Entrepreneurs: Measure the right KPI when it comes to your Start-ups

Entrepreneurs: Measure the right KPI when it comes to your Start-ups

The need for measurement is most evident when a start-up competes with itself. This is the best sort of competition for two primary reasons. Firstly, doing better than you did the previous year is a sure sign of growth. Secondly, self-competition is the perfect stimulus for self-motivation. Comparison with an external entity can sometimes have a damaging effect. But, competition with oneself creates a drive to get better and leaves no room for excuses.

The most elementary questions that cross our minds, when we think about measurement are why and how. I urge you to answer these questions before you read on.

Why should I measure?

Right from marking one’s height on the wall as they are grown from a toddler to an adult, to using a stopwatch to measure Usain Bolt’s speed in training, measurement is the key to improvement. If you are unsure of what to beat to get better, what are you competing against? You need a benchmark to measure progress. A performance index at the end of each year is the best benchmark for the next, considering a constantly growing start-up.

How should I measure?

There are many ratios which act as progress indicators. They can be classified under the broad category of Key Performance Indicators.

KPIs are vital to the growth of a start-up. There are numerous KPIs that can be used to measure every facet of your business. However, using every available KPI can be illogical and redundant. Picking smart KPIs for most relevant measurement is truly a challenge. The choice of KPIs for any business depends on the industry. The rest are specific to the way each business is modeled and managed.

Here, we will deal with the most common KPIs, which hold good for any start-up to accelerate growth:

– Customer Acquisition Cost:

Every business – product based or service driven – needs customers to sustain operations and consequently grow. But, how efficient is your approach to acquiring customers? This can be answered when you calculate the average resources spent on gaining a customer. When compared with customer retention rate and attrition rate, the customer acquisition cost makes more sense and acts as a good indicator to know if your start-up is improving its assets or bleeding finances without apt compensation.

– Lifetime Value:

Over time, the term brand loyalty has become so cliched, that its significance in the business world has faded. However, brand loyalty could be the difference between a sustained business and one that looks set to end before it can establish itself in the market. Customer lifetime value is the net value of all transactions, across the entire period of an average customer’s relationship with your business. The higher this number, the better for your business, because it significantly reduces the stress placed on finances by the customer acquisition cost. It also justifies the resources spent on acquiring a new customer.

The ratio of lifetime value to customer acquisition cost is known as the golden metric in business. When calculated, a number under three is considered to be poor. However, until a start-up establishes itself in the market, it is hard to acquire a customer following or brand loyalty. Keep your eye on this number to ensure that it rises with every passing year, but don’t get disheartened if your golden metric starts off below 3.

– Profit margin:

The bottom line of every organization is directly affected by profits margins, making it the easiest to grasp of all metrics. Simply put, the profit margin is the difference between the selling price and cost of production. Its simplicity should not tarnish its importance, as this metric is a very good indicator of sustainability and growth potential of a start-up.

There are dozens of other KPIs that are specific to varying industries. Some KPIs are used to measure your business against industry standards or leaders. Though these may seem a bit much for budding start-ups, it’s never futile to measure KPIs and device strategies for improvement. These smart tips should come in handy while selecting the right KPIs for steady business growth:

– The salmon strategy:

It is fascinating to watch salmon swim upstream, against the current, to spawn in their home stream. Sometimes businesses must take a page out of the salmon’s book and work backward to solve certain problems. The most notable quandary faced by start-ups is the choice of KPIs. Sometimes its easier to choose KPIs based on the data that is readily available to you. A balance sheet is mandatory for any organization, making most of the primary KPIs easily attainable.

From over two decades of experience, I have noticed that the hardest KPIs to measure are the ones that are related to marketing. With the advancement in technology, it is relatively easier to keep tabs on your marketing team. The use of link management platforms is a novel method to erase obscurity and measure marketing campaigns purposefully. The analytics on these platforms are so comprehensive that precision is never compromised. Social networks, such as Facebook, provide their analytics but do not explicitly state the number of bots that have clicked on your link. Invariably your measurement is flawed.

– Split the responsibility:

Division of labor, based on one’s skill set is the best way to tackle any challenge. In keeping with this axiom, measurement of KPIs is often split into few sizeable chunks and assigned to particular teams. Not only does this ease the burden of measurement, but ownership also ensures that these teams take upon themselves the onus of improvement. Such motivation is a key ingredient to the growth of any start-up.

