Contrary to what you might see in some case studies, MRR growth is not always linear.
Through working with various SaaS companies, talking to founders and even looking at our journey here at Baremetrics, I’ve seen firsthand how startups can experience periods of flat or even negative growth.
And when it happens, so many companies default to “how do we get more customers?”
There’s a common misconception that the only way to improve MRR growth is by getting more customers. Not only is this untrue, but that mindset can dig you into a hole that’s hard to get out of. I’ll explain why later.
Don’t get me wrong. Getting more users to pay you is a good thing. But MRR growth is about more than just getting new customers.
In this article, I’ll break down what MRR growth is, how to calculate it and how to improve it without only relying on new customers.
How to calculate MRR growth
I know a lot of you are probably going to jump right past this part. But stick with me for a second.
In order to understand how to improve your MRR growth rate, you need to understand how to calculate the metric.
MRR growth is the change in your MRR over a period of time.
The start and end numbers are helpful, but what a lot of companies (and investors) want to see is your MRR growth rate.
MRR growth rate is your MRR growth expressed as a percentage.
Here’s the formula to calculate your monthly MRR growth rate:
[(Second Month Revenue) – (First Month Revenue)] / (First Month Revenue)
And here’s what a MRR growth rate chart looks like in Baremetrics. You’ll notice it pretty much mirrors the screenshot of our actual MRR above.
Your MRR growth rate is important because it shows how much you’re growing (or not growing) over time. If your growth rate is slow, or even declining for an extended period of time, it could be a red flag.
And according to Tim Schumacher, founder of SaaS.group, MRR growth plays an important role in your company’s valuation if you plan on selling.
Founder @ SaaS.Group
From an Angel or VC investor point of view, slow or no MRR growth is definitely a red flag, since all investors look for high-growth companies. For a strategic or financial buyer, it’s a different story. Of course, MRR growth is always better than slow or no growth, but at the end of the day, it merely affects the multiple which is paid for a company.
For a high-growth company (5%+ monthly growth), a seller might be able to get twice the revenue (or profit) multiple compared to the same company which is flat.
Here’s the thing. Your MRR growth rate is just an output.
In order to improve it, you need to focus on the inputs (i.e. the numbers that go into calculating your MRR growth).
As you saw, the formula for calculating your MRR growth is pretty simple on the surface. You just need to know your starting MRR and your ending MRR. But in order to take action on the number, you need to focus on the period in between.
Here’s a graphic to illustrate what I’m talking about.
All of the points on the graph are events that caused your MRR to go up or down. Those are the “inputs” that determine your MRR growth rate. They include things like:
- New customers
- Expansion revenue
- Pricing changes you might’ve made
By manipulating these different inputs, you directly impact your company’s MRR growth.
For example, if you see a drop in your MRR growth, it could be that churn is outpacing new customer acquisition. If you’re flat, it could be a sign that your product isn’t priced for growth. There are any number of possibilities.
Our goal is to optimize all these different inputs so we can see a positive impact on the output (MRR growth). But just getting more customers isn’t always the answer.
Why customer acquisition isn’t always the key to MRR growth
Like I mentioned in the intro, when you see your MRR growth stall or even decline, it’s natural to assume you just need more customers.
And while that can help, here’s why I suggest putting just as much (if not more) effort into the other inputs.
It can get expensive
If you’ve ever worked for a SaaS company that was primarily focused on customer acquisition as a growth strategy, I’m sure you’ve seen how expensive it can get.
The “get new customers at all costs” approach is particularly popular with highly funded companies. When you have millions of dollars to spend, it’s super tempting to throw it at ads and other marketing channels to get more users.
But if the rest of your customer journey is lacking, you could be wasting a lot of money.
Until you’ve built a solid retention strategy that reduces churn and improves LTV, it doesn’t make a ton of sense to focus on getting more people in the door. Assuming you’re not a new company that just needs users of course.
It limits you
Another issue with focusing primarily on customer acquisition, is it limits your potential MRR growth. I’ll dive into the specifics in the next section, but one of the keys behind our MRR growth at Baremetrics was our focus on expansion revenue.
- Upsell our existing customers (which also improves LTV)
- Reach a new pool of people who might not have bought our flagship product, but are interested in our other products
When all you’re thinking about is “how can I get new customers?”, you completely miss out on other opportunities that can dramatically improve your MRR growth.
Acquiring new customers might not be the problem
Lastly, sometimes the reason you can’t grow just doesn’t have anything to do with your ability to acquire new customers.
Even if your number of active customers is growing each month, that doesn’t mean your MRR growth rate is too.
You could be experiencing massive MRR churn if your new customers are paying less than the people that churned. Your average revenue per user might be too low. You could be experiencing a lot of contraction from people downgrading their accounts.
The point is, you should never just assume your MRR growth isn’t trending upwards because you’re not getting enough new customers.
Now that we’ve established that, let’s talk about some other ways to improve your MRR growth rate besides getting new customers.
