Basics of Online Growth Marketing

It’s just marketing… everyone can do it right?

Whether you’re a small business owner, startup founder or freelancer you’ll know about the struggles of trying to get your brand out there for the world to see. 

Many people start with the DIY option. Spending endless hours reading forums, blogs, articles, going to seminars, or even attending courses. However, an overload of information and hours researching can leave you feeling lost, overwhelmed and run down. We’ve all been there marinating over what to post on twitter tomorrow because the tweet we posted today had zero a heartbreaking engagement. 

You are not alone. 

Online marketing, growth hacking, digital marketing (or any of the above) have become a skill of all traits or a jack of all trades. It’s true that everyone can potentially do these things, but the truth is, today’s marketing is not just about having a website and a social media presence. 

Online growth marketing is a mixed bag containing anything from:

  • Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
  • Content Marketing
  • Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
  • Pay Per Click (PPC) and Display Advertising
  • Affiliate Marketing
  • Partnerships
  • Sponsorships
  • Email Marketing
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Traditional (above the line) Marketing

 …usually, it’s a combination of many or all the above.

Some of the best startup and Small to Medium Business (SMB) marketing teams are built out from a small but very diverse team with varying skills. 

Take BugHerd, for example, We have Chanie Hyde who loves to create content and comms strategies and Hennika Kestila who is in love with all things data and optimisation. Over the years, they have touched on every single item on online growth marketing listed (see before “Jack of all trades” mention). 

Having been exposed to various marketing roles, and studied both business and marketing, the team have learned to play on each other’s strengths. These are their top tips to increase your chance of marketing success:


Define your target audience

One of the first things a marketer should ask you is ‘who is it that you’re trying to reach? How old are they? Where do they live? Where do they work? What’s their job title? Where do they spend time online? What are they interested in?’

Simply put, if you do not know who your audience is you will waste time and money targeting and paying to reach people who are ultimately not interested or have no need to purchase your product or service. 

A good start is to build some great customer personas to help identify where your target audience work, play and live in an online sense. There are plenty of templates available online, but we love these fabulous templates from the Marketing legends at Hubspot.  

Refine your audience messaging

You might have several target audience groups and it is important that you build out each (and every) audience group messaging that they can relate to. 

Let’s take our own BugHerd audiences as an example. Our basic target audiences include: 

  • Developers
  • Designers
  • Marketers
  • Project Managers 

Generally speaking, most of the marketers we speak to don’t use (or understand) much dev and design technical vocabulary. They’re also using our product in a different way and for a different purpose.

Therefore, our Designer specific messaging reads: 

“BugHerd – Client Feedback Tool | Collect Design Feedback” 

Whereas the marketing message to Developers reads: 

“BugHerd: Visual Feedback Tool | Bug Tracking Software | Try BugHerd, free for 14 days”

It’s not rocket science, but the language difference has been a key factor in the conversion rates for these particular ads. These target audiences have different pain points and search terms in their work. 

We wrote this rad blog a while back on how to market to developers specifically if you want to dive deeper into that audience. 

Find (and test) the right marketing mix

If you find your sustainable marketing mix early, it will save your business money and effort.

If you’ve done your audience research thoroughly, getting started on testing a marketing mix shouldn’t be too challenging.

It’s important that you find the right channels to reach your audience. You need to understand where your customers go for information and what are the channels that they trust the most. If you find your sustainable marketing mix early, it will save you money and effort in the long run.

Figure 1Lucid Chart – Example of marketing Mix

The ultimate marketing mix is: 

  • Sustainable
  • Leaves you a positive marketing ROI 
  • Is scalable

It’s worth defining, or mapping out channels that you’ll test your messaging in, continuously monitoring and measuring your conversion rates (whether they be sales, contacts, subscriptions or all of the above).  

This way you can make data-driven decisions (more on that later) early on without burning all your budget into one channel only. 

SEM & SEO 

It is unlikely that you will be able to get your website to rank highly on ALL of your keywords. These are the gaps you want to fill up with SEM.

Would you like your business to be found by billions of people on Google, the biggest search engine and research channel in the world? Yes? We thought so. 

Search engine optimization (SEO) and Search engine marketing (SEM) are essentials that you want to put effort in to get the set-up right. 

It all starts with your website presence. Ensure sure you hit the basics for On-Page SEO. We like this simple guide from Moz to get you started.

No matter how hard you try, it is very unlikely that you’ll be able to get your website to rank highly on all your defined keywords (keyword research is part of your on-page SEO guide) and these are the gaps you want to fill up with SEM. 

Setting up your first Google ad account can be a little daunting and scary but this guide from Google will help you get set up. The best way to learn how to use the system is quite literally by diving in and using it. There are many YouTube tutorials to help you if you ever get stuck! 

Referral marketing

Who are the closest non-competitor businesses you have in your network? Do they reach the audience you want to reach?

Building relationships matters online, exchanging blogs, writing case studies and creating value to businesses makes a bigger difference than you could imagine. 

This is also the advertising cost-free marketing that will impact your SEO rankings greatly while driving interested audiences to your website. 

At BugHerd we have done quite a bit of referral marketing. You can find some case studies about BugHerd at partner companies Intercom and Segment. In return, we have written blogs such as ‘Tools that make BugHerd Better’. These efforts help to create extended value to our closest network, right in our target audience. 

Network campaigns

Paid referrals can be useful to your business if you have the budget to spend. It’s not just limited to Social Media and Google Ads (even though those can be very fruitful). 

We recommend that you do some research in regards to what the largest campaign networks are in your industry, and what the most used comparison sites are in your field of work. Such networks can be quite cost-effective if you are able to nail down your audience and messaging. 

If you are in SaaS, think about networks such as Capterra, Product Hunt and Sourceforge as an example. 

There are a plethora of sponsored newsletters and paid editorial opportunities out there to explore. Resellers such as Syndicate Ads can be a great way to get your foot in the door in hard to reach audiences like developers and designers (or people who use ad-blockers).

Make data-driven decisions

Marketing is no longer only about exposure, we have access to so much more data than we did 15 years ago. 

Tools like GoogleAnalytics guide us through user behaviour and action on our websites. Make sure you use them. It’s free and it isn’t retrospective. If you don’t have analytics installed you’re missing out on the bigger picture.

From the get-go have KPIs defined, analytics events and goals set up. Whenever you launch or run campaigns, make sure you take time to evaluate the campaign performance and make data-driven decisions to either pause, continue or optimise your campaigns. 

Measure, optimise, test and learn, burn or scale. Online growth marketing is far from set and forget.

Trial and error are par for the course, if you are new to your business vertical, it can take a little while to get things right. That’s part of the fun!

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