Early Stage Growth Strategies with Dan Siepen

fishburners growth community talk

On Wednesday 28th July 2021 resident Growth Expert Daniel Lohrmann from ikaros facilitated an AMA with another growth expert Dan Siepen, who is the Head of Growth & Marketing at an exciting healthcare startup called Wellshare. He’s an experienced growth marketer for over 6+ years, currently advising and consulting for a few startups and eCommerce companies. The AMA discussion was focused on a few key topics:

Growth problems for different types of businesses

The AMA began with a discussion around growth for early-stage companies. The biggest challenge for startups at this stage is gaining traction and working towards product/market fit. One of the biggest challenges Dan has previously faced (and challenges he sees other startups face through his consulting & advisory) when trying growth marketing tactics for his startup was that his SEO and content strategy generated a lot of traffic to the website and landing pages, but not necessarily generating or converting a good % of quality leads. His lesson to pass onto those on the AMA session was reiterating that generating traffic is just a vanity metric. You need to make sure that traffic is good quality that can result in leads and revenue. Getting creative with CRO strategies and nailing your nurturing phase within your customer journey is crucial.

Having worked in both B2B and B2C companies, there are some similarities of approaches in growth strategies with a notable difference in the nurturing cycle: the content provided and differences in email strategy. For a B2B company, social proof and trust are especially important. As the total addressable market size is very different for these two types of companies, a B2B company has to be particularly mindful around nurturing leads and providing exceptional value through the funnel and customer journey. Leads are easy to get but converting high-quality leads becomes the challenge. For a B2C company with a bigger addressable market, you do have more room to refine your campaigns on top of the funnel. However, Dan mentioned when it comes to remarketing, B2C companies need to become smarter when it comes to nurturing customers.

Essential stack for early-stage startups

Dan is an advocate of webflow, an online visual editor platform that allows users to design, build, and launch their websites. He also mentioned some analytics recommendations like Google Analytics, Amplitude, and Mixpanel, emphasising the importance of tracking customers’ onboarding sequence for startups. He also recommended setting up Segment, a customer data platform that helps you collect, clean and control your customer data.

In addition to analytics, he mentioned heat mapping/video recording software Hotjar and Inspetled, the latter of which has an extensive free tier plan. Other essentials mentioned include customer support tools to make sure you’re accessible to customers like Intercom and email marketing tools such as SendGrid and Mailchimp.

Product Hunt and Indie Hackers

We then discussed two other very useful platforms for early-stage startups: Product Hunt and Indie Hackers. Dan shared the experience of posting about his products on Product Hunt as a strategy to attain early adopters, get valuable feedback and test his value propositions — one time with an added side effect of landing on the radar of a few VCs. He also recommended using Indie Hackers as a platform to ask questions, share resources, and get involved in a community that is well versed in startups. 

Leveraging freelancers

Finally, the topic of hiring freelancers was brought up along with striking a balance between quantity and quality when it comes to delegating work to external freelancers. He recommended platforms he personally used such as Upwork and Toptal, where he found quality talent. Freelancers could be utilised in content production, personalised outreach or design, and other tasks to free up a founder’s time to focus on bigger picture work. Dan also emphasised that when it comes to hiring freelancers, clarity of the job brief along with visual aids is crucial for effective work. 

Dan ended the session with a key takeaway: for early-stage startups, it’s very important to do a complete customer journey map and understand the different touch points along with the relevant messaging you have to keep customers engaged. Laying it all out on a spreadsheet and keep refining it will allow you to make better decisions faster — especially before committing more of your budget to different channels or initiatives.

In addition to this talk, Dan has also created a wealth of information online through his marketing resources on his website and his new saas & ecommerce marketing blog on all things growth marketing. You can also reach out to Dan via his Linkedin.

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