How I Grew Mint.com from Zero to 1 Million Users

How I Grew Mint.com from Zero to 1 Million Users

This article has been updated in 2017 with more spreadsheets, clarity and action from an article I wrote in 2010.

100,000 users in 6 months.

That was the goal Mint.com’s co-founder, Aaron Patzer, set me when I first started as Mint’s Marketing Director. I thought to myself as the nerves began to kick in. “How am I going to achieve that?”

Fast forward 6 months and Mint had over 1 million users – 10x the target Aaron set me on my first day.

So how did that happen?

There are 2 key reasons for Mint’s success:

First off, the product was awesome. Having a great product makes marketing less about “selling” and more about educating your target audience and spreading the word. Still, no matter how great your product is, if no-one knows it exists, no-one will use it.

Secondly, before Mint launched I knew we needed a growth strategy. So instead of opening up Google and doing ‘social media marketing’ or ‘growth hacking,’ I created a framework to reverse engineer our growth from zero to 100,000 users.

And that exact framework is what I’d love to share with you today. Here’s the strategy I used to grow Mint.com from zero to 1m users…It was subsequently bought for $270 million dollars by Intuit. #payday

Quant-based marketing: Reverse engineering marketing success

No matter what your goal, whether it’s 10 new consulting clients, 10,000 people on your mailing list or 100,000 sign up so your new app, quant-based marketing can help.

The key focal point to this strategy is to work backwards. Instead of starting with an intimidating zero playing on your mind, start at the solution and map your plan back from there.

Think of it as a road trip – you start with a set destination in mind and then plan your route there. You don’t get in your car and start driving without in the hope that you magically end up where you wanted to be.

So where should you begin?

Getting started with quant based marketing in 7 simple steps

Step 1: Setup your goal

Having a goal to aim for is the most important part of any marketing strategy.

Way before you start thinking about specific tactics or growth experiments you need to have a tangible and measurable goal set in stone.

There are various ways to come up with great goals, but with the quant-based marketing approach, I’d recommend working backward from your overall company goal or the amount of revenue you’re targeting.

For example, let’s say you’re selling a product at $100 per month and want to increase your monthly revenue from $0 to $10,000. The first thing you need to do is work out how many customers you need to hit the sweet spot of $10,000 per month. In this case, it’d be 100 customers paying $100 a month.

Step 2: Choose a timeframe

Without a time frame, there’s no sense of urgency to achieve it, and it can be hard to work out whether you’re on track or lagging behind where you should be. Saying ‘we need $10,000 per month someday’ won’t work. But if you anchor it within a timeframe, like ‘in 3 months’, then you’re instantly set in motion and ready to start working towards your goal.

100 new customers in 3 months. Now that sounds like a real goal, right? You could even break it down further to ~16 new customers per week.

Once you have your goal set, the next step is to start formulating your plan.

Step 3: Set up your spreadsheet

Now that you have a clear goal in mind you can start to building a strategy on how to achieve it.

The best way to do this is by using a quant-based marketing spreadsheet to plan, track and measure all of your marketing activity.

Here’s an example spreadsheet I used at Mint:


Click to access the spreadsheet and use it yourself.

The spreadsheet is broken down into eight columns. Here’s how to use each column:

  • Source: Where are these users coming from? This source could be a blog you’re aiming for coverage on, Facebook Ads, Google AdWords, or any marketing channel
  • Traffic: How much traffic does this channel receive? Or for an ad on Facebook or AdWords, how many impressions will you make? Use your BEST GUESS. The point here is to help you prioritize the different marketing channels
  • CTR (Click-through rate): How much of that traffic will click through from the source to your website?
  • Conversion %: Of those who click-through to your site, what percentage of those will convert to sign ups?
  • Users: How many users will this channel bring you? These are people who complete your signup process and use your product (this is your best estimate based on the numbers in the previous columns)
  • Status: Where are you with this source? Is it all ready to go? Have you sent the first inquiry about the setup? Keep track of the status of each source in this column
  • Confirmed: Is this happening? Yes or No
  • Confirmed users: How many users did this source bring you? Confirmed users is the most critical column in the sheet. This number shows you how many users you generated from this source. Then you can re-prioritize your marketing efforts moving forward based on the results

The most important part here is putting the framework in place to enable your success.

