Discover more from Rocket GTM 🚀
🚀 My secret strategy to growing this newsletter
How I plan on growing Rocket GTM 🚀 and the channels I'll use for distribution
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Building in public
Rocket GTM 🚀 is all about go-to-market playbooks for distributing product and acquiring customers. Since this newsletter itself requires distribution I thought it would be cool to share my strategy around growing an audience and share what works and what doesn't.
Not so long ago I came across this blog post from 'Marketing Examples' explaining how Harry Dry went from 0-19.000 subscribers in one year. There was ton of actionable advice in there, much of which is repeated here. (I'm going for actionable not original). In addition to much crawling through Indie Hackers and seeing what's worked for other people, I've put together an action plan.
But before running head first into execution, I want to share a framework that I'm using to build this strategy.
Assumptions - Test - Results - Iterate
People often start with assumptions about what's going to work or not, but the mistake people make is acting on these assumptions instead of validating them first and then heavily invested in what is proven to work.
I may say "I don't believe posting on Hacker News is going to be a good distribution channel because it's more aimed towards product people and engineers", but until I've got the proof I could be missing out on a gold mine (as shown in the below example where Courtland Allen grew website traffic from 0-175K unique visitors in three months).
I aim to test and validate my assumptions as quickly and cheaply as possible, once I get a taste for what works I'll triple down those channels.
Here is a breakdown of the channels I will test in the coming weeks.
They can be roughly split into a few categories:
How I'll define the ROI of each channel
To determine which channels are best I will take into consideration:
effort and cost to maintain each channel in both time & money 🏋️♀️
# of subscribers acquired through each channel 📈
(Much of this section is a shortened version of last week's newsletter LinkedIn Playbook, if you've already read it then feel free to skip to the next channel)
Today Rocket GTM 🚀 has about 250 subscribers. I have done zero promotion outside of LInkedIn (other than word-of-mouth to friends and family) so I'm pretty confident that the majority of those subscribers has come from LInkedIn.
My strategy for growing subscribers through LInkedIn revolves around two things:
Daily posts which sends visitors to my website and an email capture form
Lead magnet posts with direct links to subscribe
1) Daily posting sends visitor to my website with an email capture form
Not all of these posts have to be related to my newsletter but the main goal is to obtain engagement and get posts viewed on the feed.
I recently put my website address in my profile tagline so now every single person who views my post on their feed will also see my website address. My website then has an email capture form for my newsletter on the front page which is converting at 17%.
Since my first newsletter on April 12th:
⌨️ I have posted 28 times on LinkedIn
👀 got a total of 376,710 views
🖥 of those views 841 people visited my website
📈 and 146 became subscribers
💜 that's 0.039% of the people who view a LinkedIn post become a subscriber
That number may sound small, but compounded over time it adds up, and all I did was spend 45 minutes a week (in total) writing LinkedIn posts and added my website address on my profile tagline.
Not bad for initial traction.
28 posts got 376K views
Which converted 2,489 page views from 841 unique visitors which converted 146 new subscribers.
2) Lead magnet posts with direct links to subscribe
So 146 out of my 251 subscribers came from daily LinkedIn posting. But what about the other 105 people?
Outside of my regular posting I make one post per week dedicated to my newsletter content and include a specific lead magnet CTA to attract subscribers.
The lead magnet method is generally the same as a normal post, except the post contains content from my newsletter that has been reformatted to get engagement. There will be a CTA calling for people to comment their interest to subscribe, to which I respond via DM with a link to my newsletter homepage.
💡 Lead magnet tip: It's important to note that directly sharing your newsletter link is not a good way to get subscribers because it promotes zero engagement (which LinkedIn requires to promote your post to second and third degree connections). Instead reformat your post sharing the key insights and ask your audience to comment if they'd like to read the full post.
Here's an example of sharing the direct link of my newsletter (2k views) vs reformatting the content for engagement and including a lead magnet CTA (17k views)
Direct link sharing ☝️ vs reformatting the post for engagement 👇
LinkedIn strategy summary:
LinkedIn is bringing me anything between 10-50 new subscribers per week. I will aim to increase my posts from three to five times a week and grow my LinkedIn followers from 15k-30k to increase the likely hood of my newsletter being discovered by people on the feed.
However, LinkedIn alone won't realistically be sufficient to support long term audience growth. To reach 20k subscribers my posts would need to 51M views. Although (crazily enough) this is not mega unachievable, thanks to organic reach on LInkedIn being high, it would take a lot of time and religious consistency to not be punished by the LinkedIn algorithm.
