Affiliate Revenue Model Example - Zuora

A Letter from the CEO - James Ferguson

I’m James Ferguson, CEO of Immutable and Gods Unchained. In addition to Chris Clay’s recent State of the Beta, I wanted to give an overview of our journey with Gods Unchained and where we’re heading.
Gods Unchained has always had a grand vision. When we sat down to plan it, we knew exactly what we wanted: to combine the magic of physical card ownership with the convenience and fun of digital TCGs. To build the first AAA quality game with blockchain assets at its core.
When Gods Unchained was conceived, Immutable had 3 employees, but only two desk seats at a coworking space… We then grew to 10 full-time and our first playable version of Gods Unchained. Today, we have our own office, and 63 incredibly talented people who are hard at work building something important.
In that time we’ve made many learnings, with the main ones I’d like to talk about being:
On Play to Earn...
How important can a new TCG really be? Gods Unchained is the first example of a new type of game, a game which radically shifts the relationship between players and developers. A lot of you will already know this, but for those who don’t, it’s important to understand what exactly Gods Unchained does differently, and why the biggest gaming investor in the world and the biggest public crypto company in the world think it is the first example of an entirely new genre of game.
In the physical world, if I sell you a shirt, it’s yours. You can wear it, sell it, store it in your basement or destroy it – like I said, it’s yours. However, if you bought a shirt from Target, and they told you that (1) you couldn’t lend it to a friend and that (2) they could take it from you at any time, you’d correctly refuse to buy it: that’s (at best) a rental, not a sale. However, in the digital worlds of modern free to play (F2P) gaming, this is exactly what happens. Companies sell you a virtual shirt that you have absolutely no legal rights over. Last year, F2P games made $87B using this model. None of it went to players. We’re determined to change this.
While tradable assets are not new in games, what’s new is the power that trustless ownership, programmable assets and the infrastructure of the Ethereum network bring to the table. These go beyond simply buying and selling in-game items, as it’s the things that allow users to creatively utilize assets beyond the game that really excite us – like smart contracts being able to interface with your digital assets to create new ways to earn. The potential we see in this space grows with every day that Gods Unchained expands.
The Play to Earn process is the foundation of our game, and every iteration is based around the above ethos of true, trustless ownership. We’ve had a few iterations of this so far, and we’re constantly learning from these segments in order to build out more instances in the future.
One of the biggest scaling potentials for Play to Earn comes from our work with StarkWare on building out Immutable X so that our players and buyers can capitalize on the bonuses of blockchain (namely: trustlessness & programmability) without being hindered by the downsides (gas fees & limited output).
The learnings we’ve gained from the Genesis Raffle and the Flux & Fusing system have shown us what Play to Earn needs to take off and run in a sustainable manner, and Immutable X is a big key to carving this out as we forge ahead.
On blockchain’s potential...
Immutable X also helps reinforce the creation of user-built tools. Blockchain assets create a space where anyone can build an extension to Gods Unchained’s asset system. Here, users have complete freedom to interact with these extensions, with no input from Immutable. We believe that you are, after all, best placed to make that call.
When this is combined with upcoming guaranteed Immutable X fees for affiliates and sites who drive liquidity, this means that now is an exciting time to be building community tools for Gods Unchained, and we’re incredibly grateful for those talented people who are doing so now. When we first started, we had a few ideas of what could happen in this space, but we’re endlessly surprised (and impressed!) with what the community is doing in this space.
Outside of Immutable X, there are other infrastructure spaces showing huge potential on the Ethereum network that have come to our attention, the most recent being the billions of dollars locked in decentralized finance (DeFi). How we can deliver more value to our players and buyers based on the inherent interoperable nature of cards and chests is a question constantly at the forefront of our minds, and DeFi has the potential to become an extremely exciting area for this, but one we’re only just starting to explore.
For example, Genesis and Season 1 chests are ERC20 tokens and therefore compatible with many existing DeFi primitives. While they are unopened, there are some wild ways in which they can be plugged into the wider ecosystem, such as:
These are simply ideas at this stage, but we’ll have more on this soon...
On going mainstream...
So where are we with Gods Unchained? Are we ready to take advantage of these benefits, and to take the game to a million plus players? I’ll be honest: not just yet. We’re extremely keen to do this, and we have the money to simply purchase a large number of new users. But we know that, for any influx of players to be long-term sustainable, we need the following:
  1. Improvements to the UX of onboarding
  2. Improvements to the core loop of the game (e.g. the aforementioned Play to Earn)
  3. Scalability and liquidity for asset trading
We are continuing to explicitly focus on these problems, both in isolation and holistically. We want to create an enormous Gods Unchained economy, and this is where Immutable X’s function is at its most important, as it will keep the economy intertwined to progression through the Gods Unchained experience. This will enable us to retain mainstream users long term while creating value inside our existing economy.
With these changes and mobile in the works, we think that Gods Unchained will be ready to start scaling to the big leagues and hit the goal of 1M players.
The upcoming season will quite possibly be the last time where Gods Unchained is still quite niche, for early blockchain enthusiasts and some TCG players rather than all mainstream players. As we complete the final necessary pieces of the Gods Unchained ecosystem, the next step function planned is growth: for the playerbase, market and liquidity.
We think all of these upcoming opportunities are incredibly exciting, and it makes coming in to work each day both a joy and a rollercoaster. TCGs are popular – centralised games like Hearthstone have had their annual revenue estimated at over $400M. This revenue is essentially from selling a license to use non-sellable cards for entertainment. What Ethereum is doing to finance, by being programmable money, we aim to do to Hearthstone and Magic the Gathering by creating programmable cards and packs, and real markets.
For our players and fans, we are so grateful that you’ve been on this journey with us. We’ve grown immensely in the past year, and so has our ability to work effectively as a team and prioritize the most important tasks to both us, as a company, and you, the community (a balancing act that could count as the fourth major learning in this piece). We think we’re about to enter the phase where the journey becomes increasingly interesting and we’re excited to share this next part with you.
Sincerely,
James Ferguson, Immutable CEO
submitted by Immutable_Team to GodsUnchained [link] [comments]

Stream Guide for Beginners - Updated for 2020!

Hey Everyone,
I decided to update my previous guide on beginning on Twitch. Hopefully this is helpful!
It'll cover a large variety of topics, with a lot of suggestions based on my observations and professional experience streaming for my game studio. It is for anyone who plans to use OBS (or OBS variants), Xsplit is a different beast and I am unfamiliar with it. So before we begin, buckle up, put on your helmet, and get your travel mug cause we're going for a rip!

Creating Your Channel

  1. Coming Up With A Name: Like any product, you want something that is catchy, simple, and memorable. Also, for those who really want to roll with it, you can have a theme! Your name is important because it really sets you up for having solid branding for your channel. Some people just make a channel, and their username is something unoriginal or unattractive "Jdawg2245" or "bigchonkyboi22" or something along those lines. You are trying to diversify yourself in this highly competitive market, so give thought to your channel name because it sets the stage for a lot of future decisions. Think up something that rolls off the tongue and is easy for someone to remember if recommend. For example "JackDavies" or "PapaSmurf". Those are easy to remember and don't require memorizing what numbers or symbols were in there.
  2. Catch Phrases: It may sound silly, but catch phrases are pretty common for content creators. They create branding, and they create a sense of familiarity for fans/viewers to recognize a channel. CohhCarnage for example has his "Good Show!!" when he receives a sub, or for Ezekiel_III, he not only has a whole spiel, he also has a thing he does that is a unique fist bump for when he gets a new sub. When I sign off, I say "Catch ya on the flipside". It feels good to say and is distinctly me. Catch phrases aren't required, but it can build a sense of consistency and fun.
  3. Schedule: Before you stream, know when you plan to stream. This is important in order to provide a concrete, cut and dry, timeline of when you'll be online. This is important for viewer retention. Stream consistently for generating regular viewers as they can't come to watch, if there's nothing to watch! On the flip side, don't stream too much, or you'll burn yourself out, or have no new content. Keep it healthy, and keep it consistent. There are exceptions to this like Bikeman. He didn't have a schedule, he streamed when he streamed, and people would show up. That's an exception, not the norm.

Hardware

This is the most discussed part of streaming, each persons setup is unique, and it's difficult to say there is a perfect setup. What I'm going to do instead is explain to you the necessity of each component, and how it's critical to the stream and your viewers experience.
  1. CPU: The CPU (or Processor) is one of the most important aspects regarding the technical side of streaming. If you are using a 1 PC streaming setup, not only is it running the game, it is encoding your content as it broadcasts to Twitch (if using CPU b. What is Encoding? Encoding is the process of converting the media content that you are uploading (In this case audio-visual content) and converting it into a standard that Twitch will receive. Encoding is CPU intensive (uses a lot of CPU power) and this means you need a fairly decent CPU. I recommend some of the higher end CPUs in order to give yourself both sufficient processing power, and also some longevity. Buying an introductory processor will only mean you get a short time frame of which to utilize it. Higher end AMD/Intel processors will allow you to get the most for your money because even though it's $100 more, it may last another 2 years until needing to upgrade.
  2. GPU: Your GPU (or video card) is essential in running the games that you are playing. The two major players are AMD and nVidia. The better your GPU, the better your graphics will be, and the higher quality your stream will be because of how the game looks. Unless you're using the nVidia nvenc encoder, the GPU isn't super critical on the stream technical side of things, mainly just on the game side. If you are using NVENC, then your CPU doesn't have as much of a load which means more balanced. If you are playing via capture card and on a console, this will mean you can use either without concerns on how it impacts your
  3. RAM: Your RAM (or memory) is all about "short term memory", and the ABSOLUTE minimum I would recommend is 8GB, but I realistically, I recommend 16GB or more as Open World games and Battle Royale games are utilizing more RAM since they are temporarily storing data from servers in your RAM client side in order to display it on your machine as well as all of the visual assets you see. RAM significantly helps with multitasking as you start to run a few applications at the same time while you stream to help boost the quality of it.
  4. HDD/SSD: Your HDD (Hard Drive Disk) or SSD (Solid State Drive) are all about storage. SSD's are great for storing all your main programs and OS on, and running from there, and using a HDD for storing data is handy. HDD utilize mechanical components in order to run, therefore increasing the odds of fairly, so if your data is important to you, have a backup that is typically a bit larger than your current hard drive, in order to make sure ALL your content is backed up. SSD's use flash memory (the same as Thumb Drives, and this allows them to be faster, and more reliable, as the odds of mechanical failure are slim to none. If you are looking to edit your content on your computer, make sure to have a decent sized HDD so that you can record your stream as you stream it!
  5. Monitors: Monitors become your best friend as your stream grows. I currently use 2 monitors, although in the past I used to use three. I know right? I was insane! This allowed me to have the center monitor act as my main action monitor (the game I'm playing), my left monitor is my OBS screen so I can check my frames, uptime, and see any alerts that are broadcast (more on this later ;]), finally my right monitor was for my third party bot/chat which I now use Stream Elements for in OBS).
  6. Webcam: If you are deciding to use a webcam (some people stream without one, but it can help), it's worth getting a decent one right off the bat. A nice logitech webcam is around $100, but should last you for a couple years! The models I'd recommend are the Logitech C920/922 or the Logitech Brio (a 4k webcam). There are cheaper webcam, but you will notice changes in quality. I highly recommend at least something with 1080p and 30fps. A lot of the differences will be FoV (how wide of a shot it takes).
  7. Microphone: This is a more difficult decision. Each person has a different way they want to broadcast their audio to their viewers. Many just use a headset, and eventually upgrade to something else once they've established themselves. Others will use something with more umph right from the get go like a Razer Seiren, or a Blue Micophones - Yeti Mic. And even higher end people will use a digital audio input, a high end studio XLR microphone, and a scissor stand, to record professional quality sound, with more options for effects and the like. As a note, audio quality is a big deal. No one wants to listen to a rough sounding mic that sounds like it was bought for 10 bucks at the dollar store, so this is a good place to focus.
  8. Network: It is important that you have ~5mbps upload speed. This will allow you to upload at the recommended encoding bitrate of 2000kbps or higher. If you are playing an online game, while streaming, it's helpful to have a bit more speed to run. In a perfect world, a higher upload speeds means better quality for your stream if you can afford to increase the bit rate.
  9. Capture Card: for those of you who want to stream console games, a capture card is important. There are a variety of capture cards for old connections and for HDMI. You also have the option of internal or external capture devices. This will reduce the load on your PC as the processor or graphics card is being used just for encoding as the game is being played on the console. Search for the right capture card for you, and see how it goes! Elgato is a great brand for capture cards, as is AverMedia.
  10. Peripheral: This includes mice, keyboard, etc. This doesn't have a major impact on the stream, just get what you like and makes game-play more comfortable for you!

