4 Marketing Mistakes That Cost Your Startup Money

Startups often live and die by their marketing strategies.  While no marketing game is the same for two companies, there’s a number of common patterns that lead to success and a number of missteps that can cost your venture serious budgets.

Below are the four common mistakes startups make when it comes to marketing.

Not Tracking Your Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) Rate

When you are just starting out it’s hard to determine your best method for acquiring customers or growing your user-base. Be a smart marketer and don’t put all the eggs in one basket by investing all the budgets in one channel that was told to nail great result for company X.

Instead, create separate budgets to test different acquisition strategies – content marketing, email marketing, strategic PR and outreach, SEO, social media, growth hacking and so on.  The scale should be large enough to have an accurate sample number.

Ditch what didn’t work and focus on the tactics brining highest CPAs.

Not Trying at Least One Growth Hack

Growth hacking has been the winning strategy for a number of brands including Basecamp, Dropbox, Pinterest and Airbnb.  A smart growth hack can easily leverage your business onto the new level.  However, a lot of marketers prefer not to even try it.

Why? Growth hacking requires time, creativity and investments. You might be to busy looking into your analytics, analyzing previous marketing campaigns and counting the leads through affiliates, that you just don’t have the time to sit back, relax and dream how you can use technology to create a new creative way to market your product.

Good ideas are not necessary brand new ideas. So here are three strategies that worked great for other companies and may bring massive results for your venture too.

Worried about the financial aspect of the controversial strategy that may or may not work? Create a backup financial cushion with the help of a robo advisor or your CFO that will get your ends covered in case anything goes unplanned.

Ignoring Bad Numbers

Some great ideas simply don’t work. Sometimes what seemed like a winning marketing campaign just doesn’t pan out. And it’s not always your fault.

When it comes to analytics, leave your bias behind the door. If the numbers say that your marketing does not work, then you should pull the plug on it, even if it’s your pet project. Sure, if the CPC and CPV numbers don’t look attractive enough after a month of running the ad campaign, don’t wait for another month in hope that “things get better somehow” and cut down the project at the root. Reallocate your resources, so that in the long run you still receive the benefits.

Underestimating the Value of Long-Term Advertising

With marketing channels like display advertising or social media advertising things are simple: you pay X dollars and get Y impressions/clicks etc. You can precisely track the conversions you receive.

However, other marketing tactics are not so easy to scale e.g. influencer marketing or content marketing.  Both of them are long-term advertisements and you can’t try to price them the same as short-term advertising (display ads).

Long-term advertising take time to bring measurable results, however unlike display ads they don’t stop bringing value on the moment you stop investing into it.

Content marketing can continue to bring you results over a prolonged time span (and in fact it should!).  SEO takes time to start working; influencers will keep promoting your branded piece of content to their readers even after the campaign is over. Your brand recognition will continue to grow with time as reading has a much higher level of investment that an ad, which may or may not been viewed.

When you are creating budgets for a long-term advertising strategy you can’t simply rely on impressions.  Calculating the total media value is a better approach to use.  For this, put a price tag on each piece of content or action, for instance, $5 per Facebook share or $10 per one organic site visit with the help of SEO.

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Written by:
Dianna is a former ESL teacher and World Teach volunteer, currently living in France. She's slightly addicted to apps and viral media trends and helps different companies with product localization and content strategies. You can tweet her at @dilabrien
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