– Measurement without action is futile:

The sole purpose of measuring KPIs is to improve upon existing business tactics. Without such impetus to improve, measurement is like a mirage of success. Be it to up the bottom line or expand the business, the need for progressive action is only surpassed by adept execution.

– Concentrate on the most important KPIs:

KPIs vary in importance depending on the type of business and strategies employed to achieve business goals. The most important KPIs for a start-up may be the customer acquisition cost, whereas an established brand, in the same segment of the business, may consider customer lifetime value to be more significant than the rest. Whatever be your elixir to accelerated growth, the right KPI must be measured and monitored on a regular basis to stay on track to success.

Five Ways to Acquire More Customers Right Now

Five Ways to Acquire More Customers Right Now

In today’s ruthless world of business, brands are faced with challenges aplenty. The most significant of which – an ultimatum of sorts – is encountered when a brand is a knee deep in business stagnation. The question of whether to grow or go has visited the minds of CEOs the world over. However, it’s very unlikely to encounter a decision maker who chooses to go instead of growing. A decision well worth every applause, but is it deserving of a standing ovation? Certainly not, until the brand has harnessed the potential to grow, filled its sails with desire and ambition, and most importantly traded its dinghy for a galleon.

Customer acquisition is one of the most important drivers of business growth. A larger customer base equates to increased profits, which in turn acts as the seed for business expansion. But, how do we gain the attention of potential customers and convert them into loyal brand followers? Digital transformation has ushered a barrage of changes, a lot of which have had a detrimental impact on traditional marketing approaches. With the influx of several low-cost channels to reach out to customers, the need for expensive advertising is on the decline.

This trend has also overturned the ideology of hard selling and replaced it with more intuitive inbound approaches, which focus on exceptional customer service. ‘Value’ has never been more appreciated, by consumers and businesses alike. Present day consumers are always on the lookout for brands that offer more than just an array of exceptional products. Businesses, on the other hand, are equally appreciative of value, as it is an inexpensive way to get noticed by potential buyers.

One such unique value addition is found in link management platforms. These platforms allow for the personalization and analysis of marketing links. The rocketing use of personalized links, by world-renowned brands, to reach out to their target audience has caught the eye of many a customer. Branded links stand out for their novelty, making them click-worthy. It also works well for smart marketers who can now use links to promote their brand message.

Mountain Standard, an outdoor gear brand, has fully espoused the trend of digital marketing, so much so that they do not own a physical store to sell their products. Most of their sales take place through their online channels, while few customers buy from non-traditional pop-up stores in the U.S. The brand uses the contemporary strategy of smart content and incredible service, which have become cornerstones to the brand’s success. Their vision is simply brilliant! It reads -Premium goods at an honest price = More money for your adventures.

How does Mountain Standard sell premium goods at affordable prices and still manage to churn out a handsome profit? The theory is simple. They save a significant sum of cash in overhead costs by boycotting traditional retail stores that charge an exorbitant price just to place a product on their shelves. That’s all there is to it. But, practically, to sell goods without a chain of stores is much harder than it seems. The company makes this possible through their impressive website, which showcases every available product. A crossed out standard industry cost of the product is displayed next to the product, and the Mountain Standard cost – 40% to 50% lower – is placed next to it. A discount as such is sure to incite sales. The brand also conducts annual surveys to understand the changing requirement of their online consumers. In doing so, their website is always customized for better customer experience. It is said that in today’s digital world your website is the front of your brand, as opposed to office space, not so long ago. Mountain Standard has certainly brought this statement to life!

Not all brands can be as astute in their endeavor to garner customers. Some brands adopt a more direct approach to marketing. Very often direct marketing and hard selling are used interchangeably. However, hard selling is no more a marketing technique. In fact, it is a sure way to drive customers to your competitors. Here are five ways to draw customers to your brand:

Social influencers continue to grow in importance:

Social influencers have gained significant momentum over the past couple of years. Though it may seem like this trend is bound to decline sooner rather than later, brands continue to employ influencers in different capacities. Innovative ways to reach out to customers coupled with the trust they have in influencers has worked wonders for brands.

Traditional approaches such as guest blogging are one sure way to attract attention. Social media networks create a buzz whenever an influencer has an opinion. In due time the message reaches relevant audiences and brands benefit from the seed which is sown in the minds of potential customers through influencers.

More recently smaller organizations have started using bigger brands for promotion. It is known as the ‘host-beneficiary’ arrangement. In this case, an established brand promotes a product in their email to regular customers. This offers a chance to market to a new database of like-minded customers. In exchange, the smaller business may pay for the cost of emailing or offer commission on sales.

