By Sweta Patel

The startup world can’t afford to waste time and money on marketing that doesn’t feed growth. But the toughest part of marketing is choosing the right mediums and knowing where to start. I always refer to the 4 Steps of the Epiphany by Steven Blank for the formula to validate a consumer market. How can startups today go about validating their marketing campaigns? Here are three growth tactics I’ve used to help my startup clients:

The Initial Survey

The first step is to find email addresses of your potential market on the web. I usually use to scrape directories for the target audience. so I have all the URLs, names, and email addresses in one complete list. You can do this task manually, but if you dread the manual work then use a tool such as LinkAssistant to help. LinkAssistant is a software which will go to any specific URL you want and grab the email addresses from the website. This tool is usually used for link-building but you can use it to find specific customers on the web as well.

San Diego-based marketing entrepreneur Sweta Patel.

The next step is to design the survey. We use TypeForm or the less expensive FluidSurveys. FluidSurveys is handy for sending out mass invitations to our customer base, and allows you to send reminder messages if customers don’t respond to the first message.

The last step is to reach out to your potential customer base with a message asking for permission. After they have taken the survey then send them a “Thank You” letter as well.

Best Practice: Try using an 8 question survey and split test between two different surveys. Don’t require that all the questions be answered. The best surveys take the consumer 1 to 5 minutes to complete. They were short.

Marketing Growth Through Reddit

Reddit is a content marketing machine. The platform breaks down the interests of your target demographics through “subreddits.” Make sure your content appeals to the subbreddit audience by going to the search on Reddit and type in [site:reddit.comKEYWORD] with your preferred topic. This will let you know the highest intent for the subreddit you are looking for. For example, Marketing has 5,827 different articles and more than 31,000 subscribers. When you do your initial research, make sure to read the Reddit guidelines on the do’s and don’ts of marketing via Reddit. Next look at the number of people online. I’ve noticed that older topics tend to have high subscriber rates but the engagement is really low.

Next check the sidebar of your subreddit to see if there are other subreddits similar to yours and if you can use them. We use two tools to find out which keywords are being used the most. These are RedditMetrics and MetaReddit.

Best Practice: Make sure that you have chosen the correct demographics. Then you have to read the side bar to make sure the right subreddits will accept your content. Once these two are in sync, make sure the content is interesting for the audience. 

Referral Marketing

What is the most cost-efficient marketing technique? Most business owners thrive from having an effective referral system. For example, one business I worked with gave customers a $100 shopping spree for every referral.

Here is what we help our clients do to get referrals:

A. Ask previous customers

Most business owners ask their customers once for a referral and then never ask again. But feel free to ask again. And remember to always follow-up with your customers and send them “Thank You” cards for the referrals.

B. Incent Your Customers

Incentives don’t have to be big. They can be small discounts or shopping vouchers. You don’t want to give too much up front. You want to make sure you leave them hungry for a double incentive. In this model the referrer and the referee are both incented.

C. Create a Double Incentive

This technique is similar to the one above. And track who referred and who received.

Best Practice: We use SendOut Cards for our ‘Thank You’ and Holiday cards. Also we have an account with Referral Candy  and ShowMyBuy to keep track of our referrals. Referral Engine is a great book for you to get started with your referral program.

Now that is a wrap! You will need surveys, reddit, and a referral program set to get things going.

Which tip was most helpful for you? Let me know in comments below.

Sweta Patel is a San Diego-based marketing entrepreneur whose company is Global Marketing Tactics.