Chris Hexton on growing through content: A case study
"We've never raised any money"
Even if you have the best product in the world, with no customers, your business is going no where.
For some businesses, online content is a great first step to customer acquisition.
At a recent StartCon event, Chris Hexton, CEO and Founder of Vero, went into detail about how this strategy worked for them.
When they started Vero in 2012, they had 2 marketing strategies: word of mouth and content marketing.
Bootstrapped from the start, Vero did not have the funds to invest in expensive marketing strategies. But, they did have the time to do something themselves.
The idea to start blogging came quite organically to Chris and his co-founder James Lamont. Chris was living with 2 people with a successful blog. They set him a simple challenge: Can you get 100s of customers overnight with a well written blog post?
Chris wrote his first blog, with a challenging title, and sharp story, about why he and his co-founder were creating Vero in the first place. Overnight they received 400 signups to their beta version.
Chris admits that had this first blog not been such a successful marketing tool they would not have continued with this strategy, but they tried it and it worked. To this day, Vero maintain their regular content, posting at least once a week here.
The Vero team were clever with their strategy. They knew that the potential customers who would be interested in a new email marketing tool would be the same people who read sites like Hacker News. It was content that Chris and James read and engaged with, so it was therefore a style that they replicated.
Knowing who your customer is, and the content they engage with online is key to knowing what content you should be producing online.
Looking back, Chris feels that they could have invested more time in posting before launching a product. The engagement received from potential customers was valuable, and he could have explored this more.
Making blog readers into customers
Chris has explored a lot of strategies: popup messages, ebooks with partners, and a simple side bar registration form.
Although all strategies work, startups need to understand that how people register dictates how strong their interest is. You'll get more emails from a popup screen because people will be keen to get rid of the box. The emails acquired however, may not be of people who are that interested in your blog, let alone your product. A registration form to the side is more subtle, the signup numbers may be lower, but they've probably spent more time reading your blog. This is therefore a key indicator of their interest in you, and in turn an indicator in the likelihood of conversion to a paying customer.
The lessons learned from content did however come with a warning. Chris was quick to put things down to timing.
Finding your niche, your style, and the right timing, can ensure that content marketing is a success. The value is the price, it costs nothing.
Two key speakers at Sydstart 2015 spoke about the value of content marketing using different strategies to Chris. You can read more about them here: