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How 7 Startups Skyrocketed to Success with Content Marketing

[Editor’s Note: Please welcome me in joining Anne Leuman to TopRankBlog.com. Anne is a Copywriter that joined TopRank Marketing earlier this year and specializes in creating awesome B2B content for some of our amazing Enterprise clients.]

I’d venture to guess that you’re no stranger to content marketing. Content Marketing Institute reports that 89% of all organizations use content in their marketing efforts. But is content your main driver of growth? It might not be, and that’s okay, but we’re here to show you how successful content can be.

Take a look at startups for example. Startups are known for viral growth. To attract or keep investors, they need to grow at staggering rates. So how do they do it? A lot of them rely on content marketing. And with good reason.

There is no denying that content marketing is one of the most cost effective marketing tactics. In fact, Demand Metric reports that content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing and generates three times the leads. Yet, 52% of companies don’t have a formal content strategy.

If you’re looking to double down on your content strategy, see how these seven startups skyrocketed to success with content:

#1 – HubSpot

It’s hard to imagine HubSpot as a startup, but back in 2006 they were a fresh-faced business. And they grew on the back of quality, innovative content. They earn our #1 spot because over 75% of their generated leads come from content.

HubSpot accomplished this by offering free white papers, case studies, eBooks, and webinars, and hiding them behind a form. In order for visitors to get the free content, they had to provide their information and become a lead. In addition, HubSpot added a call to action at the bottom of every blog post. An action that tripled the amount of leads generated by their blog, according to HubSpot CMO Mike Volpe.

#2 – Blue Apron

Blue Apron, an ingredient and recipe delivery service, grew 500% in 2015. And they attributed that success to their content marketing strategies.

Blue Apron wanted to get subscribers excited about recipes before they showed up at their door, creating a more satisfying product experience. To do this, they created educational, fun cooking content including recipe histories, cooking techniques, and kitchen timesavers. With this method, they have engaged over 1.7 million Facebook fans to date.

Beyond engaging a larger audience and creating a better experience, educational content allowed Blue Apron to form more meaningful relationships with their subscribers. They became the go-to source for anything kitchen related, building trust and loyalty among their customers.

 

#3 – Mint

Content put the pressure on Mint’s competitors. When Mint, a personal finance app, started in 2007, blogging wasn’t widely adopted by companies. And if they did adopt it, they weren’t blogging often. Mint created the MintLife blog and steadily produced finance tips, videos, and news roundups. This gave Mint a competitive edge and allowed them to rank on search engines ahead of market leaders—including ranking number one for personal finance.

Oh, and this all happened before the launch of their product. With this strategy, they were able to have 20,000 subscribers before releasing their application. This allowed them to drive substantial traffic to the app on launch day. By 2009, Mint would be purchased by Intuit for $170 million. An achievement partially credited to their content strategy.

#4 – Buffer 

Buffer, one of the most widely used social media tools today, was launched with content. At first, they pitched their app to well-known blogs and media outlets, hoping they would write about the tool and gain a large audience. But the big players turned them down. This forced their founder, Leo Widrich, to try gaining an audience another way.

Leo started guest blogging. He wrote over 150 posts on social media and published them on numerous blogs. By creating guest blogging relationships, Buffer gained the audience of other blogs and grew to 100,000 users in just 10 months. Guest blogging was the strategy that gave them the most initial growth.

 

 

#5 – Design Pickle 

Imagine if your first 1,200 customers were generated solely by content. That was the case for Design Pickle and its founder Russ Perry.

Design Pickle was created to make graphic design a more convenient and available service. They started a subscription service where subscribers could receive unlimited graphic design help for one easy, flat rate.

Perry’s launch strategy centered around employing guest blogging. Russ wrote blog posts on marketing and design and posted them on affiliate blogs. Inside each post, Russ was able to offer promotions and information about his services. With this strategy, Design Pickle was able to capture their first 1,200 customers. They have now served over 100,000 project requests.

 

 

#6 – KISSmetrics

KISSmetrics, a marketing analytics platform, is one of the most popular marketing brands today. But it was a struggle to get it off the ground in 2008. Hiten Shah, co-founder of KISSmetrics, attributes their initial success to content curation and the new (at the time) microblogging platform, Twitter.

Blogging wasn’t popular when KISSmetrics was getting started—they didn’t even have one. So how did they gain an audience? They used curated content from Twitter and hashtags to reach large audiences and gain a following. Hiten says, “Sharing other marketers’ content was the perfect way to spread goodwill, promote great content, and build our own Twitter audience.” Eventually, their website was beaming with Twitter referrals. Since then, KISSmetrics has evolved to become blogging experts, with blogs accounting for over 70% of their leads and 82% of their website traffic.

