Data-Driven Marketing: The Most Important Dos and Don’ts for Startups

Photo by Franki Chamaki on Unsplash
Photo by Franki Chamaki on Unsplash

Growth Hacking is both buzzword and myth. The term comes from the startup scene and describes, and for many sounds like a pretty complex methodology based on algorithms, which pays off in extremely fast user base growth. Behind it is actually something quite simple and comprehensible: “It is the transition from an opinion driven marketing to a data-driven marketing,” explains Dieter Rappold, founder of Speedinvest Pirates, the growth marketing arm of the Viennese VC. Especially in Austria, like in Bulgaria too, marketing is one of the last bastions in which data-driven decisions have not yet prevailed. 

The way decisions are made in marketing departments, Rappold likes to describe with an example from football. “Each one of us has been confronted with thousands of advertisements every day for decades. All the time we are recipients of bad advertising. And this leads to another phenomenon. Each time the national team plays all people sitting in the spectators’ seats know how to better position the team. The same thing happens with advertising. Because you constantly see bad advertising, you think you know how to do it better. So even for startups, it is very seductive to be opinion-driven in marketing. “

For startups, the budget for marketing is very limited right at the beginning. Therefore it’s crucial to measure each step, to look very closely at the numbers and to optimize the marketing efforts afterward. We asked Rappold and SEO experts Markus Inzinger, Managing Director of Otago Online Consultingasked, for their best tips for startups:

Measuring data right from the beginning

“Data-driven marketing is only possible if I have data. At the very beginning, I have little data and therefore little significance. But at some point, that more data will accumulate and then the data from the very early days will help to learn from it, “explains Inzinger. Which tools to use depends heavily on whether there is a website, an app or an online store. You do not have to spend a lot of money to get started: “We usually put together tools that cost little to nothing,” says Rappold. Google Analytics is mandatory, according to Inzinger. Depending on the startup Mixpanel, Hotjar or Hubspot could be great support too.

Real-time reports instead of Excel lists

“Many teams spend a lot of time translating data into Excel spreadsheets. There is a lot of time on it – often not well invested, “says Rappold. He recommends displaying selected data in real-time reports, such as Google Data Studio. “It forces you to think about what the key metrics are. What are the KPIs by which I can measure the degree of goal accomplishment? What are my goals anyway? ” In the next step, you can then think about what the numbers mean and what consequences you draw from them.

Start with SEO and Google Ads

“This is always the cheapest measure,” says Inzinger about search engine optimization.  Since startups often offer completely new products or services that no one can actively look for, they may need to invest a bit more effort in identifying appropriate keywords. Google Analytics could help to accurately analyze and understand the target audience. According to Inzinger, the Google Search Console is often underestimated, but it helps to understand what people are looking for and who actually clicks on the website.

“I have to get a holistic picture of a customer journey. What is a representative of my target group looking for and what are the touchpoints where I can offer content, where my service, my product, my company are relevant” says Rappold. What that can be for touchpoints, he explains. An insurance startup says it disrupts the insurance market. How does this startup attract the attention of Google? “There are moments in life, such as buying a car, having children, or renting a new apartment where you look for digital insurance products. Those are exactly the moments where you can throw in content, “explains the professional.

Invest in content

“Create content and get out there with your topics,” says Rappold.  The two marketing experts often observe that even large companies shy away from employing their own content creators. “Instead of perhaps 3,000 euros in staff costs, the department prefers to rely on the 300,000-euro billboard campaign,” says Inzinger. However, content is also neglected in startups, saying it was it is not that easy to produce good content – especially when startups have a very technical background. “SEO is one thing, but content should also be shareable. Texts, pictures, and videos must be authentic and fit the company image. “

“Above all, the goal is to develop evergreen content,” explains Rappold. In other words, content that is still relevant in a few years’ time and regularly brings representatives of the target group to the product. Rappold recommends YouTube, especially if how-to videos are an option. It could look like this:  “The 10 most important lessons on … “, then optimized with tubics, posted on a beautiful landing page where you can pick up many views that have a high probability of conversion.” In addition to YouTube, both experts recommend Facebook, especially for B2C, and LinkedIn and Twitter for B2B.

Ask Your Marketing Manager The Right Questions

“The marketing manager has to inhale the product like a founder,” says Inzinger. Rappold also sees it this way: “My observation is that in recent years, marketing decision-makers have been increasingly excluded from strategic dialogue in organizations. Marketing objectives are often not consistently and conclusively linked to business objectives. ” These questions would ask the two experts to any (future) marketing manager or CMO:

  • Why do you believe in the product/service?
  • How do you make decisions?
  • Explain your perspective on opinion driven marketing vs. data-driven marketing.
  • How do you want to contribute to the company’s success strategically?
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