Neil Patel

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5 Content Marketing Based Growth Hacks for Early Stage Startups


We’re living in a revolutionary time. The internet has democratized technology. Every person now can start a company from the comfort of their home.

Once you validate your idea and raise some capital, you need to work meticulously on growing your startup, because growth in customer base is one of the key metrics for judging your early success.

The truth is that a majority of startups don’t make it. Still, each year, we see a handful of startups quickly reach millions of users.

So, how do these elite startups do it?

It turns out that they follow a framework for hacking growth. And, although the word ‘hacking’ has a negative connotation associated with it, you don’t practice anything unethical.

I’ve shared a few growth hacking strategies in my previous articles here and here. In this article, though, I want to focus exclusively on content marketing.


Because content is a cost-effective method for building long-term relationships with your prospective customers.

You can also build a proficient team of content marketers to scale your creation process.

Even if you master one type of content and have a good promotion strategy in place, you’ll see a smooth surge in traffic on your website.

Look at the traffic that I’ve achieved, in a couple of years, after ramping up my content publishing at Mind you, I keep it simple and create only one type content.


I am no rock star, either. There are people like Brian Dean, Jon Morrow, Darren Rowse, Rand Fishkin and many others that have built multi-million dollar businesses completely through content marketing. With content, you can acquire new customers while trying to break even.

So, if you’re an early stage startup, then this article will be of great interest to you. You’ll see numerous examples of startups and actionable content marketing strategies to scale your website traffic.

Without further ado, let’s get started.

1. Push out MORE high-quality and sharable content on your blog

You might have read all of the advice, running around in some marketing circles, that promotion of content is more important than creation. The myth states that if you’re running short of time, you should only create one quality piece of content per month.

Now, let’s take a step back and evaluate this advice…

When you’re getting started with content marketing, you generally only have a few hundred visitors visiting your website. If you publish only a handful pieces every 6 months, then you’ll need a substantial amount of time to build a stream of consistent traffic.

As an early stage startup, you want to scale your customer base quickly. So, you’re expected to get an exponential rise in traffic. If you publish only one post, then you’ll need to ensure that:

  • It’s extremely high-quality,
  • It’s relevant to your target audience,
  • It reaches your prospects through effective promotion.

When you’re starting out with content creation, you’ll face a huge challenge in each of the above 3 aspects. When there’s just one post to be promoted in a month, you have an added pressure. To. Absolutely. Ensure. It’s. Success.

Otherwise, your content marketing strategy completely fails.

I would recommend that you mitigate the risk. Here’s how:

Start with a regular publishing schedule of about 2 to 3 posts per week. Streamline the content creation and promotion process and concentrate on building an audience.

As much as marketers like to break down the success of content methodically, the truth is that it isn’t an exact science. If you put out more content, then you also give yourself more chances to go viral.

If you look at the likes of Huff Po, Business Insider and other huge publications, then you’ll notice that they all publish a high volume of content everyday. And, that’s why they are some of the biggest websites in the world – it all adds up.

A great example that I came across recently was digital healthcare startup Glowpink. In March 2016, they started publishing content with zero marketing budget. They reverse engineered their competitors and found that content on health, beauty and home remedies works well in their niche.

So, they relied on publishing a huge volume of content every single day. To give you an estimate, the founders of the company wrote 12 to 15 articles daily.

The result?

In 3 months, they saw 1 million visitors.


I don’t think I need to tell you that this is a huge accomplishment.

I always recommend taking a data-driven approach to your marketing. Glowpink created content buckets and measured the performance of their content to inform their future content creation strategy. You can read the 5 lessons that Glowpink shared from their 1 million visitors journey in this Yourstory post.

2. Repurpose your content on multiple platforms and republish old content

As much as you need to create more content, there’s a limit to it. If a particular piece of content gets a good response, then you should invest more effort into promoting it.

Repurposing is a terrific way to derive more value from your existing content. And, even though you might have a huge following on your blog (or your primary marketing channel), you’ll always get extra exposure from republishing your old posts and reaching a new audience.

A great example I shared recently is Larry Kim. Look at the number of views on his syndicated blog posts on Medium. Note that he didn’t write anything from scratch. He just modified his content from other publications to suit the Medium audience and republished the new articles.


Benjamin Hardy published his blog posts, as is, on Medium for 6 months. And, he managed to get 20k subscribers from the platform.


If you’ve got many pieces of evergreen content lying around, then you can repurpose them into eBooks and email courses. Buffer managed to get 18,185 sign ups to their email course in six days. And, the course was based completely on their already published blog posts.

You can also consider offering an audio version of your blog posts.

If you’re into video content creation, then you can also take short nuggets of wisdom from your long videos and republish them. Gary Vee does it all the time and his YouTube audience awaits such inspirational short videos. The one below is called “Attention is the asset.”


What’s great to notice is that Gary’s audience knows that they have probably already seen the longer version of these videos. Still, they are delighted to revisit them.


