3 Online marketing tips for startups/cheapskates

If you’re like me, you’ve always been fascinated by start ups but not sure how to go about starting one up. At the beginning of this year I noticed a gap in the online market and started working to fill it, by creating a custom-made online novel-writing programme for people who really want to write a novel, but don’t know how to start it. We’re just launched NowNovel and acquiring users has been another interesting part of the story
Having left the comfortable home of Naspers, and their larger budgets, I have been contending with marketing budgets that are self funded, so I need to keep my cost per acquisition low and  user quality high.
I’m going to outline a couple of tips that I’ve found that can drive you cheap users;
1.     smart Facebook advertising
2.     Stumbleupon
3.     Content marketing
Our challenge is that we’re focused on a female US audience who has on their bucket list that they want to write a book. One of the more contested audiences to acquire on the internet. However, knowing your tight targeting is an advantage as you can then acquire users who are more likely to convert.
1, smart Facebook advertising
Facebook is  great platform (especially according to the abovementioned targeting).  One trick that I gleaned was to use highly targeted ads, with highly targeted copy. To take our example;
Our target was women, aged 25+, who had an interest in creative writing and writing in Texas. Our headline was “want to write a book in Texas”, we talked about product benefits (not features) in the ad copy and then had a strong call to action.  The fact that our copy is targeted to a specific geographic area jumps out at people and makes them feel like it is more relevant. In terms of images, try and aim for something orange (very different to Facebook’s blue), make it a person’s image (pretty girl’s always work) or make it a zany picture that grabs attention.
2. Stumbleupon
Stumbleupon has very cheap clicks for targeted traffic; we paid $0,10 for females of a certain age with an interest in literature. They also bounce a lot more (because they’re a casual user), but we got some committed users. You also have the ability to have your content go viral, which happened with us (to the tune of 14,000 free global stumbles, extra server requirements and Friday night chaos). I think it was because of our good design  and logo/icons that triggered the sharing.
3.content marketing
 Content marketing isn’t a secret, essentially what we’re looking to do is create great content in interesting formats that users will enjoy. Its what you should be doing online and not creating spammy, keyword stuffed content for search engines. If you read any of the exhaustive content on copyblogger, the kissmetrics blog or seomoz you’ll get the idea of the content you need to create (and you’ll get some good guides from the same destinations). Its relevant content that is useful for the target audience (and coincidentally search engines) When the user is thinking of converting they’ll think of your site because you are a knowledge leader in this area. We haven’t created this yet, (because its a lot of work) but watch this space.
What else have I left out that works? Let me know in the comments 
(this is a crosspost to a post that i wrote for Bandwidthblog)

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