It’s guest post week. Here you go…
Startup companies can be exciting and challenging to run. Every day there’s a new trend emerging from the web or a new tactic to implement, but how do you get the best results in the shortest time? How to move the needle and lead your startup to the promised land? Viral growth.
Viral growth is when your company starts to exponentially grow at a super-fast pace, regardless of any increases in promotional investment. All your previous efforts pay off and your business surfs the wave of being promoted and endorsed by countless evangelists for absolutely no extra cost.
But that’s easier to say than to do. Very few startups reach this special condition and they all utilized the following tactics to achieve their viral growth:
Landing Page Optimization
Landing pages aim to be a simple and straight to the point first contact for potential customers so they can get a taste of what the company is about, presented in an inviting/teasing way. They are important since users will access only the most important information, without wasting time and reducing the risk of misinterpretation and bounce. There are great tools that even help you build a landing page.
Email Marketing is still proven to be the best way to reach after businesses. There are two different approaches here: to send one single email model to all the companies at the same time (pro: saves time / con: reader might treat it as spam) or to write tailored emails to each company (pro: reader will definitely read the entire email since it will be unique / con: it’s more time-demanding).
Public relations is sometimes considered free advertising, but that’s a misnomer since one has to spend time to make it work. Good practices here are to reach out to industry bloggers through email or through their own blog contact section to propose to guest-blog for each other. Another path is to contact local business associations such as chambers of commerce to develop partnerships. Finally, local newspapers are another good channel for PR, but this one could be harder to fulfil.
SEO is also one of the main tools for startup success. The key here is good content creation. Invest time on blog 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 name/handle/page, and post comments and answers on websites while mentioning your company name and website URL. Use tools such as MOZ or SEMrush to find out the best keywords for us to use and write our content with that in mind.
This (measuring) is at the core of viral growth strategy. However, using statistical tools such as Google Analytics to run A/B testing is not that doable for small companies because they simply don’t get enough traffic for that. For a company to run a test between only two different options it needs to have at least 24k visitors/month to achieve trustworthy metric results, otherwise the results might be misleading. The best alternative is to do qualitative research, which means asking your customers what they like and what they don’t like, what they want, etc. and the best way to do that is through quick surveys (Survey Monkey is your friend here). Besides that, analytics tools can be used to evaluate progressive overall results.
This is all about understanding how customers make decisions and why they make them. Customers need to change their behaviour in order to start using your product. You have to offer a great product that’s glitch-free and that delivers more than the customers were expecting.
Companies always have to keep in mind the main problem their products aim to solve; what the core benefit is. In SlickPie’s case, we offer a tool for small business owners to do their accounting online. We offer this solution through a simple and easy-to-use software and we offer it for free. That’s it. This is what we solve, what we do, how we differ from others, etc. Every improvement we develop for our product needs to have these points as a north.
The goal with user onboarding is to improve the activation/retention steps. Users need to feel comfortable while exploring your website, learning about your product, and using it. Good tutorials are a must-have for SaaS businesses. Effecting onboarding is also used to motivate customers to help “spread the word”. Some useful actions to take here are to ask users to import their email contacts list or social media friends right after they sign up or to incentive users testimonials.
Last but not least, user experience! This part is crucial for any startup to thrive. Even if your startup is not in the software industry, it’ll have a website, so a good user experience is also necessary. UX is especially important for SaaS companies since positive user experience leads to increased word of mouth, engagement, and growth. Here at SlickPie our greatest goal is to deliver delightful online accounting software experience to our customers. Some of the best approaches to achieve this are to track the features that are not being used by most of the users and end it to keep delivering a simpler experience. We can’t simply 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.
These are the tactics used by all startups that turned into successful companies. They are pretty straight forward approaches, but they demand a lot of time investment to be accomplished. However, if you do accomplish them, the promised land will eventually come!
Nick Chandi is the co-founder of SlickPie Online Accounting Software. SlickPie is a Vancouver based cloud accounting software helping start-ups, freelancers and small business owners by providing them with 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., a cloud based virtual desktops provider to small businesses in Canada and USA.