3 Ways to improve your MRR growth (besides getting more customers)
Now that you know the what and why, let’s talk about the “how”. Just knowing your MRR growth rate is fine. But ultimately, your goal should be to improve it.
Like most things in business, data can be your best friend here. Let’s take a look at some practical ways to boost your MRR growth.
1. Reduce churn
If you can’t control your churn, acquiring new customers isn’t going to fix your MRR growth problems. It’s like trying to work out to compensate for your poor diet. You might get some short term results, but eventually you’re going to plateau.
When you have a balance of low churn plus an effective customer acquisition strategy, you’re in a position for real growth. Let’s talk about how to start chipping away at your churn.
Obviously, you want to decrease your churn overall. But that’s a big mountain to climb.
Instead, let’s break it down into a series of “hills”. That way, you’ll be able to get some smaller wins on your way up the mountain.
First, we’ll need to identify where most of your churn is coming from. That means tracking the cancellation reasons that are costing you the most money.
Once you start gathering responses, you’ll be able to see exactly which cancellation reasons are resulting in the most MRR loss.
Now, instead of asking “how do we decrease churn?” you have specific action items you can build a plan around.
Whether it’s the lack of a specific feature, bad onboarding or whatever the main cause, you know exactly why people are churning and can work towards fixing it.
Even if your customer acquisition stays flat (meaning you’re acquiring the same number of customers each month), if you can decrease your monthly churn you’ll see an improvement in your MRR growth because you’re losing less MRR.
Here’s an example of this in action from our own company.
You can see here that as our churn rate has gone down over the past six months, our MRR growth has increased.
While some of the improvement in our MRR growth rate is from our increase in expansion revenue (from our add-on products), decreasing churn plays a major role.
Our churn over the past six months
Our MRR growth rate over the past six months
The main point I’m trying to illustrate is that “more customers” isn’t the only (or even best) way to improve your MRR growth rate.
If you can lose fewer customers each month, while keeping your acquisition and expansion revenue at least steady, you can still see growth. If you want more ideas on how to reduce churn, check out these articles:
2. Expansion revenue
Sometimes, increasing revenue doesn’t mean getting new customers. Why not sell to your existing customers who already use and like your product?
Expansion revenue is revenue you get from existing customers through:
- Add-ons: Additional add-on products outside of your customer’s subscription (like Cancellation Insights and Recover 😉)
- Upsells: Upgrading to a higher priced plan
- Cross-selling: Revenue from additional products to give customers a more complete solution (ex. Product training, setup fee)
And the companies in the $15M+ ARR club tend to do even more.
An added benefit of expansion revenue is it costs less to upsell and expand your existing customers than to acquire new ones.
Think about it. You’re essentially selling to people who’ve already shown they’re willing to buy from you, versus trying to convince new people that your product is worth paying for.
Expansion revenue has also been a big part of our growth here at Baremetrics. Here’s a look at MRR from our current active customers using two of our add-on products.
And if you take a look at our MRR over the past six months, you’ll notice that our expansion revenue is greater than our MRR from new customers most months.
Expansion revenue is also key to MRR growth for companies that charge on a per-user basis. For example, take a look at Hubstaff.
Their monthly pricing plans are pretty low (most users are on their Basic or Premium plans).
But take a look at where their MRR comes from. A good chunk of it is expansion revenue from upgrades and additional users.
For comparison, look at a company like Proofhub. They charge a flat rate for unlimited users.
In order for them to get positive MRR growth, they’re almost completely dependent on how many new customers they’re able to acquire each month, minus churn and contractions.
That’s a more challenging situation for growth.
Expansion revenue gives you another lever you can pull on to improve your MRR growth. Whether it’s through upgrades, charging per user, or additional products, think of ways you can expand beyond your current plans and offerings.
3. Experiment with your pricing
Pricing your SaaS product is one of the biggest struggles startups run into.
Are you charging too much? Not enough? What happens if you raise your prices and customers start to churn?
I won’t dive into the specifics of how to price your product in this article, because our Head of Growth already wrote a super in-depth guide to SaaS pricing here. But here’s a good way to experiment with your pricing and improve your MRR growth.
Use your data!
Some companies like to use surveys using Van Westendorp’s Price Sensitivity Meter to determine how much users would be willing to pay. But if you already have paying customers, why not use that data instead?
Start by identifying which pricing plans have the lowest churn rates. If you have Baremetrics, you can find this data under Metrics > User Churn. Sort the table by churn rate.
Lower churn (and longer time to churn) is an indicator that users under these price plans are getting enough value from your product to justify keeping it long term. But it could also mean that you’re priced too low.
The plans with low churn and a long time to churn are the ones that you can experiment with first.
Slightly increase the pricing on one of these plans (for new customers only) and monitor:
- Signups: Are more or fewer people signing up for this plan now that the price is higher?
- Churn: Are customers who’ve signed up with this higher price plan churning at a higher rate than the original priced plan?
If the number of signups you’re getting each month stays consistent, it means people aren’t being put off by your slightly higher pricing. And if your churn rate stays relatively unchanged, then your value:price ratio is in a good spot.
