3 Inbound Marketing Lessons I Wish I'd Known @ Mint.com

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Jeanne Hopkins
Jeanne Hopkins



This guest blog post was written by Noah Kagan, Chief Sumo of web deals site AppSumo.com ,  a daily deals site for web entrepreneurs. He was formerly an early employee at both Facebook and Mint.

I did all of marketing at Mint until they launched and then they subsequently sold for $170,000,000. At that time I never had traditional marketing experience but more of a LOVE for the product and a strong desire to reach a target market.

After looking back over that experience, I wanted to share three key things I wish I would have learned about inbound marketing. 

1. Start Early

Remember how your mom used to say, “the early bird gets the worm.” As annoying as my mom got it rang so true. 
Marketing to me starts the same day you start building your business. At Mint, I was brought on 9 months before the product was live. Can you imagine that?

Instead of waiting for a product with no customers, when we finally launched we had over 20,000 people BEGGING to use our product. So you’re wondering what we did, aren’t you?

Note: Before we even launched we were larger than all our competitors combined! 

1. Added an email collection box on our homepage. This is almost default now but something we just figured would be good to start collecting. The best thing to do for your business is to get emails. It is the EASIEST way to start communicating. Think of it this way. Only .5% may buy on your site but you can get up to 30% of people to get you an email. Stop trying to force them all around your site and instead put them in a funnel where you can educate them properly about your product.

2. Built an excel spreadsheet of the top 25 most influential personal finance bloggers. We then spent the next months developing and tracking building relationships with those people. Think of it like a garden you plant the seeds today to enjoy your delicious fruits in a few months. 

3. Created a quant-based marketing approach where you can predict the amount of traffic you are going to get. HubSpot helps you do this! Here’s a sample one from Mint we used. 

4. Wrote out our marketing plan . Don’t “hope” that traffic and customers will come. Here’s the marketing plan I did, Mint Marketing plan .

5. Did the HubSpot growth technique. Setup free things like websitegrader.com and use those leads to get new customers. 

2. Education Marketing is the Future

Would you let me borrow $100? There’s a great chance you wouldn’t. If we were friends for 10 years and have a relationship than the $100 decision might be a no-brainer.
Relate this back to your marketing, it should be less about selling and more about creating value for your customer. Educate them. Teach them.
Think of it as reciprocity. You give them stuff, it helps them and then over time it makes it a no-brainer for them to trust you and want to give you money. Can you imagine that? They actually feel bad for NOT giving you money after you’ve given so much!

So what does that mean for your business? I’ll make it easy and give you ideas we’ve done for AppSumo.com .

1. Free Action Videos for startups . Copywriting for Startups,  How to Actually use Google Analytics and more.

2. Free Webinars . Hubspot is very good at this. Train them in real-time, answer questions and share with them things that will help THEIR business, not yours.

3. PDFs and how-to-guides . Top 10 ways to reduce your bounce rate by 30%; 20% increase in revenue a month, etc. 

Imagine advertising to "come spend money and sign up your business" versus advertising "great educational material" that can help your future customers. The conversion rates on your advertising will speak for itself. I know.

Love Them and Choose Favorites

Congrats! You followed a few of things I wish I would have known and you now have a 1,000-email list.

What now? Now is  Nurture and Segment time.  At Mint,we waited nearly 9 months to really interact with our users and when we finally launched not all of them remembered who we are. That hurts Noah’s feelings. What should I have done?

1. Provided educational content like I talked about above on an ongoing basis.

2. Review your metrics. If you have some sales, look at what it took to get those sales. What did they read? What did they buy? Where did they come from? Then take that information and setup auto-responders or webinars or other activities to keep your visitors involved until they are customers. 

3. Segment them. At Mint, once we had people visit and give an email we offered them a chance to be a VIP. That was our way of segmenting, we made them do more work via surveys and promoting Mint and got early access to the product in return. What could you offer your customers to learn more about them?
Also, think about what you can do with that data before you ask.

4. Act like HubSpot. Formerly called CHI (Customer Happiness Index) they now provide benchmark data which should help you segment your customers better. Best use of your time is working with the customers who show you the most promise. HubSpot also does their segmentation on the registration process.

Shameless self-promotion: Hope what I didn’t know will help you in your business success. Join AppSumo or email me:  noah@appsumo.com and I’ll get you our "How to Actually use Google Analytics for Free."

Image credit: Steven Snodgrass

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