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Top 5 startup articles about scaling your business.

Today, I’m going to share 5 articles that have made a big impact on me. Even if they don’t directly address issues you’re dealing with today, I hope you’ll bookmark them so that you can lean on them someday when you need them most.

Peter Ravesh profile avatar Peter Ravesh

1) The Four Cringe-Worthy Mistakes Too Many Startups Make with Data.

Trends can be useful to follow, but they can also be incredibly dangerous. When a serious pursuit⁠—for example, data-driven growth⁠—becomes a trend, it invariably becomes dumbed down by opportunistic “thought leaders” and companies looking to ride the trend for their own gain. But doing the dumbed-down version of any serious pursuit will almost always result in failure. In this excellent interview, Amanda Richardson, Chief Data and Strategy Officer for HotelTonight, takes this phenomenon to task and shares some valuable insight on how companies can be smart about data, rather than simply plugging in a metrics dashboard to check a box.

“I’ve talked to people at pre-launch startups with fewer than 100 users who say, ‘We’re going to start on personalization, And I’m thinking, ‘What are you going to personalize? And more importantly, why? What is the problem you’re solving?’ Often the motivation is that it’s in a headline or a board member thinks it’s the secret to success.”
Read The Four Cringe-Worthy Mistakes Too Many Startups Make with Data

2) How to Develop Content for Every Stage of the Customer Journey.

Everyone wants to succeed at content marketing, but where do you start? John Jantsch answers this question perfectly: with understanding your customer’s journey, and mapping your content plan to it. The article is a quick read, but is hyper-actionable if you’re thinking about how to approach content development, or even if you’d like to repurpose old content with more effective delivery.

“If you’ve built trust to the point where people begin wondering how your solution might work for them, it’s time to enter the Try stage of the hourglass. Try is a phase that many people skip due to the desire to leap rather than lead, however, I think it’s the easiest phase to move people to the purchase. Here, the content needs to represent a sample of the end result. By creating content in this phase that demonstrates how much better your product or service is than the competition, you can differentiate your business.”
Read How to Develop Content for Every Stage of the Customer Journey

3) The State of the SaaS Economy.

Patrick is one of the sharpest commentators on SaaS, and this is a great example of that. In a few minutes of reading, you can get a pretty good overview of where SaaS is today, where it’s going, and what you’ll need to do if you want to succeed. It’s an extrapolation of a conference talk he gave. The talk is embedded at the top of the article, and is worth watching.

“While our customers are able to get up and running with new products at record speed, we’re not able to acquire them at the same clip. The rise in competition in the SaaS market has decreased switching costs and increased our average CAC, despite the fact that we can take advantage of more sales and marketing channels than at any time before. Not only is it getting more difficult (and expensive) to acquire users, but those we do manage to get on our products aren’t as happy as they used to be. Average NPS scores are ⅓ of what they were five years ago.”
Read The State of the SaaS Economy

4) These 13 Exercises Will Prepare You for Work’s Toughest Situations

There are so many people out there that parrot some form of this cliched management advice: “Have empathy.” “Understand others.” “Be human.” That’s great and all, but without actionable advice on how to do that, it’s not much good. It doesn’t get any more actionable than this. In this interview, Maggie Leung, VP of Content at Nerdwallet, shares 13 sets of questions you can ask yourself in just about any interpersonal scenario (whether you’re managing, hiring or working together) to be more empathetic and effective.

“Dynamic empathy isn’t just about understanding what’s going on with someone else, but actually doing or saying something about it. It helps you move forward.”
Read These 13 Exercises Will Prepare You for Work’s Toughest Situations

5) How Shopify Increased Revenue 90% in 365 Days

This guide is massive. But unlike a lot of long-form content, it’s not just long for the sake of being long; it’s actually packed with useful takeaways in every section. I love Chris’ thoughtful dive into Shopify’s marketing strategy, and how he uncovered advanced tactics and tips that we can all use to improve. Tip #6, about Shopify’s onboarding email sequence, alone makes the article worth reading.

“Initially, I was surprised to see that Shopify is trying to sell their paid plans in the very first onboarding email since they push their free trial all over their website. But after some analysis, it makes sense. A free trial offer is a perfect top-of-funnel offer to capture a wide market (both ecommerce beginners and experts). This gets everyone who wants to start an online store signed up and testing out the software. The offer in the email however is targeted at experienced sellers who are already sold on the idea of Shopify. This email gives them the chance to go ahead and sign up while it’s still fresh in their minds. And Shopify gives buyers peace of mind knowing “You won’t be charged until your trial ends” with the conversion-boosting micro-copy you can see directly below the CTA button.”
Read How Shopify Increased Revenue 90% in 365 Days
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