Every startup company you’ll ever find will always be aiming to reach the same common goal: Growth. But not just any kind of growth, they want solid, constant, fast, and profitable growth. In other words, they are all after viral growth.
There is a magic moment in a startup company’s trajectory in which growth rates explode through the roof, making their number increase in double or even triple digits per week and their progress-tracking graphs curve look like a hockey stick.
The bad part is that very few companies will ever have the privilege of facing such a moment and most of them won’t even strive to see a glimpse of it. However, the good part is that there are a set number of practices that every single successful startup has adopted in order to reach this tipping point.
Viral growth is achieved not by chance, but through strategic actions taken in conjunction with each other toward the same target. Here is a short guide on the nine best practices to lead your startup to the promised land of viral growth.
1. Landing Page Optimization
Ideally, landing pages should be simple points of contact between organizations and potential customers that offer a compelling glimpse of what the company is all about. The best benefit of using appropriate landing pages is that viewers will access only the most relevant information without wasting any time on tangents or irrelevant details.
This measure alone can reduce bounce rate and accelerate the activation process since the landing page will work as a signup shortcut for the user. But if you think that designing landing pages is a big challenge, there are plenty of great tools that will help you get the job done, such as Instapage and Unbounce.
These tools offer landing page builders and templates on a drag and drop format so users can create as many pages they want with several different specifications each in a very short time lapse. The goal here is to come up with high converting landing pages targeting different users according to factors like their behavior, the referring website that led them there, the keywords they searched for, etc. Such strategy is essential to make sure your efforts in driving traffic aren’t being wasted.
2. Email Marketing
As traditional as it might seem, email marketing is arguably on still one of the best (if not the best) channel to reach out to businesses since it can generate an ROI of 3800%.
The best approaches to be taken here is to send the same email template to all the companies in your mailing list at the same time. The good thing about this method is that it saves considerable time since it follows the one-size-fits-all model. However, the receiver might consider it spam and not read it at all.
The alternative would be to write customized emails to each company, which would considerably increase the read-through rate of the entire text by the receiver, but it takes a lot more time to implement.
Either way, any email marketing campaign will require a large subscriber base to succeed, otherwise, your company will have no one to reach out to.
A simple and free tool that can be used to help you achieve that is SumoMe. They offer several handy resources that can be set up onto your website in a matter of minutes, and that will certainly add up quite a few email addresses to your business’ lists.
The main free resources offered by them are the Welcome Mat, the List Builder, and the Smart Bar. Each of them has its own specifications (e.g. one pop-ups after a few seconds, the other stays fixed at the bottom of the page, etc.), but all of them have one concept in common: to offer something of value to viewers so they can give you their email addresses in order to get it.
3. Public Relations (PR)
There is no such thing as bad publicity. True? Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, but positive PR can certainly bring much better results to your company. The best thing about PR is that you can build upon a base that has already been created by others.
There is nothing unethical or illegal about this since both sides will end up benefitting from it one way or another, otherwise whoever is publishing content about you wouldn’t be doing so. One of the best approaches for PR is to reach out to industry bloggers through email or through their own contact section to send them a pitch requesting some sort of exposure for your brand.
Guest blogs play a huge role here since they’re a way to deliver direct value. Another good choice would be to contact local business associations, such as chambers of commerce to develop partnerships and reach potential leads. Finally, local newspapers are also a great channel for PR due to their tendency to be highly targeted.
4. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
What is the first thing you do when you are after a good or service? You Google it! That’s right, and this is exactly the same behavior that the great majority of your customers have. SEO is one of the main aspects of a company’s success. While SEO might be the most complex topic on this list, the results it can generate are proportionally huge. To improve your rankings on search results you have to consider several factors at the same time:
- First, good content creation is king. Invest time on blog/web page source code writing using the right keywords to both attract readers and increase spiders-effectiveness.
- Share content and engage on social media channels to make users mention your business’ name/handle/page to increase your social presence.
- Post comments and answers on websites with massive traffic while mentioning your company name and website URL.
