Startup Marketing Recommendations

Here are some of the marketing strategies that I recommend Yipit (http://www.yipit.com) pursue. To entrepreneurs and executives who read this, understand that all of the following strategies can be delegated to others on your team. For Yipit, I would recommend to management that they have some on the team who is a growth hacker; an individual who is marketing oriented and whose true north is growth.

What is most important is that Yipit pursue a marketing strategy for a number of channels, measure each of their efforts, and as they quantify the effectiveness of each effort they should allocate resources accordingly.

Background information: I recently attended an event where I heard the cofounder of Yipit speak. Vin Vacanti, the cofounder of Yipit, is a very bright person and an upcoming star in the NYC tech scene.

Yipit.com is a daily deal aggregator. Every day Yipit gathers daily deals from other websites (Groupon.com, etc.) and sends a list of the best deals based on an individual’s preferences. The benefit of the company’s business model is that the company does not need to hire a sales team. The negative is that because they are not creating the transactions themselves, the value of each user to Yipit is very low. I do not know the exact value, but considering the much larger profit margin that Groupon.com has, I believe that Yipit would be priced out of any advertisements that they could pay for.

Startup Marketing Recommendations

Because Yipit is priced out of any paid advertisement opportunities, they will have to be very creative in their marketing strategies. I spent an hour writing the following marketing strategies that I believe Yipit should pursue:

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Strategy

Have you ever looked at a company’s traffic analytics that has been around for several years? You would be shocked at the percentage of traffic brought in through search engines; in general the traffic from search engines includes over 60% of total traffic to a website. All companies, particularly startups expecting to be around for a long time (and given the 1.3 million raised Yipit should expect to be), need to have an SEO strategy. However, examining Yipit’s blog I see no efforts made for SEO.

I am not sure why there is a lack of effort in this initiative. The Yipit team should be posting articles with specific keywords that they are targeting. I suggest they look for competitive, but not the most competitive, keywords to target. For example, they may want to target the keywords: “Daily New York City special deals” and other keywords in locations with their largest user bases.

The Yipit team should identify 5 keywords and create an article post at least twice a week. In each post they should focus on one of their keywords. (Make sure every article is at least 200 words). In each post they should include the keyword twice in the 1st paragraph and once in each of the remaining paragraphs.

A reason Yipit should focus on this channel is because their profit for each new user will never be as large as other companies in the space, so focusing on non-paying channels is critical. Although it may be difficult to take this long term approach, if they plan ahead they won’t be adding any additional time to their SEO efforts. All of the efforts on this initiative can be delegated by the executive team.

Personal Finance Blog Collaboration

Yipit’s primary asset is the large number of emails in their database. I think there is a lot of potential to leverage this database (I’m not talking about selling this information, which I do not believe a company should ever do). I’m referring to bartering with other websites for marketing. Here is specifically what I would recommend doing:

1. Gather a list of blogs/websites related to personal finance (you can outsource this data collection or can delegate the task.)

2. Spend 30 minutes writing a short email introducing yourself, the company Yipit, and your interest in collaborating in the future.

3. Propose a brief way you could collaborate; for example write that you can include a link to their personal finance website in an email in exchange for an article about the daily deal phenomenon. (Mention that you can send the article to save the blogger time and that the blog post won’t just be promoting Yipit).

This initiative will not take a long time. You can spend 1 hour creating this email, and delegate the collection of blog contact information and the sending of emails to another person on the team.

Many personal finance blogs, and other related blogs, would be interested in collaborating and have audiences of over 200,000 visitors per month.

Startup Marketing Strategies

Online Marketing Forum Posting Strategy

This can be one of the most effective ways a company can bring in traffic (Forums such as Fatwallet.com, etc.). As an example, one thread I created on a forum received over 10,000 views.

I need to emphasize though that if Yipit does decide to go with this strategy, they need to make sure that the person who pursue this has a lot of experience with posting on forums. If the person does not, I can guarantee that the postings will not be successful. Unfortunately, the community on the forum will also not be happy about the post.

Other Popular Blog Outreach Marketing Strategy

In addition to contacting popular personal finance blogs, I would recommend taking a similar strategy with blogs focused on other areas, for example taste testers for food. Because Yipit is also listing restaurants, the company may be able to take a similar strategy with food bloggers. Again, they should create the article (Don’t make it sound like spam) but it could discuss how daily deals provide interesting restaurant selections for each city.

Social Media Strategy

Yipit does not seem to have a Facebook or Twitter strategy at all. (Only 223 fans on their Facebook Page and not many followers on Twitter.) The channels appear only to be relaying daily deals.

I would recommend the following:

Identify Who Your Target Market Is: Who are they? What would they be interesting in hearing about? I would identify the target market as being people who looking for fun things to do and ways to save money

Understand Your Options: You have two options; create pages for individual cities (Yipit in NYC, Yipit in San Francisco, etc.), which I don’t think is the best idea. It is too hard to separate yourself into that high a number of areas.

Focus On One Page: I would recommend that you focus on building one Facebook Page that will appeal to a broad area. Recognize that a strong Facebook Page can create a number of benefits (additional traffic, social proof, SEO, etc.) I would then do the following (this may sound like a time but the return on investment will be very positive):

Post content about really interesting and unique things in different cities and various ways to save money: These comments may even be a bit quirky like Groupon (although perhaps not to that extent).

Promote the Yipit Facebook page on each of your weekly emails and on the website: Currently no Facebook Pages or Twitter accounts are promoted on the website.

Have contests about the funniest ways people saved money or the craziest stories of the weekend: The winner can win a $20 gift certificate to one of your other services. Make it fun; hold contests for neat pictures. The pictures with the most ‘likes’ will win. This will incentivize fans to tell their peers, and the number of fans will grow.

Automate: Do this for your social media accounts so content on your Facebook page will automatically be relayed through your primary Twitter account.

Contact other Facebook Pages: Do this to those involved in personal finance and travel and agree to share content (post one another’s every week) and to become “Favorite Page” of one another. This is another channel to contact companies for potential partnerships.

Build Strong Relationships With Other Daily Deal Websites: I believe a key to Yipit’s success will be their ability to partner with other companies. Yipit can do this so well because it is not only positioned well in a strong trend, but also because companies should be open to partner with Yipit. Yipit should send an email out to each daily aggregator and make an introduction to themself, the company, and a mention that they are open to collaborating in the future. Mention that if the other company has any ideas on how they could help one another that Yipit would like to hear from them. These daily deal websites are looking for partnerships as much as you are. Examples of collaboration include:

A. Guest posting on one another’s blogs.
B. Cross promoting each other’s emails.
C. Exchanging posts on Facebook and Twitter
D. Exchanging links on one another’s websites
E. This is just scratching the surface. What is most important is that the companies understand that each will benefit more from helping one another.

Future Community Initiative: In the future, an initiative Yipit can consider is implementing a “Community Section.” This could begin primarily as a forum but over time it could evolve and new features could be added. The purpose of this would be to hear feedback on deals and to hear what deals users might like to see in the future. The primary benefit of this would be the SEO benefits that a forum would provide (from the continuously new search engine friendly content), but this would also engage users and give Yipit a way to connect with fans.

One of the things you could do in the future is, for example, partner with Livingsocial.com and give active members on your forum a 10% off discounton Livingsocial.com deals for the upcoming month. There are a number of different initiatives you could look into.

These are some of the marketing strategies I recommend the management team at Yipit pursue. As some initiatives prove to be more successful, I would recommend allocating resources differently to areas that are most effective.