Step 4: Research your sources

With your spreadsheet ready to rock, it’s time to start thinking about your sources and where your users are going to come from.

There are thousands of tactics and channels you can use as a part of your marketing strategy, and this step is all about narrowing them down and choosing a number of specific sources to focus on in order to achieve your goal.

From my example spreadsheet, you can see I targeted 10 very specific sources to drive traffic to Mint.com and contribute to the goal of acquiring 100,000 users in 6 months:

As Mint was focused on personal finance, I wanted to target personal finance bloggers and tech professionals.

Who’s your target customer?

Here’s a bunch of channels you could use:

  • PR: Pitching the press and bloggers in your niche to cover your story
  • SEM (Search engine marketing): Paid ads on search engines like Bing and Google, so your name will appear when certain keywords are searched
  • SEO (Search engine optimization): Optimizing your blog posts, landing pages and site to rank well in search engines for keywords related to your business
  • Social and display ads: Targeting your audience through ads on social channels like Twitter and Facebook
  • Content marketing: Creating and publishing content (blogs, podcast, video) with the goal of generating interest in your product/service
  • Direct sales: Directly speaking to potential customers. This could mean picking up the phone and calling potential customers or sending cold emails to prospects
  • Target market blogs: Sponsor posts and content on popular blogs within your target market
  • Influencer marketing: Identify and build relationships with individuals who have influence over your target market (e.g. high profile bloggers or Instagrammers)

1. This helps you prioritize
2. List at least 10, ideally 15
3. Point is to just think about WHERE those ideal customers are.

To prioritize which sources to run with in your quant-based marketing strategy, I’d recommend using a simple scoring system based on:

  • Ease of implementation
  • Potential impact

With this system, you’re looking for the sources that could have the highest impact with the easiest implementation. For example, getting featured in the NY Times could have incredible impact, but extremely hard to implement, whereas working with a couple of influencers in your niche could be highly impactful and straightforward to implement.

Take each channel and give it a score out of 5 for both ease of implementation (1 being hard, 5 being easy) and potential impact (1 being low and 5 being high) and then prioritize the sources with the highest scores. For example:

Now your high priority sources should be clear, and you can ensure you focus your time on only the maximum impact opportunities. So from the spreadsheet above I can see I should be focusing on influencer marketing, target market blogs and content marketing.

Consider your budget and timeframe

When thinking about the ease of implementation and the potential impact a source may have, it’s important for you to consider your timeframe and budget.

Timeframe:
Let’s say you’re starting at zero and trying to acquire 100 new customer in a month. Would it make sense to create a fully fledged SEO strategy?

Probably not.

Since you only have a month, it doesn’t make sense to focus on SEO as a successful SEO strategy would take a long time to implement and reap rewards from.

In contrast, with a one-month timeframe, it might make more sense to take a more direct approach to customer acquisition like emailing close contacts or picking up the phone and calling companies who may be interested in what you’re selling.

Budget:
At Mint we paid for about 40% of the traffic, we generated to grow from zero to 1 million users. When you pick your sources, keep your budget in mind and factor in costs to deciding which sources to prioritize.

If you have some budget, sources like paid sponsorships and social ads can work amazingly. With a small budget or zero budget, it could be better to focus on more organic channels like content and PR.

Step 5: Set your targets

With your sources all in place, it’s now time to set your targets for each source.

Setting your targets is hands down one of the most important parts of your strategy. Once you’ve launched your campaign for each source, these targets will give you something to measure against and figure out what’s working, what’s not and where you need to adjust.

So, how do you go about setting targets for your sources?

