Whether you’re running paid campaigns or building an organic presence, at the moment, Google & Facebook are the de-facto ‘gatekeepers’ that control access to much of the internet.
And obviously, due to their sheer scale, it’s well worth the effort to make those channels work for your business.
But often that’s easier said than done – because it’s not exactly a big secret these days, and you’re competing against everyone else in your market.
This is why it’s well worth your while to find additional ways to feed your pipeline.
Not only is this just smart – a “secret” growth channel can give you a massive advantage – but in more extreme cases, it might also be critical to your survival.
With that in mind, here’s 3 epic processes that can drive insane traffic & leadflow, and that are currently under-utilized by most marketers…
Yes, I know. Youtube = Google.
But Youtube is a completely different traffic source than Adwords. It’s also the #2 search engine (by a mile, Bing doesn’t even come close), and it’s the only major platform that still has a ton of unsold ad inventory.
Think: Facebook Ads back in 2012.
Some marketers are still driving leads for ~ $1.00 CPL. (Sometimes less if they’re promoting a video that starts picking up organic momentum). And there’s some natural barrier to entry, since it’s a lot more difficult to create great video content than it is to toss up some image ads in FB.
And those are just the prospects for conventional paid media.
As I see it, here are the primary opportunities for mining the gold out of Youtube, right now:
- Conventional paid media, via Adwords. Lots of unsold inventory (see above). Especially powerful if you can create different video content for specific user stages as they graduate through your funnel.
- Influencer sponsorships. Getting established channels / vloggers to talk about your product is usually a one-off expense, but it can drive long-term traffic for years. And depending on your market, your effective “CPC” from working with influencers can be incredibly cheap, over time.
- Building your own channel. Obviously higher effort, but at the same time there’s a lot less competition on Youtube than there is on Google… but the traffic volumes are insane. So if you can sort out great video content, this could be a relatively easy way to reach your market.
Hint: Youtube uses a similar algorithm for ranking video content as Google does for ranking sites… and backlinks are an important & demonstrable ranking signal. Most people don’t know this. Take advantage of that.
Bottom line: Youtube inventory won’t be undersold for much longer. If you “missed out” on the glory days of FB ads, there’s still time to make up for it by exploiting Youtube 🙂
I briefly touched on this above (influencers), but that’s far from the only option for strategic integrations.
In a nutshell, integrations are a way of plugging into someone else’s existing growth channel via sponsorship, strategic alliances or adding some form of value for their existing users (eg. building a 3rd-party accessory app). This can give you access to a substantial flow of new leads & customers that the “host” has already earned.
I should set the stage for how effective this really is. Here are some first-hand examples that showcase why this growth model merits your full attention:
- 900+ B2B leads a day. I once brokered a marketing deal between a client and an app that was integrated with Cpanel, which means they were built into the default dashboard for thousands of web host companies. After filtering out non-US leads, this arrangement was driving close to 1,000 SEO leads every day.
- $1M in MRR. A friend of mine started a company years ago that sold themes for Tumblr. Eventually, they pivoted to selling themes & tools in ecommerce platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce. Their sole growth channel was the parent ecosystem (or “firehose” as he calls it) for each product. The company now averages $1M a month in MRR, and growing.
- 5+ additional customers a day with co-branding. Years ago I sold strategy guides & tools for affiliate marketers. One of the most consistent sales channels was getting other sellers in the space to add a co-branded upsell to their own front-end products, where we’d provide an offer that naturally complemented what they were selling, and give them most of the revenue proceeds. This immediately boosted their AOV (average order value), but it also added a steady drip of new customers into our own funnel, at no risk.
Those are just a few standouts, but hopefully it gives you an idea of how powerful this actually is. Especially in light of how difficult it is to drive those kinds of numbers with conventional channels…
Here’s a list of integration ideas & channels that you might be able to leverage:
- Expert training content. Are there software tools or platforms in your industry that are widely-used by your target market, but which don’t compete directly with your brand? Offer to create training materials, expert guides, etc. for their products & services, and make it available to their users. For free. The only catch being that the training materials will be bylined with your “author bio”, and softly promoting your brand.
Alternatively: Run other training / brand ambassador content for them, like webinars, podcasts, etc. Stuff that’s normally hard for brands to commit to doing.
- In-market browser plugins / extensions. Check out the Chrome Web Store, Firefox Addons, & Safari Extensions and make a list of all the tools that are relevant to your market. Reach out to the developers and see if you can sponsor their app in exchange for naturally-integrated, ongoing promotion. Ideally something exclusive to their users to maximize engagement.
Alternatively: Offer to acquire plugins if they turn out to be a substantial sales channel. Or develop your own.
- In-market plugins & apps for platforms like WordPress, Wix, Shopify, Hootsuite, Salesforce AppExchange, and so on. Same strategy as with browser extensions. Look to partner up with tools that naturally complement your brand.
