enthusiasm: reward program.
- Level up their engagement: multi channel engagement / reactivation campaigns.
- INCENT THEM TO PROMOTE: referral program, social share via contests, sweepstakes
ENGAGE + MULTIPLY
35. Subdomains and SEO
Using a subdomain is not great for SEO…BUT, a lot of big co’s (good/big ones) still have blog.domain.com for content marketing purposes.
That said, a newer site – esp if SEO is part of acquisition – can’t afford to split their link juice to different subdomains:
Ecommerce.com/clothes > clothes.ecommerce.com
NOTE: If u want domain.com/blog, and are using WordPress, y need to install WP on ur server (use wordpress.org not .com), meaning build more from scratch.
36. Enable Domain Keys Now
Enabling domain keys authenticates the DNS of u as an email sender, verifies that ur message is good, and can increase open rates dramatically (more than 20x if u start out really bad 🙂
HOW depends on what tools ur using, so Google “Enable domain keys + [ur email tool here]” to get exact how-to.
37. Activation Rate Metrics
Activation rate matter at every size / type of business.
AR = # of ppl who complete ur 1 single activation event / # of visitors or prospects.
Some basic metrics to pay attention to around activation:
- Activation by channel
- Retention on activation users
38. Lifetime Value Calculator
Understanding customer lifetime value helps u understand:
- Marketing: How much should I spend to acquire a customer?
- Product: How can I offer products and services tailored for my best customers?
- Customer Support: How much should I spend to service and retain a customer?
- Sales: What types of customers should sales reps spend the most time on trying to acquire?
LTV Calculator: http://customerlifetimevalue.co
39. Reduce Involuntary Churn
In addition to voluntary churn i.e., users canceling the service, fix ur INVOLUNTARY churn (re-billing failure).
- Look into vendors/services that do re-billing optimization.
- Encourage users to switch away from pre-paid/debit.
- Use segmentation analysis to understand which acquisition channels are over-indexing for pre-paid/debit card users.
40. Instagram + Email
There’s more u can do in email besides social buttons that no one clicks:
- Instagram content in email (drive traffic/engagement 2 Instagram – 300 MILLION USERS)
- Show interesting / social proof tweets
- Promote social contests and/or showcase results.
41. 3 Retargeting Ideas
Retargeting works for B2B too – IF u segment & target by funnel stage:
- Top of the funnel: Blog visitors -> retarget with ebook or webinar to capture lead.
- Mid-Funnel: Product info page visitors -> retarget to consideration materials like case studies & white papers.
- Bottom of funnel: Pricing page visitors -> retarget to demo page
42. 80 Percent of Your Revenue
80% of your $$ will come from previous customers.
- REACTIVATE – look 4 key dropoffs, reactivate w/campaigns and/or promotions, don’t be afraid to go long.
- RETAIN – keep ur users happy & paying attn with engagement campaigns, product improvements, community
- REMARKET – upsells, new products
- REFER – ask and incent
43. When 2 Discount
Discounting works in RETAIL b/c brands can limit supply and create impression of scarcity/urgency.
With software, supply is practically unlimited & non-physical, and we’re inundated with so many promotions and discounts every day that we know more are coming, even if you say “for 2 days only!!!”
DON’T DISCOUNT, instead:
- Create an entry-level tier
- Add value
- Improve ur segmentation
44. Moar Features, Moar Traffic
Moar features ≠moar customers, moar content ≠ more traffic.
Focus on distribution of what you already have:
- authority + backlinks + influenctial shares (CONTENT)
- paid acquisition + core users + referrals (PRODUCT)
45. Micro Optimizations
Increasing conversion rates from 0.9% to 1.1% doesn’t matter if only 100 people come to ur site every day.
Much more important is getting 1,000 people (OR TEN THOUSAND PEOPLE) in the top of ur funnel every day.
If ur early, aim to 3x ur One Metric That Matters. U can always micro-optimize later.
46. Ad Metrics
In FB Ads, “FREQUENCY” tells u how many times ur ad was viewed, on avg, by an individual.
If ur running a branding campaign, higher frequency (10+) = better recall.
If ur running a lead-gen campaign, research shows that a frequency of 9 increase the cost per click by up to 160%…
i.e. by the time someone sees ur ad 9 times they’ll either have clicked, or they definitely DON’T WANT TO.
Instead: improve ur targeting or creative at frequency = 5 to keep it fresh, & increase likelihood that ur target audience will clickthru on something new.
47. Push Notifications Working?
Basic response tracking (open rates, click-throughs) DOESN’T tell u if push notifications are working.
Instead, make sure PN metrics tie directly to onboarding goals.
Did the push notification drive users to take actions that matter:
Sign in, share, add 2 cart, purchase, REVENUE.
48. Subscriber Segments
U know more about ur subscribers than u think.
Even if u don’t have demographics or behavior targeting, u can always segment based on what channel / offer brought them in.
The better ur targeting, the HIGHER THE FREQUENCY of emails u can send, and the lower ur unsub rate will be.
49. Too Late 4 Marketing
The final stage just before ppl make a big purchase decision is when most companies amp up marketing 2 try to influence purchase.
But by then they’ve pretty much already decided & it’s too late.
Instead: market at the research stage, which is increasingly happening on MOBILE FIRST.
50. 3 Pinterest Optimizations
72.8 MILLION users, 85% female.
- Don’t compare Pinterest CTRs to other platforms. Impressions are high, CTR may seem low, BUT clicks may be more qualified.
- Pick a CPA ur happy with, optimize pins & keywords for that CPA.
- Refresh your promoted pins every 2-5 months. Ads get stale, CTRs decrease, change it up.
51. Make YouTube Ads Work
YouTube ads WORK. But to be able to reach people (again) outside of YouTube, u gotta get’em to ur website.
4 destinations for in-stream / True View ads:
- lead magnet / free gift / free download to drive opt-in
- send them addnl content
- surveys (work really well)
- another youtube video to get new subscribers to ur channel
and way MOAR.