When it comes to traffic, you can often find benchmarks by using tools like SimilarWeb or SEMRush. For example, here’s a SimilarWeb traffic estimate for TechCrunch:

CTR and Conversion % is a little harder to gauge. Not all publications will share CTR’s and Conversion %’s for previous advertisers publicly. The point is not about CTR / Conversion but what OUTCOME you expect to get from the source., so you may have to search for some case studies and read up about other’s experiences with each publication you’re targeting.

There are far more benchmarks out there for advertising platforms like Facebook and Google AdWords. For example, WordStream found that the average click-through rate on AdWords paid search ads is about 2%. So if AdWords is part of your strategy, you’ll likely want to aim for around 2% CTR.

When setting your targets, the trick is to use your BEST GUESS; it doesn’t have to be an exact science. It’s all to help you PRIORITIZE your marketing activities.

Step 6: Create a timeline

Now you have all of your sources and targets set; the next step is to break down these targets into smaller, time-focused goals and create a timeline.

Recently I’ve been through this process to set targets for my podcast, Noah Kagan Presents. My goal is to have 100,000 downloads per episode by December. To achieve that, I’ve broken down my goal over 12 months from January to December 2017:

No matter what time frame you’re working with, break it down into smaller, more achievable chunks. If your timeframe is three months, set monthly targets. If it’s three weeks, break it down into weekly targets.

Why should you do this?

Well, aside from making your goals feel more achievable, it’s also highly motivating to tick of the smaller goals on route to achieving your overall target.

With each of your sources, take your overall targets and break them down into more manageable chunks that fit within your timeframe.

For instance, you could breakdown a goal of 1,000 new users from Facebook Ads as follows:

  • Week 1: 50 users
  • Week 2: 200 users
  • Week 3: 250 users
  • Week 4: 500 users

With this approach, you’re not heading into week 1 thinking “I have to get 1,000 users.” You’re setting yourself a smaller goal and creating time to experiment and learn what works. After the first week, you can begin to make tweaks and start scaling as you progress and get more familiar with how to drive the best results from each source.

So apply the quant-based marketing framework to each source by working backward from your primary goal, and breaking it down into smaller weekly or monthly growth targets.

Tip: Don’t leave it to chance

Only confirmed traffic sources matter when it comes to quant-based marketing. If you want to be successful, you need to have everything set up and ready to go ahead of time. Don’t leave it up to chance and hope everything falls into place.

Get every source confirmed well before you plan on going live.

For example, if you’re sponsoring a post on a target market blog, ensure they have all the needed content resources and everything is signed off and ready to go well before it’s needed.

Bonus tip: If you are working with partners, give them a calendar invite and the scripts you want them to send. The easier you make it for them, the more likely they are to do it.

Step 7: Track your progress

You’ve now reverse engineered your marketing strategy and should be all set to get the ball rolling. But like any form of great marketing, this isn’t something you can set and forget.

You need to always be measuring and iterating to achieve your goals.

Once you go live, some sources might work right off the bat, especially those you may be a little more experienced with. But you definitely won’t hit a homerun with every source you try, and that’s perfectly fine. I like to check back against my assumptions monthly. From there I take the ones performing and see if I can 2x them, the ones underperforming I’ll generally kill, immediately.

The most important thing to ensure you’re on track to hit your end goal.

The first couple of weeks of your strategy will likely feature a lot of experimentation and testing until you find what works (and what doesn’t).

At Mint, we tested some landing pages (6 in total) when we first started marketing the product. The data from these tests enabled us to learn more about which messaging resonated most with our target audience and helped us to refine our copy and increase our conversions.

This is why it’s key to measure your results in a spreadsheet so that you can spot where you need to adjust your plan.

If a source is underperforming, and you’ve tried multiple tests to get to the bottom of why that is, you can drop it and replace it with another source.

Likewise, if a source begins to perform exceedingly well, you should double down your resources there in order to maximize your growth.

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73 responses to “How I Grew Mint.com from Zero to 1 Million Users”

Bill DAlessandro
July 15, 2010 at 8:38 am

Good post Noah – too many people take a “give it our best shot and pray” approach to marketing. I’ve always been a big fan of finding out what works quantitatively, and iterating rapidly. There’s no reason not to in today’s age of instant analytics and easy A/B tests.