- Sponsor ongoing newsletters. Instead of just sponsoring a solo blast with various list owners, consider additionally sponsoring a dedicated email that gets added to their evergreen autoresponder sequence, for a one-off marketing expense. This can generate a highly-targeted stream of new leads / customers every day.
- Partner incentives. Make a list of every non-competing brand in your space that seems to have high-volume influxes of new customers. Approach them and offer to give their new customers some sort of exclusive deal (or whatever). The only catch being that they actively mention that in their marketing.
- Co-branded offers. Like I mentioned in one of the examples above, letting other brands sell your complementary products (co-branded with you + them as the “creators”), keeping most or all of the proceeds, can be an effortless customer acquisition strategy that’s truly win-win. Obviously, the co-branded products that you “give away” aren’t your core offer, but related to it.
Anyway. You get the idea.
Bottom line: Yes, this takes some creativity & elbow grease. You’ll also encounter a ton of resistance from most potential integration partners. (Ask for intros where you can, from your own network). But it’s also a plausible hypergrowth model – the equivalent of strapping a rocket engine onto your acquisition strategy.
When this one works out, it’s truly a jackpot channel.
#3: Digital Courses
Digital training courses & infoproducts have a “reputation”, to be sure.
But they also sell like wildfire, and they seem to soak up a large portion of the top-of-funnel customer base in any given market. So if you have access to these kinds of customers, they are goldmine in terms of graduating them up-market to things like SaaS or high ticket services.
They’re also a very effective vehicle for content marketing – as in, creating a lasting impression with your customers by genuinely impressing them with new ideas, processes, etc. Once that relationship is established, that’s why it’s nearly frictionless to graduate these info-customers upward into your core offers.
Digital courses can range from 10-page “cheat-sheet” PDF’s to an entire curriculum of full-length ebooks, videos, coaching forums, and so on. They also range in price from $0.99 all the way into the 4-figure range.
These are typically sold with direct response style marketing. Not everyone’s cup of tea, I know, but as a result the sales volumes & short sales cycles are often compelling enough for even the most polished CMO to “make a few exceptions” now and then, with the more experimental feeder channels.
The following marketplaces are the primary platforms for digital courses, and also serve as access hubs for each platform’s (sizable) affiliate base:
Producing these types of courses isn’t rocket science, but getting it to sell is a bit of an art-form. You may want to consider approaching some of the more prominent vendors on these networks to see about doing a co-branded product release, which will tap into their audiences as well as lean on their selling expertise for the direct-response side of things.
You may find yourself genuinely astonished at how much sales volume some of these “cheesy” sites are driving. And while ancillary revenue is never horrible, the real gold is in the newfound customer channel… especially once each network’s affiliate base start running traffic to your offers (if they convert well enough). In the past, my own courses like this would see anywhere from 5 – 25 orders per day once the affiliates started running with them. That is a substantial, highly-qualified leadflow pipeline once it gets going…
Hint: Often the top-selling courses in your market are riding the tailwinds of a major problem that your prospects are facing. Pay close attention to how the successful vendors are pitching their various solutions… and adapt them accordingly into your own marketing.
Bonus epic growth channel:
#4: Amazon’s Own DSP
I said I only had 3 epic, overlooked growth channels to reveal today.
Well, maybe I fibbed a little 🙂
Obviously, Amazon is eating the retail world and is the reason most shopping malls will eventually be converted into indoor theme parks & cafes…. as the remaining big-box chains go bankrupt.
But industry upheavals aside, one thing is certain:
Regardless of your industry, most of your prospective customers are ordering stuff on Amazon, all the time. And a lot of it is relevant to your market.
So wouldn’t it be awesome if you could somehow reach those people programatically, anywhere on the web, based on what they’ve actually purchased on Amazon?
(It doesn’t take too much brainstorming to see how powerful this would be…)
Well, I’m happy to report that you can do exactly that, with the Amazon Advertising DSP.
At the moment, access to customer audiences via the DSP (reaching Amazon customers outside of amazon.com & its related properties) is restricted to larger-budget users, starting at about $35K/year in minimum ad spend the last time I checked. So it’s not for everyone… but this also means it’s far from crowded. So if you’re a little more established and that sounds like a worthy experiment, you could do a lot worse…
But even if you don’t have a discretionary $35K laying around, I would definitely keep tabs on this one. I have a feeling Amazon is just testing the waters, and basically limiting their support requirements by filtering out the masses and working with a few select enterprise users to begin with. They could very well be plotting a mainstream entrance into the digital ad marketplace, and as a rule, betting against Amazon is historically ill-advised.
If that’s the case, then becoming an early-adopter is something I would highly recommend.
If nothing else, I hope I’ve been able to spur at least a few unconventional ideas for driving growth outside of the usual channels.
Google & Facebook may be the primary gatekeepers of the internet, but there’s a lot less competition in some of the less obvious prospecting pools we just discussed. Which means that you can often grow far faster by aiming “lower”, pursuing the micro-audiences instead of the world-stage platforms.
Bottom line: Doing conventional things rarely drives unconventional results. Sometimes you need to… Zag a little 😉