It's not easy being a startup. First of all, you need to deal with loads of competition, second, you need to grow to stay in the game. The motto is "go big or go home", simple as that. But does it really mean to scale up? Well, for startups, scalability is the ability to grow without affecting its performance or losing revenue in the process.
But to be successful in this ever-growing, competitive scenario you also need to watch the speed of your growth. Growing too fast can be a threat to a startup's survival, but on the other hand, if you're growing at turtle steps, you're risking losing fantastic opportunities - thus, more revenue.
So how can you actually prepare your startup for the next stage? Don't worry, we got your back.
Before you are actually ready to scale up your startup, you need to be fully prepared to go big. According to the StartupGenom's survey, 74% of startups failures can be explained by premature growth. How to avoid basic mistakes: just answer some simple questions.
- Does your core product fit your market?
- Who are your largest core users?
- What are the marketing channels with the biggest ROI and scaling potential?
- Do you have the right resources to scale up? Seek additional round of funding if necessary. The last thing you want is to run out of money.
Once you've figured out these questions it's time to focus on marketing strategies. The best way to spread your word? Content marketing. It costs 31 to 41% less than paid search and it can increase your website conversions six-fold.
First of all, find your audience and attract the people who are really interested in your product. You can do that by building landing pages and investing on PPC ads. You can also build an email list and audience by sharing your content regularly on social media and content directories.
This leads us to the next point: master a social media strategy. Build a social media plan, define goals, refine the communication tone and voice, and start working on your social profiles. Remember that your main focus should be on creating an outstanding customer experience. Why? Because the main concern of the customer nowadays is whether or not the company is putting their needs first.
As a startup, you need to recognize and acknowledge the power of the social media. In fact, the startup's success is in the hands of consumers -- what they share, write and tell about the company influences other customers, and it surely has a cascade effect that can give your startup great results.
Marketing automation is a game-changer for small business. The Lenskold Group found that 63% of companies that are outgrowing their competitors use marketing automation. When you use a platform to automate different tasks and streamline workflows, you improve cost efficacy and productivity, making it easier to scale up marketing efforts.
In fact, marketing automation provides the opportunity to target audiences with accurate messaging, with only a minimal amount of work. And with hypersegmentation and personalized content, comes great business opportunities.
Once again, it's good to remember that marketing automation won't work by magic. It will only automate what you tell it to. There's a little bit of work to be done before setting your automation flows. Apart from that, there're countless benefits of automating your marketing tasks:
Segmentation and personalization
Marketing automation allows customer segmentation. Being able to segment your users according to their attributes and behavior allow you to personalize your messages and better target them. This means more relevant messages and bigger chances to acquire, engage and retain customers.
Reduce the sales cycle and improve lead management
By providing relevant content for the right leads at the right time, you're able to shorten the sales cycle. Research shows that nurtured leads close larger deals faster, because they feel educated and eager to buy. Besides, with automation you can identify and fix bottlenecks in the process, eliminate undesirable leads, to concentrate and focus only on potential customers.
One of the biggest challenges for marketing professionals is to prove ROI. Marketing automation can help with that. By tracking every touchpoint within acquisition and retention strategies, it's possible to determine which campaigns had an influence on each closed deal. With these data in hands, you can establish which campaigns had the better ROI, the ones that need improvements, and how future budgets should be allocated to maximize ROI. In addition, automation gives real-time, actionable metrics that provide key insights on business health, aiding in better decision making.
Must have Automation flows to your startup
Now that you've learned how great marketing automation is for your startup's growth, it's time to get the work done. Some automation flows are essential for any startup looking to increase conversion rates, maximize ROI and increase MRR. Think of these as indispensable in order to get the most value out of your marketing strategies.
Assuming you know what are workflows (little spoiler: automated actions that you can trigger to occur based on a person’s behaviors or contact information)it's easy to understand why one of the most important flows that you need to implement is the lead nurturing flow, where you can warm up your leads and the onboarding flow, so you are sure that your customer fully understands your product's features.
Onboarding new customers is a delicate process. You can either win your customer's heart or make them leave you for good. To avoid the second one, you must make the process as fluid as possible, by using automated flow.
