In the tech world, the term is “growth hacking.” Elsewhere in the entrepreneurial universe, it’s having a marketing strategy that’s just plain scrappy. Startup companies (online or offline) need to get leads in the front door, on the cheap, and fast. With no pool of past customers to draw upon and an ambitious number of orders to deliver on, a new company has little choice but to focus on top-line growth.
However, these “scrappy” beginnings can (and often do) result in gaps and neglect when it comes to maximizing the backend marketing efforts. The shame here is that the focus begins with a maximum number of prospects and can form a pattern that takes attention away from profit-per-prospect. Here are a few fundamental focuses that are often pushed aside in early-stage marketing efforts after lead acquisition:
Marketing automation architecture
What is the best way to sift new leads and consistently stay on top of them to ensure the best chance of conversion? Software like Salesforce, Infusionsoft, or Marketo (amongst dozens of others) provide methods for “mapping” out the initial portion of the customer lifecycle, automating relevant email offers, creating triggers to send mail, and developing specific reminders for salespeople to make calls.
Putting even a morning’s worth of forethought into automation will give you an edge on other startups with their hodge-podge lead lists, manual emails, and random phone calls. Early vigilance in determining follow-up per customer type, lead score, or other factors means making the most of these hard-earned leads.
Database marketing efforts
On day one, the list of old customers is 0 and the potential for new customers per month could be thousands. The emphasis clearly needs to be loaded to the front. However, after month six or even 12, there’s often (varying by industry and product/service) as great (if not greater) gain to be had—and at a lower cost—by effectively dipping into the pool of existing contacts. Some factors to consider for newer companies:
- As you’re scrambling for new leads, ask yourself what specific data points you easily collect and record in a way that will make remarketing easier in the future (For example, for B2B software this might include company size, industry, etc.)
- Besides a newsletter that nobody reads, what kind of weekly, monthly, or quarterly routine might be worth testing for consistent “dipping” back into the prospect and past customer bucket? (This could involve targeted email offers, followed by phone calls to all the openers, etc.)
Diligence from front to back
Talk to an average startup company and someone there will enthusiastically tell you about all twelve ways that the company is getting new leads in the door. If the company is smart and profitable, you’ll also be quick to hear its methods of testing all of these twelve strategies. If you ask about routines and efforts to consistently make the most of unconverted leads, it’s not unlikely you’ll hear crickets. More surprising, the crickets are just as loud when you ask about how the company is maximizing past customers/clients, the very people who spent money to get the fledgling startup off the ground.
More than just tactical implementation, early-stage companies ought to take the time to consider and reconsider their overall strategy for maximizing profit-per-prospect, and staying connected to previous customers. Like frontend lead generation, these strategies are not self-evident. The good news is that with even a portion of the same iterative focus on the backend processes that follow the acquisition of a lead, customer lifetime value can be lifted significantly.
Daniel Faggella is the founder of CLVboost.