Marketing Your Startup

with Alice Lankester

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Nurture Close

Turning customers into brand advocates

Alice Lankester

Startup Marketing Executive, Silicon Valley Veteran, Entrepreneur Enthusiast

Lessons Learned

Make sure there is a clear and graceful way to ‘get the digits’ of folks you visit your website.

The 4-1-1 principle: share 4 compelling pieces of content, 1 self serving, & 1 with social currency.

Look around for creative ways to tease your freemium, free trial, or other upsell models.


Lesson: Marketing Your Startup with Alice Lankester

Step #10 Nurture Close: Turning customers into brand advocates

You’ve done all this work to build awareness for your brand, to get found, or to have somebody come across you, so they say, “Wow. This looks really interesting. Now I’ll go and visit them.” You go to the website and it’s like, what’s there? How are you going to get that person, how are you going to hook that person? So their first impression is really important, obviously, and you’re going to watch their path through your site and at some point you’re going to capture their email or you’re going to capture something about them.

You’re going to ask them to login with their social credentials. Maybe you’re going to exchange content for a Like or however you’re going to hook them. There are lots of different ways of hooking that visitor so that you have some kind of connection between you and between them that you could then, you do what they used to say in the old days of dating, you got their digits. Now you’re going to call them because you can start the whole seduction thing. You’ve got their digits.

At the point you’re going to flirt with the line between seducing them and spamming them and you want to be careful how to cross that line. Have they opted in to hear from you or are you just going to assume they want to hear from you? How are you going to seduce them with materials? The whole 411 principle that worked for Twitter is a really useful thing to think about when you’re nurturing and seducing those users. The 411 principle was developed in the early days of Twitter. For every four pieces of good, original content that you develop there should be one piece of self-serving content that you create and one piece of content that you, in that case, re-tweet or share from somebody else.

That worked for Twitter but I think it works for a lot of these content marketing platforms or any kind of platform where you want to seduce these users with information or insights or stories that they’re going to find really interesting. You might produce white papers or you might produce case studies or you might produce user stories or whatever it is. You might give them a piece of content for free that you think will be interesting based on their profile in some way and that’s how you’re going to start seducing them. You don’t have to ask for their money right away. You’re starting to pull them in so that they’re starting to trust you as a source of information or a source of insights or just somebody that knows something about what you’re doing. Then at some point you’re going to convert them. There is a seduction that goes on with your customers that way and at some point they’re going to show you the money, hopefully.

Is your website a destination or is it just an information for something else, like you may be selling bicycles or you may be selling iPhone cases or whatever. It doesn’t really matter what your website is really about but if your website is a destination that people are going to go to regularly, they want to feel like its alive when they come back and that things are happening. With website design there are all kinds of trends. These days the trend is a big top third of your homepage is a video or some big image and it’s never-ending scrolling and if you’re not doing that you look out of date. People, you’re seeing this all time. I have to be part of the, "I have to look modern."

I think it is important to make sure that your website stays up-to-date with the current look and feel of the most popular websites and a lot of content, a lot of websites now have a kind of Pinteresty feel. They sort of have grids of content that changes a lot and that’s important. One of the ways that you can make your website update without making your website update, without consciously doing it, is to make it flexible in terms of its content display.

If you have multiple blogs that you’re creating or content that you’re creating or you have Twitter and Facebook pages and you’re updating and posting and so forth you can build all kinds of carousels on your homepage, which automatically feed the latest information in or you might have predictive analytics that say this is the popular thing today and this is the popular thing this week and this is what‘s trending and this is what’s changing. All of those kind of things make your website look like it’s changing but it’s not really changing because it’s just pulling up a new piece of content every time you visit. There was a lot of moves over the last few years for brands that I work with who are trying to figure out should they spend money on their Facebook presence, their Tumblr presence, their Twitter presence, their Pinterest presence. Some brands for B2B is their LinkedIn presence or their website. Do you I have to do one or the other?

Well, unfortunately, you kind of have sort of have to work on all of them and they should all connect together so it’s important to kind of look for consistency there. I think with the website, try to leverage the content that you’re building across social to make it come alive and to make it look like it’s staying up-to-date and make sure it doesn’t look super old-fashioned and out-of-date because people will judge you that way. Particularly if you go look at your competitors’ sites and your competitors’ sites look a particular way and you stand out as being totally different. That could be a good thing but it also could be a really, really bad thing because they say, “wow. You’re totally out of step with what’s going on in the industry.” You have to be a bit careful about that.

Upselling, you may find yourself in a business with a product or service where you need to upsell. Upsell could be simply moving from freemium to fully paid or it could be moving from trial to fully paid or it could be moving from this year’s model to next year’s model or it could be moving from a basic level of services to a more enhanced level of services. At those points you need to upsell your users. I think it’s an interesting question about freemium or trial. I’ve often had this discussion with companies about which they should be doing and I just want to make sure I’m quite clear about what the difference is between the two.

A trial is where you give a company access to your service for a limited amount of time and it’s full on access. You can pretty much do anything with it. A freemium is where you give them a basic version of it and they use that basic version forever and then they’ve got to buy the full version.

A perfect example of freemium is Hootsuite, a product that I absolutely love. Hootsuite lets you manage multiple social presences and schedule and push across Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn, all this kind of stuff. They will let you in the free version, support five different social accounts, and they won’t give you that much in the way of analytics. You can get the, if you upsell though, is to get 150 accounts that you can attach and you have all kinds of analytics. Perfect freemium model. Me, as an individual, Alice Lancaster will only ever want the free version. I don’t have more than, but I will work with brands that want the full version and so they want to move Alice from a free to a full version. How do I do that?

If it’s a digital destination it’s likely that at various points in the user experience you will reveal that this feature isn’t available unless you want to upgrade it. There are several ways you can do it. You can do it by sort of offering it in the user experience and then when you go there it’s just like it’s grayed out and it’s an upsell. You could give them access to it for a short amount of time to get them a taste, their analytics. Did you know what you’re missing? You could give them a preview. Do you want to test out some new version? Then if you like it you can buy it but we’re going to cut it off after a certain amount of time. There are lots of ways with digital experiences that you can give people the taste of what you think they want and then figure out what it is that they’re going to pay for.

There are some products I use, which I wonder why they’ve ever even thought of it. They just are not selling, like I would buy that feature and they’re not selling it to me and I would pay $15 a month for it and they’re not. It’s kind of an interesting discussion that they have with their users like what would you pay for? What would you not pay for? How do you tease them with it? How do you push it out in small chunks that they’re going to want it? That’s really interesting.

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