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Adam Nash of LinkedIn wrote a post on virality leading with a simple question:

Look at your product and ask yourself a simple question: which features actually let a user of your product reach out and connect with a non-user?   The answer might surprise you.

Reflecting on the success of viral products like Branchout or Zynga, the answer isn’t many features but one or two features that are used all the time – features essential to progression either in cultivating a network or a farm, features that are in every user’s workflow. Instagram posting to Twitter is another example of an insanely viral application reaching millions of non-users with each use.

For most early startups, branding, conferences and marketing communications aren’t effective customer acquisition channels – they are time and money sinks. Rather, simplifying the product, improving users flows, measuring the results and optimization of these flows is the basis of successful early stage startup marketing.

From each of the companies I work with, my newest goal is to understand the conversion from exposed user through each channel (email, search, referral, viral exposure, inside sales where applicable), through the product to active user. For example, by measuring the clicks to complete core functionality and reducing them, users increase activity.

How many times have you paused before clicking the connect button on LinkedIn, wishing it wouldn’t show you that dialogue box asking me how you know the person I’m connecting to?

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5 thoughts on “Using virality as the basis of early stage startup marketing

  1. Too often, the technology drives the development and promotion of features. Better is the model, as you indicate, in which the needs of the (prospective) customer are understood so well that development and promotion is like placing a hand inside a glove.

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