Setting Up OBS

  1. First, download OBS, this is the application that this guide is based off of, and while allow you to broad cast your stream to your twitch channel. There are some alternative OBS versions such as Streamlabs OBS, StreamElements has an addon for OBS, and Twitch has their BETA software, Twitch Studio.
  2. Second, follow the instructions to install OBS on your computer.
  3. Third, go to your Twitch Dashboard, go to Stream Key, and show your stream key. This is important for OBS to broadcast to your Twitch channel. Go to your OBS Settings-Broadcast Settings and input your stream key into the Play Path/Stream Key section, when you've set Mode to Live Stream, and Streaming Service to Twitch.
  4. Fourth, set your encoding bitrate. The golden rule for a non-partnered streamer is around 2000kbps for your Bitrate, but you can go higher, although without transcoding, you run the risk of some viewers having buffering issues. There are two encoding types, x264 (CPU Intensive) and NVENC (GPU intensive). Try testing both to see if you have any bottlenecks. I recently have switched to NVENC since I have been playing switch games, which means my GPU has more wiggle room and it's a bit higher end than my CPU.
  5. Fifth, set your video settings. The golden rule is 1280x720 (720P) with an FPS of 30. As your stream grows, you'll more likely get transcoding when capacity is available. If you are an affiliate, you will get priority access to transcoding for your viewers (the ability to set the resolution lower) as capacity is available, and as a partner, you will always have it.
  6. Sixth, set your Audio settings to how you like them (desktop audio device and what you want your default microphone to be). I personally have a higher quality, stereo microphone, so I force my Microphone to Mono.
  7. Seventh, start creating your scenes. There are two different squares you'll see. Scenes and Sources. Scenes are the unique scenes for say "Stream Starting", "Main Overlay", "BRB", "Stream Ending". Sources are the things that are added together to make a scene. This includes images for overlays, graphics, Browser Sources for alerts/notifications, Text, Webcam, etc. Scenes are very specific to each person, but I recommend checking other streams to see what is aesthetically pleasing to you. From there, you can either make them yourself, commission them, or you can use third party sources for scenes. As mentioned elsewhere, there are groups like Nerd or Die and Own3d.tv that sell overlays. Nerd or Die does have some pay what you want.
  8. Eighth, do a test stream. This is important for you to gauge if your quality settings are at the right place for you, and allows you to fine tune them.

Branding

  1. Logo: Your logo is your face. Find something professional, but at the same time catches the eye and helps draw a theme for you! You can check out certain sites like Fiverr to get a cheap starter logo without breaking the bank.
  2. Overlays: Whether you buy them online, have someone make them, or make them yourself, overlays help enhance your stream scene. Keep it simple, while still adding flair. Recently I removed some stuff from mine so there was more game space for what I am playing, while still displaying the same information for viewers regarding latest follower, donation, etc. There's a lot of Overlay sites such as Nerd or Die, Own3d.tv, and fiverr to get custom overlays. Find what works best for you.
  3. Information Panels: On your channel, you have information panels at the bottom. Use them to your advantage. I highly recommend having a schedule panel, links to your various social media, etc. Creating your own panels, that match your general theme, are worth it to create that Branding we are aiming for. You are the product, you don't want crappy packaging.
  4. Social Media: Try and match all your social media to your channel name. This breeds familiarity with all the folks you are networking with. They will recognize the name across all different social media platforms. Reddit, Twitch, Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, etc. I use PhazePyre for everything.

Streaming! The Good Part!

This is going to be general tips to help you on your path to becoming a great entertainer. There's ALWAYS room for improvement, even the best streamers and entertainers have room for improvement
  1. Don't be quiet: Talk to your viewers, whether it's 0 or 100. Talk to yourself, talk about what your doing, talk about the song, it's awkward at first but as you do it more often, you'll get used to it. Not only will this provide content and dialogue, it'll help you workout your vocal cords so that you can talk for extended periods. The big thing is you don't want to come across as boring. One way to help with this is to add very light background music to the stream. It helps fill the silence a bit in quieter games.
  2. Minimize off screen time: Try and minimize the amount of AFK time that you have. If you are younger, let your parents know you are streaming. Explain to them what you're doing, and hopefully they understand. Let them know how long you'll usually stream for, and if they absolutely need something, to let you know before hand, or via a text message. Nothing is worse than Mom busting in telling you to take your underwear out of the bathroom.
  3. Don't play oversaturated games: Try to avoid what I call the "Top 4", LoL, Dota2, CS:GO, Hearthstone, unless you are REALLY good at those games. They are competitive games, and you are competing with professionals of those games and giant tournaments. This is tough though, as it can be tricky to be found. You'll have viewers coming in and out of your stream, and depending on how you're packaged yourself, they may opt to chat and become a follower. Additionally, there's no perfect game to play. Find something that you know you can play regularly and it'll help you build
  4. Don't call out lurkers: Don't even get your bots to do it. It's tacky, and WILL make most people leave. Some people just want to sit back and see how you are. Lurkers are especially great as they'll help build your viewer count so you can break above the 90% of streams that are under 5-10 viewers.
  5. Don't ask for donations: i don't think I need to really explain why.
  6. Be Confident!: People like seeing someone who's comfortable, confident, and knows what they are doing, or, if you don't, "Fake it 'til you make it!"
  7. Network, Network, Network: The best way to network imo, is to support other streamers, and organically support their endeavours. What do I mean by "organic"? I mean don't force it. Find streamers you actually like and enjoy, who are around your size, and show your support because you care about THEIR stream, not just yours. It's tough though as you don't want to come across as only wanting to interact for their viewership.
  8. Create Channel Competitions: These can breed fan loyalty and help turn people from lurkers to regulars and super engaged community members! Don't worry if you can't afford it though.

Bots (The Good Kind)

I'm only gonna list the major three free bots
  1. Nightbot: A free, web based bot, that provides moderation capabilities, song requests, and custom commands.
  2. MooBot: Similar to NightBot in that it is cloud based. Includes song requests and more.
  3. Streamlabs' Cloud Bot: If you are using StreamLabs OBS, this will be optional to enable while using it. Definitely worth it so all of your settings are in one client. Offers many options like moderation, commands, timers, giveaways, and more.

Security

Doxxing, Swatting, etc, are all bad things that trolls will do to cause trouble. These are some ways to reduce the risk of having your personal information leaked, and to help keep you safe. You may not be worried, which is fine, but I know many people are concerned about their identity and safety, and these are a few tips to help
  1. Create a separate email, that doesn't include your name anywhere. This will create a divide between you and your online persona. Batman doesn't go around telling everyone he's [REDACTED] does he?
  2. If creating a PayPal, upgrade to a business account, and make sure all your information is kept private. Your address may be displayed when you purchase things, but this will protect you when users pay you money and it displays your information. I recommend using the Name of "YOUR CHANNEL NAME's Twitch Channel".
  3. DON'T USE SKYPE WITH VIEWERS, heck unless you 100% trust random viewers, don't even use TeamSpeak. Discord is is a new app that secures your ip to prevents users from obtaining your ip address and causing problems.
  4. Don't give too many details out about your location, and if you invite friends/family (I recommend not doing that so that you create an independent identity) make sure they don't address you by your name. Get a PO Box if you'd like to send things to viewers without worrying about them get your personal details.
  5. Ensure your Steam Profile is changed to your new channel specific email. If you send a game to someone for a giveaway, it will show your personal email unless you change it.

How to grow your channel

  1. Make content on other platforms outside of Twitch. YouTube, TikTok, and other forms of content based social media are great ways to passively grow your audience. Find out your specialty and put that out there. YouTube content should try and be unique compared to what you do on stream in order
  2. Build a community. Get to know the people coming to your streams. If you value them, they will value you and feel wanted in your community. As a smaller streamer this is your strongest tool. I highly recommend making a discord and inviting people to join it. If you integrate Mee6 as your Discord bot, it will notify people when you go live if you'd like, and that can help build retention and viewership.
  3. Roll with the punches. You make get trolls, the best way to deal with them is don't take the bait. Although not super valuable, I've had some trolls follow because of how I rolled with their attempts to troll me. I never saw them again, but the less serious to take them, the better a time you'll have.

DO NOT DO THESE

  1. Don't do Follow for Follow. Followers doesn't mean much. You want a high conversion rate, and these bloat your followers and don't typically result in extra views. The goal is to have as many followers be viewers as possible, a 1:1 ratio. That person following you isn't likely to watch your stream. What do I mean by have as close to a 1:1 ratio as possible? You want to try and have every follow be a viewer. Is it realistic that if you have 25k followers, that you'll have 25k viewers? No, it's not. but what's realistic is to focus on converting every follower into a repeat viewer. Tools like Discord can help bring them into your fold. Some people will follow and only come back infrequently, but over time, you can work to have them become a regular. But if you do Follow 4 Follow, you'll have a bunch of followers who just want you to watch them, and aren't likely to be a regular viewer.
  2. Don't pay for viewers (view bots). It's bad, Twitch will find out, and you'll be hooped.
  3. SupportSmallStreamers, FollowForFollow, and other "growth" hashtags really aren't that great. Everyone is out for themselves. Rather, find like minded streamers and become friends with them. When you care about others, they'll care about you.
  4. Be wary of Affiliate programs (outside of Twitch) as they aren't super beneficial for anyone. Focus on growth to build your influence and viewership, from there revenue will naturally come and you can prepare via agents/agencies, and the like. For now, dedicate your time to building a community. Rather than affiliate programs, use things like Amazon Blacksmith and personally recommend what you want and get some kick back.
  5. Some small streamef4f groups can cause problems for you long term. Studios and companies will blacklist people that aren't focused on quality content creation, and instead are looking for instant fame. Usually it means the quality of your content isn't great, and your influence is not equal to your numbers.

Summary

All in all, streaming is a fun time. It's worth getting into especially if you're charismatic and love to entertain. Charisma is hard to develop for some people, and you may not succeed, that's the reality of things. Do what you can and don't burn yourself out. Additionally, find what makes you stand out in the crowd. Twitch continues to grow for streamers, so you need to stand out in a good way. A solid way to grow is by creating content on other platforms and pushing people to Twitch. Twitch doesn't have great passive growth opportunities, but other platforms do. Funnel those followers to Twitch and you'll see better growth.
This guide isn't all inclusive and covers everything. There is SO MUCH to cover, but this is a beginners guide and enough to give you some tips, hot takes, and instructions to start your journey on Twitch. I have made a previous post about 4 years ago that won some awards, and this is just updated a bit to make it more relevant to 2020 as I still see people reading my post and sending me emails. So here's something freshened up.

Suggestions?

Feel free to pm me, or leave a comment with any additional content you'd like added to this guide, or feel free to comment if you have additional questions and I'll add to the guide! You can DM if you have any questions regarding streaming or any additional inquiries specific to you and not in general! If you were paying attention to my guide, you should be able to find me on social pretty easy as well ;)
Good luck streamers, and have fun!
submitted by PhazePyre to Twitch [link] [comments]

From 10 to 14,000 Youtube Subscribers in 3 Weeks. Here’s What Happened, & What I Learned.

You’ve got to be a bit crazy to leave a cushy job and a stable career to start your own business. Two months ago, I did exactly that when I left my multi-six figure salary and founded Your Auto Advocate with my business partner, AKA my dad.
At that time (the first week of March), it wasn’t clear what effect coronavirus would have in the United States. As the days and weeks unfolded I couldn’t help but get depressed. I’d talk with family or friends, and they’d say, “Boy, don’t you wish you had kept that job just a bit longer?” And I’d think to myself, “maybe?” I was confused, scared, and certainly not making much progress on my new business venture.
Then, amidst all this negative energy, my dad had a great idea; “Why don’t we film YouTube videos via Zoom?” Before working full time on Your Auto Advocate I had filmed a handful of videos with my dad. He would talk about the car business, I would post them on our YouTube channel, and we’d get a few hundred views. I had a vision for growing our YouTube channel into something sustainable and scalable for the business, but it never really took off.
Until… We started recording Zoom conversations like Ray had suggested. Here’s the story (and lessons learned) from growing Your Auto Advocate’s YouTube channel from 0 to 14,000+ subscribers in three weeks. Below you’ll see I am as transparent as I possibly can be, with screenshots from Google Analytics, Webmaster Tools, and Youtube Analytics. I hope you find this valuable.

What is Your Auto Advocate?

To provide clarity on what you are about to read, you need to have a brief understanding of what Your Auto Advocate is, and how YouTube (and content marketing in general) play into the company’s overall growth strategy.
Your Auto Advocate is a professional car buying service.
Let’s say you’re in the market to buy a new vehicle. Odds are, the thought of going into a dealership (or in our current state, going onto a dealer’s website), makes you queasy. That’s because most people do not trust car salespeople. I can’t blame them. Interacting with car dealerships is far from pleasant, and it’s tough to walk away from buying a new car feeling confident you got a great deal.
No one wants to be the guy or gal that makes the dealership a lot of money.
That’s where Your Auto Advocate helps. Instead of going to a dealership, you hire Your Auto Advocate. You tell Your Auto Advocate what vehicle you’re interested in, and they handle all of the dealer outreach and negotiation. Their only compensation comes from you, the client, so you have confidence they’re working the dealers for the best deal possible without a “kickback” of any sort.
That’s Your Auto Advocate in a nutshell. We make car buying simple, easy, and fun.
Now, to gain awareness for this new venture I was adamant that we needed to leverage Ray’s 43+ year career in the car business to teach consumers the ins and outs of how dealerships work. That led us to create videos and write written guides. My thought process was that if we could build trust with our audience early on, and give them the tools they needed to feel more comfortable buying a car on their own, then eventually, we’d find prospective customers that would pay us to simply do it for them.

Before we got traction

It’s important to recognize that Your Auto Advocate’s YouTube success did not occur overnight.
Before gaining traction, I fumbled around with a few videos that didn’t get more than a few hundred views. Those videos were shot in 4k, with professional lighting, a microphone, and more. The “new” videos we created from recorded Zoom calls (using our free Zoom accounts of course!), were in 360p, with no microphones, and no editing.
What changed from those original videos, to the recorded Zoom calls that allowed us to get over one million views in a few short weeks? Here’s what I think happened:
These three characteristics are what I think allowed us to find traction on YouTube.