Not relying on LInkedIn fo the mid-long term is actually okay as most newsletters tend to grow organically through word-of-mouth once they reach critical mass, as long as content is high value and the format is shareable.
I see LInkedIn as a small, but consistent channel to grow the newsletter up to 1,000 subscribers. Hopefully, the content and you guys will help it gow past 1K+ 🤞
I'll keep you posted if it doesn't it 😉
👩👦👦 Existing audience
As mentioned above, most newsletters tend to grow organically from word of mouth but a certain level of critical mass and consistent quality is required before the snowball effect really has time to compound.
Although I do ask you guys to share these posts my main focus is to 'find my voice' and figure out what content is the most valuable to you.
I need to test formats, topics, and understand what you are looking for. All while testing distribution channels that can support growth. Without good content, all the distribution channels in the world won't help support growth.
I aim to make it as easy as possible for you to share these posts by repeatedly asking for feedback on what you like / don't like. This can help me iterate and make it more valuable to share.
Like the below feedback 👇
What do you think - are these posts too long?
Should I make them shorter?
By listening to your feedback and building what you care about it should lead to natural organic growth. That's what I hope for anyway.
Last week's newsletter was opened 1,346 times. A whopping 5.6x the total subscriber count.
That means you are sharing it with your friends 🙌 and are highly engaged (I love you all 💜)
Leveraging an existing audience to continue growing is simple:
continue to learn what an audience wants and iterate accordingly
make consistently high quality content
incentivize and make it easy for people to share
I created a Twitter account in 2017 to talk about trading (another side hobby of mine). I grew to 1.5K followers from posting my weekly analysis. But when I started working at Spendesk in January 2018 I stopped completely and focused on my new career.
I am starting with an audience of 1.5K people who are not my target audience for this newsletter, but it's a base nonetheless.
I haven't taken this distribution channel serious yet and only dabbled in sharing a few posts, but I will take it more seriously in the weeks to come.
I came across this post on Indie Hackers on how Victor grew 9K+ followers on Twitter and 6K+ newsletter subscribers.
The key takeaways are:
Engage in existing conversations to build an audience since no one will be reading your posts (search for hashtags, topics, and influencers in your subject area)
Bring your external audience to Twitter - for me this will mostly be redirecting LinkedIn followers to Twitter and from online communities
The key to growth is consistently adding value with daily tweets, redirecting your existing communities to your tweets, engaging in existing conversations, and making sure your content is formatted well for easy reading and maximum retweeting.
Just like LInkedIn, the format of the post is just as important, if not more, than the content itself.
Instead of just sharing a newsletter like this:
Create Tweet storms which summarize the key learnings, and at the end of the Tweet storm I'll link the subscription page to my newsletter like this
My posts have had little engagement to date, I assume that's mainly due to my 1.5K audience being completely the wrong people and I have not been consistent in posting content here yet.
Over the next few weeks and months my strategy will be:
Post weekly if not daily
Write Tweet storms to breakdown my newsletters
Direct people from other channels to like and retweet my posts
Follow influencers in my industry
Engage in existing conversations and search for hashtags like #buildinpublic or follow topics and curate lists of people to enage with
Overall, I need to rebuild my Twitter audience from scratch, and ensure I create value through high quality, well formatted posts while consistently redirecting people to engage there.
I'll track my progress using Twitter analytics.
The one thing I am sure of is that my audience hangs out there and is highly engaged. I just need to add value to their conversations.
Indie Hackers is a place where you can share direct links, create longer form posts, and ask / answer questions within sub-groups. It's an audience of solopreneurs and bootstrapped founders, just the type of people who'd be interested in go-to-market strategy for $0-$10m revenue startups 🙌
Last week I shared my newsletter here for the first time. I posted a direct link in a group called 'Marketing' which had 280 members to see what happens.
Surprisingly, in the weekend digest Indie Hackers sends out to everyone I noticed my newsletter had been featured.
I could see this email had sent five new visits to this newsletter my way.
280 Marketing group members would've been sent this email of which 5 people clicked through to my newsletter page.
I don't have the exact data, but I gained at least 1 subscriber around this email being sent.
1 subscriber / 280 group members is a 3.6% conversion rate.
Not bad compared to 0.36% on LInkedIn post views to subscribers.
It's still early days but the quick tests indicates that Indie Hackers has potential. In the coming weeks I'll be looking to figure out:
What's the best post format: long form vs direct link sharing
Which communities and groups to post content too
How scalable is this acquisition channel
The great thing about using getrevue.co for my newsletter is I can attribute each view to it's origin which will help me double down on what's working.
