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How HubSpot Ranked a Competitive Product Page in 3 Months (for a Product That Didn’t Exist Yet)

SEO is hard. SEO for product pages is even harder. SEO for product pages for products that don’t exist? Seemingly impossible. However, with the right approach, it’s really not much harder than ranking top-of-the-funnel blog content. In fact, the process can be scalable across multiple product pages and you can leverage quality content creation to […]

SEO is hard. SEO for product pages is even harder. SEO for product pages for products that don’t exist? Seemingly impossible.

However, with the right approach, it’s really not much harder than ranking top-of-the-funnel blog content. In fact, the process can be scalable across multiple product pages and you can leverage quality content creation to do so (not just a high domain authority or thousands of pages and user generated content).

At HubSpot, Scott Tousley and I took on the challenge of ranking product pages for products that are yet to exist. We did it through a traditional HubSpot content-heavy approach, and leveraged what is known as our Pillar & Cluster model (more details on this in a minute) to feed product page SEO (more details on the model in a bit). We also heavily invested in content promotion and link building tactics, which anyone can do, regardless of resources or company size.

The results in only 3 months (October through December 2017) were solid. Here’s an example of our customer feedback software page ranking at number 3 (above companies with live products):

In this article, I’ll walk through the higher level strategy of why we chose the approach we did, and then I’ll also dive into tactical tips to apply this knowledge at whatever business scale you’re operating.

Product Page SEO: An Indirect Content-Based Approach

It’s really hard to build links to product pages.

For obvious reasons, those writing content are not jumping in excitement to write promotional pieces with product links. Some opportunities exist, but not enough to outrank product pages that have been around for years and that have acquired natural editorial links with time.

Similarly, it’s not feasible to create massive content-heavy product pages. We needed something simple, because as I mentioned, the product wasn’t actually live yet.

So to get past those hurdles, we leveraged link equity and site architecture.

Specifically, we followed HubSpot’s Pillar and Cluster model and relied heavily on internal linking and external link building on our massive “Pillar” content.

Let’s step back and define some of those terms, because there’s a bit of jargon here that’s necessary to understand.

  • Link Equity: Also known as “link juice,” it’s the idea that certain links pass value and authority from one page to another.
  • Site Architecture: The planning and structuring of website content.
  • Internal Linking: Hyperlinking content within your own site.
  • Pillar & Cluster model: A model created by HubSpot that values topics over keywords to boost SEO as well as UX.

While some of it is speculative, there are some general heuristics when it comes to link equity that come in handy when it comes to ranking product or transactional pages. According to an episode of Whiteboard Friday, here are three principles for link equity:

  1. External links generally give more ranking value and potential ranking boosts than internal links.
  2. Well-linked-to pages, both internal and external, pass more link equity than those that are poorly linked to.
  3. Pages with fewer links tend to pass more equity to their targets than pages with more links.

With that in mind, we created massive guides for topics with lots of search traffic volume. These are our “pillar pages,” or in other words, our 10X content.

We expected these to attract the most links, and we directed all of our link building efforts towards these pieces.

We complemented these pillar pages with “cluster” content, articles with similar topic themes that focus on longer tail keywords. These linked back to our pillar pages as well as to each other.

Finally, on all of our pillar pages and our cluster content, we linked as high on the page as possible to our product pages.

Again, this is based on the HubSpot Pillar & Cluster framework, which looks like this, structurally:

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Or to get super specific, here’s the actual visualization we used to show our particular efforts:

As a specific illustration, here are three pieces of content we created that actually correspond to this strategic architecture:

This video does a good job explaining the general gist of the idea. Essentially it’s an architectural view of content creation, particularly for blogging and SEO:

This process of content planning is an iteration of website architecture, which is basically the “planning and design of the technical, functional and visual components of a website – before it is designed, developed and deployed.” It’s also a strategic method of content planning that helps build authority on specific topics.

Image Source

Organizing your site in a logical way isn’t just good for SEO, it’s good for user experience and navigation in general.

With that in mind, here’s how the specific process looked when it came to content creation.


Planning Content for SEO Volume and Easier Link Acquisition

To start, we aligned our content from the bottom up, meaning we knew which products we were attempting to rank and had to work from bottom-of-the-funnel up to the top.

So, let’s go back to our example, Customer Feedback Software.

We knew we’d have a product page for this where people could actually sign up. But from there, we worked backwards to research which terms commanded the most search traffic around that theme.

In this case, both Customer Feedback and Customer Satisfaction drove a ton of demand, so we created pillar pages for both of those that both linked back to the feedback software product page. Here are the specific pillar pages we ended up creating:

SEO research for the pillar pages also included comprehensive long tail keyword research based on questions we could answer on the broader topic. These longer tail keywords would eventually be spun out into individual cluster posts (i.e. blog posts), but also incorporated into the pillar content itself. Some of these posts included:

…and many, many more of course. These were more specific and lower search volume posts that complemented the larger themes of customer satisfaction and feedback.

So, for a post on Customer Satisfaction, we included sections on things like customer satisfaction software and how to improve customer satisfaction scores:

In addition, we aligned with our content team to create tons and tons of cluster blog posts that linked to and supported the themes set up by the pillar pages. An example is this blog post we published on customer feedback survey mistakes:

Finally, all of these posts – whether pillar or cluster – included product page links, and cluster blog posts also included links to our pillar pages (with exact match anchor text, as you can see above).

We also included CTAs on our pillar pages that lead to our product landing pages:

In all cases, no matter what type of content we were created, we sought to create 10x content, the kind you’d actually want to link to. Particularly with our pillar pages, this meant included linkable content “hooks,” such as:

  • Original data & stats
  • Original Images
  • Charts and Graphs
  • Quotes from influencers
  • Frameworks
  • Pros and Cons Tables

We tried to include anything we could that was outside the typical Wikipedia-style me-too content. We didn’t want to rehash what was already out there, we wanted to be better and different. So, for example, we designed our own survey examples, like this one for NPS:

Or, for example, for our Customer Feedback page, we included pros and cons tables to help visitors decide which type of feedback surveys to use:

Now that we had a solid base of quality content, we built out a distribution and link building process to make sure we rose in the rankings and got some eyes on the pages.


Building Links and Distributing Content

Link building is its own monster, and to do it true justice would require its own multi-thousand word blog post.

To summarize, however, we tried all the major link building tactics and some worked better than others.

Generally speaking, the ones that worked the best were the least scalable: they involved relationships that had been built over months and years. On a similar point, the ones that were the least effective were the ones that are the most popular and overused: Skyscraper Technique link building, HARO pitches, roundup posts, etc.

The most important part, in fact, was the process of discovering influencers and link targets to begin with. Since we wanted both high relevance and high authority links, we created a “bullseye” framework to distinguish between Tier 1, 2, and 3 targets.

  • Tier 1 – Blogs and influencers directly related to the Service Hub. These include bloggers who write about customer success and customer success practitioner. It may also include direct competitors to our tools.
  • Tier 2 – Blogs and influencers who are semi-related to customer success. Includes customer experience, survey tools, and user experience software & experts. It may also include other products that don’t directly compete, but they are still kind of related to customer success/support.
  • Tier 3 – Larger blogs and influencers who focus on broader marketing and business topics. Not super related, but due to high domain authority, still opportune link building opportunities (plus, there’s no competitive nature to these sites, so they’re more willing to link to us).

There existed an inverse correlation between our Tiers and the ease of link acquisition.

Tier 1 was the most difficult, mainly because most of the sites and influencers were competing for the same keywords. On the other end of the spectrum, large blogs that write on broad marketing topics generally weren’t too concerned about competing, so it was much easier to work with them.


Measuring, Optimizing, and Beyond

Measurement is important in SEO, and in marketing in general. You need to know if you’re moving in the right direction, and if not, how you can possibly remedy that or optimize your efforts.

To do that without going too crazy watching too many keywords, we followed only the spearheads topics of our content strategy using Accuranker. We figured that if we ranked these, the longer tail keywords and most specific cluster posts would easily follow (and if they didn’t, it would be easy enough to optimize them later on).

Here’s what a typical Accuranker report looked like earlier on in our efforts:

Which is much better than where we started, which is from scratch:

You can use other tools for this, such as Ahrefs and I’m sure a dozen more, as well.

If you’re operating at large scale and want to customize your reports more, you can build a homebrew tool, though if you’re just beginning in your SEO and measurement efforts, it might not hurt to start with a software solution so you can focus on your actual SEO execution.

Hopefully, you can choose a solution that allows you to get a weekly email report with your rankings. Peaking too often can be tempting but ultimately unhelpful due to natural fluctuations in SERP rankings (especially in the first few months of publishing content).

When you know your weekly ranking trends, you can spot early ineffectiveness and course correct.

For instance, our knowledge base guide wasn’t moving at all into the top 500, but all our other content was. So, we 1) added about 1000 words and more influencers quotes to our pillar page 2) changed the title and the H2 subtitles and 3) went super hard on link building to our pillar page. As of today it’s sitting at position 5.

Similarly, I saw that we weren’t ranking for the cluster article we wrote on “customer satisfaction surveys,” even though it was a few thousand words, and in my mind, quality content. We simply changed the title and the following week it was ranking.

Finally, we tracked user acquisition as well. You can and should be doing this anyway through your tool of choice (Google Analytics, Amplitude, etc.). As a result of our SEO efforts, our beta requests saw a sharp increase:



Good SEO is rarely the result of sporadic hacks and luck, rather, at scale and for acquisition, it’s the result of a solid process and playbook (just like any other aspect of growth marketing).

This playbook should have multiple components, ranging from content strategy and architecture to differentiated and compelling content creation and all the way to promotion and link building. All the pieces matter, some more than others depending on your specific situation.

For instance, a smaller authority site may have to put a lot more effort into content creation and link building that a large site like HubSpot or Shopify. It all depends on where your competitive advantage lies.

However, with a bit of strategy and content architecture, no matter the size or scale of your company, you can get product pages to rank and actually acquire users from SEO, not just top-of-funnel vanity traffic.

What is Growth Marketing? Building a Framework for Rapid Growth

Conversations and buzz around growth are increasing… Companies are looking to leverage new tactics, strategies, and tools to hack growth, trying to achieve a hyper-growth rate equivalent to The Hulk. But companies have a growth problem: their concept of growth is too narrowly focused. A great deal of time, money, and energy are being expelled […]

Conversations and buzz around growth are increasing…

What is Growth Marketing? Building a Framework for Rapid |Growth Marketing Conference

Companies are looking to leverage new tactics, strategies, and tools to hack growth, trying to achieve a hyper-growth rate equivalent to The Hulk.

But companies have a growth problem: their concept of growth is too narrowly focused. A great deal of time, money, and energy are being expelled on traditional and newish marketing channels in an attempt to throttle up growth by driving sales.

This mindset that new customers = new revenue = growth isn’t entirely wrong. New customer acquisition is absolutely necessary to grow a business.

In 2014, Microsoft, Cisco, Quest Diagnostics, Intel, Salesforce, Constant Contact, Linkedin, Marketo, and Twitter (among other brands) had marketing budgets that were greater than 14% of their revenue, with some spending as much as 50% on marketing and sales. Those companies still saw year-over-year growth.

Revenue invested in marketing from 3 large companies

Revenue invested in marketing from 3 large companies

But if you’re stuck on a marketing-focused growth model, then you’re missing out on opportunities to further expand your business and become a dominant player.

Budgeting for marketing is still important; without marketing, your business is going to struggle with promotion and exposure. The key is knowing how much to budget for marketing, and how to use other resources within your company to create additional growth.

Traditional Marketing Vs. Growth Marketing

Companies relying on marketing to fuel growth put a great deal of emphasis on the top of the funnel. 88% of marketers currently use content marketing to attract a defined audience and drive action. That action is a movement from the top of the funnel down into a conversion or opt-in where a visitor becomes a lead that is passed on to sales.

A full 85% of marketers state that lead generation is the most important goal of their marketing efforts.

The problem is that there are segments of the funnel that are being missed. Beyond the acquisition of the customer, there’s an entire lifecycle that many aren’t leveraging for growth.

What is growth marketing?

Growth marketing (sometimes called a growth hacking) is the process of developing and executing experiments (usually over a short period of time) that are designed to quickly grow a company. These experiments typically focus on the total lifetime value of the customer, employing tactics designed to improve not only the value of initial sales but also the number and frequency of purchases in the future.

This is important when you consider that existing customers are more likely to try new products and spend 31% more when they make a purchase, when compared to new customers. It’s also easier to sell to existing customers.