The growth we experienced

As I wrote about a few months ago, finding your first paying customer is not easy. It was on April 19th, nearly 6 weeks after I quit my job, that we had our first paying customer. This is an important date, because it was just four days later that our YouTube videos began to pick up steam.
Screenshot of YouTube Analytics
As you can see in the screenshot of our YouTube analytics, we saw a massive increase in viewership over the past week or so. Before this spike, we were averaging around 100 views per day across all of our videos. On Thursday April 23rd we knew something was happening, because we spiked to 1,852 views.
I sent my dad this message on that day:
https://imgur.com/l7D5IeJ
Views on Friday the 24th grew to 4,400, then 21,916 on Saturday. This kept going until it reached the top on Saturday, May 2nd at 131,417 views in a single day.
https://imgur.com/tPo35xo
We’ve seen viewership decline since then, and if you asked me “why,” I wouldn’t be able to provide a concrete answer. I don’t know why.
We have a base of 14,000+ subscribers now though, so each of our new videos receives a few thousand views when we upload them. We’ll see if we’re able to grow more rapidly again in the future.
I have a lot to learn when it comes to developing a YouTube channel!

Converting viewers into customers

The goal of content marketing is to generate customers for your business. One of the benefits of YouTube is that you can monetize your content (you may have noticed in the screenshot above it showed nearly $3,000 in revenue from ads on our videos, for example), but the primary goal is to convert readers or viewers into customers.
We saw a huge spike in website traffic in conjunction with our growth on YouTube. People that found Your Auto Advocate on YouTube would then google search our name. Here’s the search data for “Your Auto Advocate”:
https://imgur.com/TXrYqwM
Once traffic reaches your website it’s important to have a clear “flow” for how users can convert into customers. Fortunately for us, the traffic that made it to our website was converting at a high clip! In the screenshot below you can see (to the right) the “goal conversion” for Marketing Qualified Lead. That is anyone that completes our Sign Up form.
Google Analytics screenshot
The bounce rate has been incredibly low, and the time on site has been incredibly high.
About 2% of traffic has converted into MQL, and over two thirds of that traffic has converted into a Sales Qualified Lead.
Those SQLs have converted into paying customers at a high clip too!
The funnel (as of writing this) is:
39% of visitors that fill out our sign up form have gone onto become paying customers!
Anecdotally speaking, the other 61% who are not converting into customers right now, have told us they’d like to work with us in the future, when they are ready to buy their next car. That being said, I anticipate more than 70% of our MQLs will convert into paying customers over the next few months. There really has been limited to no negative reaction to our business model, pricing, or value proposition. People really hate going into car dealerships or dealing with car salespeople, and we can take them out of that pain.
As in any service business, the more you can delight your customers, the better your chances are of gaining referrals and word of mouth recommendations. With that in mind, we created a compelling thank you page after paying your final invoice:
https://imgur.com/AHbmNNu
And, new reviews have been coming in too!
https://imgur.com/gVoXP3a

Where do we go from here?

Well, all this growth has forced Your Auto Advocate to mature more quickly than I had previously imagined. Our first employee will be joining us on May 25th to help us expand and meet demand! If you had asked me if this was possible one month ago I would have said “No way!” But look where we are now.
It’s truly incredible that some Zoom recordings with my dad have enabled our business to grow as quickly as it has. Authenticity goes a long way I suppose. Incredible.
There are a few high priority tasks I will be focusing on over the coming days and weeks:
I hope you found this interesting and valuable. I’ll post another update once I get a chance, sometime in June I imagine. Thanks for reading.
submitted by zachshefska to Entrepreneur [link] [comments]

