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Every startup is striving to reach a common goal: success. But how do you reach out to your audience and get them interested in what you have to offer when you don’t have the seemingly endless budget of a more established company? You get creative; that’s how.

The following six techniques will empower you to increase your reach without pulling a financial muscle. Before you know it, you’ll be watching your click-through rates grow, your sales increase and your business flourish like never before.

Growth Hacking

Growth hacking is a marketing technique for startups that uses analytical thinking alongside creativity and social metrics to gain exposure. It can take many forms, and is the umbrella that all of the other methods on this list fall under. Growth hacking uses smart, low-cost techniques such as search engine optimization (SEO) and social media to thrive, and ultimately to create a type of perpetual-motion marketing machine.

Growth hacking transforms the marketing landscape by putting the focus on users before product development is even finished. Products are then able to adapt to the changing needs of their specific users to keep them engaged. By putting the customer first, growth will inevitably follow suit.

When to use it:
Oh, you have a startup? Oh, you’d like more traffic to your website? Well, it sounds like you better become a growth hacker. (Or at least get a good team of them on your side!)

Companies who use it well:
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Reddit and Dropbox. What do all of these companies have in common? They’ve all been wildly successful, and they’ve never needed to buy traditional media to do so. By encouraging the sharing of content and inviting more friends, they have all empowered their users to become their marketers and to do their advertising for them. I’d say it’s worked out pretty well for them.

Landing Page Optimization

Landing page optimization is part of the conversion optimization process that focuses on turning visitors into customers by targeting their specific desires. By studying the information gathered on users, and resonating with their behaviors, companies are able to create an environment that most appeals to their audience. Content is adjusted as needed, in the form of separate landing pages, to ensure the most effectiveness.

When to use it:
When you need to get from point A (an ad) to point B (your website), sometimes the best way is to go through point A-and-a-half (a landing page). This transition is used to get a response and gather information about your user — an email address or mailing information, for example. When a potential user clicks an ad, instead of taking them straight to your homepage — which is frequently a lot of information that is irrelevant at that moment — bring them first to a landing page that will speak to them. Keep the message consistent across the ad, from the landing page to your website.

This method is especially effective if you have an audience comprised of multiple user types. Create a landing page for each segment of your target, and drive traffic through these separate pages. Analytics will help you track which landing pages are the most effective and which are less successful.

Companies who use it well:
Manpacks and Zappos. Both of these companies use targeted landing pages to speak directly to their various audience segments. They keep their forms short and simple and the content interesting yet concise, driving customers to sign up for newsletters and to make purchases.

Viral Loops

Does your marketing have you going in circles? Good, it should. That’s what viral looping is all about. A viral loop (more accurately described as a ‘viral expansion loop’) is best explained through the following example:

You’re scrolling through your Facebook news feed when you see an adorable picture of a cat that a friend shared from the Cat Memes page. You share the photo, and click the link to visit the Cat Memes page, which you then ‘like.’ Your friends see your post, share the image and ‘like’ the page, too. That’s a viral loop — using word of mouth in a digital setting to increase visitors to your page with very little effort on your part. You just push the ball, and everyone else keeps it rolling.

When to use it:
Viral loops are a great way to quickly gain more followers on your social media sites. The best results come from engaging, fascinating material. Videos and pictures perform much better than text alone. Offering incentives for sharing content is also highly effective at increasing shares and likes.

Companies who use it well:
YouTube. Which came first, YouTube or the viral video? The world may never know! What we do know, is that people love to share videos. Like many other companies, YouTube is integrated into Facebook as well as other social media sites, making it simple for users to make the loop from one network to the next.


Get the one that got away. When users visit your website but leave before they make a purchase, you don’t have to say good-bye forever — you can bring them back through remarketing. Remarketing is a way of reaching out to customers who have already shown an interest in what you have to offer by showing them ads while they are out browsing the rest of the web. Wherever they go, they take a little piece of you with them.

When to use it:
If you have something to sell, then you should be utilizing remarketing as a primary marketing tool. Let’s say your startup is dedicated to selling a revolutionary type of yo-yo. Jane visited your website and added a yo-yo to her cart, but then she left before checking out. While she’s browsing Amazon, Google and other websites, she notices an ad directing her back to you (maybe even with an added incentive). Jane ultimately clicks your ad, taking her back to your page, where she makes the purchase. It’s subtle, non-obtrusive and extremely cost-effective. Beware, though — it is a balancing act. Too many ads can have a negative effect on your users.

Companies who use it well:
ModCloth, Amazon and Nordstrom. These retailers, as well as many others, have embraced remarketing and use it well. Spend some time on any of their websites, then go for a browse and see for yourself.

A/B Testing

Long story short, A/B testing is when you compare the success of two things, one being the original (control) and the other being a modified version (treatment) in which only one main element has changed. If you’re familiar with multivariate or bucket testing, it’s the same thing, but with only two variables. The purpose of A/B testing is to identify the most favorable variation for the end-users, gaining you more visitors, sign-ups and sales.

When to use it:
If you have a high-traffic website but not as many sales as you would like, then it’s time to try out A/B testing. Will a green “Buy Now” button get more hits than a pink one? Do your customers prefer a photo background instead of a solid white one? Does your font size matter? Put your theories to the test and measure the results to see for yourself.

Companies who use it well:
Google, Facebook and even President Obama. That’s right, Mr. President used A/B testing, and it helped him to raise an extra $60 million for his campaign. By testing out different media and color schemes, Obama’s campaign staff was able to identify which direction was most appealing to visitors, and used it to boost newsletter sign-ups and donations.


More of an objective than an actual tactic, conversion is essentially the process of turning your target into customers. I’m mentioning it here because this is where you want to end up after you’ve worked your way through the aforementioned strategies. Conversion is what puts the dollars in your pockets, the e-mails in the inbox and the gravy on the biscuits. (Hey, who doesn’t love biscuits and gravy?) Your goal here is to continually raise your conversion rate to ensure growth.

When to use it:
Startups should be focused on their conversion rates from the get-go. It’s important to begin measuring your data early on, so you can get a complete picture of your progress over time.

Companies who use it well:
Fab.com. Fab started with the intentions of becoming a social network and created a large network of followers. However, they followed the lead of their customers and ultimately went another route, becoming a very successful inspiration and sales website.

Wrapping It Up

Implementing these tools into your marketing plan is a low-risk, high-return opportunity that can benefit your startup tremendously. Take the steps and revel in your awesomeness as your business grows!