Even if you keep all your current customer’s pricing unchanged, you’ll be able to boost your MRR growth going forward if your changes work.
Keep an eye on your MRR growth rate
Your MRR growth rate is a vital SaaS metric that gives you an indication of how your business is doing over time.
You don’t have to obsess over the number on a daily basis. Check it month to month to see how you’re trending. Then use the insights to create action items for the next few months.
You could focus on churn for one quarter, then do some pricing experiments another quarter. But at least you’ll have a plan. And since you have metrics in place, it’s easy to measure what works and what doesn’t.
If you’re curious about what your MRR growth rate is, or want to put the tactics we went over to use, take the first step by grabbing a free trial of Baremetrics.
Top 10 SaaStr Videos of the Week: MongoDB, Splash, Slack + Yammer, Gainsight and More!
We’re gearing up for the big big, SaaStrScale.com next week — and a fresh new set of speakers and content! Please join us!!
To tide you over until then, let’s take a look at the Top 10 SaaStr Videos of the Week!
1. “The Top 16 Rookie Errors Founders Make Pitching VCs”. A recent deep dive many of you have missed.
2. “David Sacks (Yammer) & Stewart Butterfield (Slack): Unicorns or Bust”. A classic from the first SaaStr Annual. Take a look back at when Slack was just taking off with CEO Stewart Butterfield, and how Slack and Yammer compared with Yammer CEO David Sacks.
3. ” The Future of Events: Jason Lemkin, CEO SaaStr + Ben Hindman , CEO Splash”. Will B2B events be back? And how?
4. “How to Design a Sales Comp Plan to Get You to $100M”
5. “Five Things You Need to Do to Create a Category (and What Makes Them Super Hard) with Gainsight”. A fun look back right on the heels of Gainsight’s $1.1B investment and majority acquisition by Vista.
6. “Fireside Chat: Jyoti Bansal, CEO harness.io and AppDynamics & Dev Ittycheria, CEO MongoDB”. A great discussion between 2 unicorn friends you may have missed.
7. “LP Confidential Secrets from the Folks that Give VCs Money”. Why are VCs the way they are? The secrets are shared here.
8. “How to Really do Outbound Sales, a Discussion with Intacct and Salesloft”. A classic on how to get your first outbound team really going.
9. “What No One Tells You About Selling Your Company for [Hundreds of] Millions or More“. What really happens.
10. “The Best of the Best: YC SaaS CEOs of PlanGrid, Gusto and Amplitude”. One of my favorite Annual sessions, 3 great CEOs on what it took to get there.
How to Create PPC Campaigns for Real Estate Marketing
Even if you have a smaller real estate business, you don’t have to rely on third-party databases to get traffic to your listings through real estate marketing.
With pay per click (PPC) advertising, you can bring people directly to your real estate website, where you own the medium and are in control of how you present yourself. This means rather than your listing appearing—and perhaps being lost—among a sea of competitors, you can showcase your entire portfolio without viewers being distracted by others’ listings.
PPC campaigns aren’t usually difficult to set up. With a few tweaks, you may reach your target audience more efficiently and bring motivated buyers to your website.
PPC Real Estate Marketing Trends
With six million homes sold in the U.S. in one year, it’s no wonder competition between real estate agents is tough.
As you would expect in such a competitive market, real estate marketing plays a huge role, and the tactics businesses use are always developing.
Today, we see many realtors using trends such as virtual staging, drone photography, inbound marketing, and automation of lead verification. New trends come and go, the need for a good website never changes—and neither does the need to bring traffic to your site.
This is where pay per click (PPC) comes in.
One of the difficulties with bringing traffic to your site is competition from huge online real estate databases like Zillow (236 million monthly users) and Realtor.com. Let’s take a look at a search query for “buy homes in Naperville IL.”
As you can see, those large sites are dominating the search engine results pages (SERPS).
However, ranking organically isn’t the only way to get to the top of the SERPs, and PPC may grant you a route to the top of the listings. Through a successful PPC campaign, your website could feature at the top of the page for your chosen keywords, potentially bringing in a large volume of traffic.
You pay a small fee for each click, but if you’re utilizing the latest real estate marketing trends well, then you could see a solid ROI. PPC allows you to bring traffic to a medium you control, which puts you in control of your marketing.
Selecting Keyword Phrases for Your Real Estate Marketing PPC
PPC could allow your website to appear at the top of the SERPs for virtually any keyword. Your real estate marketing isn’t going to benefit from featuring an irrelevant search term, though. This means you need to find the keywords that work for you and bring in people who convert into leads.
To do this, start by understanding your target audience.
- What does their customer profile look like?
- What information are your potential customers looking for?
- How do they search for that information?
Think about your audience and write out a list of all the ways they might search for your business.
For PPC to work for you, you also need to ensure your landing pages reflect the keywords you’re advertising for. When someone clicks on your ad, the page they land on needs to directly address why they clicked in the first place. Take a look at your current pages and list all the keywords reflecting the content you have on your site.