A step-by-step guide of how I would build a SaaS company right now - part 2

This is part 2 of 5.
Part 1
LET'S DO THIS!
Big thank you to everyone that upvoted and commented on the last post.
I’m pumped, this is part 2 of 5 for those keeping track at home.
  1. Start with your revenue and monetization plan (are you targeting a sector that has money and can/will pay - Part 1)
  2. Align yourself with others in your space (cheapest way to get traction/credibility)
  3. Work on road mapping your product to align with what complements your partnerships (cheapest distribution)
  4. Work on building a marketing strategy that can help expose and align your brand while strengthening its recognition with your partners (will this make us both look good)
  5. Build customer advocates along the way, tell their stories (lead with examples)
Early traction, everyone wants it, very few people know how to do it effectively. Hell I’ve seen it all, run all the experiments, all the tests and I can tell you from experience if you have the patience, slow, steady, and surgical is the way to grow. Especially in the beginning.
In part one we spent a lot of time asking some basic fundamental business questions. Including, an exercise in the importance of being able to niche down.
We’re going to expand on the niching down because it’s how you gain clarity and find people to align yourself with early on.
The goal of this will be to understand:
  1. How to niche down
  2. How to use this to target a market and recognize opportunity
  3. How to position within that market
  4. How to give yourself the biggest chance of success
I’ve chosen to outline these in all our steps for niching down.
You’re going to see these steps move from research to market evaluation to list building stopping just short of outreach. We’ll touch on this in part 3.
Last week I took a call where someone told me their target market is males 25-45 that like sports.
This is the most important part of your entire business. I’m serious.
Let’s rock through this together so we can get you super focused and know where and how to spend your time and money.
(The below was laid out in part 1 and was the layered niching exercise)
LEVEL 1: We’re a helpdesk product.
How to niche down
The big question is “for who”?
So you’ve picked the type of product you are building and a use case, the problem is there are lots of people like you out there and this doesn’t tell me much about your market, it’s too broad.
How to use this to target a market and recognize opportunity
Because this is so broad, it’s impossible to actually target a market and without being able to do that, it’s not possible to recognize opportunities, there’s just too many of them.
How to position within that market
Competition is good and bad, but it’s always better to be a big fish in a little pond, the best way to reduce the size of your pond is to niche down as much as possible while still understanding a large enough TAM (total addressable market).
How to give yourself the biggest chance of success
No wasted effort. Every idea, concept, must have a small goal attached to it.
It’s too expensive to try to be everything for everyone and when you take this approach you end up failing at doing any one thing well enough for people to switch.
Let’s build on this.
LEVEL 2: We’re a helpdesk product for eCommerce companies.
How to niche down
Pick an industry or trend that is on the rise - look towards a shift or something that relates to changes people are making in their daily routine.
In this case we picked eCommerce because it’s on track to hit over $7 Trillion worldwide this year and has steadily been increasing across all brands. So we have an industry with a large enough economic driver to let us start niching down.
How to use this to target a market and recognize opportunity
We now buy things online that we never would have thought to do so even just a few years ago. Amazon is selling Tiny Homes now, seriously, if you can buy it, odds are you can do it online. There are massive opportunities to bring goods and services to people through convenient online shopping. And with that increase they will all need a help desk platform to provide the best experience for their customers.
Customers today don’t want to speak with people, they want answers quickly and easily. It’s all about reducing friction.
How to position within that market
Narrow down within the market. eCommerce is a good starting point, there are different industries, subsets, and categories. Go narrower. Start thinking about where the friction exists in the industry and for what subsets.
How to give yourself the biggest chance of success
In the beginning, it’s going to be an uphill battle, picking the right trending industry will give you the best chance of success. Something that is rising up to the right in popularity is way easier to sell into than a trend that is declining.
Know your competitive landscape.
Everyone has a competitor, whether direct, partial, or mildly related. Spend a lot of time on understanding this and knowing that your product is part of a very large landscape or landscape of potential competitors. Any one of the existing partial or mildly related competitors may be building something to more directly compete with you down the road.
Practical advice
Most companies stop here and hope for the best.
Unfortunately, this isn’t a go to market plan or a sustainable business model.
There’s an important bit worth mentioning here as it will become a theme of this entire post.
Great products enhance workflows through features, the focus isn’t on the product but what the product enables people to do. Success in the software business is all about understanding existing workflows and simplifying the experience.
As you do this exercise to niche down ask yourself:
What does the current workflow look like?
What are they currently using?
How are they currently using it?
Where are the gaps?
What are the best practices for creating workflows?
Always seek to understand how your product works in a workflow - what role it plays, how it best optimizes - this is the data play referred to in Part 1.
What are the things that matter most to people in the eCommerce space?
That’s a lot of questions with even more answers, when you peel everything back it becomes very clear that it’s not possible to answer all of them without going deeper.
Too many people to talk to, too many industries, too much everything.
Let’s take a different approach - how I got to Shopify in the next niche down.
No successful new SaaS company today launches without an integration.
So let’s find an eCommerce platform to integrate with.
We have to look for a stable player that has an app store and is a market leader.
As a starting point, my goal is to be a help desk for ecommerce companies.
  1. I need a list of all eCommerce platforms
  2. I need to understand which help desks they already integrate with
  3. I need to understand what people like and don’t like about them
  4. I need to find out which platform is going to be the best fit for my product
There are lots of sources for this and even more articles, google and read.
If you’re looking for numbers though and data, use BuiltWith and run a search on the platforms after you have your list to figure out which is the most popular.
Ok so we have our list of eCommerce platforms, we’ve analyzed the data, made sure they tick all the boxes and we’ve run our reports and found that Shopify powers 1.2 million stores.
Let’s lock it in as our next step in niching down.
LEVEL 3: We’re a helpdesk product for eCommerce companies using Shopify.
How to niche down
It’s more than just market size. Going with a market leader is always a safe bet but it also provides the most competition. Sometimes going with a smaller platform that doesn’t get all the attention is a worthwhile research project.
How to use this to target a market and recognize opportunity
There are two sides of the opportunity and this is something that I didn’t touch on in the original niching down. Shopify and BuiltWith categorize the types of stores that are on the platform, so you can niche down to a certain type of store, for example just cosmetics or just apparel.
The other side of the opportunity is putting together your list of companies currently operating in the ecosystem.
How to position within that market
Smart people are really good at collecting data and interpreting it.
Let’s get some data.
  1. Go to the shopify app store
  2. Type in “Support”
  3. Click paid on the left margin and click the “Support Category”
  4. Use something like Simple Scraper ( a great chrome plugin, no affiliation)
  5. Get your scrape on, this shows 87
  6. Time to get busy - categorize them
  7. Pick the ones most similar to your offerings
  8. Click on them, look at their reviews - all of them on shopify Scrape them
  9. Go to G2 and Capterra and look through all those reviews as well
  10. Put them all in a spreadsheet, read them all, highlight those that stand out
  11. Find the ones that are popular, others that have features people like etc.
  12. Document, and integrate the baseline features into a trello board on your product roadmap
  13. Take all the bad reviews and complaints - look for gaps that you can fill
How to give yourself the biggest chance of success
So take a look above, we went from a bunch of questions to being able to do a ton of market research to do product research and understand the current market offerings and where we might be able to gain some ground and offer something people might be interested in and ARE PAYING FOR.
How do you stand out?
You need to have a workflow that is 10x better than a current competitor in the market with a strong roadmap that lays out how you intend on optimizing this workflow. Features are built to augment the workflow and simplify the work of your clients employees, less work, more data, better understanding.
Ok so we’ve narrowed it down to eCommerce and Shopify and we have a list of other products that are currently playing in the space. We’re now looking at workflow - let’s figure this bit out.
LEVEL 4: We’re a helpdesk product for eCommerce companies using Shopify and Shipstation.
How to niche down
Add another variable - it doesn’t have to be Shipstation, but it’s a good example as for eCommerce you’re likely shipping products places. By adding another variable, we’re shrinking our population to target.
How to use this to target a market and recognize opportunity
The biggest problem for all companies these days is combining different one off services and getting them to play nicely together. Stand alone products usually outclass all in one products as stated above because the focus is better. This is generally always going to be where you can find a gap in the market as the integrating of products is an afterthought rather than something contemplated in the very beginning.
How do you decide on the technologies you want to work with?
How to position within that market
Don’t guess. Understand the workflow of an eCommerce company and how it relates to support. For instance, most support tickets relate to order status, tracking, and returns. These all involve the store, transaction, the service desk, and the shipping carrier. Look for ways to streamline the experience for the service rep - for instance if refunds require approval, build a system that allows for all those tickets to be queued up with an easy interface for approvals or different color tagging to allow for them to be easily sorted by type.
By focusing on two technologies you can start by creating a better visual collaboration between tools to improve overall experience.
How to give yourself the biggest chance of success
Stack the deck in your favor.
Focus on where you can drive early alignment between your product offering and the audiences of your now two products. When you reach out to both companies especially the smaller ones like a Shipstation, you can collect more information about who they are catering to, volumes etc.
Most companies have a partner program - look into connecting with the lead.
When the time is right you might even get a shoutout on their social or blog or you can decide to co-publish some research report together. Lots of options.
Let’s double down on what being niche allows us to do:
  1. Know our audience
  2. Research with purpose
  3. Personalize outreach with early feelers
  4. Better understand a realistic TAM (total addressable market)
  5. Understand overlap between products
  6. Early alignment with bigger names
This whole topic is about alignment, alignment with partners, customers, and your product.
We have a list of potential customers now, but we need to segment them down further.
LEVEL 5: We’re a helpdesk product for eCommerce companies using Shopify and Shipstation that have less than 100 skus.
How to niche down
Why less than 100 skus?
This means they are small enough to try a new product. It also means you can see what works and what doesn’t work on a potentially smaller store. When you’re managing a store with more than 100 skus, things get a little complicated, it’s an arbitrary number but changing internal processes and workflows when you get to that level means that your staff is coming from a place of having used a system before that could handle the volume and trying out something newer or unproven is a tall order.
This process can be applied to anything, if your product does better project management look for people that run less than 20 projects at a time or projects that are less than 6 months, whatever it may be. We’re starting small.
Always default to the path of least resistance. Work smarter, not harder.
How to use this to target a market and recognize opportunity
I’m sure this could be automated, but in lieu of it being automated, you should start by manually figuring this out for yourself.
That list you have from BuiltWith that has urls, yeah we’re going to use that one.
Put the websites in the spreadsheet you downloaded, then create a new column and add “products” to the url - so you have the website in cell A, the word “products” in cell B then in blank cell C write “=CONCATENATE(A:B)” congratulations now you have cell C that will take you straight to the product page to see how many skus they have.
Update this hack doesn’t work on all shopify websites like I had hoped and after some research it seems like this is a bit of a struggle point for others as well.
I’m sure someone could write a script to scrape this information.
Go find an intern or hire someone to do all the lookups for you or find someone to write a script to automate the results - remember always work smart.
Run this and you’ll come up with your go to target list.
How to position within that market
The best helpdesk for stores on Shopify using shipstation with less than 100 skus - all of a sudden this starts to sound like something someone would almost search for. That’s the point.
We’re working our way down where it becomes a simple checklist if someone was searching for things.
Shopify - check
Shipstation - check
Built for smaller stores - check
How to give yourself the biggest chance of success
Remember you’re not building a product for everyone yet, your goal is to dominate a niche. You can always expand from there.
So we’re about half way through and we have figured out our potential partners and now we’re working on narrowing down this customer list. Before we dive in and start reaching out we need to really understand who we’re targeting and we need to start small.
Let’s narrow this down even further.
LEVEL 6: We’re a helpdesk product for eCommerce companies using Shopify and Shipstation that have less than 100 skus and do less than $10 million in annual revenue.
How to niche down
Why the less than $10 million in annual revenue? The only reason I would say this in the beginning is that they won’t have as much traffic and ticket volume, they make for better early clients, you can learn a lot more from their use cases and improve the product without worrying about something going wrong and a larger client really getting mad and churning. You also usually have greater access to work with their staff to improve your product.
How to use this to target a market and recognize opportunity
Unless you’re currently on the front lines, you need to find some early providers of feedback that are on the front lines. In essence, this is the starting point of a community and information play.
There aren’t a lot of data points available about companies in the early stages. People always have questions and there are limited resources in the early days, even across similar companies.
(Just look at reddit there are tons of repeat answers and questions.)
Someone answering tickets all day is the last person that wants to provide feedback, as much as they would like their job made easier, they don’t have the time.
How to position within that market
“But I need a big logo to let people know that I’m real.” You don’t, not in the beginning. All you need is a few good customers that are open to lending you the feedback you need to get better. A lot of smaller brands do a good job of branding, play the long game, find brands that are growing and try to get in early - grow with them.
Logo hunting has its place but you need to find product market fit before you can really make that happen.
By now you have probably figured out that whenever possible you should automate things. The way you do this is through data collection.
Using logic, math, and a spreadsheet you can do enough to be dangerous.
Use a service to figure out what their unique traffic is, take a look at their products and assume that their cart value is around 2-4 products per order then take the conversion rates by industry - you can find these online they are openly listed.
Your sheet will look something like this:
Company, Traffic, Conversion Percentage, Order Value, Sales Percentage, Revenue
eCommerce blended average is 2.2% - go use a spreadsheet and some formulas and bam you now have the revenue numbers. We’re not looking for exacts here, but more generally a good estimate.
I’ve actually run these numbers, if the products are sold through other channels, Amazon, retail, etc, then a rough estimate would be around ~33% of the revenue will come from the ecommerce store.
Factor in a range based on the size of the brand and it’s channels this should give you a rough estimate of the revenue even if they don’t publish it.
How to give yourself the biggest chance of success
Provide value - the most overhyped phrase but still true - the question then becomes, with something as subjective as “value” rather than just create, instead ask and create. This part is coming up, we’re almost ready to turn this on.
We’ve started to move from who are partners are to who are our potential customers. This is on purpose - my stance is that your first customers are really your partners and you should work on aligning yourself with those that are the best fit for your product.
You want your first clients to buy into your vision and invest the time to help shape it.
Ok on to the next -
LEVEL 7: We’re a helpdesk product for eCommerce companies using Shopify and Shipstation that have less than 100 skus and do less than $10 million in annual revenue with support teams less than 5 people.
How to niche down
So now we’re getting into the easier stuff - this is just a simple LinkedIn Search - small teams are usually before the real deep process point, they are also really good at providing feedback on tools that can actually help them out.
How to use this to target a market and recognize opportunity
If you have less than 5 people on a team, it’s a small enough number to target the entire team - multi prong approach to product awareness.
For customer support they are often the least paid and they have the most stressful jobs - it’s an all around shitty position to be in, so if you can provide them joy, you’re going to make fans quick. Also, they aren’t usually sold into, they are rarely asked their opinion, etc.
How to position within that market
Give them a voice. The same goes for any lower level positions as well by the way. When people are getting started in their careers they are looking to hear about the jobs people have even at the lower levels but the resources just aren’t there. Even for more senior roles, it’s hard to get a beat on what the current status is of their projects, people don’t like sharing - I still don’t know why.
We’re seeing communities around Sales popup SalesHacker, sales, Bravado etc. We don’t see as many for other roles, there is a wide open space in this. I don’t see any places for people to better understand customer support/success which is THE ONLY INBOUND TOUCHPOINT WITH CUSTOMERS POST SALE.
How to give yourself the biggest chance of success
This is part of the philosophy and psychology of understanding human dynamics. Find a persona that you can relate to immediately and build your product around fixing their problems, be obsessed with this.
They get paid nothing, but they’d like less tickets, how do you reduce that ticket count, how do you bring other parts of the business that they may need to have access to more prominently in your support system so they don’t have to have multiple windows open. How do you build something to maximize their efficiency?
Better yet, how do you tag someone in the CRM and flag it over to the sales system to see if they purchase more product as a result of a good interaction with support - this is how you turn a cost center into a revenue generator. This is a killer feature that I’m not aware of out of the box.
This could unlock a commission structure and reward system for what is arguably becoming a dealbreaker for most companies.
Which is a great segway to the next drill down - you should be starting to see how this all really blends together if done correctly.
LEVEL 8: We’re a helpdesk product for eCommerce companies using Shopify and Shipstation that have less than 100 skus and do less than $10 million in annual revenue with support teams less than 5 people who are looking to automate their processes.
How to niche down
They have to be looking to automate their process or improve their workflow. When people find a tech stack that works, oftentimes new technology doesn’t stick around very long, we’re all creatures of habit.
How to use this to target a market and recognize opportunity
You’re only looking for people that are talking about processes or a company that has something related to the pride they take with their process - you can check out BuiltWith and see a list of products they have tried over the last 18 months.
When a company is testing a bunch of different products it means they are looking for a better process. This is your sweet spot.
How to position within that market
You’ve seen me sprinkle “workflow” into this post. This is pretty much a preview of Part 3 and the importance of product design.
Your product must improve someone’s existing workflow. If it doesn’t it’s not a viable product.
There are two parts to this, does your product improve an existing workflow AND how easy can your product be inserted into that workflow?
Remember, this is their business and they need to make a transition as smoothly as possible with as little disruption as possible. This goes for any product you’re selling. Change is hard.
Understanding a company’s process really is everything.
If people aren’t looking to automate or improve their process, there’s a good chance you should change your approach immediately and work towards more of an education campaign and double down on what it would take to let people quickly switch over from an existing platform. Focus on reducing friction.
How to give yourself the biggest chance of success
Looking for people that are interested, not those we need to educate early on.
Data migration and implementation is one of the main reasons people don’t want to switch or entertain new products. There is always a fear of lost productivity.
Everyone is looking to automate right now, but the price has to be right, and that includes not the subscription amount, but the training, the migration, the new workflows, the time to adopt, the willingness to adopt, etc.
During almost any transition, the company will be paying for two systems at the same time during that handoff. This is rough, not enough companies actually address this in a meaningful way.
The argument is that a pure SaaS play doesn’t exist or shouldn’t exist for an early stage company, there should always be a service and consulting component. Hold everyone’s hand, understand their problems and make them feel like you’re building a product just for them.
Ok we’re almost there -
LEVEL 9: We’re a helpdesk product for eCommerce companies using Shopify and Shipstation that have less than 100 skus and do less than $10 million in annual revenue with support teams less than 5 people who are looking to automate their processes who are currently using Zendesk.
How to niche down
Let’s spearfish.
Zendesk - great platform - but has its limits that only show up based on workflows. Zendesk will work great until you have a workflow that incorporates other tools - then it starts to struggle.
This is true of most large legacy platforms. As legacy platforms moved up market to Enterprise for revenue reasons, they usually forget about smaller teams. Instead relying on dev house partners to do customizations.
This is where industry experience really comes into play - knowing the goals of a company or team, their workflows, and where you can create a better solution for those with those workflows for things that the legacy platforms prefer to source out to their dev house partners.
How to use this to target a market and recognize opportunity
Your calls can now go from generic to focused with questions that can hone in on workflows and gaps. For example, Zendesk’s UX/UI sucks for partner integrations, we’ve seen companies like Kustomer, Gorgias, and others become more popular because of a better UX/UI that supports the whole customer experience and journey. This is a fundamental switch in approach.
From one of our earlier research steps we found 87 companies that people were using for support with shopify, we have them in a spreadsheet, we then could take those and put all the competitors in builtwith to run some reports to understand market penetration (you can do this with number of reviews as well by the way if you’re lazy - don’t be lazy).
Download your list - populate your CRM - you now know what people are using, how long they’ve been using them.
Narrow down your list to the top 20 clients - yes only 20.
Even if you have 100 clients or a thousand clients at this point, this process works for every single Sales rep you have - and I’m going on a 95% chance none of them are doing this stuff. And if you tell me they are, I know from the amount of generic ass emails I get regularly spewed out to me they aren’t doing it well and I guarantee you money is being left on the table. (Topic for another day)
How to position within that market
You know what software they are using, you know their tech stack, your goal is to figure out their workflow. If you don’t know, ask. You should understand the general business workflows for the industry - again industry knowledge is required.
Engage them with conversation and find out. Base your questions on conversations you’ve had with other people in the space and be a source of information about how other people are doing it.
The above is completely able to be put into a human measurable process, one based on quality over quantity, relationships over transactions, and geared towards long term growth.
Be about the things that other platforms are not. Focus on changing the narrative from cost center to revenue generator.
The helpdesk for Shopify and Shipstation customers looking to streamline their processes and free up their support teams to become revenue generators in an organic and measurable fashion.
How to give yourself the biggest chance of success
It’s all about workflows, data, and automation.
Niche down, learn from the inside out, follow the trends and work on being able to tie back data to creating more revenue no matter what your product does and you’ll be able to start conversations with people actively looking to create more optimized workflows.
Focusing on a legacy product and small businesses usually allows you to find a sweet spot, they don’t find value in all the features because they won’t use them all. But they do want the more advanced features like automation and workflow help. These are usually cost prohibitive in the platform.
This is why you focus on workflow over features, you’ll never catch up with the big guys in terms of features, but there are always ways to compete on workflows, because everyone has their own independent goals around them. There aren’t standards, only best practices.
Side note - there are entire companies that are hired to implement systems like Zendesk and build integrations on top of it and it’s a market leader. The same goes for any market leader.
LEVEL 10ish: You can add location to the end of our narrowing down. A company physically local to you (at least this was the case prior to COVID-19) can allow for an in person visit which has been massive in building trust with early clients. Makes it easier to have a conversation as well.
That’s it. Go through this process, substitute your values, keep drilling down and recognize opportunity along the way. When you do it correctly you’ll see massive improvements for your initial outreach.
Emails go from:
We’re a new helpdesk company.
To:
We’re a new helpdesk company for customers that use Shopify and Shipstation. We help agile support teams that are looking to better automate their workflows. Our integrations also allows your support team’s interactions to be directly tied into future revenue generation.
___________
I can tell you from experience I’m visiting the url for the second email even if I’m not looking to make a change.
This is a good place to stop, we hit question 2 of 5 and we’re almost at the halfway point.
If you have more specific questions about this part just drop them in the comments and I'll respond to them.
submitted by lickitysplitstyle to startups [link] [comments]

Is it possible to start a blog that can combine affiliate marketing, dropshipping and ad revenue based income sources?

So I wanted to start a new blog in a particular niche and was wondering whether I can monetise it by multiple models. There can be one primary source say a blog where I can post affiliate links and a online store page on the same website that has a dropshipping model based ecommerce store and also make ad revenue from it.
I understand that focusing on one model is the best approach but I want to keep the options open for the future. Are there any real world examples of such websites? I came across one similar website that initially started as a blog but now has grown into one big website with multiple income sources.
submitted by AcceptRookies to Blogging [link] [comments]

How to achieve explosive startup growth!

Here is the summary of the book Traction: How any startup can achieve explosive growth.
I hope that you find it useful!

Traction is a sign that your startup is taking off. If you charge, it means customers are buying. If your product is free, it means your user base is growing.
If you have traction, all your technical, market, and team risks become easier to handle. It becomes easier to fund-raise, hire, do press, partnerships, and acquisitions.
Traction trumps everything.

How to think about Traction?