Existing Customers vs New Customers

Existing Customers vs New Customers

Increasing customer retention rates by just 5% can improve profits by up to 95%. If you want massive growth, you need to change your mindset to focus on more than just acquisition.

Building a Framework for Growth

1. Identify Your Top Channels

Marketing strategies typically involve a number of marketing channels. Depending on your offer, your business model, industry, audience, and other factors, the performance of each channel can vary.

Rather than spreading your budget and efforts equally across each channel to maximize acquisition among audience segments, identify the top three channels for acquisition and engagement.

What is Growth Marketing? Building a Framework for Rapid |Growth Marketing Conference

For example; at my primary channels are

  • Inbound marketing
  • Advocacy
  • Community

Once you identify your top channels, plan to focus only on those. Pull your efforts from less effective channels.

2. Identify Your Weaknesses

Before you can stimulate growth, you need to find out where the bottlenecks are in your funnel that create customer churn or inhibit the growth of the customer relationship.

What is Growth Marketing? Building a Framework for Rapid |Growth Marketing Conference

Top of the Funnel

Given the typical diagram of a funnel, you wouldn’t think that the widest part of your funnel would be a bottleneck. But this is the phase where you’ll lose the majority of your traffic due to qualification.

I’m not talking about you or your team qualifying the traffic to determine the best leads; this is about your traffic qualifying your brand. Your top of funnel content is that point where a first impression is made.

Based on content quality and positioning, your audience will qualify you to determine if they’re dealing with the right people/experts to solve their problem. If you can’t establish that initial trust, then they’ll never opt in.

Middle of the Funnel

While it’s not the most common bottleneck, you will lose customers at this point.

This is the consideration phase. It’s the relationship-building and nurturing point, but it’s also where a lead determines if their need is urgent enough to warrant action and if you’re the right choice.

65% of marketers have no established process for lead nurturing. If things don’t match up they’ll either opt out or grow stale within the funnel, leading to a huge bottleneck down the line.

Bottom of the Funnel

This is the “final” step where a conversion is made to turn a lead into a customer. It’s also the second most common bottleneck. If your funnel and nurturing aren’t on point, you’ll never get them to cross the finish line.

79% of leads never convert into sales due to poor performance, nurturing, and engagement.

Post Sale

This is a critical point in the funnel that a lot of marketers don’t consider. What does your customer onboarding process look like once the sale is made?

Do you send the customer on their way with a thank you, or does your company have processes and programs in place to continue engagement and relationship building with existing customers?

As you analyze each stage of your funnel, you’ll begin to discover opportunities where you can improve processes, engagement, follow up, and how your teams can play a role in eliminating bottlenecks. Don’t try to deploy anything yet, though; that comes a little later.

3. Ideation

What is Growth Marketing? Building a Framework for Rapid |Growth Marketing Conference

Once you’ve flagged weaknesses within your funnel and the customer life cycle, it’s time to start thinking about how to turn those into opportunities.

Don’t try to prioritize weaknesses by severity. In the ideation phase you want to treat them equally.

At this stage, I gather my team together, including people from various departments, to start looking at each problem that’s presented. These brainstorming sessions create a laundry list of growth opportunities that get compiled into a spreadsheet.

There are no concrete plans made at this point – the entire focus of these sessions is ideation.

It’s a complete brain dump from the entire team and nothing more. This is a “right brain” creative process, so focus the activity and ideation there. Don’t get carried away in “left brain” planning and logic, trying to analyze each idea; you’ll get to that soon enough.

4. Prioritize and Plan

Once I develop a list of ideas, I work them individually and prioritize them based on a number of factors:

  • What department is involved? Who can manage the deployment and engagement?
  • How feasible is it to deploy? What’s the cost and time involved?
  • How severe is the problem? What’s the cost of not implementing the fix?
  • How will this impact other processes?
  • What kind of growth impact can we expect once deployed? What’s the benefit?
  • How will we measure it?

What is Growth Marketing? Building a Framework for Rapid |Growth Marketing Conference

This is where you’ll start to develop ideas for reducing churn, improving customer onboarding, and building on existing customer relationships. You’ll also begin to see how your teams can contribute so those bottlenecks are eliminated while the lifetime value of the customer grows.

5. Execute, Test, and Repeat

There are two ways to prioritize for growth marketing:

Startups: Prioritize and deploy based on what will have the highest impact with the least amount of effort. This will help keep your costs down.

Everyone else: Prioritize and deploy based on what will bring in the highest potential gains with the least time to implement.

Growth is all about high-velocity, high-tempo testing. This high frequency of deployment among your list of ideas lets you quickly deploy experiments in order to shake out the insights and determine what is garbage and what is a repeatable process that you want to continue to utilize.

What is Growth Marketing? Building a Framework for Rapid |Growth Marketing Conference

Setting Up for Successful Growth

Once you establish your plan following the steps above, you’ll see the necessity of splitting your efforts to include more than just acquisition.

40% of your efforts should remain exactly where they’ve been – on inbound marketing that generates traffic and continues to feed your funnel. While it’s a decrease in effort, you’ve consolidated your focus to your top marketing channels where the highest potential for leads exists. This focused effort will increase traffic into your funnel, but at a reduced cost and effort.

Another 40% of your effort needs to be put into addressing the bottlenecks.

Your planning phase helped you established a priority list of things to address and experiments you can deploy to improve lead conversion and build on customer relationships.

It’s critical that this be a continued, ongoing effort. You’ve uncovered weaknesses but you also know the sticking point in your funnel where leads are converting. This is where you want to focus – how can you create an advantage at this point that helps you stand out above competitors?

For example, your company could use a service like LeadChat to create a personal connection with prospects at the top of the funnel to drive more qualified leads into the funnel.

That’s 80% – What’s Left?

What is Growth Marketing? Building a Framework for Rapid |Growth Marketing Conference

The 40/40/20 Rule

The remaining 20% of your effort is going to be put to the task of experimenting with other ideas that drive viral growth. This is the point where you’ll tackle churn beyond the sticking point where the customer has said “yes” by:

  • Keeping customers engaged
  • Nurturing relationships with targeted content
  • Experimenting with programs across different departments to delight your customers
  • Turning more customers into brand champions

For example, a SaaS company could monitor metrics for log-ins and activity. Accounts that show a decrease in use could benefit from a dedicated support specialist who reaches out to offer assistance and engage the customer.  That’s an experiment that could reduce churn by addressing problems before a customer cancels.

Don’t Let Fear Stop You

Don’t be afraid to experiment: throw everything at the wall and see what sticks.

You should never be afraid to fail – at least 70% of my growth ideas have failed. From my experiments, however, 30% have worked.

That’s more growth than I would see if I did nothing.

The Right People for the Job

What is Growth Marketing? Building a Framework for Rapid |Growth Marketing Conference

Don’t get stuck in the mindset that the work falls squarely on your marketing team because it’s “growth marketing.” It’s not about expanding your marketing team or trying to get them to be more productive.

The most effective growth marketing team will utilize people from every division of your company, not just in ideation, but in deployment as well.

Growth marketing takes the full scope into account, from lead acquisition through relationship building over the entire life of a customer. It starts with inbound marketing efforts and continues through the handoff to sales, expanding to incorporate other departments within your business:

  • Customer service
  • Operations
  • Production
  • Accounting
  • Logistics
  • Marketing

Every department has the potential to become a touch point in the funnel for customer delight, advocacy, user onboarding, and churn reduction.

The Right Tools to Support Growth

Maintaining your velocity in deployment can be difficult when you’re building manual processes and experimenting in uncharted territory. Having the right tools at your disposal can make deployment and measurement much easier.

Here are some recommended tools to consider for your growth marketing strategy.


These tools help monitor your brand, competitors, and targeted mentions to stay up on what customers are talking about:

Engagement & Relationship Building

These tools make communication with your customer easy, putting a personal touch on user engagement:

Social Tools

There are endless tools to make social engagement easier and streamline processes for your team. Here are a few of my favorites for scheduling, curation, and growth:

Funnel Optimization

Help identify and eliminate problems within your funnel through A/B testing and optimization with these tools:

Customer Onboarding

You’ll increase the lifetime value of a customer when you can get them to stick around. These onboarding tools help with keeping customers educated, providing them with the right information at the right time:

Time to Grow

From the top of the funnel to the end of the customer life cycle, there are countless opportunities for your business to experiment with new growth tactics.

The first step is diversifying your approach to reduce your focus on acquisition. Analyze the entire customer journey and find opportunities to rapidly execute ideas. Leverage the resources you have among your teams to create the perfect formula for explosive, sustainable growth.

What has been your approach to growth to this point? Have you been successful? Share your thoughts with me in the comments below.

25 B2B Marketing Strategies You Probably Haven’t Tried

There are plenty of articles touting the importance of lead generation and building up your pipeline for your B2B marketing. It’s easy to get in a rut in your business and assume every strategy has already been done. But there are still lots of B2B marketing strategies out there that you probably haven’t heard of. […]

There are plenty of articles touting the importance of lead generation and building up your pipeline for your B2B marketing. It’s easy to get in a rut in your business and assume every strategy has already been done. But there are still lots of B2B marketing strategies out there that you probably haven’t heard of. If you’re one of the 78% of businesses that aren’t satisfied with their conversion rates, try mixing up your B2B marketing strategy with something different. Here are 25 ideas to get you started.


Ryan Farley

1. Use Autopilot for LinkedIn

“A tactic I’ve seen work is using Autopilot for LinkedIn to crawl mass numbers of profiles of your target audience. You put a click-baity headline in your profile, along with a call to action. Then, you can track clickthroughs and see who viewed your profile, and reach back out to them.” – Ryan Farley, co-founder of LawnStarter




Bill Widmer

2. Send Gifts

“Sending gifts is an incredible way to get on someone’s radar. It also plays on psychology and reciprocity – they’ll feel like they owe you something in exchange. Of course, I’m not saying send them something to try and get them indebted to you. That’s just being a ****. Don’t expect anything in return – just build that relationship, and it can naturally open up to greater opportunities, higher CLV, and juicy referrals. Everyone loves getting gifts in a world of junk mail and hiding behind screens.” – Bill Widmer, Ecommerce Content Marketing expert


Christopher Kelly

3. Handwritten Notes

“Sending handwritten notes to team members and clients goes further today than at any other point in history. There was a day not too long ago when receiving an email was exciting: Your computer would announce ‘You’ve got mail’ and you would run to see what had arrived. Today, a handwritten note cuts through the digital clutter and is received with a similar anticipation.” – Christopher Kelly, writing for





Joel Klettke

4. Use Geo-Targeted Ads During Events

“I haven’t seen many companies running geo-targeted ads when events happen in their industry. I’ve had huge wins targeting conference hashtags and combining that targeting with geofencing that only hits people who are actually there, at the event. You can be hyper-relevant across multiple platforms, with just-in-time personalized offers and deals.” – Joel Klettke, Founder of Case Study Buddy




Hans van Gent

5. Empower Your Customers and Start a Dialogue

“A significant trend in content marketing has been the rise of audio in 2016 (podcast listening grew by 23% over 2015). With the release of Anchor 2.0 in March this year, it opens up a whole new way of empowering your customers and starting that dialogue with them in a unique way. And the beauty of it? The app is mostly still undiscovered territory for a lot of marketers so you can have the first mover advantage.” – Hans van Gent, Founder @ Inbound Rocket



Andrew Dennis

6. Upgrade and Update Your Marketing Funnel

“Upgrade and update your top/middle of the funnel content to build your email list. With this strategy, you take existing content that is ranking well and update or upgrade it in some fashion (add visuals, video, interactives, etc.) to breathe new life into the content and further improve or solidify rankings in a competitive space. Along with updating, add relevant CTAs and/or downloadables to drive email signups and build your marketing list.” – Andrew Dennis, Senior Content Marketing Specialist @ Siege Media 




Sid Bharath

7. Start with a Survey

“Instead of soliciting business through cold email, start with a survey. The benefits of this are two-fold. First, you get to collect data on your industry which you can publish as a content piece. Second, you essentially warm up those cold leads and you can move forward with a sales conversation without coming across as the spammy sales person.” – Sid Bharath, VP of Growth @ Thinkific





Brad Smith

8. Do Things That Don’t Scale

“Trying to get your foot in the door? Go old school with direct mail. While everyone else is getting ~1% spamming people on LinkedIn, direct mail recipients visit a promoted website 60% of the time ( And also visited the promoted website according to a USPS study (with first-time shoppers being the most influenced). “And one company has seen 25% response rates with companies making over $30 million a year.