Once you’ve built up a list of keywords, it’s time to narrow it down so the keywords you bid on are relevant to both your audience and the pages they land on.
Part of succeeding at this is understanding where someone is in the buying cycle. For example, someone searching the keyword “best Chicago suburbs” might be at the beginning of the cycle, where the buyer intent is much lower than later on. Later in the cycle, they may search for “buy houses Naperville IL,” meaning they could quickly become a lead. This distinction should help you understand each keyword’s value and focus your real estate marketing PPC on boosting ROI.
After you’ve narrowed down your list, go to Ubersuggest to find out the cost per click and level of competition for each keyword.
Optimize Your Site for PPC Campaigns that Use Local Keyword Phrases
With all our examples so far, we’ve used what’s known as a “location modifier.” For instance, in “buy houses Naperville IL,” the terms “Naperville” and “IL” allow us to target a specific area. Nothing is stopping you from advertising for “buy houses,” and you’d probably get plenty of traffic—but there’s no point if you’re selling houses in Naperville and the user wants to buy one in Ft. Lauderdale.
Local keyword phrases are vital to real estate agents because they’re selling a product with a fixed location. As location is one of the driving forces behind real estate purchases, many people use these modifiers in their searches.
When you use local keyword phrases, your landing pages must match the search intent. If your advertisement says “houses for sale in Naperville,” then it has to deliver on its promise. Many people will click back to Google if it’s showing houses for rent or homes outside of Naperville.
Setting Max CPC Budgets for Your PPC Campaign
When you set up your real estate marketing campaign, you’re going to be asked to set a budget and decide the maximum you’re willing to pay per click for a specific keyword (max CPC). Remember, you’re not tied into anything—it’s something you can adjust as you go and optimize to get the best results.
To get an idea of your budget, set out the goals you want to achieve with your PPC campaign. For a simplified example, to make $5,000 a month from your advertising and the average value of your houses is $100,000 with a 1% commission, you need to sell five houses a month through your PPC.
The average cost per click for keywords related to real estate is $2.37 with a conversion rate of 2.47%—so, to sell your five houses, you might need just over 200 clicks at the cost of $494. While your numbers might vary from the industry average, you can always adjust your budget based on your average conversion rate and cost per click.
It’s also worth remembering that it’s not all about the price you pay per click, as your advertisement’s quality also plays a part. Google wants to send people to high-quality results, and if your ad achieves this, it’s more likely to be favored by the search engine’s algorithm.
Another way to maximize your budget is by boosting your click-through rate (CTR.) The average CTR for real estate ads is about 3.71%— but if you’re writing excellent ad copy, then you may find even better results. But remember, these are just industry averages, and your experience may vary. An ad budget of hundreds (or even thousands) doesn’t guarantee a sale, but PPC is worth a try for most markets.
Deciding Which Ad Platform is Right for Your Real Estate Marketing
When we think of search engines, our minds are naturally drawn to Google because it’s the biggest, with 3.5 billion searches per day. However, there are lots of different search engines and lots of other ad platforms.
Which ad platform you use should be decided by your business goals and your target audience. For example, if you’re selling sleek condos to millennials, your advertising will look very different than if you’re targeting seniors looking for a second home.
This differentiator is where you could help your real estate marketing campaigns by selecting the right platform.
Social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest are vital sources for real estate marketing, and they offer great PPC options. 99% of Millenials and 90% of Baby Boomers begin their real estate searches online, and with billions of people on social media, this could be a perfect way to reach them.
The great thing about PPC on social media is that they are highly visual media. Whereas with Google Ads you might be limited to text, social media allows you to incorporate video, images, and other effects. These tools can help your advertising stand out from the crowd, but you must choose the platform and message that resonates with your audience.
57% of Americans aged 25-30 are on Instagram, compared to 23% of 50- to 64-year-olds. However, the numbers look very different on Facebook, as 68% of 50- to 64-year-olds have accounts. This data shows people search for information differently, and your advertising needs to reflect this. You might find Google is the best way to reach your audience, or you may discover an alternative such as Instagram that offers you the most useful real estate marketing campaign.
Here you can see just how different a promoted post on Instagram could look from the traditional ads you see on Google. These various formats could give you the ability to appeal to particular audience demographics and potentially maximize the effectiveness of your real estate marketing.
Whichever platform you use, you’ve got to make sure your message suits the medium, and you’re giving people the experience they’re looking for. Various advertising platforms allow you to diversify your marketing, but you’ve got to focus on the techniques that work best for each campaign.
Deciding Which Real Estate Marketing Ad Format is Best
When you come to set up your ads, you’ll find you have lots of format options. The options vary depending on which platform you’re using, but for Google, you’ll have the following choices:
- Search ads: These are the “traditional” ads at the top of a SERP. These are particularly useful for real estate marketing because they allow you to reach a targeted audience at the precise moment they are looking for your product.
- Shopping ads: Shopping ads are product-focused advertisements that also allow you to feature at the top of a SERP. However, shopping listings are more commonly used for very specific searches such as “buy Barbie dolls,” where many retailers sell the same products.