Almost every failed startup has a product. What failed startups don’t have is enough customers.
You should spend your time in parallel, both constructing your product and testing traction channels.
This is what we call the 50 percent rule: spend 50 percent of your time on product and 50% on traction. This rule seems simple but it’s hard to follow because the pull to spend all your attention on the product is strong. You’re probably making a startup because you want to build a particular product. You have a vision, but a lot of traction activities are unknown and outside your vision and comfort zone. So you try to avoid them. Don’t.
Doing product and traction in parallel has these benefits:
Before trying to get traction, you’ll need to define what traction means for your company. You need to set a traction goal. Maybe your current startup goal is to raise funding or become profitable. How many customers do you need and at what rate? You should then focus on marketing activities that result in a significant impact on your traction goal. It should move the needle.
Your startup has 3 phases:

Phase I: Make something people want

In phase 1, your product has the most leaks, it really doesn’t hold water. You shouldn’t scale up your efforts now, but it’s important to send a small amount of water through the bucket so you can see where the holes are and plug them. \ Your goal in phase 1 is to get your first customers and prove your product can get traction. You focus on building your initial product and getting traction in ways that don’t scale: giving talks, writing guest posts, emailing people you know, attending conferences, and doing whatever you can to get in front of customers.

Some founders believe that startups either take off or don’t. Actually startups take off because the founders make them take off!
– Paul Graham

Phase II: Market something people want

Once you hone your product, you have product-market fit and customers are sticking around. Now is the time to scale up your traction efforts. You fine-tune your positioning and marketing messages.

Phase III: Scale your business

As your company grows, smaller traction strategies stop moving the needle, so you’ll start to scale.
In phase 3 you have an established business model and significant position in the market, and you’re focused on scaling to further dominate the market and to profit.

Traction for funding

When pursuing funding, first contact individuals who understand what you’re working on. The better your investors understand what you’re doing, the less traction they’ll need to see before they invest. Also, try friends and family who may not need to see any traction before investing as they’re investing in you personally.

To pivot or not to pivot

Many startups give up way too early. The first thing to look for is evidence of real product engagement, even if it’s only a few dedicated customers. If you have such an engagement, you might be giving up too soon. Look for the bright spots in your customer base and see if you can expand from that base.

How to get traction? The Bullseye framework

The Bullseye framework helps you find the channel that will get you traction. Most businesses actually get zero distribution channels to work. If you can get even a single distribution channel to work, you have a great business. If you try for several but don’t nail one, you’re finished.
You’re aiming for bullseye: the one channel at the center of the target that will unlock your next growth stage. Here are the 3 Bullseye framework steps:

Find what’s possible: The outer-ring

The first step in Bullseye is brainstorming every single traction channel. It’s important not to dismiss any channel in this step. Think of at least one idea for each channel. For example, social ads is a traction channel. Running ads on Facebook or Twitter is a channel strategy within social ads. You could research what marketing strategies worked in your industry as well as the history of companies in your space.

Find what’s probable: The middle-ring

Go around your outer-ring and promote your best and most exciting ideas to your middle-ring. For each traction channel in your middle ring, now construct a cheap traction test you can run to find if the idea is good or not. These tests need to answer the following questions:
  1. What’s the cost of acquiring customers?
  2. How many customers are available?
  3. Are they the right type of customers for you now?
You want to design small scale tests that don’t require much up-front cost or effort. For example, run 4 Facebook ads instead of 40.

Find what’s working: The inner-ring

The final step in Bullseye is to only focus on one channel that will move the needle for your startup: your core channel. At any stage of your startup, you should have one traction channel that you’re focusing on and optimizing.
Most founders mess this up by keeping around distracting marketing efforts in other channels.
If search engine marketing is significantly better for you than other channels, you should focus all your efforts on this core channel and uncover additional strategies and tactics within it.
If no channel seems promising after testing, the whole process should be repeated. If you tried several times with no success, then your product may require more tweaking and your bucket might be still leaky.

How to test traction?

Middle-ring tests: You should be running several cheap tests that give you an indication of how successful a given channel strategy could be.
Inner ring tests:
You’re doing two things:
  1. Optimize your chosen channel strategy to make it the best it can be.
  2. Discover better channel strategies within this traction channel.
There is always a set of things you can tweak. For targeting blogs, you can tweak which blogs to target, type of content, call to action, etc. For search engine marketing, you can tweak keywords, ad-copy, demographics, and landing pages.
A common approach is to use A/B testing, where A is the control group and B is the experimental group. The purpose of it is to measure the effectiveness of change in a button color, an ad image, or a different message on a web page. If the experimental group performs significantly better, you can apply the change, get the benefits, and run another test.
You can use tools such as Optimizely, Visual Website Optimizer, and Unbounce.
Over time, all marketing channels become saturated. To combat this, you should always be trying to discover new strategies and tactics within your channel and conduct small experiments. Also, experiment with new marketing platforms while they’re still in their infancy.

Tools

To track your tests you could start with a simple spreadsheet or use an analytics tool with cohort analysis. You’ll need to answer these questions:
  1. How many people landed on the website?
  2. What are the demographics of my best and worst customers?
  3. Are customers who interact with my support team more likely to stay?
A basic analytics tool like Clicky, Mixpanel, or Chartbeat can help you with these questions. You can use a spreadsheet as the tool to rank and prioritize traction channel strategies. You should include columns like how many customers are available, conversion rate, the cost to acquire a customer, lifetime value of a customer for every given strategy.

How to focus on the right traction goals? The critical path framework

Define your traction goal

You should always have an explicit traction goal you’re working towards. This could be 1,000 paying customers or 100 new daily customers, or 10% of your market. You want a goal where hitting the mark would change things significantly for your company’s outcome.
Once that is defined, you can work backward and set clear time-based subgoals. Such as reaching 1,000 customers by next quarter.
The key is to follow the critical path towards that goal and exclude all features and marketing activities that don’t help you reach your goal. Everything you decide to do should be assessed against your critical path.

Avoid traction biases

Your competitive advantage may be acquiring customers in ways your competition isn’t. That’s why it’s critical to avoid have traction biases. Stop your urge to refuse channels like speaking engagements, sales or affiliate marketing, business development, or trade shows just because you hate talking on the phone or you find the channel annoying or time-consuming.

Targetting blogs

Targeting blogs that your prospective customers read is one of the best ways to get your first wave customers.
Mint’s initial series of tests revealed that targeting blogs should be its core channel. They asked users to embed an “I want mint” badge on their personal blogs and rewarded them with a VIP access before other invitations were sent out. They also directly sponsored blogs. They sent bloggers a message with “Can I send you $500” as the subject and told them a bit about the product.
To find smaller blogs in your niche:
You can also target link-sharing communities like Reddit, Product Hunt, and Hacker News.
Dropbox, Codecademy, Quora, and Gumroad all got their first customers by sharing their products on HackerNews because their products were a good fit for users on that site.

Publicity

Starting out, an article in TechCrunch or The Huffington Post can boost your startup in the eyes of potential customers, investors, or partners. If you have a fascinating story with broad appeal, media outlets will want to hear from you.
It’s easier to start smaller when targeting big media outlets. Sites like TechCrunch and Lifehacker often pick up stories from smaller forums like Hacker News and subreddits. Instead of approaching TechCrunch, try blogs that TechCrunch reads and get story ideas from. It’s easier to get a smaller blog’s attention. Then you might get featured on TechCrunch and then The New York Times which reads TechCrunch!
What gets a reporter’s attention?
A good press angle makes people react emotionally. If it’s not interesting enough to elicit emotion, you don’t have a story worth pitching.
A good first step is using a service like Help A Reporter Out (HARO), where reporters request sources for articles they’re working on. It could get you a mention in the piece and help establish your credibility. Also, you could offer reporters commentary on stories related to your industries.
You can use Twitter to reach reporters online; almost all of them have Twitter accounts and you’d be surprised how few followers many of them have, but they can be highly influential with their content.
Once you have a solid story, you want to draw as much attention to it as you can:
Once your story has been established as a popular news item, try to drag it out as long as you can. Offer interviews that add to the story. Start “How We Did This” follow-up interviews.
As your startup grows you may consider hiring a PR firm or consultant.

Unconventional PR

Nearly every company attempts traditional publicity, but only a few focus on stunts and other unconventional ways to get buzz.

The publicity stunt

Customer Appreciation

Be awesome to your customers. Shortly after Alexis Ohanian launched Hipmunk, he sent out luggage tags and a handwritten note to the first several hundred people who mentioned the site on Twitter.
Holding a contest is also a great repeatable way to generate publicity and get word of mouth. Shopify has an annual Build a Business competition.
Great customer support is so rare that, if you make your customers happy, they’re likely to spread the news of your awesome product. Zappos is one of the best-known examples of a company with incredible customer service and they classify support as a marketing investment.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

SEM is placing ads on search engines like Google. It’s sometimes called “pay-per-click” because you only pay when a user clicks on an ad.
SEM works well for companies looking to sell directly to their target customer. You’re capturing people who are actively searching for solutions.
Click-Through Rate (CTR) The percentage of ad impressions that result in clicks to your site.
Cost per Click (CPC) The amount it costs to buy a click on an ad.
Cost per Acquisition (CPA) How much it costs you to acquire a customer, not just a click. If you buy clicks at $1 and 10% of people who hit your site make a purchase. This makes your CPA at $10.
CPA = CPC / conversion percentage

SEM to get early customer data

You can use SEM as a way to get early customer data in a controlled and predictable way. Even if you don’t expect to be profitable, you can decide to spend a certain amount of money to get an early base of customers and users to inform you about important metrics such as landing page conversion rates, average cost per customer, and lifetime value.
Archives.com used AdWords to drive traffic to their landing pages, even before they built a product, to test interest in a specific product approach. By measuring the CTR for each ad and conversions, they determined which product aspects were the most compelling to potential customers and what those people would actually pay for. When they finally built their product, they built something they knew the market would want.

SEM strategy

Find high-potential keywords, group them into ad groups, and test different ad copy and landing pages within each ad group. As data flows in, remove underperforming ads and landing pages and make tweaks to keep improving results.
Use tools like Optimizely and Visual Website Optimizer to run A/B tests on your landing pages.

Keyword research

Use Google’s keyword planner to discover top keywords your target customers use to find products like yours. You could also use tools such as KeywordSpy, SEMrush, and SpyFu to discover keywords your competition is using.
You can refine your keyword list by adding more terms to the end of each base term to create long-tail keywords. They’re less competitive and have lower search volumes which makes them ideal for testing on smaller groups of customers.
SEM is more expensive for more competitive keywords, so you’ll need to limit yourself to keywords with profitable conversion rates.
You shouldn’t expect your campaigns to be profitable right away, but if you can run a campaign that breaks even after a short period of time, then SEM could be an excellent channel for you to focus on.

Writing ads

Write ads with titles that are catchy, memorable, and relevant to the keywords you’ve paired with it. Include the keyword at least once in the body of your ad and conclude with a prominent call to action like “Check out discounted Nike sneakers!”
Each of your ads and ad groups will have a quality score associated with it. A high-quality score will get you better ad placements and better ad pricing. Click-through rate has the biggest influence on quality score, so you should tailor your ads to the keywords. Google assigns a low-quality score to ads with CTRs below 1.5%

Tactics

Social and Display Ads

Display ads are banner ads you see on websites. Social ads are ads you see on social sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Large display campaigns are often used for branding and awareness, much like offline ads. They can also elicit a direct response such as signing up for an email newsletter or buying a product.
Social ads perform exceptionally well is when they’re used to build an audience and engage with them over time, and eventually convert them to customers.

Display ads

The largest display ad networks are Google Display Network, BuySellAds, Advertising.com, Tribal Fusion, Conversant, and Adblade. Niche ad networks focus on smaller sites that fit certain audience demographics, such as dog lovers or Apple fanatics.
To get started in display advertising, you could start to find out types of ads that work in your industry. You could use tools like MixRank and Adbeat to show you ads your competitors are running and where they place them. Alexa and Quantcast can help you determine who visits the sites that feature your competitors’ ads.

Social ads

Social ads work well for creating interest among potential new customers. The goal is often awareness oriented, not conversion oriented. A purchase takes place further down the line. People visit social media sites for entertainment and interaction, not to see ads.
An effective social ad strategy takes advantage of this reality. Use ads to start conversations about your products by creating compelling content. Instead of directing people to a conversion page, direct them to a piece of content that explains why you developed your product or has other purposes than immediately completing a sale. If you have a piece of content that has high organic reach, when you put paid ads behind that piece, magic happens. Paid is only as good as the content you put behind it. You should employ social ads when you know that a fire is starting around your message and you want to put more oil on it.
Major social sites you may consider are LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, StumbleUpon, Foursquare, Tumblr, Reddit, YouTube, and many others.

Offline Ads

Even today, advertisers spend more on offline ads than they do online. When buying offline ads, You should try to advertise to demographics that match up with your target audience. Ask for an audience prospectus or ad kit.
Not sure if magazine ads are a good channel for you? Buy a small ad in a niche publication and give it a test. Want to see if newspapers would be good? Buy a few ads in a local paper. You can also try radio ads and billboards.

Magazine ads

A compelling magazine or newspaper ad will have an attention-grabbing header, an eye-catching graphic, and a description of the product’s benefits. Also, you should have a strong call to action, like an offer to get a free book.

Direct mail

You could also try direct mail by searching for “direct mail lists” and find companies selling such information. (Beware that it can be perceived as spammy)

Local print

You could also try local print ads like local fliers, directories, calendars, church bulletins, community newsletters, coupon booklets, or yellow pages. These work really well for cheap if you want to get early traction for your company in a specific area.