Press for press coverage:

The press will never become obsolete. It has withstood the test of time and is still considered to be one of the most powerful forms of media. A press release will do your brand a world of good. Not only will it ensure a good deal of readership, but it will incite trust, as it is coming from a recognized source. This is sure to be an expensive affair and should be undertaken after careful consideration.

Content marketing is at its peak:

Ask google what is the single most influential marketing tactic, and the answer is sure to be smart content! Content can make or break a brand. Right from SEO to social posts, content is the game changer! An expert content anchor can run a marketing campaign into a pot of gold. Great content without direction is a wasted effort. It is futile to have good content without a content strategy. Content creation and distribution go hand in hand. When you hit the right balance, you will see marketing miracles unfold before your very eyes.

If customer is king, customer feedback is the signet ring:

Brands have spent millions on customer surveys and test groups to analyze and improve upon existing products and services. The budget is set to increase in the days to come with the onset of personalized marketing. Without such feedback, it is impossible to create personalized products, service or marketing campaigns to sell the former. Brands with the best personalization strategies will make it big in 2018.

Focus on improving brand loyalty:

Brand loyal customers are hard to attain. Especially with the many choices in today’s market, one mistake is all it takes to lose a good chunk of loyal brand customers. However, these customers are sure to bring in a horde of new customers if their needs are met with value-added services.

2018 is certain to change the landscape of marketing. As marketers, we live in exciting times, when competition is driving mind-blowing innovation. I, for one, cannot wait to see what the latter half of 2018 has in store for us.

Content marketing – The game changer for your brand

Content marketing – The game changer for your brand

The term ‘Content Marketing,’ though relatively fresh, has elevated marketing to a whole new plateau. Thoughts and methods to reach a concerned target market have evolved, leading to the grand inception of this concept. Simply put, content marketing is the creation and distribution of posts, videos, blogs and such to stimulate a pre-existing need among potential customers. It is the stimulant which drives them to purchase products or services that meet their needs. Content marketing is essentially a psychological game, which often benefits the most preceptive marketers.

This may seem vague, but don’t worry, you aren’t alone. In fact, according to a survey conducted by the Content Marketing Institute, 55% of B2B marketers said they were unclear about the structure of a good content marketing campaign, despite stats which showed that they allocate 28% of their budget to content marketing. Such is the intricacy and thought that needs to go into content marketing. The next time you think the job of a content strategist is easy, think again!

A content strategist needs to analyze each piece of content, to ensure that the following facets are touched upon:

Social media engagement: Traditional marketing methods have given way to digital channels. The old marketing methods of postal letters and phone directory optimization are dead. Today, everything is online. Without an online presence, no brand would be as grand. With every passing day, the evolution of content marketing brings in newer methods to engage potential customers on social media.

Engagement is not confined to a certain stage in the marketing lifecycle. Before creating content, a content strategist needs to outline engagement objectives and goals to map out a content marketing strategy. After establishing the desired result, it is relatively easy to work backward and create content. However, it does take a good amount of thought to create content that gets clicked and initiates conversations. Content is crucial, as a survey conducted by Demand Gen Report showed that 47% of buyers viewed at least 3-5 pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep.

Without innovation, it is impossible to attract online interest. Custom URL shortener solution is the latest in innovative content. They are eye-catching and receptive to branding. mylnk.is/MeaningfulLinks is more click-worthy than uvw12xyz90.com/sjddh009. In an age where 76% of people use their Facebook feed to find something interesting, custom URLs are too novel to go unnoticed.

Gain trust with relevant content: Brand loyalty is one of the most important aspects of marketing. Though initial content will surely not get any customer close to the sort of devotion that can be classified under brand loyalty, trustworthy information can go a long way in sowing seeds for a long-lasting relationship. In keeping with this notion, the importance of blogs has steadily risen over the past few years. According to a survey conducted by Hubspot, 53% of marketers stated that blog content creation was their top inbound marketing priority.

It is not easy to initiate a relationship, but it is equally hard to cut ties once a relationship is established. For the purpose of illustration, consider Nike. Though the sweatshop ordeal was widely publicized, brand loyal customers hardly budged to give other sporting brands a second glance.

Create curiosity: Human beings are curious by nature. As we progress in years, we learn to disguise our curiosity, which gives “keen observers” the impression that kids are more curious than adults. But, this is far from the truth.

Content strategists have used shrewd content to pique the curiosity of audiences for ages. Consider the Yamaha advertisement from yesteryear, which began with numerous questions on a blank screen. The questions were very mundane in nature, such as “what should I eat” and “what should I wear.”