- Display ads: Display ads allow your listing to feature on other people’s websites. While this can be a cost-effective way to reach a broad audience, it’s more difficult to judge where these people are in the buyer cycle because they haven’t made a specific search.
- Video ads: Video ads play between videos on YouTube and are a great way to incorporate a more interactive aspect to your advertising. Many people use YouTube as a search engine, so it’s another good way to reach motivated buyers.
- Gmail ads: These advertisements appear at the top of someone’s Gmail inbox and allow you to reach a targeted audience. The difficulty with Gmail ads for real estate marketing is determining buyer-intent. You might be targeting someone because they are interested in real estate, but this does not guarantee they’re looking to buy a house.
The key to these different ad types is finding the ones that best suit your business goals. For many real estate businesses, this is likely to be search ads.
This is because this method may best allow you to understand the searcher’s intent. Someone has put a specific query into Google—“find houses in Naperville”— so you more clearly know what they’re looking for and can judge where they are in the buying cycle.
With options like display ads, you can reach a targeted audience—for example, people looking at a house improvement website—but you don’t have control over searcher intent. As you’re selling something very specific that focuses on location, search ads are a good place to start.
Pay per click advertising is an essential tool for your real estate marketing. If you’re to take back clicks from online real estate databases like Zillow, then you’ve got to find alternative ways of getting traffic to your website.
PPC is an excellent way to do this, and it could bring large numbers of targeted, highly engaged visitors with a strong buyer intent to your website. From there, you’re in control of the medium and not reliant on a third party who controls your interactions with customers.
If you’re investing in real estate marketing trends like virtual staging and drone photography and you want to maximize their effectiveness, a way you could do this is by getting them in front of a targeted, engaged audience. With good PPC, you could do just that because it may allow you to boost your lead generation significantly—and perhaps sell more houses.
If you do need help with your PPC campaigns, reach out to my team to see how we can help.
Has PPC benefited your real estate business?
7 Warning Signs You Have Product Flop on Your Hands (and How to Fix It!)
Ever have a really great idea for a product?
You know, the kind of idea that makes you want to grab strangers by the shoulders and explain the whole thing in a rush. For the next few hours or even days, you find yourself revved up in high gear, eager to turn your big idea into reality.
It’s an awesome feeling.
There’s only one problem: what comes up must go down, and sometimes big ideas do just that – they flop, hard.
You could shrug it off and say that failure is really a learning experience, but wouldn’t you rather learn how to avoid those product flops so you can save yourself time, money, and heartache?
I know I would.
Here are seven warning signs your big product idea is about to flop — and seven ways to avoid landing with a splat:
1. You Keep Changing Your Mind
You’re burning through your project and you’re totally jazzed. Everything’s going great! It’s such an awesome idea.
But it would be even better if you add this one element.
Wait, no – maybe you should do this instead. That’d be awesome.
Or maybe you should change that – it would make your project even better! It’ll crush all of the products in the niche!
Business old-schoolers call it “scope change,” and it can seriously hamper your progress. The more you push the boundaries and keep adding to your project, the more it becomes a time-consuming, cost-heavy monster that never ends.
Risks go up, your schedule gets trashed, deadlines get blown and quality goes down.
Give yourself a set amount of time to do research and plan the scope of your project before you start. Take a few days, weeks, or months to really think things through. It’s okay to waffle then because no one else is watching, and you don’t have to backtrack.
But once that time has expired, stop, make the decisions you need to make, and move forward. Look at it as a deadline. You can change your mind up until a certain day on the calendar, and then after that, you stick with the plan until you’re finished.
2. You Haven’t Figured Out the Price
Most people don’t bother to figure out what their business idea will cost them, not only in terms of money, but also time and opportunity costs. They just latch on, run with their idea, and work like mad for weeks, investing their time and money blindly.
Then six months after launch they wonder why they’re broke, exhausted, and feeling trapped.
Before you undertake a project, figure out what it’ll cost you:
- Overhead Costs: Will you need office space? Employees? Equipment? Will you have to pay travel expenses? What are the total hard costs?
- Salary Costs: What will you pay yourself? Even if you’re living on savings, it’s still an expense. Write it down.
- Opportunity Costs: What opportunities will you have to give up? How much will that cost you in both the short-term and long-term?
- Time Costs: When are you going to work on it? Also, what are you currently doing in those other hours that you’ll have to cut out? Will you sacrifice sleep? Time with your family? Overtime at work?
Once you’ve calculated the true cost, ask yourself if it’s a price you’re willing to pay. Your idea might be fantastic, but if you don’t know what it’s going to cost you, chances are you’ll never finish.
Before starting a project, make sure you know exactly what it will cost you.
3. You Think All You Need is Time
You’ve done the math and decided that there’s no major financial investment involved, just your time. Maybe a few weeks of hard labor, maybe a few months. You just have to buckle down and do it.
But here’s the big question: who’s paying the bills in the meantime?