Outdoor advertising

If you want to buy space on a billboard, you could contact companies like Lamar, Clear Channel, or Outfront Media. Billboards aren’t effective for people to take immediate action, but it’s extremely effective for raising awareness around events, like concerts and conferences.
DuckDuckGo bought a billboard in Google’s backyard and it got big attention and press coverage.
Transit ads can be effective as a direct response tool. You can contact Blue Line Media to help you with Transit ads.

Radio and TV

Radio ads are priced on a cost per point (CPP) basis, where each point represents what it will cost to reach 1% of the station’s listeners. It also depends on your market, when the commercial runs and how many ads you’ve bought.
TV ads are often used as branding mechanisms. Quality is critical for it and production costs can run to tens of thousands. Higher-end ones can cost $200K to make. You’ll also need an average of $350,000 for actual airtime. For smaller startups, you could try local TV spots which is much cheaper.
Infomercials work really well for products in categories like Workout equipment, household products, health products, and work-from-home businesses. They can cost between $50,000 and $500,000, and they’re always direct-response.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO is improving your ranking in search engines in order to get more people to your site.
The most important thing to know about SEO is that the more high-quality links you have to a given site or page, the higher it will rank. You should also make sure you’re using the keywords you want to target appropriately on your pages, like in your page titles and headings.
There are 2 strategies to choose from: fat-head and long-tail.
Fat-head: These are one and two-word searches like “Dishwashers,” and “Facebook.” They are searched a lot and make about 30% of searches and are called.
Long-tail: These are longer searches that don’t get searched as much but add up to the majority of searches made. They make up 70% of searches.
When determining which strategy to use, you should keep in mind that the percentage of clicks drops off dramatically as you rank lower. Only 10% of clicks occur beyond the first page.

Fat-head strategy

To find out if fat-head is worthwhile, research what terms people use to find products in your industry, and then see if search volumes are large enough to move the needle. You can use the keyword planner tool for that. You want to find terms that have enough volume such that if you captured 10% for a given term, it would be meaningful.
The next step is determining the difficulty of ranking high for each term. Use tools like Open Site Explorer. If a competitor has thousands of links for a term, it will likely take a lot of focus on building links and optimizing to rank above them.
Next, narrow your list of targeted keywords to just a handful. Go to Google Trends to see how your keywords have been doing. Are they searched more or less often in the last year? You can further test keywords by buying SEM ads against them. If they convert well, then you have an indication that these keywords could get you strong growth.
Next, orient your site around the terms you’ve chosen. Include phrases you are targeting in your page titles and homepage. Get other sites to link to your site. Links with exact phrase matching from high-quality sites will give you a significant boost.

Long-Tail strategy

Because it’s difficult to rank high for competitive fat-head terms, a popular SEO strategy for early-stage startups is to focus on long-tail. If you bundle a lot of long-term keywords together you can reach a meaningful number of customers.
Find out what are search volumes for a bunch of long-tail keywords in your industry? Do they add up to meaningful amounts? Also, take a look at the analytics software you use on your site or google search console to find some of the search terms people are already using to get to your site. If you’re naturally getting a significant amount of traffic from long-tail keywords, then the strategy might be a good fit. Also, check if competitors use this strategy. If they have a lot of landing pages (search for site:domain.com in google), then it’s a sign that this strategy works for your market. Also, check Alexa search rankings and look at the percentage of visitors your competitors are receiving from search.
If you proceed with a long-tail SEO strategy, you’ll need to produce significant amounts of quality content. If you can’t invest time in that, you can pay a freelancer from Upwork to write an article for every search phrase you want to target.
Another way is to use content that naturally flows from your business. Ask yourself: what data do we naturally collect or generate that other people may find useful. Large businesses like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Wikipedia all gained most of their traffic by producing automated long-tail content. Sometimes the data is hidden behind a login screen and all you need to do is expose it to search engines, or aggregate it in a useful manner.

How to get links?

Don’t buy links, you’ll be penalized by search engines for it. Instead, you can do:

Content Marketing

Companies like Moz and Unbounce have well-known company blogs that are their biggest source of customer acquisition.
Unbounce started a blog and an email list from day one. They used social media to drive readers to your blog. They pinged twitter influencers to ask for feedback, gave away free infographics, and e-books. These actions don’t scale but they push them to a point where their content will spread on its own.
OkCupid is a free online dating site. They intentionally wrote controversial posts like “How your race affects the messages you get” to generate traffic and conversation.

Tactics

Email Marketing

Email marketing is a personal channel. Messages from your company sit next to emails from friends and family. That’s why email marketing works best when personalized. It can be used to build familiarity with prospects, acquire customers, and retain customers you already have.

Email marketing to Find customers

Email marketing to Engage customers

If a customer never gets the value of your product, how can you expect them to pay for it or recommend it to others?

Email marketing to Retain customers

Email marketing can be the most effective channel to bring people back to your site. Twitter sends you an email with a weekly digest of popular tweets and your new notifications.
More business-oriented products usually focus on reminders, reports, and information about how you’re getting value from the product. Mint sends a weekly financial summary to show your expenses and income over the previous week.
You can also use it to surprise and delight your customers. Planscope sends a weekly email to customers telling them how much they made that week. Photo apps will send you pictures you took a year ago.

Email marketing to Drive revenue

You can send a series of emails aimed at upselling customers.
WP Engine sends prospects an email course about Wordpress, and near the end of the email, they make a pitch to signup for its premium Wordpress hosting service.
If one of your customers abandoned a shopping cart, send her a targeted email a day or two later with a special offer for whatever item is left in the cart.
You can use email to explain a premium feature a customer is missing out on and how it can help them in a big way.

Email marketing to get referrals

Groupon generates referrals by incentivizing people to tell their friends about discounts.

Tactics

Viral Marketing

Viral marketing is getting your existing customers to refer others to your product. It was the driving force behind the explosive growth of Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Dropbox, Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest.
It’s so powerful that even if you can’t achieve exponential growth with it, you can still get meaningful growth. If your customer refers a new customer within the first week, you’ll go from ten customers to twenty and double every week without any additional marketing.
The oldest form of virality occurs when your product is so remarkable that people naturally tell others about it — pure word of mouth.
Inherent virality occurs when you can get value from a product only by inviting other customers, like Skype, Snapchat, and WhatsApp.
Others grow by encouraging collaboration like Google Docs.
Some embed virality like adding “Get a free email account with Hotmail” or “Sent from iPhone” to default signatures. Mailchimp and other email marketing products add branding to free customers’ emails.
Some incentivize customers to move through a viral loop, like Dropbox giving you more space if you invite friends to sign up. Airbnb, Uber, and PayPal give you account credits for referring friends.
Some add embedded buttons and widgets to grow virally, like Reddit and YouTube.
Some broadcast users activities on their social networks, like Spotify posting on Facebook when you play a song, or Pinterest when you pin content.
The viral coefficient K is the number of additional customers you can get for each customer you bring in. It depends on i, the number of invites sent per user, and conversion percentage (who will actually sign up after receiving an invite)
K = i * conversion percentage
Any viral coefficient above 1 will result in exponential growth. Any viral coefficient over 0.5 helps your efforts to grow considerably.
You can increase the number of invites per user i by including features that encourage sharing, such as posting to social networks. You can increase the conversion percentage by testing different signup flows. Try cutting out pages or signup fields.
Viral cycle time is how long it takes a user to go through your viral loop. Shortening your cycle time drastically increases the rate at which you go viral. You can do it by creating urgency or incentivizing customers to move through the loops.

Tactics

Engineering as Marketing

You can build tools like calculators, widgets, and educational microsites to get your company in front of potential customers.
HubSpot has Marketing Grade, a free marketing review tool. It’s free, gives you valuable information, and provides HubSpot with the information they use to qualify you as a potential prospect.
Moz has two free SEO tools, Followerwong and Open Site Explorer. They’ve driven tens of thousands of leads for Moz.
WP Engine has a speed testing tool that asks only for an email address in exchange for a detailed report on your site’s speed.

Business Development

With business development, you’re partnering to reach customers in a way that benefits both parties.
Google got most of its initial traction from a partnership with Netscape to be the default search engine and an agreement with Yahoo to power its online searches.
Business development can take the form of:
You should have already defined your traction goal and milestones, and you shouldn’t accept any partnership that doesn’t align with it. Many startups waste resources because it’s tempting to make deals with bigger companies.

Sales

Sales is the process of generating leads, qualifying them, and converting them into paying customers. It’s particularly useful for expensive and enterprise products.

Structuring the sales conversation

Situation questions. Ask one or two questions per conversation. The more you ask situation questions, the less likely they’re going to close.
Problem questions. Use sparingly.
Implication questions. Meant to make a prospect aware of the large implications that stem from the problem.
Need-payoff questions. Focus attention on your solution and get buyers to think about the benefits of solving the problem.

Cold calls

Be judicious about the people you contact. You want someone who is one-two levels up in the organization. They have enough perspective on the problem and some authority for decision making. Avoid starting at the top unless you’re calling a very small business.
Try to get answers about:

Tactics

It’s better to gain traction through a marketing channel first, then use sales as a conversion tool to close leads. The next stage is lead qualification: determine how ready a prospect is to buy. Once you’ve qualified the leads, you should lay out exactly what are you going to do for the customer. Set up a timetable for it and get them to commit with a yes or no whether they’re going to buy. Closing leads can be done by a sales team who does a webinar or product demo and has an ongoing email sequence that ends with a purchase request. In other cases, you may need a field sales team that actually visits prospective customers for some part of the process.
A checklist that can help you with sales:
I removed the last sections because of the post character limit. Here are two:
submitted by alollou to startups [link] [comments]

Opinion: The Downfall of Pokemon since 2015 is not primarily Gamefreak's fault

Warning: this is a long read, but I think it's quite informative and I had fun digging for this information.
I think this subreddit all agrees that Pokemon has been declining since the release of X and Y. Gens 1 and 2 were programming masterpieces, Gens 3 and 4 have rich worlds and interesting characters, Gen 5 has a compelling story and some really lively-looking sprites, and Gen 6 was a largely successful foray into a 3D world. Gen 7 was linear and essentially held your hand the entire time, while in Gen 8, you can't even "catch 'em all".
Basically, the point of this post is to inform the community at large that I don't really think the drop in quality in the last two generations is on Gamefreak. I don't have access to any "secret" information, just some light digging on the internet. If you can't be bothered to read everything, just read the first section so that you can be more informed on how Pokemon's ownership is distributed. I'll also put a tl;dr at the end of every section.
So, before we can really dig into who's at fault here - who actually owns Pokemon?
Distribution of Pokemon's Rights
First of all, one must know that there are three different companies with a direct stake in the success of Pokemon: Gamefreak, Nintendo, and Creatures.
So, here we have 3 different companies, all heavily involved with Pokemon since 1998, when Creatures published Pokemon Stadium. At around this time a joint venture company called " POKEMON CENTER Co., Ltd." is established in Tokyo with a capital of a measly ~US$600,000. This company was founded by the three aforementioned companies to handle the Pokemon Center stores. Essentially, its original intention was simply as a merchandise management company; it was trying to make bookkeeping easier for all 3 companies.
Well, in 2000, after the wild success of Gold and Silver, the 3 companies rebranded the Pokemon Center Company as The Pokemon Company (TPC) and made this the entity responsible for essentially everything Pokemon-related. According to this interview, Gamefreak was initially responsible for all of the marketing and licensing and nitty gritty business responsibilites. TPC was founded to remove those responsibilities from Gamefreak so they could focus solely on development. This is the TPC we all know and, well, perhaps love, today. If you're curious to see all of the other affiliates they've acquired, you can take a look at their history here. The important thing is that every subdivision, whether it be Pokemon of Europe, or Pokemon of NA, they all fall under the now massive umbrella that is The Pokemon Company.
TL;DR Nintendo, Gamefreak, and Creatures are equal owners of The Pokemon Company, which is responsible for essentially everything Pokemon-related.
Head Management for the 3 Companies
Now, let's take a look at who's been in charge for the companies listed in the previous section.
TL;DR Gamefreak and Creatures are headed by their founders, while Nintendo has seen some high turnover in the past few years.
The Case for Nintendo's Guilt
The stage has been set. Let's go through some of the complaints people have against Gamefreak, and see why perhaps it might not be their fault.
You could say "well, don't all three companies benefit from licensed merchandise sales and so the blame falls equally on all 3 of them?" Take a quick look at the Legal Information on Pokemon of USA's website. They say, "Pokémon, Pokémon character names, Nintendo Switch, Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo DS, Wii, Wii U, and WiiWare are trademarks of Nintendo." Let me repeat that for you, cutting out the nonimportant parts. "Pokémon and Pokémon character names, ..., are trademarks of Nintendo." Not TPC, not Nintendo/Gamefreak/Creatures, but just Nintendo. Go check all of the TPC subsidiaries for every single region outside of Japan, and you'll see that Nintendo is the sole owner of the Pokemon license. In Japan, sure, everyone gets a third of the profits. However, Gamefreak and Creatures could literally not care less, from a business perspective, how Pokemon does outside of Japan. This is wholly, entirely, and squarely on Nintendo.
Futhermore, Creatures and Gamefreak are privately owned companies. In many criticisms, people say "Gamefreak has to respond to shareholders". They really don't, both Creatures and Gamefreak own themselves. Nintendo, on the other hand? They trade publicly as NTDOF on the over-the-counter market. This isn't wallstreetbets, so don't worry about how this works. The important thing is that of the 3 companies, Nintendo is the only one that has to answer to shareholders, and thus would likely be most concerned about the bottom-line and profits.
And, finally, consider the sharp uptick in merchandise sales since 2015, which is when turnover started for Nintendo. If you look at this Wikipedia page listing TPC's merchandise sales, you'll see that up to 2015, they made a yearly about 1.5 billion USD on merch. Since then, it sharply jumped to over 3 billion USD a year. This, combined with the change in Nintendo's leadership from a video game developer in Iwata to pure businessmen in Kimishima and Furukawa in, guess what, 2015, leads me to believe that Nintendo is taking a entirely different approach to Pokemon now.
TL;DR Nintendo's business endeavors rely much more heavily on pumping out content than either Gamefreak or Creatures.
** Personal Speculation **
I'm not 100% sure what the power dynamic in TPC looks like. Who's calling the shots, do all three companies have to agree on major decisions or is it just a simple majority, and so on. I can sort of see two different ways TPC has been jerked into becoming a toy company and away from a video game company.
In either case, it completely is not Gamefreak's fault at all. I feel really bad for them, honestly. They're the ones receiving the brunt of the hate train, and I strongly suspect that their hands are tied by Nintendo. Everything people liked about Sword and Shield and the DLC is due to Gamefreak, not to Creatures or Nintendo. Everything people dislike about the game is due to mostly Nintendo, but perhaps partially Creatures as well.
Someone at Nintendo crunched the math. If they make 4 mainline games a decade that each pull in 10 million sales, that's better than 2 games a mainline decade that pull in 15 million sales each, plus they get to push twice as much merch. I just don't see a scenario where this is entirely on Gamefreak. If Gamefreak is complicit, based on the evidence, I want to believe it's because they have been bullied into it by Nintendo.
This is just an opinion piece based on what I've read; I'm looking forward to hearing what people have to say and sparking a discussion. For example, if what I've said is true, we need to not boycott the games since those help Gamefreak, but boycott the merch - show Nintendo that we care about games more than merch.
TL;DR GAMEFREAK GOOD NINTENDO BAD LOL
submitted by mexiporlavida to pokemon [link] [comments]