First of all, don't forget to send users a welcome email. After that, use in-app messages along the way to ensure that your customers get fully comfortable with the interface. These in-app messages should contain starter tips, overviews or quick tutorials on each main feature of your product, so users can move forward on using it. Don’t forget about adding conditions to determine the next action of your automation flow based on the user's interactions. For instance, if users click the email, you can send another email with different information. On the other hand, if they're not even opening the email or reading the in-app message, you can create strategies to re-engage them with different subject lines or different content, for example.
Hot lead flow
Let's say you have leads who visited your website, read you blog, and checked out your pricing page. For each one of these actions, you must set up a score to rate your leads according to the interest they're showing on your solution. So, when they perform such actions they can be classified as hot leads, for example. With this information, you can set up an automation flow that automatically notifies your sales team as soon as a contact becomes “hot lead”. For a more connected workflow, it's possible to integrate the marketing automation platform to your preferred CRM to easily manage new business opportunities.
Of course, the "hot lead" status can change from company to company. What matters here is the possibility of creating a workflow which sets a clear communication between the marketing and sales team. More than that, leads can be qualified according to their behavior, meaning a more assertive approach from sales. A throughout analysis can help you identify which strategies and content tend to qualify more leads.
Some might think the job is done when leads become a customer, right? Wrong. We all know that retaining a customer is far more cost effective than acquiring a new one. According to Harvard Business School, increasing customer retention rates by 5% can increase annual profits by 25% to 95%. With the right flows, marketing automation can help you reduce your churn rates by directing useful resources for users and customers.
The strategy consists on nurturing customers on a regular basis, to help them get the best results by using your product. You need to help them be successful, and for that, provide useful content with product's tips, new features overview, exclusive offers, updates and so on.
To master a nurturing flow, it's important to set up a delay between emails. After the lead turns into a customer, it's okay to wait a couple of days before sending content: but it should be constant and valuable. Remember that segmentation is the key, and create different subject lines and approaches according to the persona.
If you've identified that leads are getting stuck in a certain stage of the funnel, or have shown sudden activity after being inactive for some time, you have in your hands the perfect trigger to start a re-engagement flow.
Marketing automation flows can use different conditions to determine which actions will be taken, and the time stuck in a funnel stage is just one of them. In fact, it's possible to create a segment of users who didn't interact with your product for a while and send them an email campaign for re-engagement. To keep the conversation going, you can send an email to ask them for feedback, or just to identify why they're not using the product.
A good idea is to set up an automated sales follow-up to maximize their interest: send an exclusive offer or a premium piece of content, for example, then if they re-engage continue the flow and you're all set.
Configure your automated flows based on customer's purchase behavior. Send emails with related offers triggered by past purchases, or send useful content with updated info about a brand new product or a feature available on a higher plan, a few days before the renewal date.
Depending on your customer experience, resell to a past customer can be easier than to sell a new product for a new customer. Upselling is a great way to leverage your revenue and enables you to use the valuable data that you’re acquiring from customers to tailor their experiences to their preferences.
Have you ever considered having an automated flow for happy and unhappy customers? It can be a good strategy to get referrals and increase recurring revenue because satisfied customers are way more likely to keep paying for a product. You can use your NPS survey results as a trigger to determine what your ideal customer happiness score is. You can send an NPS survey just after the customers renew their plan or after a certain period of time if your company works with a monthly or annual subscription, for example.
Your happy customer's flow can be used to increase your customer's satisfaction level with exclusive content, offers, or discounts. Later you can ask them for referrals or testimonials. But wait until you're sure that they have understood the value of your product and they know that product is the right solution for their pain.
On the other hand, for "unhappy" customers you can use the same flow to try and change your reputation towards them. For starters, target them with useful content, explanations of features and throughout tutorials, in order to improve their happiness. Another way is to segment them according to what make them unsatisfied (you can discover that using in-app message they can reply to) and create a whole strategy focused on reversing the situation.
Marketing automation has the power to create sophisticated automated workflows based on highly targeted list segmentation and behavior. Ultimately, it will result in better opportunities and bigger chances of closing deals. But you need to remember that, no matter how many tasks you automate or how many flows you create, you are still dealing with humans. Your customers are your number one priority and will be the ones responsible for your successful scaling process.