Every hour you spend working on Project X is an hour less you can work on other income sources. If your time is worth $100 an hour, do you really want to invest 1,000 free hours into a project that might make you $5,000?
If you do, you’re essentially investing $100,000 for a $5,000 return. Not smart.
The reality is, you might lose money — and that isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, becoming a multi-millionaire can require losing money, as I’ve mentioned before.
But if you aren’t considering the cost of your time, you could end up with a flop.
If you want to be successful, figure out your hourly rate, and then delegate or outsource any tasks below that rate. Sometimes, you’ll be better off working for someone else and funneling that income into paying freelancers than quitting all of your projects and cutting off all of your income streams.
Smart business people invest their time wherever they’re getting the best return.
4. No One Seems to “Get” The Concept
This is one of the biggest red flags that your product is going to flop. Sadly, most people get so excited about their big idea that they don’t see the forest for the trees.
It goes like this:
You excitedly explain your product to a few people, but they don’t seem to get it. You explain even more. They seem unsure. They ask questions. You answer, but they hesitate. So you slow down and try to explain it as simply as possible, but you still can’t seem to get through.
Maybe they aren’t as smart as you. Or maybe they just don’t get it. Maybe they aren’t in your target audience.
But here’s why it matters: if your customer doesn’t understand the idea, it doesn’t matter how brilliant it is. It’s going to flop.
So, pay attention to people’s reactions. At which point in the explanation do they seem to get confused? What part don’t they understand? Where are you losing them?
These are the places you need to clarify. There’s a missing link somewhere, and you need to find it now, not later.
Or maybe you just need to get a new idea.
5. They Get It, but No One Seems Interested
Sometimes, people get your idea, but they shrug their shoulders and say, “So what?”
Maybe they point out that someone else has done it already, or maybe they don’t see the problem you’re addressing, or maybe they think it’s just plain boring.
They’re polite and they listen to your idea, but not for long – their phone or their email is far more interesting.
Watch out for that lack of interest, because no enthusiasm means no sales. You know you’re on track when:
- They say, “I’ve been dealing with that for years. Can you really fix it?”
- They laugh, cry, or get angry. The stronger the emotional response, the better the idea.
- Their eyebrows go up, and ask, “Is that really possible? That would be great!”
- They bring your idea up again the next time you see them. It shows they’ve been thinking about it, which is exactly what you want your prospective customers to do.
If you don’t get one of those responses, find out why. What do people really want? What do they need? What’s missing?
You might be able to adapt your big idea to fulfill that demand.
6. You Don’t Really Believe in Yourself
You might really, really want to get your big idea off the ground, and you believe it will succeed, but you secretly wonder whether or not you can pull it off.
Maybe you’re an engineer, and you don’t have any confidence in your ability to sell. Or maybe you are a digital marketer, and you struggle with keeping accurate financial records for investors and bankers. Or maybe you’ve never managed anyone before, and the idea of hiring and leading a staff scares you.
You’ve tried to stay positive, but deep down, you doubt yourself. You hope you can do it, but when you talk to other people about your idea, you can feel your insecurity bleeding through.
If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will either. People have a sixth sense for uncertainty, and they’ll pick up on every signal of self-doubt you’re sending out. It can kill even the best ideas.
No one expects you to be perfect, but getting any idea off the ground requires leadership, and people expect leaders to be confident. So work on it.
The best way to build self-confidence is to start small and get some early wins.
If you are worried about sales, start generating leads you are certain will convert into sales, and approach those first. If you’re worried about financials, get example reports, and then start with the ones you understand. If you’re worried about managing people, start by hiring smart, ambitious people who don’t need much handholding.
Make it easy for yourself, and grow into the person you need to become.
7. You Can’t Seem To Find the Time for Your Idea
This is probably the most common sign of an impending product flop: you know your project will be a success — yet you can’t seem to find the time to work on it.
You keep pushing your idea aside. Other work comes up. Something else is more urgent. You’re busy. You push back your own deadlines and keep setting your big idea on the back burner.
It’s probably because you’re scared.
Maybe you’re afraid your big idea won’t succeed (even if you’re pretty sure it will). Or that it actually might succeed, and you won’t know how to handle it. Or that you’ll make mistakes and get laughed at, losing the respect of the people you admire.
Whatever the reason, if you find yourself procrastinating, sit down for a little introspection session. Think about why you’re not working on that big idea. Ask yourself:
- What life changes you think would happen if you complete it?
- What do those changes mean to you?
- Why do you want to avoid them?
- Are they realistic concerns?
- What is the worst-case scenario?
Be honest with yourself. Often, reality is far different (and easier!) from what we imagine.
Maybe after some introspection, you realize the big idea isn’t going to be good for you. Sometimes our gut instinct sends warning messages that we should pay attention to – just because a project will be successful doesn’t mean it’s the right success for us.
And if that’s the case, then there are plenty of other – better – ideas for you to pursue. If there’s one thing I’m sure of, it’s this:
The next big idea is always right around the corner.