#7 – Glossier 

Experts in all things beauty, Glossier started out as a beauty blog called Into The Gloss, which still exists today. But it quickly grew into something more. Known for providing great advice from real women—Into The Gloss, started by Emily Weiss—was one of the largest skincare and makeup blogs. With a passion for beauty and a captive audience, Emily decided to use her blog to launch her own beauty line.

In writing her blog, Emily already had all of the market research she needed and began producing skincare and makeup products. She then directly involved Into The Gloss’s audience in her new venture by teasing her new brand, Glossier, and documenting the process. By the time she officially launched, Glossier had 15,000 followers who didn’t even know what it was. Her stellar content and engaged audience (including 500,000 Instagram followers) allowed her blog to turn into a successful retailer.

 

 

Implementing content marketing and doing it well has the power to propel your business to success. The (former) startups above are a testament to that. Check out these 10 infographics to elevate your content marketing even further.


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The post How 7 Startups Skyrocketed to Success with Content Marketing appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

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About Daniel Rodgers

A lot of news that you will not see in the paper. A lot of technology that is coming out that will not see in the paper.

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Tales from the Trenches: How to Transition from Marketing Doer to Marketing Leader

I was roughly five years into my marketing career when I began managing my first direct report. It was the biggest challenge I faced yet. I was now being evaluated on the actions, successes, and failures of another person—and I also knew it was my responsibility to give them the support and tools they needed to have more successes than failures.

I felt as if I didn’t know how to influence, motivate, or persuade another person. But I was given the opportunity to try and to learn. I had a great group of bosses, mentors, and peers giving me advice, listening to my concerns or wins, and allowing me to make mistakes.

Quite a few years (and many direct reports) later, today I have a much better handle on how to manage a team. And as I’ve grown, I’ve learned that my job isn’t just to manage people, time, projects, or priorities, my job is to lead.

But it can be hard to make the transition from a “doer” to a leader. And the stakes are high. In fact, a recent study from TINYpulse found that nearly 50% of employees have quit a job because of a less than stellar manager. In addition, those who don’t feel recognized for their work are two-times as likely to be job hunting.

Whether you’re stepping into your first management role, moving onto middle management, or you have your eye on the CMO office, as a leader it’s your job to inspire, motivate, and grow a happy and high-functioning team. The insights below are designed to help guide you down a successful path to a fruitful career and happy, supported, and motivated employees. 

Tip #1: Understand the landscape

Whether you’re managing one team member or an entire department, you’ll be setting goals and playing an integral role in setting the marketing strategy your team is responsible for driving results with. But to do that, you must understand the broad and niche context in which your organization, department, or service line operates. This means getting to know your customers, prospects, and competitors more deeply, so you thoughtfully can guide and educate your team:

  • Seek out opportunities to hold monthly or quarterly one-on-one calls with your priority customers. Ask them what they value most about your organization or product, as well as where you can do better. 
  • Regularly research your competitors. Subscribe to emails, follow them on social media, and attend industry events where they might be speaking. This will give you unique intel that you can bring back to your team.
  • Get out of the marketing silo. Brainstorm with the sales team. Talk to your customer service team. These teams are intimately familiar with the challenges your customers and prospects face.

Tip #2: Set goals … and exceed them

Yes, you’ve probably be setting goals at all stages of your career. As an individual contributor, your goals were likely focused on what you could individually achieve. In a leadership role, you’re likely responsible for setting goals for your team that will ladder to corporate goals. If you are new to a leadership role, achieving goals that map directly to the success of the company, can be a quick win to build trust within leadership and grow your team and influence. 

  • Keep your goals top of mind. Discuss progress, roadblocks, and wins with your team, your boss, and other leaders. The more discussion around goals, the more likely you and your team are to remain focused and accountable on achieving them. 
  • Incentivize if you can. Big and small incentives can keep your team motivated to achieve their goals.
  • Make it a number. In my experience, setting and achieving a numerical goal has more impact on the organization and is generally more impressive than an accomplishment-based goal. For example, make the goal double MQLs, instead of rolling out a new marketing automation system. The marketing automation system is a stepping stone to reach the goal, not the actual goal. 
  • Set goals quarterly. Ninety days is long enough to achieve something big-ish, but short enough to keep you focused. We’ve found quarterly goals helps us track for the year and keep the team more motivated. 