I’m curious though – it’s fairly easy to estimate traffic numbers, but your whole model really boils down to your estimates of click through and conversion rates. How did you arrive at the numbers you did?

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Brian Breslin
July 15, 2010 at 11:06 am

great job bud,
I’d love to see you expand upon “The meat”

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Chris Jennings
July 15, 2010 at 11:12 am

Thanks for the tip Noah.

One question: How are you getting the CTR and conversion column data?

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Azeem
July 15, 2010 at 11:34 am

but what about getting customers/users organically? what about “word of mouth” like email invites, twitter invites(/spam), etc etc, stuff like that; that’s the modeling i’d really like to see (taking into account friends of friends, etc.), because that’s way more effective than just press, SEM, etc. for a lot of companies and services (not all)

thanks for this post!

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Lizy
July 15, 2010 at 12:28 pm

Thanks for the insightful techniques. It is a cool concept.

I would love to better understand how you are getting the target figures in the excel sheet. I am unclear on where you you are pulling this data from and how you are determining the friend status of something like TechCrunch.

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Adam Bossy
July 15, 2010 at 1:12 pm

Thanks for this very useful post!

What does “coordinated” under Reddit and Digg mean? Having a bunch of friends upvote once you post?

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Adam Bossy
July 15, 2010 at 1:19 pm

That pertains to “Personal Finance Sponsorships” as well (can you elaborate on that? They were your highest traffic source!)

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Noah Kagan
July 15, 2010 at 1:50 pm

Hey Bill,

Some of the estimates are clearly estimates but you can base that on compete #s, search for people who’ve talked about the traffic they’ve received from certain sources and just a good old fashion guess.

Conservative is always ideal and overshoot your target makes things more realistic…

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Noah Kagan
July 15, 2010 at 1:57 pm

Azeem

Ill pull together #s so you can see how to do that.

For CTRs you can run some ads to get a baseline, data really depends on how well you do. A lot for me is past experiences. I can pull some data from ads and blogs to see what happens.

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Noah Kagan
July 15, 2010 at 1:59 pm

Adam

Personal finance blogs include sponsoring, stopbuyingcrap, bargaineering, I Will Teach you To be rich and other very targeted blogs.

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Noah Kagan
July 15, 2010 at 2:10 pm

You guys can get tons of great traffic data form http://siteanalytics.compete.com/sitehere.com

Will do a post about other ways to find your customers / marketing targets.

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jason
July 15, 2010 at 2:24 pm

this isn’t quant-based marketing; it’s simple, obvious arithmetic. knowing that channel X has a 10% CTR and a 25% conversion rate, then doing this calculation is just basic math. there’s nothing insightful here, and you never mention costs or quality, the real quant issue for most start-ups.

while goals (like 100,000 subscribers) are always great, marketers need to go far beyond your spreadsheet to include cost per lead, lead quality, free-to-paid conversion rate (or other up-sell), etc. if new leads cost $100 each in channel A and $20 each in channel B, it’s clear where you should spend, right? not if it takes 25 channel B leads to get a single repeat user (or paying customer).

you do have some good points in “the meat,” including using new methods and doing some testing, but there needs to be much more thought put into this than just those few points. what about tailored messages for each channel? understanding who your ideal customers are before choosing channels? the actual “offer” or call to action?

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Noah Kagan
July 15, 2010 at 4:29 pm

Jason,

Awesome response. I love getting called out.

You are discussing more direct response marketing which is a whole other ball game. I agree I need to dig into LTV, costs, etc, but this was more of a high level discussion of how people need to actually be objective based in their marketing. I will do a follow up that has more on the quants for measuring costs over time and figuring out how much you can spend to buy a user.

Appreciate any other things you want me to write about…

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Jen
July 15, 2010 at 10:32 pm

I’m also interested in seeing costs per lead, so your follow up will be most welcome.