When the screen was inundated with questions, a rider shattered it with a Yamaha motorbike, and the text read, “It may not be the answer to everything, but at least it doesn’t raise more questions.” Curious to know the answers to the first set of questions? Well, there are no answers, but Yamaha’s shrewd content strategists ensured that people saw the motorbike and were left, not with questions, but the thought of riding to forget the many pedestrian questions that life throws at us on a daily basis.

This advertisement was way ahead of its time. It probably paved the way for the strategic content, which today is vital to the success of any business. A recent study by Adobe showed that 51.9% of marketing professionals trusted videos to deliver the best ROI. It is not just written content, but how it is delivered that truly makes a difference.

The role of content has moved from being product-centric to customer-centric. Extensive studies on this topic have shown that stellar content revolving around a product does not affect sales if a customer cannot relate to it. Potential customers must embark upon a journey of awareness, consideration and decision making, all of which is fundamentally facilitated by strategic content.

Story telling: People love stories! When a brand has a story to tell, people take notice. It is one of the most powerful marketing tools, not only for its ability to attract listeners, but its potential to turn into a juicy piece of conversation. While telling your story, you create compelling marketing content and stimulate word of mouth.

It is like hitting two birds with one stone. This is a competent strategy to gain the attention of your audience. You may need a raconteur to turn your story into engaging content, but it is definitely worth the investment.

A raconteur can turn a dull story into a fascinating fairy-tale, but if your viewers are not stimulated to read it, the effort is wasted. As the adage goes – You can take a horse to the water, but you can’t force it to drink… unless it is thirsty. Visual effects create that thirst in viewers to read your content. In fact, research by Xerox has shown that people are 80% more willing to read content that is accompanied by striking visuals.

Search engine optimization: Years ago, brands vied for top stop in telephone directories. Similarly, but with the use of different practices, brands compete for the top spot in search engines, simply because potential customers hardly ever visit the second page when hunting for anything online. The single most important driver of SEO is content.

The research-based marketing firm, Ascend2, noted that 72% of marketers felt that relevant content was the most effective SEO tactic. Google has tacitly monopolized the term search engine, so much so that ‘online search’ has become synonymous with Google. The fight for Google’s top spot is so intense, that though Google regularly changes its algorithms to make its search more relevant for customers, businesses find a way to beat the algorithm.

E.g., if you look for the synonym of any English word on Google, the first three search items will show www.thesaurus.com, which logically doesn’t make sense. But the people writing content for that website have so flooded it with keywords that other synonyms generating websites don’t stand a chance of finding a spot in the top three. This increases their chance of getting more visitors to their website. It is to nullify these illogical search results that Google regularly revises its back-end algorithms.

It goes without saying that businesses have to keep up with Google and its whims and fancies to get noticed by potential customers. Though this is essential for success, there are other simpler ways to get noticed. The us e of custom shortlink generators, is a novel method to get more clicks, views, and shares.

Create brand reputation: With educative and trustworthy content, brands can become reputed sources of information. Once established as the go-to source for information, the reputation itself can create a legacy that will be hard to come undone.

Though this may seem like a tedious way to acquire brand loyalty, it is tried, tested and trusted. Great products create brand royalty, but great content drives brand loyalty. Royalty does not last forever, but loyalty does!

Subtle advertising: Hard selling is a thing of yesterday. Try hard selling to today’s savant customer base, and you’ll ruin your chances of ever making a sale. Therefore, it is of immense importance to keep away from “in your face” advertising. That being said, divulging information without a go-to-destination can lead your customers to your competitors.

Won’t that make your competitors glad!

Nuances of content marketing and intuition play a vital role in judging where the line must be drawn between marketing aggression and customer consideration when advertising a product or service. You don’t want to be too passive, and yet being aggressive can implode instantly.

Product manual: It is imperative to provide customers with an easy to read and understand “product manual.” Customers who can’t use products that they purchase are likely to be so ticked off that their negative opinion can not only keep them away from your brand but stop others who hear their opinion from venturing to try your products or services in future.

This is reinforced by stats, which show that 53% of smartphone users prefer companies whose mobile sites and apps provide instructional video content.

Now you know why it is of vital importance to have the right content specialist on your team. Without a content anchor, your marketing campaign will sail the stormiest of seas and eventually capsize, though the sea maybe full of potential customers who are waiting for the right sort of bait. Get that game-changing anchor on your team, and your brand will certainly flourish.