Growing a startup with limited marketing budget is a hard ask, especially when your company’s survival can hinge on its metrics.
This is why technology companies are choosing to use a plethora of digital marketing platforms and growth hacking tactics to get some early runs on the board, so they can show some short-term growth back to their investors.
After all, you’re running month to month when you’re a startup, so any growth is a win.
Startup marketers are quick to dismiss traditional channels such as TV, and are focused on short-term growth driving channels to fuel their addiction to Google Analytics.
This was the case when starting marketing at Airtasker. For Airtasker, our initial growth was crucial because customer acquisition is part of the product that you are selling, so it needs to be considered from day one.
Airtasker is a two-sided marketplace, we have two types of customers we need to acquire, those who post tasks, and those who complete them, we always next the right mix of these for us to add value. Two-sided marketplaces are just like a nightclub. You need to create hype and to tell people there’s a great party going on inside. You need to acquire the right mix of people on both sides of the market at a balanced rate. For us, it’s workers and job posters. Think about it: if you have an amazing club, with great cocktails and a great DJ but there’s no one inside dancing, well, it’s just lame. We had to get people in and get the party started (even though it was small to start off with) and get them dancing, but Airtasker has grown into something much much bigger along the way.
Before you can disrupt existing behaviours, we had to start by giving people what they already know they want. When we launched in 2012, our early marketing efforts revolved around absorbing demand that already existed based on what they were already searching for - cleaners, removalists, gardeners, dog walkers. Heavily focused on channels like SEO, paid search and performance display. Every search was a potential customer which knew what they wanted, so we had an opportunity to provide them these services.
Early adopters were quick to catch on to Airtasker and push the platform to heights that no one imagined it could reach. They asked for services we thought never could exist. Airtasker changes the way that services are exchanged. Previously, you would need to go to the Yellow Pages or Google and search for a specific trade or service that you thought might be relevant and were presented with a list of service providers that matched this search. Each service provider would have a set list of services accessible that they could perform. Airtasker turns this on it’s head, now enabling you describe exactly what you need done and people with relevant skills then offer to complete them. We are breaking the mould of existing local services and are now able to provide a place to get things done, that you have never been able to find someone to do them for you before.
Here on in our marketing evolved and we started to tell the story of Airtasker being the platform where you can get anything done, we started collect some great case studies and stories to help with this, of real people doing amazing and interesting tasks on the platform. We needed big platforms with impact to be able to tell such a story as this was a hard story to tell within performance digital marketing channels. This shift has been similar to the route Airbnb has taken, from their early days of growth hacking tactics with Craigslist in 2010 to big emotion led brand campaigns they began in 2014.
In mid 2015, we refreshed the Airtasker brand, logo, values and developed the tagline “Get More Done”, this was our platform to begin to tell a story that was relevant to the lives of our members. Earlier this year, we launched our first major above the line advertising campaign which included major investment into TV advertising, outdoor, social and online video. The campaign platform Like A Boss showcased the empowerment that is experienced by our members when they are able to get stuff done.
As our brand has evolved, so has our team. We’ve hired marketers to look after our brand marketing efforts, but even still to date some of our most important early hires have been data analysts and growth hackers to look at customer behaviours and understand some of the trends and microeconomics that play out within the platform. With data, we develop insights into interesting ways to match supply and demand, we can also better target our marketing, because data shows us members’ spending habits, locations and the tasks they need completed. This has built out a powerful internal competency that we’ve used to mould our recent marketing campaigns.
The challenge for us now is build mass awareness, hence why we’re leveraging high impact “traditional” marketing channels to help us get the word out, but we will still maintain a data driven team of growth hackers that will maintain our agility, carve out great wins for our conversion goals. Our post brand campaign growth has accelerated even further. Airtasker has gone from zero to 900,000 members in four years and with a combo of traditional and digital marketing, we’re hoping to push our growth even further next year.
By Airtasker VP marketing, Simon Reynolds