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Noah Kagan
July 16, 2010 at 3:08 pm

Working on it right now Jen:)

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Andriy Khavryuchenko
July 17, 2010 at 6:10 am

Noah,

What “Confirmed” column means in your spreadsheet?

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Noah Kagan
July 18, 2010 at 5:53 am

Confirmed means the channels that are definitely going to help you promote. So you can confirm that you should be reaching that many users.

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Andriy Khavryuchenko
July 18, 2010 at 7:39 am

@noahkagan So you verify by executing on a small scale?

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Noah Kagan
July 18, 2010 at 7:40 am

@Andriy,

yes and just from past knowledge. You can also ask the sources too.

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Heather Ritchie
July 19, 2010 at 11:28 am

Noah –

3 very basic questions:

It appears you used a combination of Paid Search/Ads + Key Relationships + PR/Media – what % would you say you had to pay for versus ‘earned’ media?

Did you leverage many relationships (i.e.: TechCrunch, etc) or did you work your way into their hearts?

Lastly, you knew your niche from the beginning (Finance + geeks) – how can some of us who cater to more than just one sector (we are for anyone that uses email – pretty broad) choose the right networks to find interest / users initially?

Over to you for your 2-cents!

Cheers,
Heather

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noah
July 27, 2010 at 3:06 am

We paid for about 40% of the traffic.

Fortunately we had a lot of relationships from being involved in the personal finance blogs and our investors had great connections with many people.

You can’t cater to more than one sector and have a niche. I think you just need to pick 1 right niche, own it and then move to other ones.

Hope this helps.

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Courtney Rogers
May 10, 2016 at 10:21 pm

What rate per view did you feel comfortable paying? Have you tried any blogger networks… or do you primarily do this laser targeted approach when growth hacking a new venture?

Huge fan thanks for puting your content out like this it is a huge help to up-and-comers that you eventually hire someday!

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Roy Rodenstein
July 29, 2010 at 10:35 pm

The math is fairly basic as a comment called out, but your points on leaving nothing to chance are good ones.

If you really got those conversion rates that is pretty amazing. Most sites convert at 5% on a good day. Of course Mint was an awesome product and had huge WoM (which I don’t see on there, I guess because this was a pre-launch model).

To that point, you mention about 40% of the initial 100k signups were paid, but if the product kicks butt and generates strong “net promoter score” etc. it’s a worthwhile expenditure.

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Jamie Riddell
August 9, 2010 at 1:31 pm

What a great idea – plan before you launch. If I was being pedantic I would suggest that is not a new framework but merely common direct marketing principles which are not new.

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aimlegend
October 10, 2013 at 4:46 pm

Great insight, the tips given will sure boost my startup, and that of many others. Clearly itemized and detailed. I’m indeed grateful. Thanks Noah.

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Anuj Adhiya
January 2, 2014 at 6:19 am

Hi Noah
I came across this article on GrowthHackers.com.
I know it’s been a while since you wrote this but it’s still incredibly useful.
I was hoping that you could expand more on the the “Status” and “Confirmed Users” columns here?
With respect to “Status”: What does Coordinated, Emailing, Receiving mean?
For “Confirmed Users” – how do you know you have confirmed users (from your pool of total users)? What determines this number & where do you get this number from?

Thanks a lot!

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Max
January 20, 2014 at 11:25 pm

What’s missing is how much each segment cost… That would be interesting. I’d like to know how much was spent on google ads to achieve those user counts vs coordinated personal finance sponsorships. What is a personal finance sponsorship anyways? Could this method have worked if the company is bootstrapped?

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Phil
January 26, 2014 at 5:44 pm

This is cool Noah but for this to be really useful and to help more entrepreneurs it would be ideal if you could expand on this and include more details on:

1) What sorts of ads you had on these sites – were they ppc or P.R articles?

2) If they were P.R articles – then advice or a guide on how to get some P.R love would be awesome.

3) More details on how you got such high conversions and ctr’s

4) costs per acquisition and lifetime value of customers.