So no, it doesn’t scale. Not at first anyway. But prove it on a small scale, and then get some free interns to hand-write mailing addresses for you. Make the unscalable, scalable.” – Brad Smith, Founder of Codeless


Ross Simmonds

9. Leverage Niche Communities

“One of the more unique B2B marketing tactics is leveraging niche communities like Reddit to build trust and credibility. Far too many marketers think that B2B marketers can only be reached on LinkedIn or at a conference – in reality, many C-suite executives are browsing Reddit just like the rest of us. If you can create content that relevant subreddits find interesting and valuable – opportunities await.”  – Ross Simmonds, Digital Strategist @ Foundation Marketing





Sweta Patel

10. Host an Awards Ceremony

“One of the most unique marketing strategies entails making people feel valued and giving them credit for the work they do. Most people don’t realize the value of people’s work in the company because they are so focused on task over humanity. Most workplaces require more out of individuals in this revenue and data-driven world. Sometimes it’s best to create a strategy that recognizes “rising stars” with their hard work. This is one way of winning credibility with them.

“One tactic is to put on a special awards night event that recognizes your prospects. This way you will win their trust. You can give them ‘special trophies’ and awards that acknowledges their expertise. The nominees can invite their fans and this will help you increase the reach in your business. For example, nominate your top 50 rising prospects and invite them to the award show to collect their prize and trophy with a speech at hand. Tell them to invite their fans for their big ‘spotlight’ ceremony. Make it a sophisticated event.” – Sweta Patel, Director of Demand Generation @ Cognoa



Patrick Whatman

11. Create Standalone Products

“I love seeing standalone products from companies trying to bring new users into their ecosystems. Followerwonk (by Moz) and the Headline Analyzer (by CoSchedule) are great examples. These are products that help people separate from these companies’ main offerings, but help to build awareness and recognition about the parent company. And they’re great for lead generation.” – Patrick Whatman, Head of Content @ Mention






Cameron Conaway

12. Send People a Value-Packed Slide Deck

“I’ve come to love Andy Crestodina’s conference-based approach. When he speaks he packs so much valuable content into his slides, too much to possibly cover during the talk, and he asks people to get him their business card after the talk so he can send them the slide deck immediately after the conference. I’ve watched hundreds of people wait in line just to give him their card.

“Then, in the email he sends, he mentions his blog and asks attendees, alongside the amazing deck he’s giving them, if they’d also like to subscribe. I don’t subscribe to many blogs, but I subscribed to his. When somebody completely over delivers like this it makes you trust that they will continue to provide relevant and valuable content.” – Cameron Conaway, Content Marketing Manager @ Klipfolio


Cara Hogan

13. Interview an Expert from a Target Account

“I got really creative in integrating expert interviews into an Account Based Marketing (ABM) strategy. Rather than just interviewing an expert in your field, interview an expert from an identified target account.

“For example, if you’re selling to a mid-size startup, interview their CEO, VP of Marketing, or even one of the VCs who is a primary investor. Then, when sales approaches the decision maker for that account, they can send them a link to the interview you’ve done, giving your brand immediate credibility and clout. It makes every sales conversation immediately easier and more likely to end in a closed deal.” – Cara Hogan, Content Strategist @ Zaius



Rob Wormley

14. Use Live Video to Sell Products in Real-Time

“Using live video to build awareness, connect with more prospects, and actually sell products in real-time. We’re doing it with Climb and making it possible for retailers, brands, and influencers to make sales in real-time on Facebook Live. The future of selling online is all about engagement, entertainment, and experience.” – Rob Wormley, CMO & Co-Founder @ Climb

Kaleigh Moore

15. Create Interactive Content

“Use interactive content as part of a larger lead gen strategy, so the convo doesn’t stop after the quiz, but is further personalized based on responses.” – Kaleigh Moore, freelance SaaS writer 






Robert Katai

16. Sell to Human Beings

“I strongly believe in 2 content marketing that is personalized and has a real business purpose. Don’t just create content because it’s trendy or cool, but create content because your audience needs it and wants it. Behind every “B” is a “H” from human. And we are not selling to businesses and brands, we are selling to human beings. And people buy from people!” – Robert Katai, Visual Marketer and Content Strategist @ Bannersnack



Will Blunt

17. Meet in Person

“It’s not unique, but it’s definitely underutilized… With a large chunk of B2B organizations obsessing over ‘inbound’ and content, we have forgotten about how effective a phone call or face-to-face meeting can be for building trust and closing deals. Use your content to build a base level of trust and credibility for you and your business.

“Then use your team to research and identify a short-list of your perfect clients (the information is all available online). Create a personalized profile of each them. Interact, engage and build a meaningful ‘online’ relationship. When the time is right, get that person into a meeting room or on a video call. Close the deal, be friends forever.” – Will Blunt, Founder of Blogger Sidekick



Ty Magnin

18. Send Retargeting Emails

“We send what I call ‘retargeting emails’ to people at companies who hit our site and don’t convert. It’s a nice way to engage a passive audience from their inbox.” – Ty Magnin, Director of Marketing @ Appcues





Benji Hyam

19. Show Leads You’re Sending Them Traffic

“Brian Swichkow of Ghost Influence taught me this one. If you’re investing in content marketing and want to get the attention of a company, include a link in the post to the company and add campaign tracking to the URL with your site name in it. For example:

“That way, when readers of your post click the link, the company you’re trying to get in contact with will see traffic being sent to their site by your site. The company is more likely to have a conversation with you when they’re aware of you because you’ve sent a good amount of traffic to their site.” – Benji Hyam, co-founder @ Grow & Convert and




Devesh Khanal

20. Create In-Depth Data Analysis

“Consolidate data relevant to your industry, analyze it, and publish an in-depth data analysis article or study. Very few companies are doing this. Most are doing the same old ebooks and whitepapers. This is evergreen content that is linked to like crazy and shared easily. It’s content that turns you into a thought leader.” – Devesh Khanal, Founder, Grow and Convert





Shanelle Mullin

21. Use the Tools Your Ideal Customers Are Using

“Add a Chrome extension like Ghostery or use a tool like BuiltWith. You’ll then be able to see what tools your ideal customers are using. Build a list of those tools and begin reaching out to their content teams. Can you co-host a webinar together? Publish a new guide together? It’s an easy way to get in front of their highly aligned audience (often, by email), especially if you’re going to be producing a lot of content anyway.” – Shanelle Mullin, Content & Growth at Shopify





Kylie Ora Lobell

22. Write White Papers Around Pain Points

“White papers are excellent for the beginning stages of the sales funnel. They convince potential customers that your company is worth looking into, and can push them from being marketing-qualified leads to sales-qualified leads.” – Kylie Ora Lobell, writing for Directive Consulting




Ed Zitron

23. Say Thanks in a Creative Way

“TD Canada Trust shared over 300,000 $20 gift certificates for their ‘TD Thanks You’ campaign. You don’t have to go that big, but thanking someone by giving something back to them resonates in a special way with consumers.

It can be as simple as a gift-code, which you’ll see small niche sites like dog treat site BestBullySticks do, or Opentable’s VIP program that gives points per reservation that eventually convert into gift certificates.” – Ed Zitron, CEO of, writing for Inc.


Margaret Austin

24. Introduce Your Employees

“Giving a face to your brand helps to engage your customers and give them a greater sense of trust in you and your services. We all like to see that there’s a real person behind the company image. This doesn’t mean showing everyone working studiously at their desks nor letting it all hang out at the office party. Create a friendly and approachable video revealing a day in the work life of one of your employees or get them to talk about what it is they do and what your customers can expect from them. And then do some good editing; a static talking head video is unlikely to hold anyone’s attention for long.” -Margaret Austin, writing for B2B News Network




Will Williamson

25. Use Dynamic and Behavioral Lead Scoring

“Knowing how prospects are likely to behave is as important, if not more so, than understanding ‘who they are’ as people. The two don’t always go together. By using information aside from the standard demographics (age, gender, pay bracket etc.), you’ll be able to make lead qualification work better for you.

“You’ll get a better understanding of where the lead came from, how they found your website, and the actions they’ve taken while on the site. This important information gives you an insight on what is involved with the journey of the buyer and what motivates your prospects. As an example, did they find your website through a backlink and go through every page on the site? Or did they enter the site from a search engine and go directly to your product page? Armed with behavioural data, you can set up a targeted email marketing programme that sends them relevant content based on behavioural triggers.” – Will Williamson, writing for JDR Group

How to Find Your User Acquisition Channels

When your startup is first launching, the pressure to “be everywhere” online is significant. “You’ll fail without investing in Facebook Ads,” one article claims. “The most engaged buyers are on Instagram,” argues another. Given this onslaught of conflicting advice, it’s no surprise that the average B2B marketer creates eight types of content and is active […]

When your startup is first launching, the pressure to “be everywhere” online is significant. “You’ll fail without investing in Facebook Ads,” one article claims. “The most engaged buyers are on Instagram,” argues another.

Given this onslaught of conflicting advice, it’s no surprise that the average B2B marketer creates eight types of content and is active on six different social networks, according to data from the Content Marketing Institute:

Aquisition channels

(B2C marketers share similar numbers.)

Especially when you’re new, expanding your reach in this way might sound appealing. After all, you’ll reach more people if you’re available on more platforms, right?

Well, maybe not.

Attempting to drive growth on multiple user acquisition channels divides your resources and dilutes your focus.

It’s better to do one channel well than to do several poorly – especially when you’re first starting out. To do that, begin by mapping your existing user acquisition channels (if any) so that you can proceed with an approach that’s right for your audience, your resources and your business’s current stage.

Why You Need to Map Your User Acquisition Channels

A lot of young businesses wing it when it comes to choosing user acquisition channels. They go by gut feel, or by what worked well for a buddy of theirs or another startup in their space.

And I’m not throwing shade here – I’ve been there, and done that.

But let me give you an example that demonstrates why it’s so important to run the numbers before executing on anything.

A while back, a friend of mine had a startup, and he swore up and down that doing integrations and partnerships was going to be his growth channel. His goal was to get his company’s first 1,000 customers, but I ran the numbers and figured out that even the best-case scenario would only drive a few hundred.

His first partner was going to promote his company and their integration to their email list of 1 million people.

Sounds great, right?

The email goes out to 1 million people, and let’s estimate that 50% open the email and 10% click on the link. That’d put 50,000 visitors on his website. Now, let’s assume that 3% of those visitors took him up on his SaaS product’s 30-day free trial. That results in 1,500 new trials, and assuming he managed a 40% conversion rate to paid subscriptions (which is pretty generous, and assumes he’s figured out his activation and onboarding processes), that’d leave him with just 600 customers.

Let’s do another example… Suppose you have a product or service that’s a bit more expensive and that requires human contact from your sales team to close the deal. Since you don’t have dozens of salespeople on hand, you decide to drive people to a webinar that’ll be able to handle a big audience in a short period of time.

You reach 50,000 with your webinar advertisement, and 10% of these people sign up to participate. On the day of your event, only 50% of your sign-ups actually show, so you wind up with 2,500 attendees. At the end of the webinar, you do an amazing job selling your offering and get 10% of attendees to do a sales demo or trial your service. This gives you 250 leads. Now let’s say your salespeople are awesome and actually convert 50% of them. Your total? 125 new customers.

In neither one of these scenarios did we hit that “1,000 new customers” target, but we’ve got bigger problems:

  • None of these numbers are realistic. Most partners don’t have a 1 million-person email list, and the hypothetical open rates, click-through rates and conversion rates I used aren’t going to be that high in the real world (at least, they won’t all be that high).  
  • In the first example, you’ve burned your dev resources to work on integrations that won’t help you meet your goals.
  • In the second, you’ve taken up critical marketing and sales resources to create assets, run webinars and conduct sales demos. These people could have all been working on something more productive – and that goes double if you’re the founder and doing all of this.

Finding Your User Acquisition Channels

User Acquisition

So, if you can’t go off your gut feel, what should you do? Check out the process below that I use to identify user acquisition channels.

Step #1 – Understand common growth channels

There are tons of different marketing and growth channels out there, but the following are the strategies I use most commonly:

  • Cold email or cold calling. Cold messaging is pretty cheap to execute, but you need to put some time into ensuring you’re reaching out to the right people. If possible, warm your leads up by connecting via social engagements in advance of your message.
  • Viral referral loops. This can include word-of-mouth referrals, structured referral schemes and viral loops that enable existing customers to bring on more new customers. The cost associated with this strategy varies based on the program you implement, but this is how Uber, Airbnb and Dropbox all got big.
  • Paid advertising. You can use AdWords for this, but I’m loving Facebook ads lately as a starting place. Keep a careful eye on your costs. You can get new customers very quickly with paid ads, but if you aren’t tracking ROI, you can blow your budget.
  • Content marketing and SEO. These strategies work VERY well, but they take a long time to show results (usually 6-12 months). They can be cheap to run, but if you’re using them for growth, expect to wait a while.
  • Influencer marketing. Get a few big names to love your product and scream it from the rooftops. If you do it well, you can be very successful, very quickly. But, unfortunately, that means everyone wants to use this approach. Getting influencer attention can be tough without a major competitive advantage.
  • Microtool or epic content piece creation. Release a free tool or ebook to build an audience and get traffic. At, we use this ebook to generate leads.
What are the best growth channels for marketing?

