Virality, Revenue and Scale are about optimising the product for the market and about doing constant, repetitive testing. These three stages include increased attention to customers’ feedback, permanent inquiring about customer satisfaction and adjustment of the entire content strategy in relation to product, market and customer relationship evolution.
That’s when the magic happens
As mentioned in a post by Barcinno, “viral growth traditionally occurs when you create a product that not only engages people, but they love and want to share with the rest of the world”.
Once the Stickiness stage is finalized, virality should come in handy. Making sure as many people as possible connect the dots that lead to your UVP should be a top priority. “Once you have a solid base of early adopters using your product consistently, you move to the Virality stage where you’re looking at how to bring more people into the top of the funnel” (Ash Maurya, practicetrumpstheory.com).
“Virality is about figuring out and growing your acquisition channels”. This is where your content marketing strategy should tune in. Your blog posts should focus on detailing the UVP of your product, so that website visitors can get a better insight into what it stands for. Moreover, you should try to document your writings as much as possible, so that, with time, you position yourself as an experienced resource provider in your area of activity.
Needless to say, all pieces of writing that go out of your company (emailing included) should be written in a consistent voice, so that your brand stands out as independent and with a unique defined personality.
Virality should be that crucial point in the life of your startup which dictates its continuation. From here onwards, whether you make it (and, hence, reach Revenue) or you don’t (and then you’re only left with the few clients achieved during the Stickiness phase).
Content marketing and your user engagement strategy
Theory has it that increasing the LTV (Long-Term Value) of an existing client is way better and more profitable than acquiring a new one. It actually makes sense that efforts for retention are significantly lower than the ones for adoption.
However, content marketing should be able to help both ways, once the Virality stage is achieved. If users are convinced to come back to your website or to reuse your product, you may actually increase your chances for success. A satisfied customer will always share your story on social media or simply word-of-mouth.
Pay increased attention to how your customer communication evolves during this stage. Unhappy customers are prone to communicating their concerns to three times more people than the satisfied ones.
Create your viral loop. Test, test, test.
Unfortunately, the customer chain doesn’t occur by magic. Growing the list of potential users can only happen if you get a proper understanding of what works best: facebook, twitter, linkedin, ebooks in exchange for email addresses – you name it.
What is crucial is that, after having used each of them (or all), an in-depth analysis is undergone, in order to see which medium
– increases the follower list on Twitter
– enlarges the active user list
– works best for positive external referral
In other words, never get too keen on a certain medium before setting up actual KPIs and and a mission: increasing the number of users, retaining users, converting visitors to users etc, obtaining notoriety etc.
Once every few weeks, analyze. Has the target been achieved? If not, it almost certainly won’t if you persist the wrong way (or maybe it will if you change some of the variables, but who has time to waste during this phase?). Get to the next one, test it and continue onwards.
Conversion rate optimization was never easy. More on improving it here.
If you’re a tech startup developing a product, you most certainly will be interested in setting up clear values for customer acquisition. What are we saying, any type of startup is interested in that. This is why tracking the “viral coefficient” is essential for estimating the best Average Revenue per User (ARPU).
Revenue is the stage in which things are becoming more and more complex and financial business parameters start to be looked into more intensely. Comparing the Customer Acquisition Cost to the Customer Lifetime Value is what Croll and Yoskowitz say should happen during this stage.
The business model needs to become sustainable. All “freemiums” can be now translated into paying options. Dropbox, Evernote and all other apps we use on a daily basis offer free services for a limited amount of time. Now is also the moment when churn– the percentage of people that abandon your service over time – has to become a part of the equation.
Although the big money at this stage should be into analysing what the benefits are, don’t forget content helps generate new visitors. That can ultimately be transformed into users. Conversion optimisation, funnels, referral optimisation – all should be closely connected to your content strategy. Otherwise said, write based on what you witness and always monitor the results of your content creation actions. Even when you’re successful and deem it no longer necessary.
MailChimp’s content strategy played a huge part into its becoming a wonderfully successful business. We have written about this here.
Another example that Croll and Yoskowitz offer in their Lean Analytics Case study chapter is AirBnb. The professional photography service introduced in 2011 by a visionary product lead increased its popularity manifold.
Scalable business, scalable content
A startup is an organisation formed to search for a scalable and repeatable business model (Lean Analytics definition).
This part is about taking the business as high as possible, via external financing or by developing extra services. The startup becomes sustainable, sales channels can be multiplied and growth is extremely rapid.
Content marketing needs to be part and parcel of any sustainable marketing model. Now that the money comes in handy, consistent investment can be made for greater scale reach. Paid tools can help with the SEO strategy and with the constant monitoring of your conversion funnels. Guest blogging can enter the scene and bold, daunting digital campaigns can be undergone. All of them will help expand your online presence and develop your notoriety as a trustworthy solid brand. After all, even Coca Cola blogs, although some may say “they don’t need to anymore”. Or is it that BECAUSE they are as big as they are, they have all the more responsibility for targeting all their client segments evenly?
One of the most creative scaling ideas witnessed recently is tied to the 25-year success 1-800-got-JUNK. After having developed a $ 137 million, 220 operators franchise, owner Brian Scudamore thought about expanding to professional house painting services and moving. The first business, WOW 1 DAY grew to a massive $ 5 million in three years, and You Move Me reached the exact same figures six times faster.
Apparently, their preferred marketing strategy revolves around Pay Per Click. However, this doesn’t stop them from constantly blogging. About corporate responsibility, about ways to redecorate through house paint and even to save money by doing it.
Another business that’s currently trying to scale its model is Dropbox. Carousel is a photo-sharing app that allows storage and distribution of photos that are currently in your Dropbox account. Remains to be seen how this new arm evolves.
Regardless of the size of your startup, the five steps of the Lean Analytics process need to be taken into account. Alongside them, a thorough, punctual content strategy that would evolve in accordance with the business metrics. Content marketing can not replace powerful analytics, nor can ensure indisputable success. But it definitely influences the rhythm in which your business grows. Which is why its purpose and form need to closely follow the holistic marketing approach of your startup. Whatever the path you choose to go down on, just remember to structure it. And to regularly see how and if it works out.