I really love this approach to marketing – but to be more accessible and usable I’d like to see a fuller picture please.

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Chris
August 28, 2014 at 1:51 pm

Please provide more details on how you extract the number for the CTR, Conversion, and Total Users column.

As Phil pointed out…

1) What sorts of ads you had on these sites – were they ppc or P.R articles?

2) If they were P.R articles – then advice or a guide on how to get some P.R love would be awesome.

3) More details on how you got such high conversions and ctr’s

4) costs per acquisition and lifetime value of customers.

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Ron Mahon
September 14, 2014 at 7:48 am

Show me the way!

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Gabriel
September 15, 2014 at 11:37 am

Nice content.

I found out your website a few days ago and I just started reading everyting. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

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Felipe Venetiglio
September 17, 2014 at 5:28 pm

Noah, I always recommend this post to people trying to launch a project, so I decided to translate it into Portuguese. Hope you don’t mind me doing this (I’ve tried to tweet at you, but you must receive a few thousand mentions a day).

I’ve also added a few thoughts on how this can be more effectively used specifically for apps, as this is mainly what I talk about.

Here’s the link: http://venetiglio.com.br/post/97762100439/quant-marketing-para-aplicativos

Let me know if you want me to change anything! I’ve tried as much to keep the original spirit of your writing.

Best,
Felipe

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Dan Ericson
October 18, 2014 at 7:01 pm

Noah, great stuff. I realize this is an older post but I’m finding it for the first time. It’s amazing how much knowledge you can get from a well laid out, well executed spreadsheet tracking your marketing. I’ve recently quit my job to go full-time into my sm/med business web services company and the uncertainties of this move forward have me a little freaked out to say the least. I really appreciate reading your stuff, not because it’s groundbreaking, but because it’s obvious stuff that business owners often leave behind while looking for the non-obvious solutions.

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Ralph
February 11, 2015 at 6:12 pm

Can you please help me jump start a new business?…I need all the help I can get. I will buy you tacos . Thanks

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Phil
June 18, 2015 at 5:51 pm

How did you come up with the numbers for total users and confirmed users? Where did you go to find traffic figures for the sources you mentioned?

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Preben Frenning
July 8, 2015 at 9:29 am

Quick tip: Use Airtable to create backlogs like this. It’s pretty much spreadsheets made sexy and functional.
You can easily creat your own growth frameworks, backlogs etc. and collaborate on them. (*I’m not affiliated with Airtable in any way. Just an avid user =) )

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Victoria Tulloch
August 13, 2015 at 11:51 pm

awesome stuff thx

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Grant leishman
September 6, 2015 at 11:43 pm

Hi. What was the marketing budget including adspend that you used to get to the 1 M subscribers?
Regards
Grant

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Naina
September 15, 2015 at 2:43 am

thanks for the informational post.

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Shaun M Hess
September 14, 2016 at 9:10 pm

Will read. Started to read, and it already looks like I need this, thanks!
Shaun

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???????
September 20, 2016 at 9:02 am

Yep, short and on point. To me Excel is a must for many things.

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Yannis
February 15, 2017 at 8:23 am

On point Noah, as usual. Thanks for sharing your framework

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Aziz Ali from iLoveCoding.org
February 15, 2017 at 9:06 am

Great post, action packed.

And the specific blogs you mentioned in the blogs were also very helpful thanks.

How do you identify the right Influencers?
How did you know those blogs were relevant since personal finance is pretty broad.

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Preethi anandula
February 15, 2017 at 9:33 am

Good post . I am trying to figure out how I can use this approach in my job search .

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Suddan
February 15, 2017 at 3:35 pm

I can help you. I am in this space.