The best growth channels for your business will depend on your industry, product and audience preferences. Some common growth channels are cold calls or emails, viral referral loops, paid advertising, content marketing, SEO and influencer marketing.

Step #2 – Identify your competitive advantages

Consider what you do well and what your competitors do poorly. Look for gaps in the channels your competitors are winning and use these weaknesses to plan your strategy.

Don’t forget, you can also win on price by starting low to gain traction.

At Mailshake, we’re currently priced at $9/user, while our competitors are between $29-$120/user. We plan to increase our price down the road, but for now, we’ve set our prices low to enter the market.

Step #3 – Run the numbers

Take a look at the examples I shared above and run your own predictions based on whatever data you can find. Look at the numbers on your current channels and estimate the numbers for possible channels you could try. Compare your results against the resources you have available in terms of cash, time, etc.

For reference, at Mailshake, every 10 customers we acquire results in one new referral customer. That means each new customer is worth 1.1 customers to us and informs how much we can spend to acquire new users.

Step #4 – Pick your top 1-3 channels

This shouldn’t come as a surprise based on what I said earlier in this article, but my recommendation is always that businesses begin by finding one single effective channel first. Then, as that’s working, work on another while you continue to optimize your first channel.

Take it from marketer Neil Patel:

“Jumping in head first and attempting to manage, say, four or five different channels can be overwhelming, and you’re unlikely to kill it at any strategy. Even if you’re a savvy marketer who knows the ins and outs of the process, you simply can’t devote the necessary time to extract the full potential of any single channel.”

Step #5 – Evolve your approach over time

Most channels are doomed from the start. That’s not your fault, unless you fail to iterate and embrace constant change in growth. According to Brian Balfour of Coelevate:

“Any great growth team is ready for and responsive to change, nimble, and always, always adapting. They go beyond adapting, and truly embrace change building their team and process around it.”

If you’re early in your business, finding growth channels is about traction – not scale. Now isn’t the time to think about long-term growth – it’s about figuring out what’ll get your first customers in the door. In their book, From 0 to 1,000 Customers & Beyond, Hiten Shah and Steli Efti recommend balancing short-term and long-term growth strategies according to the following breakdown:

  • 0–10 customers: 90% short-term tactics | 10% long-term tactics
  • 10–100 customers: 80% short-term tactics | 20% long-term tactics
  • 100+ customers: 20% short-term tactics | 80% long-term tactics

Don’t Mistake Growth Hacks for Growth Channels

Don't Mistake growth Hacks for Growth Channels

Too many marketers confuse growth hacks and growth channels, leading them to invest significant resources into strategies that’ll never move the needle.

Approach growth from a smarter place. Do the research, and run your numbers. Make educated decisions, and then focus your energy on a single growth channel that’ll help you reach your early customer acquisition goals. Never be afraid to toss a campaign that’s performing poorly, and you’ll never have to worry about overinvesting in channels that won’t support your growth.

How did you decide on the user acquisition channels you’re using right now? Leave me a note below with your approach to this process:

4 Ways to Improve the ROI of Your Customer Acquisition Strategy

  A major goal for most businesses is the acquisition of new customers. It is easy to determine the importance of new customers to your business, however, attracting and converting a new customer is not a stroll in the park. It is proven that more companies and agency clients focused more on customer acquisition than […]


A major goal for most businesses is the acquisition of new customers. It is easy to determine the importance of new customers to your business, however, attracting and converting a new customer is not a stroll in the park.

It is proven that more companies and agency clients focused more on customer acquisition than customer retention (44% vs. 16% for companies and 58% vs. 12% for agency clients).

A major reason for this is customer acquisition strategy yielding low ROI.

In this article, you will learn four (4) ways to improve the ROI of your customer acquisition strategy.

1. Analyze your Audience

What is Target Audience Analysis?

Everyone that might be interested in your product or service is your ‘Target Audience’.

Audience analysis should be a key component of your customer acquisition strategy. The essence of adopting this strategy is to identify and assess your audience. Even if you have a huge budget, you will not want to waste time, effort and money in reaching a wrong audience.

Bear in mind that your target audience comprises different people who have a different problem, visit different websites and hang out on different social media.

For instance, if your product is Word Processing Software, your target audience (persona) will comprise freelance and professional writers, students, and editors, etc. You will have to approach them using different content. This will not be possible without a proper understanding of audience analysis.

Benefits of Target Audience Analysis

  1. It helps you to identify and target unique audience that may be interested in your product or service.
  2. With it, you can create personalized content tailored to meet the need of targeted people group.
  3. You can build a long-term relationship with your customers while meeting their specific need
  4. You can create a cost-effective marketing and customer acquisition strategy
  5. It helps to Increase conversion rates leading to increased customer base

Planning your Audience Research

The scope of your research will depend on the size of your campaign and the knowledge of the niche you are working on. Since your research will involve an interview with a real customer, you should be equipped with the right question or a template to guide you.

The proper thing to do is to start on a broad scale and narrow it down.

Get started with an overview of your website audience using Google Analytics. This tool is great in that, it separates your audience information into demographics and interest.

Demographic Data

You need to be equipped with the right demographic data for your customer acquisition strategy to be effective. Particularly, if you intend to advertise on social media – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.

The effort you put into getting the right demographic data will pay off because your advert will reach the right audience and not be restricted by the promotion channel.

Below are examples of demographics your audience could fit into.

The list above is not exhaustive, also remember you don’t have to waste time on any demographic data that have no relevance to your product or service.

Audience Psychographics

Psychographics data includes customer attitudes, aspirations and other psychological criteria. Three major areas to focus on are – interest, activities, attitudes or opinions.

You can collect Psychographic data through surveys, an interview with a customer, and website research. You can also use analytic tools like ClickTale, CrazyEggBounce Exchange, and Qualaroo.

Data gathered in your audience analysis becomes the metrics you will use in decision making on how best to reach your audience. No more guesswork.

2. Engage With Influencers

Influencer marketing is a new and growing phenomenon in modern marketing.

According to a survey of 272 marketing managers, Influencer marketing is the fastest growing online customer acquisition strategy. Traditional marketing and customer acquisition strategy are diminishing in impact.

Majority of marketers believes that through Influencer marketing, companies gain high-quality customers.

Source: Tomoson

When you engage influencers, it will improve your brand advocacy, create awareness for your brand and help you reach a new targeted audience.

Influencer marketing can open a new spectrum of the audience for your company to connect with.

According to a survey, 49% of potential customers rely on influencer’s recommendation.

Prospective customers feel safe when influencers make recommendations.

The assumption is that the influencer trusts the product/ service and that it will meet expected needs.

Why Engage Influencers

Incorporating Influencer marketing into your customer acquisition strategy is a great idea for reaching your target audience. Here are reasons you need to engage influencers.

  • Influencers have access to a different and larger audience than your company
  • You will see more click-through (conversions) if an Influencer shares your content with their followers.
  • With influencers, you can build a cordial and lasting relationship with your clients/ customers.
  • Influencers deliver a greater return on investment- an average of $6.50 in revenue for every $1 spent.

Where to Engage Influencers

Facebook: Facebook is the leading platform as far as influencer marketing is concerned.

Blogs: Blogs occupy the second slot.

Other platforms where you can engage influencers for your customer acquisition include YouTube, InstagramTwitterPinterestGoogle+ etc.

Guide to Define your Influencers


There are hundreds of thousands of influencers online. All of them cannot be good for your brand. The result of your audience analysis is key in choosing the best influencer for you. The best influencer (s) for you is the influencer that have access and influence over your target audience.


The potential influencer must have a large following. You may have to do a little research to find out. Check out their social media channels to determine their cumulative fan base.


These refer to the content the prospective influencer has been sharing. Does it match your own content goal? You want action and not awareness.

Important tools

Bossism: You can use the sites influencers search tool. You can also keep track of the content your influencers are sharing.

Followerwonk: This is a Twitter analytics tool. You can use it to search for user bios of individuals.

Little Bird: A quick way of finding and analyzing thousands of influencers; particularly those validated by their online peers.

Basic Steps to Engage with Influencers

  1. Create a natural bond: Build an organic relationship. Start by following influencer across platforms and also engage with their content. It is relationship before business opportunity.
  2. Start Giving: Don’t be a taker, it shows ulterior motive. Look for ways to help
  3. Deliver Value: What value can you offer the influencer? What is his/her pain point and how can you be of value
  4. Commendation. Let them know how they inspire you. Everyone can connect with commendation and not flattery.
  5. Talk to their agents: Many top influencers have agents. Go through their Agents. Respect laid down procedure.

3. Offer a Demo of your Product

A product demo summarizes how a product works. Anyone interested in your product demo will get to see its features and benefits attached and how to use the product.

A demo is a popular strategy that companies that sell products use as a lead magnet. Your company can give your website visitors or attendees at your webinar the chance or opportunity to ‘test’ your product. To ‘test’ the product, your visitors will have to give their email or other details on your opt-in form.

Kissmetrics used product demo to increase their conversion by 10% when compared to free trials.

You are not pushing for sales at first, but through product demo offer, you can collect the email address of people in your target audience. A study reveals that people that give their email address are 7 times more likely to purchase the product,

Look at this demo offer from LeadsBridge

Create a Great Demo Video that converts

Another workable strategy is to create a Video Demo for your product. The video demo could show how to assemble and operate your product. The video demo of your product should:

  • Address the problem that the product solves
  • Give a value proposition – What the product can do and its benefits
  • Show how the product works to solve the problem
  • Provide a strong link between what the products do and your customer’s pain point.
  • Give a strong call to action at the end

Give your video demo good background music. However, don’t allow the background music to override the narration. Else, your target customer will only remember the music and not your sales pitch. Let the video transition be seamless. In using text- use clear font type, size, and color on a contrasting background. Find more information on product demo here.

Promote your Product Demo

Do a promotion for your product offer and your Product demo video. On your website, you could insert a ‘request for demo’ form or place a call to action as shown in the example of LeadsBridge above.

You can promote the product demo video on video-sharing site or on a platform where your target audience hangs out. Your video could also serve as the content that your Influencer will share with their followers. Sharing videos is an endorsement from the influencer.

Should you request a Credit Card for demo sign up?

There are two different schools of thought when it comes to requesting credit card while signing up for demo – one for and the other against the idea.

Not requiring a credit card at sign-up stage makes the prospects more inclined to sign up. Majority of prospects considers giving out of their card details as a greater commitment to a product they have not tested. The report of the study conducted by Totango revealed that trial sign-ups and eventual trial conversion was more successful when prospects were not required to give the credit card details.

Mark Cuban says is all, “Make your product easier to buy than your competition or you will find your customers buying from them, not you.”

4. A/B Test on your follow up

A/B Testing, otherwise known as split testing or bucket testing is a comparison method employed to test the effectiveness and conversion of two variants of a web page or app. It’s a test of better performance between variants of the same web page or app. In the experiment, two or more variants of the same page are shown to users/ visitors. Statistical analysis is then carried out to determine which of the variants performed better based on conversion goals.

Two Variants of the Same Page

Source: Optimizely

For instance, you can test your landing page and create variations. Items to on your landing page includes–headline (Header), photography, call to action, adding a video, position of adverts, follow up, etc.

If you are thinking of optimizing your company’s website, A/B testing allows you to make better informed decisions. You shift from guesswork to factual decision. Testing provides you with metrics that produced positive

According to Optimizely, an experimentation platform, ComScore A/B tested logos and testimonials to increase social proof on a product landing page and increased leads generated by 69%.

Marketers can test their ad copy to learn which version attracts more clicks. When you also test the landing page of your website, you can know which variant (layout) performs better in converting visitors to customers. It is better to test one change at a time to correlate the change and its effect on visitors’ behavior.