Free marketing guide for startups: How to achieve explosive growth!

Here is the summary of the book Traction: How any startup can achieve explosive growth.
I hope that you find it useful!

Traction is a sign that your startup is taking off. If you charge, it means customers are buying. If your product is free, it means your user base is growing.
If you have traction, all your technical, market, and team risks become easier to handle. It becomes easier to fund-raise, hire, do press, partnerships, and acquisitions.
Traction trumps everything.

How to think about Traction?

Almost every failed startup has a product. What failed startups don’t have is enough customers.
You should spend your time in parallel, both constructing your product and testing traction channels.
This is what we call the 50 percent rule: spend 50 percent of your time on product and 50% on traction. This rule seems simple but it’s hard to follow because the pull to spend all your attention on the product is strong. You’re probably making a startup because you want to build a particular product. You have a vision, but a lot of traction activities are unknown and outside your vision and comfort zone. So you try to avoid them. Don’t.
Doing product and traction in parallel has these benefits:
Before trying to get traction, you’ll need to define what traction means for your company. You need to set a traction goal. Maybe your current startup goal is to raise funding or become profitable. How many customers do you need and at what rate? You should then focus on marketing activities that result in a significant impact on your traction goal. It should move the needle.
Your startup has 3 phases:

Phase I: Make something people want

In phase 1, your product has the most leaks, it really doesn’t hold water. You shouldn’t scale up your efforts now, but it’s important to send a small amount of water through the bucket so you can see where the holes are and plug them. \ Your goal in phase 1 is to get your first customers and prove your product can get traction. You focus on building your initial product and getting traction in ways that don’t scale: giving talks, writing guest posts, emailing people you know, attending conferences, and doing whatever you can to get in front of customers.

Some founders believe that startups either take off or don’t. Actually startups take off because the founders make them take off!
– Paul Graham

Phase II: Market something people want

Once you hone your product, you have product-market fit and customers are sticking around. Now is the time to scale up your traction efforts. You fine-tune your positioning and marketing messages.

Phase III: Scale your business

As your company grows, smaller traction strategies stop moving the needle, so you’ll start to scale.
In phase 3 you have an established business model and significant position in the market, and you’re focused on scaling to further dominate the market and to profit.

Traction for funding

When pursuing funding, first contact individuals who understand what you’re working on. The better your investors understand what you’re doing, the less traction they’ll need to see before they invest. Also, try friends and family who may not need to see any traction before investing as they’re investing in you personally.

To pivot or not to pivot

Many startups give up way too early. The first thing to look for is evidence of real product engagement, even if it’s only a few dedicated customers. If you have such an engagement, you might be giving up too soon. Look for the bright spots in your customer base and see if you can expand from that base.

How to get traction? The Bullseye framework

The Bullseye framework helps you find the channel that will get you traction. Most businesses actually get zero distribution channels to work. If you can get even a single distribution channel to work, you have a great business. If you try for several but don’t nail one, you’re finished.
You’re aiming for bullseye: the one channel at the center of the target that will unlock your next growth stage. Here are the 3 Bullseye framework steps:

Find what’s possible: The outer-ring

The first step in Bullseye is brainstorming every single traction channel. It’s important not to dismiss any channel in this step. Think of at least one idea for each channel. For example, social ads is a traction channel. Running ads on Facebook or Twitter is a channel strategy within social ads. You could research what marketing strategies worked in your industry as well as the history of companies in your space.

Find what’s probable: The middle-ring

Go around your outer-ring and promote your best and most exciting ideas to your middle-ring. For each traction channel in your middle ring, now construct a cheap traction test you can run to find if the idea is good or not. These tests need to answer the following questions:
  1. What’s the cost of acquiring customers?
  2. How many customers are available?
  3. Are they the right type of customers for you now?
You want to design small scale tests that don’t require much up-front cost or effort. For example, run 4 Facebook ads instead of 40.

Find what’s working: The inner-ring

The final step in Bullseye is to only focus on one channel that will move the needle for your startup: your core channel. At any stage of your startup, you should have one traction channel that you’re focusing on and optimizing.
Most founders mess this up by keeping around distracting marketing efforts in other channels.
If search engine marketing is significantly better for you than other channels, you should focus all your efforts on this core channel and uncover additional strategies and tactics within it.
If no channel seems promising after testing, the whole process should be repeated. If you tried several times with no success, then your product may require more tweaking and your bucket might be still leaky.

How to test traction?

Middle-ring tests: You should be running several cheap tests that give you an indication of how successful a given channel strategy could be.
Inner ring tests:
You’re doing two things:
  1. Optimize your chosen channel strategy to make it the best it can be.
  2. Discover better channel strategies within this traction channel.
There is always a set of things you can tweak. For targeting blogs, you can tweak which blogs to target, type of content, call to action, etc. For search engine marketing, you can tweak keywords, ad-copy, demographics, and landing pages.
A common approach is to use A/B testing, where A is the control group and B is the experimental group. The purpose of it is to measure the effectiveness of change in a button color, an ad image, or a different message on a web page. If the experimental group performs significantly better, you can apply the change, get the benefits, and run another test.
You can use tools such as Optimizely, Visual Website Optimizer, and Unbounce.
Over time, all marketing channels become saturated. To combat this, you should always be trying to discover new strategies and tactics within your channel and conduct small experiments. Also, experiment with new marketing platforms while they’re still in their infancy.

Tools

To track your tests you could start with a simple spreadsheet or use an analytics tool with cohort analysis. You’ll need to answer these questions:
  1. How many people landed on the website?
  2. What are the demographics of my best and worst customers?
  3. Are customers who interact with my support team more likely to stay?
A basic analytics tool like Clicky, Mixpanel, or Chartbeat can help you with these questions. You can use a spreadsheet as the tool to rank and prioritize traction channel strategies. You should include columns like how many customers are available, conversion rate, the cost to acquire a customer, lifetime value of a customer for every given strategy.

How to focus on the right traction goals? The critical path framework

Define your traction goal

You should always have an explicit traction goal you’re working towards. This could be 1,000 paying customers or 100 new daily customers, or 10% of your market. You want a goal where hitting the mark would change things significantly for your company’s outcome.
Once that is defined, you can work backward and set clear time-based subgoals. Such as reaching 1,000 customers by next quarter.
The key is to follow the critical path towards that goal and exclude all features and marketing activities that don’t help you reach your goal. Everything you decide to do should be assessed against your critical path.

Avoid traction biases

Your competitive advantage may be acquiring customers in ways your competition isn’t. That’s why it’s critical to avoid have traction biases. Stop your urge to refuse channels like speaking engagements, sales or affiliate marketing, business development, or trade shows just because you hate talking on the phone or you find the channel annoying or time-consuming.

Targetting blogs

Targeting blogs that your prospective customers read is one of the best ways to get your first wave customers.
Mint’s initial series of tests revealed that targeting blogs should be its core channel. They asked users to embed an “I want mint” badge on their personal blogs and rewarded them with a VIP access before other invitations were sent out. They also directly sponsored blogs. They sent bloggers a message with “Can I send you $500” as the subject and told them a bit about the product.
To find smaller blogs in your niche:
You can also target link-sharing communities like Reddit, Product Hunt, and Hacker News.
Dropbox, Codecademy, Quora, and Gumroad all got their first customers by sharing their products on HackerNews because their products were a good fit for users on that site.

Publicity

Starting out, an article in TechCrunch or The Huffington Post can boost your startup in the eyes of potential customers, investors, or partners. If you have a fascinating story with broad appeal, media outlets will want to hear from you.
It’s easier to start smaller when targeting big media outlets. Sites like TechCrunch and Lifehacker often pick up stories from smaller forums like Hacker News and subreddits. Instead of approaching TechCrunch, try blogs that TechCrunch reads and get story ideas from. It’s easier to get a smaller blog’s attention. Then you might get featured on TechCrunch and then The New York Times which reads TechCrunch!
What gets a reporter’s attention?
A good press angle makes people react emotionally. If it’s not interesting enough to elicit emotion, you don’t have a story worth pitching.
A good first step is using a service like Help A Reporter Out (HARO), where reporters request sources for articles they’re working on. It could get you a mention in the piece and help establish your credibility. Also, you could offer reporters commentary on stories related to your industries.
You can use Twitter to reach reporters online; almost all of them have Twitter accounts and you’d be surprised how few followers many of them have, but they can be highly influential with their content.
Once you have a solid story, you want to draw as much attention to it as you can:
Once your story has been established as a popular news item, try to drag it out as long as you can. Offer interviews that add to the story. Start “How We Did This” follow-up interviews.
As your startup grows you may consider hiring a PR firm or consultant.

Unconventional PR

Nearly every company attempts traditional publicity, but only a few focus on stunts and other unconventional ways to get buzz.

The publicity stunt

Customer Appreciation

Be awesome to your customers. Shortly after Alexis Ohanian launched Hipmunk, he sent out luggage tags and a handwritten note to the first several hundred people who mentioned the site on Twitter.
Holding a contest is also a great repeatable way to generate publicity and get word of mouth. Shopify has an annual Build a Business competition.
Great customer support is so rare that, if you make your customers happy, they’re likely to spread the news of your awesome product. Zappos is one of the best-known examples of a company with incredible customer service and they classify support as a marketing investment.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

SEM is placing ads on search engines like Google. It’s sometimes called “pay-per-click” because you only pay when a user clicks on an ad.
SEM works well for companies looking to sell directly to their target customer. You’re capturing people who are actively searching for solutions.
Click-Through Rate (CTR) The percentage of ad impressions that result in clicks to your site.
Cost per Click (CPC) The amount it costs to buy a click on an ad.
Cost per Acquisition (CPA) How much it costs you to acquire a customer, not just a click. If you buy clicks at $1 and 10% of people who hit your site make a purchase. This makes your CPA at $10.
CPA = CPC / conversion percentage

SEM to get early customer data

You can use SEM as a way to get early customer data in a controlled and predictable way. Even if you don’t expect to be profitable, you can decide to spend a certain amount of money to get an early base of customers and users to inform you about important metrics such as landing page conversion rates, average cost per customer, and lifetime value.
Archives.com used AdWords to drive traffic to their landing pages, even before they built a product, to test interest in a specific product approach. By measuring the CTR for each ad and conversions, they determined which product aspects were the most compelling to potential customers and what those people would actually pay for. When they finally built their product, they built something they knew the market would want.

SEM strategy

Find high-potential keywords, group them into ad groups, and test different ad copy and landing pages within each ad group. As data flows in, remove underperforming ads and landing pages and make tweaks to keep improving results.
Use tools like Optimizely and Visual Website Optimizer to run A/B tests on your landing pages.

Keyword research

Use Google’s keyword planner to discover top keywords your target customers use to find products like yours. You could also use tools such as KeywordSpy, SEMrush, and SpyFu to discover keywords your competition is using.
You can refine your keyword list by adding more terms to the end of each base term to create long-tail keywords. They’re less competitive and have lower search volumes which makes them ideal for testing on smaller groups of customers.
SEM is more expensive for more competitive keywords, so you’ll need to limit yourself to keywords with profitable conversion rates.
You shouldn’t expect your campaigns to be profitable right away, but if you can run a campaign that breaks even after a short period of time, then SEM could be an excellent channel for you to focus on.