Not all great ideas are destined to be big hits. However, many of the largest companies in the world started as just one good idea. Review the warning signs above and make sure you are in the best possible position to move forward.
Then, it’s time to start digging in. Start by getting to know who your audience really is and do some market research. Create a business plan and don’t forget to consider outsourcing tasks that you don’t have the time — or the knowledge — to tackle.
And if you do flop? Take some time to recover, then try again.
Are you working on your next big idea? What is holding you back?
Amazon Marketing Consulting
Amazon’s so big that it has become an entire marketing channel.
You could build your entire business on just Amazon.
Many entrepreneurs do. It’s crazy how many 7-figure businesses are running on Amazon right now.
Lots of folks know about the Amazon opportunity.
There are 353 million other products on Amazon already.
Granted, you don’t have to compete for all of them. But that’s still an insane number of products.
No matter how obscure your niche, you’ll have top-tier competition.
How do you stand out in such a highly-competitive marketplace?
Find an Amazon marketing consultant.
3 Ways an Amazon Marketing Consultant Can Help Grow Your Business
Most Amazon consultants focus on one goal: getting you more customers.
That is, after all, why most businesses get on Amazon.
They want access to Amazon’s customers.
Here are the main ways that a consultant can help.
1. Store Setup and Product Listings
Some sellers on Amazon set themselves up for failure from day one.
And they do this with poor store setup and product listings.
If you, a seller on Amazon, get the foundational areas like excellent store setup and product listings wrong, other efforts to grow your store will fall flat.
No doubt, signing up for an Amazon Seller account takes only a few minutes.
But it takes a lot of work to get Amazon’s algorithms to know what category you should be in and when to show your products higher than others.
An Amazon marketing consultant will properly set up your store and build your product listings to get you more customers. Not only will your products get more views, the product descriptions will also help you convert more of those prospects into customers.
The best Amazon consultants will help you:
- Choose the right seller account type for your store.
- Make your product descriptions as enticing as possible.
- Ensure that Amazon knows exactly which categories and terms you should be in.
- Get the back-end set up properly so it’s as easy to manage as possible.
They’ll also help you avoid these mistakes:
- Don’t accidentally get featured in the wrong categories which could hurt your store.
- Make sure all products comply with every Amazon guideline.
- Your listings avoid common mistakes that annoy customers, which could increase the number of negative reviews if you don’t catch them early.
Get the foundation of your store done right. Then everything else gets a lot easier.
2. Product SEO in Amazon
It’s one thing to have your store properly set up and your products accurately listed.
But it’s another ball game to have them actually appear on Amazon.
According to a study by Feedvisor, about 74% of ecommerce shoppers go to Amazon first for any purchase they want to make.
Do you know what that means?
Amazon has become a search engine for products. Amazon SEO is now a real thing. And it’s just as important as Google SEO. For ecommerce businesses that are on Amazon, it’s probably MORE important.
Amazon even developed its own SEO algorithm called A9.
You could try to learn all the ranking optimization tricks on your own.
Or you can partner with an Amazon marketing consultant to help you save time, money, and make the most of your scarce resources.
They’ll help you:
- Find the best categories and keywords to focus on.
- Optimize your products for rankings.
- Get the reviews you need to compete.
- Break down your competition so you can learn what’s working today.
3. Amazon PPC Management
Amazon turned on the firehose of PPC.
Not only is it making them a ton of money. It can also make you a ton of money.
For the first time, you can pay a small fee to get in front of the most valuable customers in your entire market: customers ready to make a purchase right now.
With the right product, you can easily take $1 and turn it into $2 with Amazon paid ads.
However, paid media on Amazon is also complicated.
Like any PPC platform, it requires a ton of specific know-how and tons of work to keep it optimized.
You could try to manage all this on your own.
Or you could get an Amazon consultant to do it for you.
PPC campaigns are a great type of marketing task to outsource. The work is repetitive and usually the same workflow across businesses. Consultants can easily take this off your plate and give you a nice ROI at the same time.
Even if you could do this yourself, I recommend finding a consultant to help. Your time is better used elsewhere.
Most consultants get really good at bid management and ad optimization. Use them for these areas.
How to Get Started With An Amazon Marketing Consultant
First, what should you have before engaging an Amazon marketing consultant?
- An Amazon store or a store that’s about to go live.
- Products you want to sell and sourcing or manufacturing are sorted out.
- Key competitors and search terms for your market.
- Budget set aside.
An Amazon consultant can help with setting up your store and getting you customers. You’ll need to sort out everything outside of Amazon.
Basically, they’ll help you develop and implement marketing strategies to drive sales and revenue.
When you visit the website of a top Amazon marketing company, you’ll usually find a contact form to schedule an initial call.
Even if you’re not sure if you need help yet, I recommend getting a call done. You’ll have a much better idea with how consultants can help you once you’ve done a few calls.
You can also ask them loads of questions like:
- What budget would you recommend?
- What are the key trends that you see in your most successful clients?
- What should I do ahead of time to set this project up for success?