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Taiwo
February 15, 2017 at 9:39 am

This is brill Noah besides that, I just like the fact that you made it seem easy, but implementation can sometimes be the difference as there are always lots of moving parts

Also noticed you repurpose the content from 2010 very well played still current in this market

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Alan Thorp
February 15, 2017 at 10:46 am

Thanks, Noah. Love the idea of working backward, creating goals and a plan, based on the targets you need to hit within a specific timeframe. I have implemented this strategy for a new project of mine I started four weeks ago. So far, I see steady progress and monthly goals are all on target.
One other thing, I starting listening to your podcast last week and I love the show. Love it so much that honestly, I wish the episodes were longer 🙂
Keep up the great work.

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MiriamB
February 15, 2017 at 1:40 pm

I wonder how many specialists were on the team.

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Eric McClellan
February 15, 2017 at 4:57 pm

@Noah, you should throw a SXSW party for your fans / sumolings. Offer a tour of your office or something. It KILLS me that I’ll be in Austin and won’t get to see you guys in-person. I can only handle long distance relationships for so long, you know.

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Noah Kagan
February 15, 2017 at 6:34 pm

We are. Tweet me and maybe you’ll get an invite =)

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Faraz Jafari
February 15, 2017 at 7:27 pm

Well structured and made a lot of sense! Setting that timeframe really does help create the needed impetus, especially if the work is creative or you’re in an okay position.

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Brandon Cox
February 15, 2017 at 9:19 pm

Dude, this post makes my head spin, but it’s pretty awesome. Sharing with a bunch of marketing friends. Thanks, Noah!!

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Vikram Sharma
February 16, 2017 at 1:03 am

Very insightful post Noah. I will implement this strategy for my next venture.

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Joseph Donyo
February 16, 2017 at 1:17 am

Your approach is very similar to the Bullseye framework described in the book “Traction: How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth” by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares. Did you get inspired from it… or is it the other way around? 🙂

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Noah Kagan
February 16, 2017 at 2:35 pm

You realize I’m in that book 🙂

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Joseph Donyo
February 16, 2017 at 3:45 pm

Oops, you’re right, i totally spaced out on that!

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Alex
February 16, 2017 at 2:06 am

Spot on as always. Love the actionable tips.

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Noah Kagan
February 16, 2017 at 2:34 pm

You’re rad!

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Wouter De Bruycker
February 16, 2017 at 2:14 am

Hey Noah, when I got your e-mail and saw the publication date of the post (february 2017) I thought I was going to read a pretty recent article. After reading it though I saw the first comment was posted way back in 2010, which immediatly made me question the fact if what I just read was still relevant or not. 7 years is a long, long time in this market. Not only that, but you link to a resource (Compete) which is no longer in business.

I completely get the “republishing of old posts to generate traffic” thing. But you should probably be more upfront about it at the beginning of the article and check the tools you mentioned to see if they’re still working.

It’s a nice article though, and still relevant, I just don’t like to feel duped 🙂

Cheers and have a nice day,

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Noah Kagan
February 16, 2017 at 2:34 pm

Don’t really think it’s dupage…

The first time I wrote this article only 2000 people got emailed. So most people never saw and frankly the original article sucked.

This update is nearly 100% changed and WAY more actionable + clear.

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Brian
February 17, 2017 at 9:01 am

Hey Noah,

While I believe that you weren’t trying to dupe anyone – I think Wouter makes a point. I didn’t know the article was updated (I had read but don’t recall the details of the original article) and seeing the first comment made me suspicious at first too. I wasn’t going to comment until I saw this, cause it’s not that big of a deal. But it made me wonder how many people might see the gap in date, think they’re being duped and leave annoyed without saying anything.

I don’t think it could hurt to make a comment about how this is a brand new revision of an older post now that you’re 7 years smarter and a more badass writer.

Content is still solid – cheers! Keep it up 🙂

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Noah Kagan
February 17, 2017 at 6:08 pm

Glad people read the whole article 🙂

Yea, will add the article was updated.

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pete juratovic
February 16, 2017 at 8:20 am

Good article and a very tactical approach. I’ve been reading the book Traction and the approach and framework mirrors yours. They have a chapter dedicated to each marketing approach but yours was much more tactical.