Reddit is another online community, similar to Indie Hackers but with a far wider topic variety. I have started to test answering questions related to the content I'm posting, focusing on providing up front value and offering the link to my newsletter if they're interested for more.
Not only can I respond to questions on Reddit, but I can post breakdowns of my newsletter, similar to the format of Twitter and Indie Hackers.
If I'm breaking down a long form newsletter into medium form content already, it makes sense to leverage this across multiple platforms with similar format type.
Currently I feel that this method is more labor intensive and offers lower return on investment, but to be honest I haven't tested it enough to be sure.
Stay tuned to find out how this one goes.
Cross promotion is a great way to tap into other people's audiences. It works best when your audiences overlap but not completely. For example, I may talk more about sales and someone else may talk more about marketing. If you can find people who have similar subscriber counts you can feature each others newsletters to grow.
Obviously the larger you get, the larger newsletters you can cross promote with so it becomes more powerful in the later stages. However, if you can find good people with interesting topics it's a great way to expand your network and get instant exposure.
Here's an email I received from a Rocket GTM 🚀 subscriber.
Let's make a few posts together and see how it goes!
For the remaining channels like site aggregators where I can post direct links, there is clearly low effort level so I'll test a few of these out and see the results.
So far I've posted to Hackernoon and where they redistributed my newsletter via their Twitter page
From what I could see there had been no material impact to views and subscribers, but again this was only one post. The low effort to execute here deserves a longer test period.
Slack & Facebook communities
Communities require engagement. You need to add consistent value and become a part of the community rather than just leverage the community to push your content. Facebook groups often kick people out for self promotion and a basic slack post is easily ignored. Due to the level of commitment for these channels to be successful you need to be selective. I'll be de-prioritizing these in the short term so I can test some higher ROI channels.
Hacker News is a popular tech news site by Y-combinator. There is a lot of noise, but many companies have launched from simply posting here.
Dropbox is an example. They posted the below video on April 2007.
“It drove hundreds of thousands of people to the website. Our beta waiting list went from 5,000 people to 75,000 people literally overnight. It totally blew us away.”
70,000 signups from one post on Hacker News. Not bad 🤯
Another Hacker News success story
Courtland Allen first launched Indie Hackers in 2016 and in three months conducted 50 interviews, grew traffic to 170k unique sessions, with 299k page views and built a newsletter audience of 3k people.
Courtland didn't have an existing audience to distribute his content to so he leveraged an existing audience, Hacker News (HN).
As you can see below over 50% of Courtalnds website traffic in those first three months came from HN.
Out of those 50 interviews, 3 were voted up enough on HN to reach the top and get viral traction. Consistency over time increase the likelihood his content would get seen. Once viewers came to the site they would be encouraged to sign up to the email newsletter so Courtalnd can keep them in his sphere of influence and publish new interviews direct to his audience.
This strategy is similar to my own with LinkedIn. Leverage the existing traffic of an external audience with relatively unpredictable results but potential for huge organic reach. Consistency and capturing traffic that hits your site over time is key.
Courtland was able to convert 3k subscribers from 170K unique visitors. That's a 1.8% conversion rate.
Rocket GTM has converted 146 subscribers from 841 unique visitors. That's a 17% conversion rate which is awesome... my biggest challenge is increasing traffic to my site.
I do plan on launching a video podcast series shortly too so this may be the right type of content to follow in Courtland's steps, as well as tapping into Youtube's huge distribution network by posting them there.
Watch this space 🎬 🎙
Channel vs channel strategy: A channel is not a strategy, you must figure out what channel is best for your product, effort level, and funding. Each channel then has a separate strategy that can make it work or flop completely
Push vs engagement channels: Some channels require little effort where as others require you to become an integral part of the community. Don't mistreat engagement channels like communities by turning up and being all 'take take take'...
Format over content: Your content can be the same but the format must be adapted appropriately for each channel to be effective
So far I've tested LinkedIn, dabbled in Twitter half heartedly, and made my first post to Indie Hackers and Hackernoon. I can't believe we've already grown to 250 people in ten weeks and I'm super excited to test all my assumptions and figure out what works going forward.
Once I've figured out which channels work best for me, I'll triple down.
I'll be building in public, which can be nerve-racking, but I believe it will be a positive and transformative experience overall.
If you've got this far, thanks for reading.
Got any feedback or thoughts on what I should test?
Shoot me a reply to this email and lets chat 💪
Have a great week