A/B Testing Process and Framework

  1. Data Collection: This is the first step in A/B testing process. Check Google Analytics on your website to identify depending on which page has the highest traffic. It is better to start with high-traffic areas so you can gather data fast.
  2. Identify and Set Goals: This depends on what you want to achieve. However, conversion goals are the metrics you will use to determine which variants perform better.
  3. Come up with Hypothesis: Come up with assumptions, premise why you think the variants will perform better than the existing version. Prioritize your ideas.
  4. Create Variations: If you don’t have a webmaster, you can outsource the project of creating variations of the page. You can also use an A / B testing software.
  5. Experiment: This is the actual experiment, your website visitors are directed either to the existing Page (control) or the variants. A website that uses cookies can distribute the traffic based on a weighted percentage of 50/50 or 60/40 as or desirable.
  6. Result Analysis: Analyze your result to determine any statistical difference.


The 4 different ways of improving the ROI of your customer acquisition strategy discussed in this article are tested and proven. None of the methods require a huge financial budget. Your company can use any of the strategies singly or in pairs. The different methods will produce a varied result, depending on your business, product, and service. You can adopt any method after careful consideration.

2 Questions Every Marketer Should Know How to Answer

  It’s easier than ever to build products. You can learn to code and do it for free, “currency hack” an inexpensive developer on, or simply drag and drop a full-fledged application with tools like Bubble. Thus, success no longer hinges on venture capitalists, living in The Valley, or having previous experience in tech. […]


It’s easier than ever to build products.

You can learn to code and do it for free, “currency hack” an inexpensive developer on, or simply drag and drop a full-fledged application with tools like Bubble.

Thus, success no longer hinges on venture capitalists, living in The Valley, or having previous experience in tech.

Instead, it relies on the marketer’s ability to identify who the customer is, and where the customer is.

Below are a few case studies, strategies, and tactics outlining my approach to this challenge.



I’m a big fan of Seth Godin, but I only agree with ~half of what he says. Namely, his thoughts on permission marketing.

Permission Marketing is Dead

These days, there’s too much marketing interference. Waiting for permission to share your message is a deathwish disguised as good manners.

To agree with this, however, you must first accept another simple truth:

Nobody cares.

Nobody cares about you, or your company, or your team, or your product… they care about themselves.

This means 2 things:

  1. It’s ok to demand attention (because it’s easy to ignore demands)
  2. The opportunity all marketers share is helping consumers express their own selfishness

Instead of pitching “organic food,” push “higher performance.” Instead of “productivity,” push “spend more time sleeping.”

And since we have the freedom to figure out this pitch, while nobody is listening, the iterative marketing lifecycle just got a lot more fun.

Let’s start with an easy example.


Case Study – Keychain Logistics

Please note: the tactics described in this case study will not work for everyone and are used as an example of growth hacking on a specific platform. Growth Marketing Conference cannot be held responsible for any negative outcomes that may happen if you choose to replicate these types of tactics. 

Keychain Logistics

Keychain Logistics, a Ycombinator alum that raised $3mm from the likes of Andreessen Horowitz, is a platform that modernizes freight transportation by brokering real-time shipments between shippers and carriers.

Applying our “who and where” framework yields some pretty obvious answers:

keychain logistics target audience

Keychain needs truckers, and truckers hang out at rest stops.

To reach this audience in “their own backyard,” I hired 7 freelancers in the Philippines and asked them to create 25 Foursquare profiles.

While they did this, I scraped approximately 700 rest stops by crawling the “Locations” tab of diesel fuel giants Pilot Flying J and a few others. I put this data in a spreadsheet, which included columns for the US State, # of diesel pumps, and a few yes/no parameters for “showers” and “has wifi,” etc.

(Protip: It’s generally a good practice to fetch contextual data whenever you’re scraping, which helps prioritize leads later, in scenarios where you scrape too much).

The assistants then, making $1.50 USD per hour, were then given ~75-100 “locations” each, which I assigned by a) granting access to the Google Sheet of rest stops, then b) color-coding which rows belong to which assistant.

For each location, the assistant was instructed to do 2 things…

  1. Leave a tip
  2. Link the tip to a Keychain mobile app hotlink


Leaving Tips on Foursquare

When we executed this campaign, it was possible to “check into” any location on Foursquare from a web browser. Honest users wouldn’t earn “points” for a check-in that didn’t have valid GPS data associated to it, but the check-in function itself worked.

Our assistants used this loophole to check into each location, and then write a “tip” for other check-ins and visitors. We learned quickly that all tips must be unique, or you’ll get blocked from writing new ones.

No problem, we left tips like this one at all 700 locations, merging in the location’s City after the first comma:

keychain logistics foursquare marketing hack

And did I mention?

The person we left the tips from was our fake trucker persona, Fernando Ryder. Best $25 stock photo I ever bought.


Linking tips on Foursquare

Also unique to the timeframe of this campaign, was the ability to add a “link” to each tip.

This had 2 benefits:

  1. The link was recognized as a link, and thus clickable
  2. The entire tip became clickable, to that link!

Because some truck drivers use iPhone and some use Android, we made a forward URL that would detect the user’s device (via User-Agent in the HTTP Headers, for the nerds!) and then forward the link’s visitor to the proper app store, either in iTunes or Google Play.


Getting exposure

Keychain Logistics Fernando Ryder

Leaving these tips was great, but as you can see in the example above, most locations have dozens of tips or more.

We needed ours to rank #1, because a further benefit of #1-ranked Foursquare tips is they automatically pop up to every new check-in.

This is Foursquare’s way of rewarding prolific tippers… free exposure! And if a tip is “liked” by a viewer, it continues to outrank other tips, because Foursquare uses that signal to determine if the tip is high quality.

So here’s what we did with those other accounts: for each of the 25 fake profiles, our assistants re-visited all 700 rest stop locations and “upvoted” the tips written by Fernando Ryder.

Within a few hours, almost all of our tips ranked #1, and were automatically popping up + getting clicked on by 1000s of check-ins to every Pilot Travel Center across the USA.

As a plus, we even got emails from actual truckers, who assumed Fernando was a world traveler.

Keychain Logistis marketing emails

In total, this campaign took less than 1 day of effort, and < $100 in virtual assistants.


Case Study – Kisi

Kisi wireless entry

Kisi is a keyless entry hardware/software suite for coworking spaces and corporate offices. They charge monthly in exchange for secure, “fob-less” entry to any building, regardless of lock type, elevator setup, or anything else you can throw at them.

Kisi is kickass.

But in the early days, we had trouble finding the ICP (ideal customer profile). Which, by the way, should actually be called RCP – realistic customer profile.

Let’s run through our framework again to see how it can help: who is your customer, and where is your customer?

Originally, Kisi assumed their target audience was the IT guy, who is also in charge of things like key fobs and other “access management” related operations.

So, we sent some cold email to IT guys and the response was…OK.

But then we had another idea… why not approach the user who actually feels the pain of missing or stolen keys? E.g, the person who literally has to get up from their seat to buzz in a delivery guy, or let in that forgetful coworker who “forgot their keys again…?”

Turns out, this was the office manager or receptionist.

Kisi target audienceNext, we needed to identify the location of these receptionists and office managers.

Were they office managers at WeWork?

No, because WeWork is big enough to build their own access control system.

Were they office managers at indie coworking spaces?

Maybe, slash no, because these were beholden to permission from landlords’ who usually have a thing or two to say about startups from Brooklyn drilling holes in their doors and elevator shafts.

Rather, the ideal customer [buying] profile for Kisi was the office manager at a company, big enough to command their own floor, or at least their own private offices.

Kjsi target customer office

With this target audience fleshed out, we’re ready to execute.


Cold Email Done Right

A lot of people do cold email wrong. I personally quit cold email recently, after observing a sharp decline in its efficacy.

But done right, cold email is an art.

To make Kisi’s messages more compelling, we devised a 3-step process for personalizing every message — not just with {{ first_name }} merge variables, but with images.

How we did it:

  1. Clearbit’s free logo API to turn website domains into logos
  2. Photoshop “actions” to automatically crop, resize, and embed logos on the Kisi mobile interface

Before this project, Kisi’s mobile interface was kinda bland:


Kisi Mobile Interface

After adding personalized imagery, we started sending emails like this…

Kisi cold email example

Kisi cold email example

By getting straight to the point inside our subject line — “new office keys for {{ company name }}” — the receiving team member was already on a bit of alert (demanding attention, not asking permission).

Then, by merging the prospect’s company logo into the email itself, a quick scan added immediate legitimacy to the message, often leading the prospect to assume we spent several minutes crafting this message, and that it couldn’t have possibly been mass-mailed.

(Protip: when a prospect is convinced you emailed them personally, they reply. Not because they’re interested, but because human nature compels reciprocity. On the other hand, obviously mass-emailed messages get no reply, which still follows this law of reciprocity, except the parameters are zero-effort sent, zero-effort received.)

Another change that helped these emails perform better, was switching from the “IT Geek” vernacular of “Access Management” and instead keeping it casual by saying, “new office keys.”

While the founders still wanted high-tech lingo, we stuck it at the end as a compromise. 😉

Needless to say, these iterations in the target audience and how we messaged them, led to material new leads for the Kisi sales team.


Third Rule of Growth

marketing challenge - scale the where

Earlier in this post, I lied.

I told you there were just 2 rules to growth — who, and where your customer is.

But that’s not entirely true… there’s a 3rd question, that all successful companies answer.


Scale the where.

Suppose you even get this far — you’ve identified your target audience, and can replicate conversions with predictability.


But how do you ensure new customers outweigh cancellations, every month?

How do you ensure new customers cost less to acquire than the value extracted from them (in revenue, ads, whatever)?

This is where scaling the 2nd aspect of the framework, “where” your customer is, becomes critical.

You’ll notice in the case studies above, that we didn’t stop at a single trucker rest stop, or a single coworking space office manager. We didn’t leave a single tip, or write a single email, or scrape a single logo and export a single Photoshop file.

Rather, after validating the who and the why, we scaled the campaign to 100s or 1,000s of prospects.


High-tech, Low-tech

In the second example, Kisi, we scaled the where with Photoshop actions, APIs, and more advanced scraping techniques on resources like (gov’t funded) and Made in NYC (side project directory).

But in the first example, Keychain, we leveraged inexpensive human capital in the Philippines.

There was no special technical know-how involved in the campaign, besides maybe url forwarding to the App Store vs Google Play.

Even the scraping was something anybody can do with


What this means

You don’t have to be a developer to use technology to scale growth.

Sure, writing a Ruby script is pretty technical.

But so is writing a process-oriented hiring script on Upwork.

Whether you choose to communicate with machines or humans, systems-oriented thinking is the crux to putting these pieces together, and “not knowing how to code” is no longer a valid excuse.


Putting It All Together

We probably get the same emails.

You know, those weekly digests and daily tips from GrowthHackers,, and others.

They’re all telling us to “try this, try that.”

They tell us about the latest changes to Google’s algorithm, and how to go viral on YouTube, and how to write Kickstarter copy that gets higher conversion rates.

All of this is great, but it assumes something really really big: that you’ve identified your target audience (who), and all you need to do is scale the where.

From my experiences helping grow over 40 venture-backed startups, I’ve learned this advice avoids the “who and where” framework for one reason: it’s not easy to prescribe.

You can’t send a newsletter to thousands of marketers, with the exact things they should do to identify their audience.

But you can tell them about Facebook’s ideal banner ad placement.


So here it is:

If you have customers already…

Articulate the characteristics of your top 3 customers. How much they pay, how they found you, why they chose you vs a competitor, where they live, what they do for fun, where they hang out online, who they trust…


If you don’t already have customers…

Are you an entrepreneur?

Good news: this is your business. You have the freedom to chase the customer you want to have.

But a note on customers you want to have: they should be equal to the customers you deserve to have, today, with the current status of your product or service.

Not the customer you’ll deserve in 6 months, after you build X-Y-Z, or after you get the social proof from users A-B-C. What describes the customer who would use your product today, if only they knew it existed?

Hint: the answer isn’t “everybody”. It isn’t even “everybody who does ___” and lives in “____”. It’s probably a smaller group.

Maybe try: “my best friend’s roommate who inspired the idea.” Or, “my ex-boss who supported me when I quit.”

After securing your first few customers, look for patterns between them, then articulate those patterns (yes, write them down) to look for meta patterns.



  • who: truckers → meta pattern → independent owner-operators → meta pattern → full truck-load, long haul
  • where: rest stops → meta pattern → tech savvy → meta pattern  trucker blogs



  • who: people at offices → meta pattern → office managers → meta pattern → receptionists with influence
  • where: new york city → meta pattern → newer buildings → meta pattern → long-term leases

And so on, and so on.


Perhaps the paradigm of finding customer-market fit is that it gets easier as you do it.