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Victor Lopez
February 16, 2017 at 2:22 pm

This a great post on starting with the right mindset. This process reminds me of Covey’s “Begin with the end in mind.” Great stuff!

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Tom
February 17, 2017 at 3:47 pm

I’m a huge fan Noah. I follow your blog and podcast and webinars and use many of your products. But I disagree with you that this post is super-actionable. As you started with, it’s all about having a good product. Well, there aren’t any Mint.com-valuable businesses for sale cheap, easy to build oneself, or Mint.coms hiring us to become early-stage marketers like Aaron hired you.

Easy to get $10k/mo in revenue in a growing field, but understand Mint.com and 1 other business were doing this at that perfect time where no finance aggregators existed, and the market was up for grabs. The other business (I can’t even remember the name) had better quality in many respects, and most die-hard finance nerds preferred the competitor, but Mint.com had more aggressive marketing, grew faster, and then later was able to catch up in quality through harvesting the work of the sheer number of users tagging their own transactions in Mint.

What action do I take to get to $10k/mo in revenue without a perfectly-timed-for-aggressive-growth software business/product like Mint or Uber? I spoke with Aaron Patzer (post-Intuit acquisition), and he was only looking to hire excellent freshly-graduated entry-level programmers for weak-ass pay.

It’s kind of no-duh that to get X $/mo in Y months, you gotta set and revise weekly targets. What’s actually difficult and far more important is getting from 0 to 1, how do I get my first $100 value client into a SaaS contract? Where do I get a list of valuable SaaS ideas that need to be implemented, and can be programmed by small teams of 1, 2, or 3 people, or the product development could easily be outsourced for a couple grand, so I can just focus on the marketing? If I had some product or service with a $100 customer LTV in an unsaturated market, I’d have no problem gunning for customers through all the marketing channels available, but the real problem most people face isn’t growing a service fast in an unsaturated market, it’s finding ideas for products and services that will be valuable in relatively unsaturated markets. Ideas have to be valuable, and in relatively unsaturated markets. For example, web-hosting or solar panel installation are quite valuable customer LTVs, but they’re competitive and highly-saturated markets, so even if I took actions in this post, I don’t think there’s a strong likelihood of growing a $10k/mo web hosting service from scratch. Even if it’s a good hosting product, there are thousands of other marketers saturating the channels, and acquiring every marginal profitable customer.

For example, I have no idea what action to take after reading this post. I’m not sure if your blog readers are all marketing executives and growth hackers at lucky startups in unsaturated markets, but I doubt many of them will be able to apply this and take action, either.

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Chris
February 21, 2017 at 9:53 am

Such great work, Noah!

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Kirien
February 23, 2017 at 9:39 am

Thanks, Noah, for taking the time to write this.

I literally read this over and over again (at least 10 times). 99% of marketing articles I read online tell you “what you should do” but never tell you “how to do it.”

The key thing here is setting up the spreadsheet and tracking your numbers. This is the unsexy part of marketing and most would just prefer to run Facebook ads. But this is absolutely crucial in tracking results and showing other stakeholders how you’re progressing.

Please promise that you will keep your content free!

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Viv
February 27, 2017 at 12:09 am

Hey Noah, what’s the name of the app you’re using to gate the spreadsheet? Is it part of the Sumo Pro pack or List Builder 3? Thanks!

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Noah Kagan
February 27, 2017 at 11:54 am

It’s using Click Triggers within List Builder 3.

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Wole from SpokenTwice
February 27, 2017 at 4:52 pm

Thanks for updating this post. It is more refreshing to read and the additional insights are quite helpful. Am currently working on growing a SaaS in the online invoicing space (www.ProbityBooks.com) and this will be super helpful.

How can I send some Tacos to say thanks ?

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Noah Kagan
February 27, 2017 at 7:22 pm

Check out my about page =)

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Alain
March 6, 2017 at 9:05 am

I like it…

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Roland Pokornyik
March 8, 2017 at 10:23 am

Awesome content Noah! Thanks for sharing it with the startup community 😉

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