[bctt tweet="The more discussion around goals, the more likely you and your team are to remain focused and accountable on achieving them. @Alexis5484" username="toprank"]

Tip #3: Focus on scalability

Once it’s time to step out of day-to-day execution and supervision and into leadership, you should focus more on optimizing and solving issues on a systematic basis, rather than local basis. When I was a new manager, I found myself constantly on the run putting out fires as they would pop up, instead of focusing on why it started and how to prevent it going forward.

  • Create make-sense processes. Identify the things your team does over and over again such as campaign launches, attending events, or adding new content to the website. These are replicable events that you can create process around and then optimize for efficiency, results, and so on.
  • Don’t feel like you have to stick to the status quo. Just because the marketing team has always had six copywriters, two content strategists, and an analyst, doesn’t mean that’s the ideal structure. Document the needs and functions of the organization and then map out the most make-sense roles to those needs. For the sake of the exercise, take the current situation out of it. You can employ a phased approach to get you from current situation to ideal. 

Tip #4: Shift the spotlight to your team

As you’re moving into leadership, you’re likely trying to build trust and show value to upper leadership, and it can be easy to lose focus on serving your team. Fostering a happy, well-functioning team is your top priority. Not only can you not do your job without them, but it is one of the best indicators of success to your boss and your boss’s boss. 

  • Shift how you find personal value from work. Most of us have moved into leadership, after being highly successful individual contributors and supervisors. As leaders, we must find more value from the task, result, or project we helped someone else achieve, rather than the work we did ourselves. 
  • Clear obstacles. Be transparent when you can; have your employees’ backs. These things build trust and create a secure, happy, and productive team. 
  • Cultivate the next round of leaders. Understand what your team wants to achieve personally within their careers within the next five or 10 years, and help them do that. As leaders, we should always be identifying and growing the team members who want to move to the next round in their careers. 

[bctt tweet="Most of us have moved into leadership, after being highly successful individual contributors and supervisors. As leaders, we must find more value from the task, result, or project we helped someone else achieve. @Alexis5484" username="toprank"]

Tip #5: Stay fresh on the job

At all levels of my career, I’ve found the best way to build trust with a team is to help them solve a problem. The more you understand your team’s job function, the more able you will be able to help them solve problems, innovate, and provide feedback to improve the function of their performance. 

  • Stay fresh. I find the best way to do this is to jump in and help execute from time to time. So, write a blog post or create the tactical plan. This keeps you from getting rusty, but also helps you empathize with your team and the challenges within their roles. 
  • Ask questions. Sometimes you won’t understand the details of what they’re working on, particularly if you’re leading a cross functional team. But ask questions. Help them look at the problem critically, and it’s likely you’ll guide them to their own answer. 

Tip #6: Be the leader

One of the toughest transitions from individual contributor to leader, is owning your role as the leader. For the first few years that I was managing a small team, I was more likely to be found deep in the weeds, doing the tasks I did in my previous job titles, than actually doing my work as a leader.

There were a couple reasons for this. It was comfortable doing the work; I already knew how to do it and I was good at. I also felt like I was most helpful to my team if I was helping them get the work done by actually doing the work. 

This was not true. See tip No. 3. You (and I) are most helpful to your team when you’re solving systematic problems, optimizing workflow and production, and creating a happy and secure work environment. If you’re always in the weeds, all you can see is the weeds. 

[bctt tweet="You're most helpful to your team when you’re solving systematic problems, optimizing workflow and production, and creating a happy and secure work environment. @Alexis5484 on being a #marketing leader" username="toprank"]

Tip #7: Keep learning

The leaders I am most inspired by inside and outside of my organization are probably the most voracious learners. Continuous learning through a variety of mediums will help you continue to evolve your skill set, bring in fresh ideas, and help you be inspired to test something new. Here are a couple of the resources that I go to:

  • Read: HBR is a go to for great content on how to lead, manage and shape a business. 
  • Listen: Dear HBR has a great Q&A format about navigating workplace challenges. 
  • Attend: Industry events are great for providing outside perspective, networking with other leaders and inspiring the evolution of your tactics. MarketingProfs is a great event for marketers.

Take Your Place at the Leadership Table

Each stage of your career offers a unique set of challenges and opportunities. The way in which you handle those situations—tackling them head-on or leaving them for someone else—has the potential to make or break your success in that position… and the one that may or may not come after. Keep these pieces of advice in mind as you work to build your team, your organization, and career as a leader.

Looking for more tips on how to inspire, motivate, and build a more effective marketing team? Check out our tips for getting your marketing team to work better together.

The post Tales from the Trenches: How to Transition from Marketing Doer to Marketing Leader appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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