While this means earlier days less data-driven, it also creates a nice barrier to entry for to those unwilling to make a few guesses and be wrong.

And that is perhaps the most beautiful aspect of entrepreneurship…

We can be wrong a thousand times. We only have to be right once.

So go find your customers, spend time with them, and then find a few more.

Good luck.

5 Growth Hacks To Double Your Revenue Using Social

Last year Social Media Examiner asked more than 5,000 marketers about social media and how they use it to help them grow businesses. When asked about its benefits, 89% of marketers said it was effective at increasing brand exposure, 75% said it increased website traffic, and 68% said it helped them develop more loyal fans. […]

Last year Social Media Examiner asked more than 5,000 marketers about social media and how they use it to help them grow businesses. When asked about its benefits, 89% of marketers said it was effective at increasing brand exposure, 75% said it increased website traffic, and 68% said it helped them develop more loyal fans.

Just 66% said it was effective at generating leads, and 51% said it improved sales.

That’s a huge discrepancy between the ability to increase brand exposure and drive sales – but why?

Surely if social media is succeeding in boosting brand awareness and driving traffic, sales should follow, right?

Unfortunately, marketing wins rarely happen this easily. To drive leads and sales you need to be getting your brand in front of the right people and consequently, driving qualified traffic to your site.

We’ll talk you through a few hacks that can increase the impact of social on your bottom line in a moment, but first let’s set the scene by talking about the process a customer goes through before they convert.

Pre-internet, customers generally shopped by visiting a store and interacting with a salesperson – particularly if their knowledge on what they were buying was limited. This meant that sellers were typically involved in and had some control over the buyer journey.

Today’s buyer is much more independent, and they rarely, if ever, reach out directly to a company for advice.

Here are a few statistics that help put into perspective how autonomous today’s buyers are:

  • 81% of shoppers conduct online research before buying.
  • Half of shoppers spend at least 75% of their total shopping time conducting online research.
  • By 2020, 80% of the buying process is expected to occur without any human-to-human interaction.

Knowing that buyers are not going to approach us, what can we do to ensure our marketing is nurturing the type of people that are most likely to buy from our business so that when they are ready to buy, they come to us, and not one of our competitors?

Social media intelligence agency Social Strategi works with a company called Mom’s the Word – a fashion brand for expectant mothers that believes “clothes shouldn’t have an expiration date” (in other words, their clothes are designed to be worn beyond pregnancy).

Mom’s the Word approached Social Strategi with the goal of doubling their online revenue via social. Needless to say, this meant devising and implementing a social media marketing strategy that focused on driving relevant traffic to the website.

To do this they:

  1. Profiled the brand’s existing audience using social data, audience affinities, and tribe analysis.
  2. Looked at and leveraged the brand’s competitors’ audience data.
  3. Decided what types of data would be most effective at improving marketing performance and reducing costs.
  4. Used a unique combination of dashboard data, audience insights and intelligent targeting to provide maximum ROI on all paid acquisition channels.

As a result, Mom’s the Word tripled their website traffic:

And in less than 4 months, doubled their gross sales:

Let’s take a look in more detail at the process Social Strategi followed, and how you can apply their tactics to your own marketing.

1.   Gather customer insights

Look at your customers and ask yourself – who’s happy and who isn’t?

Reach out to these customers and ask them why they do or don’t like you. You can do this over social media or email, but you can also learn a lot about your customers by analyzing how they behave on your website.

What products do customers keep coming back for?

How often are customers failing to complete their purchase, and why?

Is the checkout process too long-winded? Are there distractions on the checkout page that are driving people away from the site (voucher code boxes are often guilty of this)? Are you surprising customers with excessive delivery fees at the last moment?

Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and run through the checkout process yourself, then ask some impartial friends or family members to do the same. What, if anything, tripped you (and them) up?

Follow this with some A/B tests and as above, ask your customers why they’re not completing purchases. Implement exit pop-ups and abandoned checkout emails that inquire as to why customers didn’t check out, and encourage them to come back.

Finally, use this information to optimize your site for conversions so that when you’re driving traffic from social media to your site, you’ve maximized the chances it will convert.

2.   Pay close attention to your fans on social media

Make use of all the information your social platforms share with you about the people that like your page or follow you.

Facebook in particular now offers some awesome data to business users, as part of the Facebook for Business suite. You can get this information in the Audience Insights section.

To leverage this information, begin by searching for your page name here:

You can then view information including the demographics of your audience, their activity on the site, their purchasing behavior, and other pages that they “like.”

Bear in mind that the number of likes your page has affects how much information you can access. If you’ve only got a few hundred followers (or fewer), the data available to you is likely to be very limited.

Another way to use Audience Insights is to search for your industry or phrases related to it.

You’ll then be able to view that same data for all Facebook users that have expressed an interest in your industry (bear in mind that you can filter the results by gender, age, and location).

This information should prove invaluable for informing all your marketing channels, including, of course, social media. What you can also do here, however, is create lookalike audiences that look and feel like your own audience, and target them on Facebook.

To do this, use the Insights tool as described above to create an audience you want to market to.

You then need to name your audience:

And finally, click “Create Ad” (top right of the page) to begin creating an ad campaign.

3.   Pay attention to consumer insights

What topic is your audience talking about, what are their pain points, and what language are they using? Use these insights to talk to your customers in the language they use.

Don’t assume, however, that just because you work in the industry, you understand the issues facing your target audience – even if you, yourself, fit the demographics of your audience. No two experiences are the same so it’s important you do your own research.

You can use social media for this.

Just above we talked about how you can use Facebook Insights to find out what pages people related to your industry like. I’d encourage you to visit these pages and see what’s being posted, what people are responding to, and what they’re saying (of course, you should be paying close attention to interactions on your own social profiles, too).

Beyond this, forums and other online communities (Quora and Reddit are the big ones) are invaluable sources of information.

Sign up or subscribe to relevant forums and communities and visit them regularly. Better yet, become an active participant in them. The more you go where your target audience goes, the easier it will be for you to talk to them in their language about their interests, and the better the results you should be able to get from your social media marketing.

4.   Look at your competitors’ insights

Facebook Insights lets you learn more about the people who like your page, as well as the people who have expressed an interest in your industry. You can also get this same information for your competitors’ pages.

To access this, just search for a competitor in the interests box (it’s the same box you used to search for your industry). You can then create ads that target people who have liked a competitor’s page.

Bonus tip: you can target multiple competitors (or interests) at the same time.

Beyond this, there is lots of value to be gained from looking at your competitors’ social media efforts and how their audiences are responding.

What are they posting? What’s working and not working for them? Pay close attention to what they’re doing and tweak your strategy accordingly.

5.   Look at your own dashboard

Often, marketers can get so caught up in what other people are doing that they neglect to pay much attention to their own data. Don’t be like them. Look at your own analytics – they’re telling you stories you’ve likely ignored.

Where are your customers coming from? Which channels are sending the most traffic? Your ideal channel might be Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or something else – I can’t tell you this, but your website analytics can.

Of course, to figure out which channel is going to send you the most traffic, you have to test each one in equal measure.

Mom’s the Word did this. They began by running campaigns on lots of different platforms, and after a while they noticed spikes in traffic coming from specific channels. They then dropped the channels that weren’t generating an ROI, and focused more heavily on those that were.

That said, bear in mind that traffic is really only a vanity metric. You shouldn’t let it dictate business or marketing decisions, at least not in isolation. Instead, pay attention to which channels are driving traffic that converts. That’s where you want to focus your efforts.

What tactics do you use to maximize the revenue you generate through social? Comments are below, if you have a moment to share your secrets:

The 3 Elements Needed for Effective Growth Marketing

Whether you work in marketing or you’re just on the lookout for creative ways to grow your business, chances are you’ve come across the term “growth hacking.” You might have even tried out a few “hacks” for yourself. Truth is, the term “hack” is misleading. It suggests we’re using programming skills to “hack” the system […]

Whether you work in marketing or you’re just on the lookout for creative ways to grow your business, chances are you’ve come across the term “growth hacking.” You might have even tried out a few “hacks” for yourself.

Truth is, the term “hack” is misleading. It suggests we’re using programming skills to “hack” the system for faster growth, which isn’t quite accurate. I prefer to talk about growth marketing – a facet of marketing that uses scalable tactics and testing to grow a business fast.

But how is this different from what any other marketer does?

In most cases, the key difference between a “marketer” and a “growth marketer” is the range of their focus.

As a general rule, “marketers” concentrate on things like brand awareness, website visibility, and new customer acquisition.

“Growth marketers,” however, will look at every aspect of the customer journey – including (critically) what happens after someone buys.

Image Credit

Growth marketers will also use the product as the catalyst for growth, whereas marketers tend to look at customer acquisition more holistically.

“Growth hacking focuses on product to move the needle.” Kate Harvey, Chargify

Of course, the disciplines overlap, and the end goal for all marketers is the same – to grow a business – but this doesn’t mean marketers will automatically be effective at growth marketing.

For that, you’ll need these three things:

1. Comfort with different channels

Many marketers have their preferred channels for driving traffic or new leads. They’re comfortable using these channels and they’ve gotten good results with them on more than one occasion, so they think, “Why rock the boat?”

This is shortsighted, and when it comes to growth, massively limiting.

Good growth marketers know they have to diversify the channels they use; that a hunger to keep trying something new is essential.

What’s worked before won’t necessarily work again. Your product or audience might be different, or the channel itself could have changed (just think about how Facebook’s organic reach has declined over the years).

Image Credit

A good growth marketer’s arsenal will include a whole bunch of different channels. This might include everything from email and paid ads to viral referral loops and influencer marketing – and a whole lot more in between. They’ll constantly be exploring and experimenting with new channels, too. First off, they’ll use a mixture of experience and experimentation to establish one scalable channel that moves the needle. Once that’s in place and driving growth, they’ll test out new channels alongside it.

If you want to be effective at growth marketing, it’s essential that you too get comfortable using lots of different channels concurrently and are able to keep pace with how those channels are changing (both in terms of the channels themselves, and the impact they’re having on your client or business).

2. Agility

Being able to switch between tasks and react fast to changing landscapes – in other words, to be agile – is essential for growth marketers.

“Agile, in the marketing context, means using data and analytics to continuously source promising opportunities or solutions to problems in real time, deploying tests quickly, evaluating the results, and rapidly iterating. At scale, a high-functioning agile marketing organization can run hundreds of campaigns simultaneously and multiple new ideas every week.” Jason Heller, David Edelman and Steven Spittaels for McKinsey

This is because growth marketing is a very experimental discipline. Most of the time you’ll be working on a new brand, and you’re not going to know how this brand matches up to different channels and how effective those channels will be at driving that brand’s growth.

You can make an educated guess based on past experience and information other marketers have shared, but that’s it. It’s just an educated guess. A growth marketer’s job is to find out what actually works for the brand they’re growing, and to switch it up quickly when something fails to deliver.

This means performing tests and trying out new channels in short sprints, while getting comfortable making informed decisions at speed. You have to be prepared to work on different tasks day-to-day and even hour-to-hour. You might be split testing landing page elements one day, working on top-of-the-funnel content the next, and reducing churn the day after that.

If you’re not happy working on such a diverse range of tasks and swapping between them as needed, you’re probably not cut out for growth marketing.

3. A focus on the full funnel

A good growth marketer recognizes that not all website visitors or prospects are created equal – that each one has different pain points and is at a different stage of the buying cycle.

Of course, we can’t create a strategy that targets each visitor or prospect individually, so we have to find some way of grouping them together. This is where the sales funnel comes in.

Image Credit

A sales funnel groups prospects according to their position in the sales cycle. At the top of the funnel are those that are aware they have a “problem” but they don’t know how to resolve it. These are also people who have never been exposed to the brand. For myself, a prospect at the top of the sales funnel would be someone who wants to grow their company, but has no idea how.

At the bottom of the funnel are qualified leads – someone that is genuinely considering becoming a customer. This generally means they have made an inquiry, or, depending on the product, started a trial.

Effective growth marketing considers the whole funnel. Focusing on a single stage is going to hold back a brand’s growth significantly. It either means you’re not working to draw in new potential leads, or you’re not doing enough to convert those leads into customers.

That said, there’s a trick to targeting the sales funnel, something that can speed up how quickly you grow.

When implementing a growth-based marketing strategy, most marketers start from the top of the sales funnel. That’s logical – get people to your site, and try to convert them later – but it’s wrong.

Instead, try starting further down the funnel. Target those who are most likely to buy, and then try to convert them.

