How to build a marketing strategy for a startup without investing a lot of money?

    In the previous part, we told the story of the creation of the Metnys Kabanchik service . In this publication we want to share the bumps and experience that we have gained in the process of building a marketing strategy for promoting our project.

    The initial difficulty in choosing the right path of advancement was that we were pioneers in the field of C2C services in our region. Direct competitors at that moment were also just beginning their journey, so there was no opportunity to learn from the mistakes of others.

    We looked at the success of TaskRabbit, but at that time they raised more than $ 38,000,000 in investments and could afford to advance simply through PR activities (as it turned out, this is the road to nowhere, but we'll talk about that later). Our starting budget was $ 800-1000, so we had to move more prudently and precisely.

    What promotion channels will be most effective for C2C marketplace?

    We did not have a clear understanding, so we decided to conduct a series of experiments and find out empirically.

    For these purposes, we have compiled a list of all the possible rational channels of online marketing (offline ads were deleted immediately for obvious reasons). It looked like this:

    • Contextual advertising on Google and Yandex
    • Search Engine Promotion (SEO)
    • Teaser networks
    • Banner advertising
    • Paid publications in the media
    • Social Media Promotion (SMM)
    • Traffic links on thematic sites
    • Targeted ads on Google Adwords
    • Affiliate program, etc.

    Since the limited budget did not allow checking all possible channels at once, we divided the entire list into small groups and planned to check one group each month. Each channel was allocated a $ 150-200 marketing budget.

    How to check the effectiveness of the marketing promotion channel?

    To get performance data you need analytics. The benefit of online marketing is that you can get very detailed data about at least a particular user’s visit. To obtain the necessary data, it was enough for us to use Google Analytics and UTM tags to mark traffic. (more details can be read here ).

    The most important and difficult step in preparing analytics was setting up E-commerce in Google Analytics (read here ). Using this data, we received data on the conversion of a specific traffic into tasks, as well as the amount we earned with it.

    To calculate the result, we decided to use a simple formula:


    where REVENUE is the income received from a particular marketing channel, MARKETING COSTS is the money invested in the marketing channel, ROMI (Return On Marketing Investments) is the return on marketing investments.

    As an example, it looks like this: invested $ 100 -> attracted 2,000 traffic sessions -> received 40 jobs (with a 2% conversion) and $ 80 rhubarb (with an average income of $ 2 per transaction). Then our formula will look like this:

    ($ 80 / $ 100) * 100% = 80%

    It is easy to guess that the ROMI should be at least 100%. This will mean that you, at a minimum, have returned your investment in marketing. In this example, you would lose $ 20 net, not counting the time spent by the marketer and other related project costs.

    But in practice, it is difficult for a new project to immediately get “on the plus side” on the first try, and positive value can be achieved by optimizing marketing campaigns, improving conversion pages, and simply by better understanding customer needs. On some channels, we were able to improve the initial indicators by 2-3 times. But if you received 5% ROMI on a certain channel, optimization by 3 or even 5 times will not save you.

    Of course, to test the viability of your startup’s business model, you need to use deeper analytics and many additional metrics (LTV, churn rate, OPEX, CAPEX, etc.). But for starter experiments, ROMI can be your reliable advisor. For example, with its help, we immediately deleted from the list paid expensive publications in the media, teaser networks, contextual advertising on social networks, a banner and left the context in Google Adwords + organic search traffic (SEO). In the last two channels, we ended up investing the bulk of our marketing budget.

    And how do you check the effectiveness of your marketing activities? Share with us in the comments to the post.

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