As a paid ads agency, we’re fascinated by the world of online acquisition. We’ve been closely watching a few all-star companies who have mastered the game, and in today’s article, we’re sharing what’s helped them succeed so you can accelerate your own marketing strategy.
For the TLDR, you can scroll down to see which marketing channels and techniques these brands all have in common. Let’s dive in.
#1 Loop and Tie
Loop and Tie makes corporate gifting easy. We were excited to chat with their Director of Growth, Bridget Poetker, to find out what has helped them grow so quickly. This is especially inspiring considering they’re bootstrapped.
According to Bridget, they started as a service-based business that took gift orders and fulfilled them. This helped them understand their early customers before creating software. They grew in their early days by going to industry events, and through word-of-mouth and referrals. Bridget said, “We still have a lot of that baked into our marketing strategy [even as we’ve] shifted to a more digital-first approach.”
Their most successful channel: product-led growth
Bridget explained, “When someone receives a gift through Loop & Tie they are very likely to also give a gift through Loop & Tie.”
Their other top revenue-driving channels are “organic and paid search, which makes sense since it's quick to sign up, we have a free plan, and folks can start gifting right away. There's not a ton of friction.”
She credits the product team for this growth and the ease with which people can get started after signing up.
What they’re doing differently: one goal per channel
Bridget outlined their goals for each marketing channel. For example, social and email marketing is more of an awareness play for them, given that gift-giving is such an “occasion-based product.”
To capture demand right when the user is looking to purchase, they’ve focused more on organic and paid search. For those channels, their goal is conversion.
They’re also adept at understanding the user’s intent across every channel. They tailor their content and campaigns according to each channel, and are even doing some very fun marketing plays like “gifts of the week, vendor partnership announcements, a talk show, and a podcast.”
Their most recent success? A new website with tons of social proof
Bridget and the entire marketing team are celebrating their new website, which includes tons of tailor-made landing pages, including this beautiful sign-up page.
She told us they’re focused on making it as easy as possible for someone to sign up, “even just to see how it works so that when they do have a gifting occasion coming up, they already know how easy it is to use the product.”
She added, “We're big on social proof: logos, testimonials, and even some product data. It helps to have real people explaining their real use cases and the real benefits they see using the product.”
We’re paying attention to her emphasis on the word real.
We got a chance to chat with Vince, the founder of Uplisting, about their most successful marketing strategies. We also manage paid advertising and SEO for Uplisting and have helped them grow 100% year-over year, so we’re happy to have a helping hand in how they’re growing so successfully. Want us to help you grow this much, too? Reach out here.
Bootstrapped with a bottom-of-the-funnel approach
Vince said, “As Uplisting is a bootstrapped business we need to see a quick return on investment. We take a very bottom-of-the-funnel approach to our marketing, and we focus primarily on platforms where we know we can reach potential customers.”
To find customers exactly when they’re looking to buy, the team focuses on SEO, paid search, affiliates, and remarketing. They're also starting to explore more awareness building activities through content marketing.
Find your product’s competitive edge and highlight it in your ad copy
“In terms of copy, we try to highlight the value of our product or promote aspects of our product that are better than the competition. For example, we offer a commission-free direct booking website, whereas some of our competitors charge a commission on each booking,” Vince explained.
Focus on customers who truly value the product and tailor your messaging
According to Vince, they never promote discounts through their ads, as they believe “users who buy based on large discounts don’t always value the product and will move to a cheaper software.”
Similarly, they tailor the journey they take users on depending on the channel. For example, “we will drive users to a page with a Book a Demo form rather than a Free Trial, depending on the keyword or affiliate.”
By focusing on their CTAs so closely, they’re able to drive more conversions.
Create world-class industry reports to capture and nurture new leads
Last year, Uplisting surveyed hundreds of short-term rental owners and published their findings in their Short-Term Rental Trends Report. They view this report as a brand awareness activity. Rather than measuring success based on customer acquisition, they instead focused on having a top-of-the-funnel asset and raising their profile within the STR community. These kinds of long-term plays enable them to reach their target audience with less of a barrier than asking for signups.
On top of that, this generated “1000 new leads, who are converting to a customer at a much higher percentage than we thought.”
They promoted the report on Facebook and Linkedin but noted that Linkedin ads were 15x more expensive than Facebook. They also promoted the report through their network, partners, online groups, and events they attended.
Conquering organic search and referrals
And last but not least, the Uplisting team has been focused on organic search for the last two years, and in that time, they’ve grown organic traffic and free trials by nearly 6x:
They also have a highly active referral program for their customers, and they’ve been lucky that some of their current customers are influencers in the STR niche. Vince added, “I will say that you need to be careful when starting a referral program as there are affiliates out there that will try to take advantage.”
They run weekly webinars aimed at potential customers who want to have a look at the product and ask questions about its capabilities. The number of attendees has increased by 4X over the past couple of years with little promotion, an indicator that it’s been extremely helpful to potential customers as they decide if it's the right tool for them.
Focus on your audience before launching
Typeform was an overnight success that was years in the making. Here’s a look at their early days:
- In 2011 David Okuniev had the idea for Typeform
- In 2012 he added it to Betalist and grew the list for 2 years to 50,000 interested customers
- In 2014, he officially launched and 1,000 customers sign up in the first month
Typeform grew quickly from there due to product-led growth, aka they had a “Powered by Typeform” button on every form.