To do this, you might use:

  • Paid ads (both in the SERPs and on social media – particularly Facebook).
  • Retargeting campaigns.
  • Drip campaigns.
  • Display ads.

Only once you have a steady stream of new customers from this strategy should you work your way up the sales funnel and target those at the start of the sales process (i.e. those who know they have a problem, but not how to fix it).

To do this, you might use:

  • Blog content (especially 10x content).
  • Podcasting
  • Video content and guides.
  • Creating content for other industry sites (primarily guest posts).

Will you get results if you start at the top of the funnel? Yeah, probably. After all, the most important thing is to ensure you’re working on the full funnel – but you’ll get better results, faster, if you start from the bottom and work your way up.

What do you think are the most important elements needed for effective growth marketing? Let me know what you think in the comments below.

3 Common Messaging Mistakes Made By B2B Companies, and How To Avoid Them

  In my travels as a growth marketing consultant, one the most common utterances I hear from B2B CEOs or Founders is “we need some help with our positioning” or “we need to tighten up our messaging.” The nuance between positioning and messaging aside, the common underlying agita is a feeling that the company is […]

In my travels as a growth marketing consultant, one the most common utterances I hear from B2B CEOs or Founders is “we need some help with our positioning” or “we need to tighten up our messaging.”

The nuance between positioning and messaging aside, the common underlying agita is a feeling that the company is not speaking to potential customers in the most compelling way possible.

There’s a feeling that there’s a disconnect between what’s being said, and the message that would resonate most strongly with potential customers. Or there’s just no consistency in the story that’s being told at all.

As I pondered this, I realized that I’ve never heard this request from a company that’s already doing well. Companies that are already scaling may want to go faster, may want more leads, may want to source bigger deals, or may want to experiment with pricing.

But it’s the companies who are under performing who tend to identify messaging as an area that needs some TLC. And it makes sense – if your messaging isn’t speaking to the pains and desires of your potential customer base, you can do everything else right and still really struggle to achieve your growth goals.

As I studied the companies that self-identified as needing help with their messaging, three patterns began to emerge.

This post will identify some of the common pitfalls B2B companies fall into with their messaging – if you read this and realize your company is guilty of one of these, it may be time to reevaluate the messaging you’re bringing to market.

Let’s dive in.


Self-identifying as #1

Identifying as Number 1

Everybody and every company wants to be “#1.”

That’s OK, but you’re not Nelly.

Think of it this way – selling almost any product is a lot like dating. People buy products from people they like on a personal level, just as they date people they genuinely like on personal level.

Most people are attracted to others who are self aware, and who can speak to their strengths and weaknesses honestly and comfortably. If a guy/gal approached you in a bar and the first thing they said was “I’m the #1 person you should consider dating,” you’d be a little off-put, wouldn’t you?

I find this message to be problematic for a few reasons.

First off, I would argue that the companies that are undeniably #1 in their market don’t often make this proclamation.

They don’t need to, because everyone already knows it.

Salesforce doesn’t tout itself as the #1 CRM on the planet – they don’t need to, as everyone is aware of their market position. That message would be nothing but wasted breath, a missed opportunity for them.

The second problem with this messaging direction is that often it’s either simply not true, or it’s such a vague proclamation that there’s no clear understanding of what makes them #1.

What’s the metric or source of data that you’re leaning on when making that statement? And is that the same metric or source of data that your competitors are relying on when making a similar declaration?

Ultimately this more often than not confuses potential customers and erodes their confidence in your business.

The good news is that the intention behind the “#1” message is most often a good one – what these businesses are after is credibility.

They are trying to increase consumer confidence.

It’s very similar to the notion that “nobody ever got fired for buying IBM.” Companies believe that by saying they’re #1, consumers will feel a level of comfort knowing that they are buying the best.

To solve this problem, ask yourself, “Are my potential customers really trying to buy #1?”

Chances are, probably not – they’re not trying to buy your product simply because it’s the best, they’re trying to buy some unique aspect or characteristic of your product that makes it the best.

What specific attributes of the market leading solution in your industry do buyers care about? The more specific you can be, the better. In the age of buyer empowerment, credibility absolutely does matter – probably more than ever before. Look for other ways to highlight your company’s credibility through social proof, user reviews, testimonials, or any other means that’s more specific and more human than simply declaring your business to be #1.

And if you feel like your company really is #1, take it one step further – what are you #1 in? What makes you #1?

Maybe you have the most customers. Maybe you have the most revenue. Maybe your product is the most reliable on the market by some concrete measure.

Call those items out specifically and more times that not your message will resonate more deeply with your prospective customers.


Self-Identifying as “Next Generation” or “Transformative”

Identifying as Next Generation

How many times have you heard of a new product that represents the “next generation” of a product that you’re already using? How many times have you heard about a product that’s going to “transform” your industry?

Probably quite a few.

Now take a step back – when you’ve heard these sentiments, how many times has the “next generation” product really been that drastically different from what you’re using today?

Better yet, how frequently have you seen your industry “transformed?” Messaging in this direction is often exhausted and almost always results in a product falling short of the expectations that have been set.

Simply put, you can do better.

There are two trends that are common when I’ve seen messaging in this direction.

The first one is that the company guilty of this messaging is a technology company.

Think about that for a moment… this both makes sense, yet makes no sense at all.

Technology companies are interested in using applied science, their own knowledge, and technical means to build something new and better for a practical purpose. They are inherently trying to build the next generation of something that already exists; or they are trying to build something completely new to transform the way a practical task has historically been accomplished.

All of which is to say being “next generation” or “transformative” is part of their DNA – taking the time to state this outright represents once again wasted breath.

The second trend is that once again messaging in this direction comes from a well-intentioned place.

Entrepreneurs and business owners are usually excited about their products – they have to be if they are to have any chance of being successful. With that excitement comes a natural bias towards their own products, and a heightened sense of the differences between their product and other similar products.

With that bias and level of excitement, the differences between products appear larger than they actually are, most often well beyond what are perceived to be meaningful or truly significant differences to the business’ end customers.

Next thing you know, you’re bringing to market a product that you’re calling “next generation” or “transformative.”

The solution to this issue is once a gut check, as well as a higher degree of specificity.

Markets are sometimes transformed, no doubt – but if you’re an entrepreneur, ask yourself “how many times have I heard that? And how many times has it actually come true?”

If you’re honest with yourself it’s pretty rare that a product transforms a market, so take an honest, closer look at the transformative power of your product. Chances are your product is closer to “next generation” than “transformative,” so then ask yourself “what’s next generation about my product specifically?”

There is undoubtedly something specific that you are doing differently that you think offers your customers a better experience.

Call that out, as specifically as you can.

It may feel strange, and it may not feel “big enough” to be one of your leading messages… but chances are it probably is.

Specificity and honesty saves buyers time, builds credibility, and earns your business trust.

What’s more important than that when it comes to messaging that drives business results?


Serving Your Own Needs Rather Than Those of Your Potential Customers

Ignoring Your Customers

The last messaging mistake I commonly see is less specific but even more widespread than the two I’ve mentioned thus far – and best yet, it’s perhaps the easiest to rectify.

Simply stated, it’s messaging that serves the needs of the company and its employees but not the needs of the potential customer.

The easiest way to identify this issue is to read your company’s messaging and simply ask yourself, “Do I care about this, or does our potential customer?”

This mistake can take countless forms.

For sake of illustration, consider “An energetic, innovative CRM company that’s taking down Salesforce.”

While this is a bad hypothetical example, you’ve probably seen messaging somewhat like this before. In fact, this message has some positive feelings to it!

The problems here could be…

  • A) Who is looking for an “energetic” CRM?
  • B) Are buyers specifically looking for an “innovative” CRM? Probably not – most CRM buyers want something functional that serves their needs well.
  • C) Do buyers care about “taking down Salesforce?” Again, probably not.

Sticking with this example, all of these attributes likely DO serve the interest of the company and its employees.

Working in a fast paced, energetic, start-up environment is attractive to many potential employees. Likewise, working at an “innovative” company could help attract top level engineering talent.

And who doesn’t like a David versus Goliath scenario, where you’ve got a chance to take down or disrupt an industry leader? The message may very well be effective in helping the company with recruiting, as well as generating excitement and good will with existing employees of the business.

But if the message isn’t speaking to the pains and desires of the potential customer base, customer acquisition will suffer.




So much has changed in B2B marketing over the last 20, 10, even 5 years – sometimes it’s dizzying to consider.

But some marketing fundamentals are forever. Taking the time to carefully consider whether your business’s messaging serves the interests of your potential buyers is an exercise that will always pay dividends.

Watch out for the three pitfalls described above, and pressure test your existing messaging for self-serving bias as well as it’s level of specificity.

How to Hack Brand Awareness and Unlock Revenue Growth

Growth Marketers have 19 different customer acquisition channels at their disposal to drive distribution strategy and revenue growth. But very few channels will prove effective unless we can cut through the noise and build brand awareness: Hitting home on what matters most to the customer. Before you start testing for traction you’ll need to tackle the other two ‘fits’ (language/market and channel/product) by focusing on three […]

Growth Marketers have 19 different customer acquisition channels at their disposal to drive distribution strategy and revenue growth.

But very few channels will prove effective unless we can cut through the noise and build brand awareness:

Hitting home on what matters most to the customer.

Before you start testing for traction you’ll need to tackle the other two ‘fits’ (language/market and channel/product) by focusing on three things:

  • what your brand is
  • how your brand resonates with your existing audience
  • who your target customer is

All of these are important, but the last one—in particular.

Knowing your customer is one of the most important factors in transitioning to growth.

As Jeremiah Gardner eloquently put it:

“Learning to see your growth efforts through the eyes of your customer is a critical skill every growth marketer should possess.”

But shouldn’t we already be doing this?

Yes! Of course!


It’s obvious in theory, but in practice, the data proves otherwise.

A recent study by IBM showed that almost 80% of consumers surveyed said that brands really don’t know them.

The same study also found that almost 90 percent of marketers agree that personalizing the customer experience is critical to their success.

The divergence is not surprising — personalization and hyper-targeting are very labor intensive and require a lot of data collection.

But what happens if you a few weeks to launch in new cities and don’t have the marketing budget to deploy the most effective market expansion tactics used by Series A & Series B funded startups?

I arrived at a crazy hypothesis to test when I realized that my tests were performing poorly due to poorly constructed segments and a basic understanding of which messages resonated with whom:


There’s a reason I’m sharing these tactics with you today:

I found out what happens. And..

It helped us build brand awareness. Fast.

It is TOUGH to convince people to use your service when you haven’t invested the time in getting to know them.

But if you do, and execute it well…

You can expect some ridiculous results and significant revenue growth if you have product/market fit.

And at the center of it all is your brand and how it’s perceived by your existing customers:

I’ve found that consistency in brand positioning – the way your customers perceive your brand –

Is one of the best ways to not only build brand awareness in new markets

but to also gain credibility in the eyes of prospective customers

and get them to convert.

Keanu Reeves Whoa Meme


When Doorman launched in Chicago in October, we knew there was a need for our service.

And having only been at the company for two weeks, there was a lot of customer data I didn’t know and wouldn’t be able to obtain:

  • Who that person who needed it was
  • How they would respond to certain messaging
  • What voice to utilize when trying to acquire customers
  • Why potential customers would use our service (there are many use cases)

But in those first 90 days, we kept learning about Doorman customers, we kept learning about the Doorman brand, we built up our brand awareness…

and doubled MRR in the process.

We took what we knew about the pain points of our customers in the distinct, homogenous segments in our first market and used them to unify our brand voice and identity across our channels.

We then took a press release from a local media authority that aligned our message, voice, and identity and pushed it out into the world without a noticeable Call-to-Action via Facebook:

Doorman Promoted NYC PR Post

Source: Doorman

The rest, and to paraphrase Rand Fishkin, a little bit of serendipity.

In this post, I’ll cover the steps we took to build this brand awareness campaign and acquire new customers for pennies on the dollar.

You’re about to learn about your customers and understand your brand at scale. Fast.

I want to get you thinking about the following questions and how you can extract the answers to these questions:

  • Why should startups care about their brand identity and positioning early on?
  • How can I use what I discover about my brand and/or customers to use as a starting point for my traction experiments?
  • Where can you inject your brand positioning across channels to improve your traction tests?

If you have product/market fit and need to get to know your customers quickly, don’t panic.

Simply shut out the rest of the world for a bit and continue reading… Or bookmark this article for reading later…

Because we’re diving in deep and getting tactical.

And believe it or not, it may actually (gasp!) be actionable.

Let’s get started!



When it comes time to throw things at the wall to see what sticks,

how often do you think about the impact your brand has on your customer acquisition tactics?

