Growth Marketing - The Recipe for Startup Success

Authored by Amit Nayak, Head, Growth and Marketing, OkCredit

When asked to remember a recent memorable marketing campaign, chances are you would think of something you saw on Instagram, Youtube or Twitter. Most likely, it would be a marketing campaign from one of the fast-growing startups. While it is easy for a lay user to equate this with TV advertisements, the truth is these campaigns are way more nuanced than you think.

Startups essentially deploy what is known as growth marketing- a cut above the traditional marketing approach wherein it's not enough to just familarise the user with your product and acquire him/her but equally important to retain and engage to ensure compounded returns over the customer lifecycle. It takes a holistic look right at the level of product development, to A/B tests to see what works, what doesn't to build a strategy that brings a sustained flow of customers.  

It all begins with how significant the use case is for your product. Identifying who the customer is and how your product appeals to them is the first and foremost golden rule of this marketing. Initially done through MVP (Minimum viable Product)- a product that has enough features to attract early customer cohorts, is also the best technique for both validating and iterating products based on user feedback.

With the rise in internet and smartphone penetration, startups can test their MVPs faster than before. Sending preview emails and dummy Wordpress sites are some of the ways. Along with that website such as SimilarWeb can help get insights on competitors, their traffic, rank, location of users etc. 

Once it's established that the product has some initial traction, it's important to determine a product market fit (PMF) early on. Basically, a large enough number of customers should be using your product and talking about it so that it creates a sustainable growth.  Getting it right could take anything from a number of days to months, or if you're a startup catering to a pent-up demand, the PMF is right there- in the form of acceptability on day one.

After achieving the product market fit, it is all about putting in the fuel for the spaceship to take off. The scaleup happens as other levers are added in the mix- targeted communication, data based recommendations and a network led engagement. And while targeted communication has been order of the day, in today's day and age it's also important to make this communication contextual and hyper personalised. At the same time, the data-based recommendations should not feel too intrusive for customers. 

That apart, data is one of the most significant constituents of building an effective marketing strategy for growth. Gone are the days when marketers would rely on commonly heard opinions to frame a strategy. In contrast, decisions are taken based on signals derived from data, which is further amplified through an impactful storytelling.

An innovative approach in growth marketing has been the growing usage of networks. Here, the value addition happens not just through the product, but also from the network that has been created by other customers on the platform. At OkCredit, we have seen strong network effects at play wherein we have been able to grow our base to 5.5 million active merchants, thanks to networks created by the merchants on our platform. Here, Virality too is important. We added features such as install links and referral links to make the product inherently viral. 

With all these tactics in the mix, customer retention and acquisition become a smooth exercise for startups. Repeat customers means that brand loyalty grows stronger. Brand loyalists can even fuel customer acquisition through word-of-mouth marketing.

There is no elusive secret to startup success. All they need is a great product and great marketing, depending on their stage, to prioritise marketing ideas, capture insights and calibrate their marketing strategy.


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