Writing ads

Write ads with titles that are catchy, memorable, and relevant to the keywords you’ve paired with it. Include the keyword at least once in the body of your ad and conclude with a prominent call to action like “Check out discounted Nike sneakers!”
Each of your ads and ad groups will have a quality score associated with it. A high-quality score will get you better ad placements and better ad pricing. Click-through rate has the biggest influence on quality score, so you should tailor your ads to the keywords. Google assigns a low-quality score to ads with CTRs below 1.5%

Tactics

Social and Display Ads

Display ads are banner ads you see on websites. Social ads are ads you see on social sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Large display campaigns are often used for branding and awareness, much like offline ads. They can also elicit a direct response such as signing up for an email newsletter or buying a product.
Social ads perform exceptionally well is when they’re used to build an audience and engage with them over time, and eventually convert them to customers.

Display ads

The largest display ad networks are Google Display Network, BuySellAds, Advertising.com, Tribal Fusion, Conversant, and Adblade. Niche ad networks focus on smaller sites that fit certain audience demographics, such as dog lovers or Apple fanatics.
To get started in display advertising, you could start to find out types of ads that work in your industry. You could use tools like MixRank and Adbeat to show you ads your competitors are running and where they place them. Alexa and Quantcast can help you determine who visits the sites that feature your competitors’ ads.

Social ads

Social ads work well for creating interest among potential new customers. The goal is often awareness oriented, not conversion oriented. A purchase takes place further down the line. People visit social media sites for entertainment and interaction, not to see ads.
An effective social ad strategy takes advantage of this reality. Use ads to start conversations about your products by creating compelling content. Instead of directing people to a conversion page, direct them to a piece of content that explains why you developed your product or has other purposes than immediately completing a sale. If you have a piece of content that has high organic reach, when you put paid ads behind that piece, magic happens. Paid is only as good as the content you put behind it. You should employ social ads when you know that a fire is starting around your message and you want to put more oil on it.
Major social sites you may consider are LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, StumbleUpon, Foursquare, Tumblr, Reddit, YouTube, and many others.

Offline Ads

Even today, advertisers spend more on offline ads than they do online. When buying offline ads, You should try to advertise to demographics that match up with your target audience. Ask for an audience prospectus or ad kit.
Not sure if magazine ads are a good channel for you? Buy a small ad in a niche publication and give it a test. Want to see if newspapers would be good? Buy a few ads in a local paper. You can also try radio ads and billboards.

Magazine ads

A compelling magazine or newspaper ad will have an attention-grabbing header, an eye-catching graphic, and a description of the product’s benefits. Also, you should have a strong call to action, like an offer to get a free book.

Direct mail

You could also try direct mail by searching for “direct mail lists” and find companies selling such information. (Beware that it can be perceived as spammy)

Local print

You could also try local print ads like local fliers, directories, calendars, church bulletins, community newsletters, coupon booklets, or yellow pages. These work really well for cheap if you want to get early traction for your company in a specific area.

Outdoor advertising

If you want to buy space on a billboard, you could contact companies like Lamar, Clear Channel, or Outfront Media. Billboards aren’t effective for people to take immediate action, but it’s extremely effective for raising awareness around events, like concerts and conferences.
DuckDuckGo bought a billboard in Google’s backyard and it got big attention and press coverage.
Transit ads can be effective as a direct response tool. You can contact Blue Line Media to help you with Transit ads.

Radio and TV

Radio ads are priced on a cost per point (CPP) basis, where each point represents what it will cost to reach 1% of the station’s listeners. It also depends on your market, when the commercial runs and how many ads you’ve bought.
TV ads are often used as branding mechanisms. Quality is critical for it and production costs can run to tens of thousands. Higher-end ones can cost $200K to make. You’ll also need an average of $350,000 for actual airtime. For smaller startups, you could try local TV spots which is much cheaper.
Infomercials work really well for products in categories like Workout equipment, household products, health products, and work-from-home businesses. They can cost between $50,000 and $500,000, and they’re always direct-response.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO is improving your ranking in search engines in order to get more people to your site.
The most important thing to know about SEO is that the more high-quality links you have to a given site or page, the higher it will rank. You should also make sure you’re using the keywords you want to target appropriately on your pages, like in your page titles and headings.
There are 2 strategies to choose from: fat-head and long-tail.
Fat-head: These are one and two-word searches like “Dishwashers,” and “Facebook.” They are searched a lot and make about 30% of searches and are called.
Long-tail: These are longer searches that don’t get searched as much but add up to the majority of searches made. They make up 70% of searches.
When determining which strategy to use, you should keep in mind that the percentage of clicks drops off dramatically as you rank lower. Only 10% of clicks occur beyond the first page.

Fat-head strategy

To find out if fat-head is worthwhile, research what terms people use to find products in your industry, and then see if search volumes are large enough to move the needle. You can use the keyword planner tool for that. You want to find terms that have enough volume such that if you captured 10% for a given term, it would be meaningful.
The next step is determining the difficulty of ranking high for each term. Use tools like Open Site Explorer. If a competitor has thousands of links for a term, it will likely take a lot of focus on building links and optimizing to rank above them.
Next, narrow your list of targeted keywords to just a handful. Go to Google Trends to see how your keywords have been doing. Are they searched more or less often in the last year? You can further test keywords by buying SEM ads against them. If they convert well, then you have an indication that these keywords could get you strong growth.
Next, orient your site around the terms you’ve chosen. Include phrases you are targeting in your page titles and homepage. Get other sites to link to your site. Links with exact phrase matching from high-quality sites will give you a significant boost.

Long-Tail strategy

Because it’s difficult to rank high for competitive fat-head terms, a popular SEO strategy for early-stage startups is to focus on long-tail. If you bundle a lot of long-term keywords together you can reach a meaningful number of customers.
Find out what are search volumes for a bunch of long-tail keywords in your industry? Do they add up to meaningful amounts? Also, take a look at the analytics software you use on your site or google search console to find some of the search terms people are already using to get to your site. If you’re naturally getting a significant amount of traffic from long-tail keywords, then the strategy might be a good fit. Also, check if competitors use this strategy. If they have a lot of landing pages (search for site:domain.com in google), then it’s a sign that this strategy works for your market. Also, check Alexa search rankings and look at the percentage of visitors your competitors are receiving from search.
If you proceed with a long-tail SEO strategy, you’ll need to produce significant amounts of quality content. If you can’t invest time in that, you can pay a freelancer from Upwork to write an article for every search phrase you want to target.
Another way is to use content that naturally flows from your business. Ask yourself: what data do we naturally collect or generate that other people may find useful. Large businesses like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Wikipedia all gained most of their traffic by producing automated long-tail content. Sometimes the data is hidden behind a login screen and all you need to do is expose it to search engines, or aggregate it in a useful manner.

How to get links?

Don’t buy links, you’ll be penalized by search engines for it. Instead, you can do:

Content Marketing

Companies like Moz and Unbounce have well-known company blogs that are their biggest source of customer acquisition.
Unbounce started a blog and an email list from day one. They used social media to drive readers to your blog. They pinged twitter influencers to ask for feedback, gave away free infographics, and e-books. These actions don’t scale but they push them to a point where their content will spread on its own.
OkCupid is a free online dating site. They intentionally wrote controversial posts like “How your race affects the messages you get” to generate traffic and conversation.

Tactics

Email Marketing

Email marketing is a personal channel. Messages from your company sit next to emails from friends and family. That’s why email marketing works best when personalized. It can be used to build familiarity with prospects, acquire customers, and retain customers you already have.

Email marketing to Find customers

Email marketing to Engage customers

If a customer never gets the value of your product, how can you expect them to pay for it or recommend it to others?

Email marketing to Retain customers

Email marketing can be the most effective channel to bring people back to your site. Twitter sends you an email with a weekly digest of popular tweets and your new notifications.
More business-oriented products usually focus on reminders, reports, and information about how you’re getting value from the product. Mint sends a weekly financial summary to show your expenses and income over the previous week.
You can also use it to surprise and delight your customers. Planscope sends a weekly email to customers telling them how much they made that week. Photo apps will send you pictures you took a year ago.

Email marketing to Drive revenue

You can send a series of emails aimed at upselling customers.
WP Engine sends prospects an email course about Wordpress, and near the end of the email, they make a pitch to signup for its premium Wordpress hosting service.
If one of your customers abandoned a shopping cart, send her a targeted email a day or two later with a special offer for whatever item is left in the cart.
You can use email to explain a premium feature a customer is missing out on and how it can help them in a big way.

Email marketing to get referrals

Groupon generates referrals by incentivizing people to tell their friends about discounts.

Tactics

Viral Marketing

Viral marketing is getting your existing customers to refer others to your product. It was the driving force behind the explosive growth of Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Dropbox, Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest.
It’s so powerful that even if you can’t achieve exponential growth with it, you can still get meaningful growth. If your customer refers a new customer within the first week, you’ll go from ten customers to twenty and double every week without any additional marketing.
The oldest form of virality occurs when your product is so remarkable that people naturally tell others about it — pure word of mouth.
Inherent virality occurs when you can get value from a product only by inviting other customers, like Skype, Snapchat, and WhatsApp.
Others grow by encouraging collaboration like Google Docs.
Some embed virality like adding “Get a free email account with Hotmail” or “Sent from iPhone” to default signatures. Mailchimp and other email marketing products add branding to free customers’ emails.
Some incentivize customers to move through a viral loop, like Dropbox giving you more space if you invite friends to sign up. Airbnb, Uber, and PayPal give you account credits for referring friends.
Some add embedded buttons and widgets to grow virally, like Reddit and YouTube.
Some broadcast users activities on their social networks, like Spotify posting on Facebook when you play a song, or Pinterest when you pin content.
The viral coefficient K is the number of additional customers you can get for each customer you bring in. It depends on i, the number of invites sent per user, and conversion percentage (who will actually sign up after receiving an invite)
K = i * conversion percentage
Any viral coefficient above 1 will result in exponential growth. Any viral coefficient over 0.5 helps your efforts to grow considerably.
You can increase the number of invites per user i by including features that encourage sharing, such as posting to social networks. You can increase the conversion percentage by testing different signup flows. Try cutting out pages or signup fields.
Viral cycle time is how long it takes a user to go through your viral loop. Shortening your cycle time drastically increases the rate at which you go viral. You can do it by creating urgency or incentivizing customers to move through the loops.

Tactics

Engineering as Marketing

You can build tools like calculators, widgets, and educational microsites to get your company in front of potential customers.
HubSpot has Marketing Grade, a free marketing review tool. It’s free, gives you valuable information, and provides HubSpot with the information they use to qualify you as a potential prospect.
Moz has two free SEO tools, Followerwong and Open Site Explorer. They’ve driven tens of thousands of leads for Moz.
WP Engine has a speed testing tool that asks only for an email address in exchange for a detailed report on your site’s speed.

Business Development

With business development, you’re partnering to reach customers in a way that benefits both parties.
Google got most of its initial traction from a partnership with Netscape to be the default search engine and an agreement with Yahoo to power its online searches.
Business development can take the form of:
You should have already defined your traction goal and milestones, and you shouldn’t accept any partnership that doesn’t align with it. Many startups waste resources because it’s tempting to make deals with bigger companies.

Sales

Sales is the process of generating leads, qualifying them, and converting them into paying customers. It’s particularly useful for expensive and enterprise products.

Structuring the sales conversation

Situation questions. Ask one or two questions per conversation. The more you ask situation questions, the less likely they’re going to close.
Problem questions. Use sparingly.
Implication questions. Meant to make a prospect aware of the large implications that stem from the problem.
Need-payoff questions. Focus attention on your solution and get buyers to think about the benefits of solving the problem.

Cold calls

Be judicious about the people you contact. You want someone who is one-two levels up in the organization. They have enough perspective on the problem and some authority for decision making. Avoid starting at the top unless you’re calling a very small business.
Try to get answers about:

Tactics

It’s better to gain traction through a marketing channel first, then use sales as a conversion tool to close leads. The next stage is lead qualification: determine how ready a prospect is to buy. Once you’ve qualified the leads, you should lay out exactly what are you going to do for the customer. Set up a timetable for it and get them to commit with a yes or no whether they’re going to buy. Closing leads can be done by a sales team who does a webinar or product demo and has an ongoing email sequence that ends with a purchase request. In other cases, you may need a field sales team that actually visits prospective customers for some part of the process.
A checklist that can help you with sales:
submitted by alollou to Entrepreneur [link] [comments]

It is a pay-for-performance model: Commissions are only paid for actual revenue or measurable success. 8) An affiliate-link includes a code, which identifies the affiliate. That’s how clicks, leads or sales are tracked. The affiliate therefore acts as the interface between merchants and customers. A subscription model is a great example of recurring revenue strategy. This is a common strategy among SAAS, entertainment services, and online hosting companies like Netflix , Youtube etc. where they provide the specified service for a pre-determined periodic cost. A revenue model is a part of the business model that explains different mechanisms of income generation and its sources. This is a high level answer to the question that asks how we will generate revenue from the value we bring to a certain customer group. The simplest example of a revenue model is a high traffic blog that places ads to earn Affiliate Marketing Success is Not Just Individual Campaigns. There are plenty of successful affiliates out there, but these guys are crushing it. If you want to be the next eight-figure affiliate superstar, look at their business models. Here are a couple of takeaways to get you started: Huge affiliate marketing success stories take time. So, these affiliate models could be affiliate marketing, subscriptions, generating revenue through ads or even sponsorship on a website. Whatever the process or model is, it is designed to make you money. Affiliate marketing model explained. The first revenue model definition that we are going to explain is affiliate marketing as it is the one

[index] [2827] [4056] [1266] [14468] [5681] [13836] [8545] [1191] [7974] [12131]