Most startups don’t have the growth marketer equal of an all-state quarterback. More often than not, pursuing traction takes a backseat to developing product.

Which means you often lack data.

Data on the psychographic traits of your customers.

Like knowing what the most frequent Zero Moment of Truth your high value customers experience.

You know, important stuff.


My Moment of Truth

While examining the messaging for the 400+ startups in the on-demand space, (I eyeballed that number, don’t quote me on it) I developed the following hypothesis:

An opportunity existed to differentiate ourselves from the glut of startups using feature and benefits-driven positioning by being able to answer the following questions holistically with our market messaging and brand voice:

  • How do we make the customer feel by using our service?
  • What emotions do customers receive as a result of using our service?
  • What it our value as seen through the eyes of our best customers?
  • What is the nature of our brand? What is our character?

The good news?

Your customers own your brand.

How they feel about your company is how it is perceived.

In other words:

You can get insight into how they feel towards your brand by asking…

Or by getting unsolicited feedback.

Just like the following gentleman from Chicago did, when I was used generic messaging in a paid acquisition channel test

(and sounded like every other on-demand startup from San Francisco)

Brand Criticism Facebook Post

Source: Doorman

Albeit crude, it was just the wake-up call I needed.

Jesse, if you’re reading this:

Thank you for inspiring my hypothesis. You’re the best.



Sherlock Holmes Silhouette

Source: Pixabay

“Data! Data! Data!” he cried impatiently. “I can’t make bricks without clay.”

Sherlock Holmes

Broadly-targeted customer profiles, leaky conversion funnels, or improperly setup tracking mechanisms on your web properties are just a few of the things that we have to endure when the product/traction balance is not maintained.

You need customer data.

But you may be asking, where do I start?


Short answer: No.

Have you ever googled “buyer persona questions?”

If you haven’t, don’t bother.

Yikes! How many questions do I really need to ask? 100? 150?

The answer: Only a few,

because “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”

You’ll need a minimum-viable buyer persona.

Buyer Persona Questions Google Search

Source: Doorman

You do, however, have time to think about what data would be most valuable to your business.

My approach was inspired by Michael Skok’s concept of the Minimum Viable Segment.

The key is to ask the least amount of questions that will yield the greatest impact on your traction tests.

But, you’ll also need to make the data you will need to collect relevant to your business model.

For example:

We have a subscription-based revenue model and utilize the Startup Metrics for Pirates: AARRR framework. #500Strong

Dave McClure AARRR Framework


So, we asked questions that aligned closely with this model.

Since we were launching in two new cities a few weeks apart from one another, we wanted to focus on understanding how users find us and how they tell others about services they like.


Craft Your Minimum Viable Buyer Persona

In order to build brand awareness we had to ask the following of the customers most familiar with our brand:

How customers discovered us

  • What was your primary reason for trying the
    service for the first time?
  • Where did you first hear about us?

How customers perceive our brand

  • Which terms do you associate with our brand?
  • We’d love to know how our customers describe our service. How do you describe it?

How customers share with their friends

  • Which two social networks are you most active on?
  • How do you recommend a product or service that
    you think a friend would enjoy?
  • How did you describe our service when you first told someone about it? (Language/Market Fit)

Getting answers to these questions gave us more psychographic variables to incorporate into our segmentation for future tests.

Quick note: Each startup will have different gaps in their customer data, so don’t feel obligated to use these exact questions. However, don’t fall prey to greedy marketer syndrome, be sure to only ask for what you need – each additional question decreases the likelihood of the customer completing it. 


You need explicit qualitative data that will inform language/market fit and channel/product fit.

Interviews take too long.

It’s likely that you’ll collect that information using a survey — which means you’ll have to ask for the moon on a stick.

Sending a one-size-fits-all email to your customers for such a big ask is not going to cut it.

Think about it:

Why would someone take time out of their day to help you when you can’t even take the time to write them an email that is relevant and personalized to them?

Multiply that times 50 if you’ll be asking them to take a survey.

Asking a customer to take a survey can be a daunting experience.

Especially when their cumulative responses will save you tens of hours in interviewing time or thousands of dollars from being wasted communicating the wrong message to the wrong audience.


In short: there is no room for error.

Turning a sharp corner on a motorbike

Source: Pixabay

Don’t worry, I have you covered on delivering a highly-personalized ask to your customers.

A friendly reminder of the value you’ve delivered to your customer over time is the best approach.

Doing so requires a bit of creativity and some inspiration from my ‘junk email’ account.


Customer Survey Email Copy Template

Fair warning: My background in analytics and operations. Writing copy is not. Please be kind. Source: Doorman


Ultimate Survey Email Copy Checklist

Outlined below you’ll find either: the logic behind why that question was asked of the customer or what custom data needs to be appended to your email list upload.

Step 1) Ask customers who know your brand for a favor.

Step 2) Personalize the email with their name.

Step 3) Quantify how long they’ve been a customer

Step 4) The phrase bracket should read something like:

  • “about six months ago”
  • “about a year ago.”

Step 5) Quantify the value delivered as a result of your relationship with the customer.

  • We used deliveries – if you received 30 deliveries over the past 5 months, we included it that figure in the email.

Step 6) Set proper expectations: you are asking people to take a survey after all.

  • How long is this survey going to take?
  • What is the survey about?
  • What will you use this information for?

Step 7) Use a CTA button containing the customer’s unique ID in your database.

Step 8) Thank them and sign it as the co-founder.


Pushing Customer Data to Your Survey Tool

Pushing customer data is essential to having a 1-to-1 match for your survey responses.

You’ll want to take the customer’s unique ID housed in your database’s user table and push it to the survey tool using hidden fields.


What to Expect When You Click Send

If you have a high NPS (Net Promoter Score) and put all these ideas into practice, two things you are likely to do:

  • blow some minds
  • actually get people to open the email and take your survey.

Survey Invitation Email with a 45% CTR

Ultimate Email Survey Results

Source: Doorman

Don’t Forget: Email deliverability matters. Run a series of email deliverability and rendering tests using a tool like Litmus. It comes pre-loaded into Campaign Monitor, the email client we use at Doorman.

Every aspect of the email needs to be on point – design included.

It’d be awful to hear about one gaff that caused your email to hit the junk folder.



If you are asking your customers to take a survey, put some personality into the content and care into it’s design. Make it as fun as a survey possibly can be.

It’ll make a huge difference in the response rate.


Tips For Creating an Effective Customer Survey

  • Have 1-to-1 match for each survey response to a customer ID in your database
  • Front-load the survey with your most pressing questions you need answered in the event that the respondent drops off at some point
  • Incorporate logic maps
  • Inform respondents of their progress during the survey
    • Ex. “The longest part of the survey is over! You’re almost home free… five short multiple choice questions left!!!”
  • Reward them for completing the survey

Avoid These When Creating Survey Questions

  • Anchor a response, or in other words: ie. fabricating a bias by presenting answers in a certain manner or order
  • Waste valuable survey real estate asking questions you can answer by analyzing existing data
  • Having more than one free-form response


Get an 89% Completion Rate On Your Customer Survey

Customer Survey with High Completion Rate

89% Completion rate.

I’m becoming a believer of this customer-centricity approach.

After you compile the results, you’ll want to map your findings (with a match such as a VLOOKUP) to every other data point you’d like to incorporate into segmentation.

Latent Class Models or a K-Means clustering algorithm (using R or Excel respectively) will do the trick (I’ll cover this topic in a future blog post at some point).

After you’ve re-segmented your high value customers that know you’re brand,

Take a moment and do one of these!

Brand Building On Oprah's Couch




What We Learned From Doorman Customers

How customers discovered us

  • What was your primary reason for trying the
    service for the first time?
  • 43% were worried about package theft
  • 24% work late and needed evening package delivery
  • 13% purchased items requiring a signature (wine, iphones, etc…)
  • Where did you first hear about us?
    • 30% learned from a friend
    • 17% learned via social media

How customers perceive our brand

  • Which terms do you associate with our brand?
    • 80% said Reliable
    • 52% said Friendly
    • 41% said Innovative
    • Followed by: Cool, Boring, Caring, Stealthy, Snooty, and Useless.
  • We’d love to know how our customers describe our service. How do you describe it?
    • Take a look at our home page, you’ll see the messaging there: front and center.

How customers share with their friends

  • Which two social networks are you most active on?
    • 79% of respondents selected Facebook
    • 40% of respondents selected
  • How do you recommend a product or service that
    you think a friend would enjoy?

Survey-inspired Assumptions Tested And Validated 

We then tested the efficacy of utilizing look-a-like audiences using a segmentation model that included the data captured in the survey vs a look-a-like audience that lacked many of the psychographic variables.

The former outperformed the latter by a magnitude of nearly 7x. 

Some other takeaways we got compelling evidence to support:

  1. Our brand voice needed to reflect our customers’ perception of us.
    1. We needed to have a voice that aligned with our customers’ perception of our brand – one of reliability and friendliness.
    2. Check out Erika Heald’s method for developing a brand voice chart. It’s super helpful for this step.
  2. Double-sided referrals aren’t likely to be effective.
  3. Focus on messaging that addresses their biggest pain-point: worrying about packages being stolen
  4. Our customers learn about new services/products on Facebook



After spending too much money on testing inneffective conversion-focused campaigns and app-install campaigns, we had a hunch that we needed to re-evaluate our approach and focus on educating the customer in Chicago and New York.

Doorman Chicago Facebook Campaign

Source: Doorman

Use a Local PR-Driven Promoted Post On Facebook To Drive Brand Awareness

Outlined below you’ll find the best iteration of the PR-Driven Promoted Post Tactics we tested.

  1. Imagery that immediately get to that “a-ha moment” to establish the context of the post.
  2. Keep It Simple and focused on target market
  3. Explicitly state what problem you solve (avoiding package theft)
  4. Promote a piece from a media outlet with significant clout in your target market.
  5. Boost a post featuring a story that aligns with the pain points you are addressing with your brand messaging and market positioning


Chicago Sign up Conversion Rate

Source: Doorman


 Referral Traffic From Promoted Posts Drive Chicago Signups

One of the most profound things was an incredible average conversion rate we got on the referral traffic. I utilized a piece pitched to DNA Info Chicago and gave the promoted post a facelift to hit the pain points more effectively.

Average weekly Sign Up rate Peaked at 16.67%.

Doorman New York Promoted Post

Source: Doorman

Replicate Chicago’s Acquisition Success in New York City

So we did it again in New York a few weeks later,

employing the same strategy – using a piece our PR team pitched to Brick Underground instead.

The conversion rates for the NYC tests were even higher.

Topping out at an average 26.67% for the week.

Home Page Referral Conversion

Source: Doorman


Some context: Doorman had a good understanding of the demographics of our customers (at the aggregate level) and worked with our PR agency, Antenna Group, to pitch local and national publications that aligned with our audience just before I joined Doorman.


“Make sure you hold the hands of as many customers as it takes

– Aaron Ross, Author of Predictable Revenue

Package Theft Facebook Promoted Post

Source: Doorman

Do Things That Don’t Scale

Growth marketers are knee deep in data for a majority of their day. They should jump at every opportunity they have to get in front of and delight potential customers.

The most important tactic in this set of tactics focused on communicating with potential early adopters.

It was also the best part about running these experiments.

Interacting With Potential Early Adopters

  • Make it personal: include your name in your responses
  • Be thankful to the person sharing on your behalf: Tell them they’re awesome, too
  • Introduce yourself: See if they have any questions about the service/product
  • Be ridiculously helpful: Do your very best to answer any question they may have.
  • Don’t be a stiff: Have a sense of humor – prospective customers aren’t talking to the customer service department at a large company.
  • Follow up: If the conversation trails off, check in a few days later


Final Thoughts

Launching campaigns in new markets that both educate your target market and make them want to use your service isn’t easy. Especially on a shoe-string budget.

However, going back to the fundamentals of knowing your brand and your customer — are your best bet at achieving a good foundation for testing your traction channels.

Although this may seem ludicrous, employing these tactics allowed us to launch GTM campaigns in two cities on a seed stage budget – something others did in the space in Series A or Series B.

It pays to listen to your customer.

I’d love to hear your approaches to combining traction channels and finding something that moves the needle. What methods have you used?


Chris Gadek is Head of Growth & Marketing at Doorman where he is building the next great technology brand. He is obsessed with using the intersection of people, process, technology, and analytics to drive growth.

Connect with him on Twitter @dappermarketer for the latest in growth marketing strategy and tactics or shoot him an email at chris (dot) gadek (at) doorman (dot) co.