Repurposing your old content is easier than crafting a new piece from scratch. So, it’s also a great way to up your content publishing frequency.

3. Guest blog your way to more customers

I know you might be thinking…

“Neil, why do you shove guest blogging in our face as a solution to address all our marketing problems?”

Because it still works.

I’ve already told you how Buffer leveraged guest blogging to scale to 100,000 users in 9 months.


And, Jon Morrow managed to get 13,000 subscribers before launching BBT.

But, those case studies are about five years old. We all know how quickly strategies run obsolete in the internet marketing world. So, let’s look at a more recent case study with counter-intuitive results.

In April 2016, Tim Soulo published the results of his guest blogging case study. After getting 273 posts published, he found that the majority of the blogs didn’t send him a notable amount of traffic – his average was 56 visits.


Tim’s results aren’t typical. His case study is based on blogs in the marketing niche. I am sure other industries still aren’t so saturated with guest blogging. Tim also makes a couple of good points, later in the post.

1. Guest post on websites that aren’t directly in your niche. Here’s an example showing you the related niches that an automotive website could target.


2. It isn’t as much about getting direct visitors. Instead, it’s about converting your referral traffic.

Devesh Khanal wrote a guest post for us at CrazyEgg. He only got 209 visitors – which isn’t amazing. But, he managed to convert 132 of them into email subscribers through a content upgrade. Now, that’s sweet!


So, if you’re trying to convert visitors into subscribers, then don’t forget to build a dedicated landing page and a bonus upgrade for your guest posts.

And, even if you’re a SaaS startup, you can still drive people to your website through a link in the author bio. David Arnoux, from Twoodo, relied mostly on guest posting to ramp up their daily sign ups from 2 per day to 25 per day.


Additionally, the benefits of guest posting are not all tangible. You might get a book deal, speaking engagements and build relationships with influencers. Such brand-building exercises indirectly help you in acquiring more customers.

4. Bank on video content

Who doesn’t like watching a hilarious 1 minute video on YouTube?

Humans love visuals. Videos are a richer medium where you can convey your emotions and build trust. I’ve leveraged an explainer video at CrazyEgg to improve my conversions by 64% and add a sweet extra $21k to my monthly revenue.

Nothing tells your brand’s story better than a good video. Indeed, 4 out of 5 customers say that a video showing how a product/service works is important.

Even the value proposition of weird and boring products can be translated into an enjoyable video.

A great example is Squatty Potty.

What does their product do?

It helps you correct your pooping posture.


Now, that’s a laughable product. So, if they tell their product story in a way that’s memorable, think of the brand recall that they can get.

And, that’s what Squatty Potty did.

Here’s their video, “This Unicorn Changed the Way I Poop.”

The video has already crossed 27 million views on YouTube.

And, that’s just the start.

Most people hang out on Facebook now – it’s simply difficult to ignore the platform. Squatty Potty was smart to upload their video natively on Facebook. Would you love to amass 77 million views and 1.2 million shares?


And, by the way, they also increased their sales by 600%.

If you want more examples of video advertising and tips to launch your first video marketing campaign, then check out this article.

5. Take advantage of the small aspects that your competitors are ignoring

Most of your competitors might have already jumped on the content marketing bandwagon. So, following the basics might not make the cut. You’ll need to go the extra mile to stand out.

Here are 4 aspects that might up your game.

1. Format exquisitely

Clean, easily scannable and visually appealing.

That’s what you must aim for.

It’s no longer 1999 and user experience is a top priority for businesses. You’ve got access to powerful (drag and drop) tools to ease the navigation and make the reading experience pleasant for your audience.

You can get fancy with colorful backgrounds.


Provide a table of contents to let the user easily jump to the relevant section and directly find the information that’s he’s after.


And, if you’ve put a good effort in your content, then even create an image based table of contents, like Getvero.


For more formatting tactics, I recommend reading this and this article.

2. Obsess over headlines

Admit it:

Most of us are passive lurkers. We don’t care about the articles that appear in our feeds.


There’s a title that GRABS our attention and evokes our curiosity.

As a rule of thumb, always write 10+ headlines for all of your posts, before settling on one.

Here’s my guide to help you write more compelling titles.

3. Load your page faster

Mobile phones have already taken over. The user attention span is less than that of a goldfish. And, slow loading websites hurt conversions.

You’ve read it an ample number of times. Now, get to work and fix your website’s loading speed.

4. Implement schema markup

If you want to get a smooth surge of organic traffic from search engines, then schema is a brilliant opportunity. Read how to implement schema on your website here.


They say that growth hacking isn’t a skill. It’s a mindset. And, a content marketer with a growth mindset is pure gold.

The huge benefits of content marketing might surface in 6 months to a year for your business. Meanwhile, you need to put your head down and keep creating high-quality content.

Are there any other content marketing growth hacks that you know of?

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