- Use online tools to find the top keywords for your website and invest on getting everything backlinked. Some of the best tools for keyword tracking are SEMrush, SimilarWeb, and MOZ. With them, you can evaluate what keywords are driving the most traffic to your website, what keywords are more relevant in volume, in ranking opportunities on search engines, etc.
By using a combination of these SEO practices here at SlickPie, we have been able to identify “cloud accounting software” as our main keywords. We’ve optimized all our virtual structure to reflect those keywords and have managed to take a huge leap straight to Google second page for the corresponding results. This was a great way to increase website traffic from qualified leads from small business owners looking for a delightful free cloud accounting software for their companies.
Measurement is at the core of any viral growth strategy. However, using statistical tools such as Google Analytics to run A/B testing might not be realistic for smaller companies that simply don’t get enough traffic to justify the process. For a company to run a test between two different options, there has to be at least 24,000 visitors per month to get valid results.
In that case, the best option would be to do qualitative analysis instead by asking your customers what they like and what they don’t like about your products, what improvements they are looking for, etc. The best way to do this is through quick surveys. (In other words, Survey Monkey is your friend.) Additionally, even social media analytics tools can also be used to evaluate overall results.
6. Behavioral Economics
Behavioral economics aims to understand how customers make decisions and why they make them. The goal is to shift the way customer behave so that they start demanding your goods or services as a necessity instead of a simple or useful alternative.
Your product needs to be delivered with such excellence that your customers will feel like they are getting way more than what they were expecting. Marketing also plays a huge role in this process since it’s all about the way people perceive your business and what you’re offering.
7. Product Management
Something crucial that all businesses need to keep in mind is the main problem their products are aiming to solve and the core benefit and competencies they offer. In SlickPie’s case, we offer a tool for small business owners to do their accounting online, we offer this solution through a delightful and easy-to-use software, and we offer it for free.
That`s it. This is what we solve, what we do, and how we differ from others. Every improvement we develop for our product needs to have these points as a north. Your entire business model should have these points as a center so it can be clear to the audience(s) you are trying to reach.
8. User Onboarding
The best way to improve the key AARRR startup metrics steps are through user onboarding. Users need to enjoy a pleasant experience while exploring your website, learning about your product and trying it out. Excellent tutorials are a must-have for SaaS businesses since ease of use is a key factor to reach a broader audience.
Another use of the term onboarding refers to motivating customers to embrace your business proposition, therefore increasing word of mouth. Some effective measures can be to ask users to share their email contacts list or social media connections right after they sign up and to request testimonials. If you are not quite familiar with the AARRR metrics, this article can give you a start. The following framework can provide you an idea about it:
9. User Experience (UX)
It is almost unnecessary to say that UX is absolutely crucial for any startup to succeed. Even if your startup is not in the software industry, it’ll have a website that requires a good user experience. UX is especially important for SaaS companies since positive user experience leads to increased word of mouth, engagement and growth.
On our website, our greatest goal is to deliver an outstanding online accounting software experience to our customers. Every single step we take on our website, product management, or anything else has this as a goal.
Tracking the features that are not being used by most of the users and removing them to deliver a better, more simple experience is a great way to improve UX. We can’t just ask them what they want or use, we have to measure what they actually do while using the software and find the bottlenecks in their way to solve problems. Investing in UX is the most important investment you can make since a great product will always bring more and more customers.
These are the nine best practices used by businesses that turn into successful companies. They are pretty straightforward approaches, but they demand a lot of time and attention to be accomplished. However, if you do these things, the promised land will eventually come!
Author: Nick Chandi is the co-founder of SlickPie Online Accounting Software (http://www.slickpie.com). SlickPie is a Vancouver-based cloud accounting software for startups, freelancers and small business owners that offers a simple and easy-to-use alternative to the bloated, overly complex software in the market today. Nick is also CEO of Welcome Networks Inc. (http://www.welcomenetworks.com/), a cloud-based virtual desktops provider to small businesses in Canada and the United States.