Be consistent and clear in your messaging
From the beginning, David’s goal was to “turn forms into a conversation” and this messaging is still present in their marketing today. Typeform also uses a few key catchphrases in their marketing, like “Your brand is in safe hands” and “There’s a better way to ask.”
Through their consistent messaging, they’re building trust and showing off their expertise.
Focus on three winning value props: “easy, free, and fast”
The following paid ads are effective for them because they focus on three value props that never get old: doing something free, fast, and with ease.
Their branding is all about being human and asking your customers questions like a normal back-and-forth conversation. So it makes sense they’ve embraced humor in their advertising, like in this quirky video ad.
“It all boils down to great design”
When it comes to their acquisition strategy, David says, “It all boils down to great design.”
Design is something they rely on in their ads. In some cases, their image ads don’t even have words, they’re just showing the beautifully designed product and letting it speak for itself.
Beautiful design also helps them with word-of-mouth marketing. 80% of their new customers sign up from word-of-mouth and product virality.
Melio is officially the fastest-growing B2B payments platform in the US. Originally founded in Israel by Matan Bar, Ilan Atias, and Ziv Paz, their mission from day one has been to “keep small businesses in business.” Their platform allows small businesses to make and receive payments quicker and with no fees. We chatted with Yifat Marcus, the Director of Marketing, to find out how they’ve grown their user base so rapidly.
Use paid ads to find customers exactly when they’re looking for a solution
Similar to Uplisting, Melio is focusing intensely on paid Google ads because they can find customers exactly as they’re searching for a solution. They’re also focusing their ad copy on their unique value propositions: no fees, and the ability to pay someone online even if they don’t accept online payments (Melio acts as the middleman and will then send a check for you).
Run A/B tests so you never miss the mark
According to Yifat, they use a”multi-channel, multi-touch approach—meaning anything from paid marketing and social media promotion to working with influencers, blog posts, email marketing, and in-product messaging.”
Across all of these channels, they “always run A/B tests and adjust our channels according to the results.”
This allowed them to hone in on messaging that really works within each channel.
Double down on your affiliate program
Melio’s affiliate program works well for two reasons:
- High cash incentive: They’re able to pay affiliates $200 for every business owner they refer, and $500 for any bookkeepers or accountants.
- The small business network: Small business owners tend to be friends with other small business owners, making the affiliate system extremely easy for their customers to participate in.
Invest in educating your target audience and help them win
Melio uses its blog to educate small business owners. They’re even in the process of building out a small business hub where their customers can advertise their services and share their own educational videos on their craft. By helping their customers find more customers, they’re building loyalty and bringing in new users.
Yifat said, “Many of our team members work hard to create valuable content that can benefit small business owners. The content we create is professional and detailed, but at the same time approachable and fun to engage with.”
They also launched a Shop Local campaign where they help their users advertise in their own community.
Jasper is an AI content creation platform that has seen explosive growth since its inception in January 2021, but that wasn’t without its founder, Dave Rogenmoser, having some failures leading up to it.
Dave kept iterating on his business ideas until he found product-market fit with Jasper. At that point, he saw explosive growth right away. He credits a lot of this growth to “riding a big wave.” In his case, it’s the generative AI wave. Dave said he finally understood what “tailwind” felt like when he founded Jasper after so many of his other products failed to achieve it.
$80,000 in one day: pitching the product to customers before it’s even built
When the product was still raw code without an app or a way to log in, Dave and his team hosted a webinar with a few hundred people attending. He pitched the product but then announced it wasn’t ready yet. He said, “Everyone was mad in the chat.” They were saying “I thought this was ready now.” He explained they could pay $1,000 for the year and they’d get first access as soon as it was released. 80 people said yes.
That was by far the most money the team had ever made in a single day. Dave said, “It was really validating that now we had people say ‘Hey, not only am I telling you I want this, here's 1,000 of my dollars to hold onto.’”
High-converting blog content
Their content strategy focused on three types of content:
They’ve reported that their blog conversion rate is 8% and the median time it takes for a user to sign up after reading a blog is 1 minute and 53 seconds.
Their content program has driven over $4M in annual recurring revenue.
Outsource to stay lean and move fast
One of the reasons the Jasper team wanted to focus on organic search was to “avoid reliance on a sales team.” What’s even more fascinating? They outsourced their content creation to keep the team lean by hiring Omniscient Digital. In other words, their $4M in annual recurring revenue from their blogs are results entirely led by a third party.
What do all of these companies have in common?
We noticed a few key commonalities among all of these SaaS companies:
- Messaging that focuses on the company’s unique features
- Finding customers exactly when they’re looking for a solution through SEO-blog content and paid ads
- Frictionless design that makes it easy to sign up and use the product
- Product-led growth whenever possible
- Affiliate programs to accelerate growth
These startups have been relentless in their testing of what works and what doesn’t work and never gave up when certain marketing plans fell short. Their ability to strategize and iterate helped them eventually achieve exponential growth.
Looking to acquire more customers?
As we’ve seen in this article, the most successful SaaS startups use paid search to find customers at the exact moment they’re looking for a solution. We help SaaS companies do exactly that.
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