- What would make us a bad fit to work together?
Yes, the consultant will treat the call like a sales call. It’s their chance to close you on a proposal. But it’s also a chance for you to learn a lot more about the space from a real expert. And the best consultants will happily teach you as much as they can. That’s how they prove their expertise.
After you’ve done a few of these calls, move forward with the one that you think is the best fit. Since this project should generate real revenue for your business, I’d go with the one that has the best chance of succeeding, even if they’re a bit more expensive than others. The good consultants will easily pay for themselves.
Measuring the ROI of Amazon Marketing Consulting Services
The ultimate measure for any marketing service is how much demand and sales it drives. For Amazon consulting, this same rule applies.
Specifically, you should track:
- Views for your store and products
- The number of new products sold
- Conversion rate of impressions to sales
- Total revenue
- Average order value
I recommend that you track your totals, not just revenue and purchases from specific campaigns.
Marketing channels and campaigns often bleed into each other. For example, an increase in Amazon PPC budget will often lead to an increase in your organic Amazon sales. Trying to get perfect attribution is super difficult.
So get a good baseline before the consultant starts. Then compare the overall performance of your store afterwards.
Let’s go deeper on each metric.
This is a measure of how many impressions you’re getting for your store and products compared to how many of those impressions led to sales.
For any consultant working on your product listings, it’s probably the most important metric to watch.
When optimizing products, you should see it go up.
And when working on product rankings, you want to see your conversion rate stay stable. If it drops while your impressions go up, it’s a sign that you’re getting less-qualified traffic. It’s possible that the extra traffic is still worth it, you’ll need to dig in.
Any Amazon consultant should be able to get your products more impressions.
It’s always nice to get a conversion win right away but the real money is getting your products in front of more people.
This is what separates great Amazon consultants from the ones that are just average. Great consultants will have a plan to double, triple, and quadruple your impressions over time. They’ll also be able to execute on that plan.
This can take a lot of time and money.
But within the first few months, you should be able to see at least some signals that things are going in the right direction.
At the end of the day, marketing is about increasing revenue.
The ROI needs to be there.
After a few months, check your total monthly revenue and compare it to your baseline before you started working with the consultant.
Is it moving in the right direction? Have you generated enough profit to pay for the consultant fees?
You might not be generating enough extra revenue yet but there should be a path to a positive ROI.
The great consultants will have set expectations with you at the beginning. Things should be playing out like they planned.
4 Point Checklist For Finding the Right Amazon Marketing Consultant
Below are six things to check when finding the right Amazon marketing consultant to help drive growth for your store.
1. Thought Leadership on Amazon Marketing
Since most of what an Amazon marketing consultant would do is help you to drive sales for your store, it’s essential you find one with practical knowledge on how to do it.
Every marketer knows the power of thought leadership.
For the best Amazon consultants, I’d expect to see some of their content already published.
It’s a great way to get a feel for how they build Amazon stores, their favorite tactics, and how they’d fit with your own company.
2. Real Amazon Marketing Expertise
Many marketing consultants who didn’t offer services specific to Amazon stores have jumped on the bandwagon, seeing how much the marketplace is growing.
They apply the same generic marketing practices, thinking it will automatically work on Amazon.
If you don’t want to fall for this and waste your money, ensure that the consultant has true expertise with Amazon marketing. They should plenty of:
- Deep answers to all of your tactical Amazon marketing questions
- Case studies with Amazon marketing
- Clients and testimonials from Amazon marketing projects
3. Expertise on How Amazon Impacts Other Channels
If you have an ecommerce business that focuses 100% on Amazon, feel free to ignore this criteria.
But most businesses go after multiple channels.
Especially ecommerce businesses. They usually have Amazon product listings and their own ecommerce story.
Great consultants will get your different channels to help each other.
That’s right, you can can get each channel to make your other marketing channels stronger.
Here’s a few examples:
- Using discounts and promos to get Amazon customers to sign up for subscription deliveries on your website.
- Getting your biggest fans to help with Amazon reviews.
- Tapping into your audiences to kick-start new products on Amazon.
With a little creativity, you can hit goals a lot faster by using assets you already have.
The best consultants look for these opportunities and take advantage of them.
4. A Proven Process for Execution
The really great consultants have a formula for rolling out their Amazon marketing campaigns. It’s how they deliver results over and over again, for every client.
Less experienced consultants may depend on the brilliance and wit of a single person.
That can work great as long as that person focuses on your marketing. But what happens when they move to another client?
Campaign performance usually suffers.
Look for a consultant that has a team behind them that can reliably execute on your project month in and month out.
The odds of accomplishing your goals goes way up.
During your initial discovery calls, dig into their process, how they manage deliverables, and train new team members. You should be shocked on how thorough it all is.
Start With an Amazon SEO Consultant
Don’t know where to focus?
Get help with your Amazon SEO first. One project could get you more impressions, more sales, and more revenue on an ongoing basis.
The ROI of that single project can be massive.
So if you’re not sure what you really want, start there.
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