Why does this strategy work so well? Think about it… you have affiliates, their audience, the people their audience trusts and the tools those people use all in one place.
Here’s a recap of what ConvertKit did step by step:
What ConvertKit did to go from 98k to 625k MRR:
As a bootstrapped company, ConvertKit had to stick to low cost customer acquisition strategies. That meant no ads. Darrell Vesterfelt, the cofounder, focused on a few things, content marketing and webinars (mostly webinars). Here is exactly what he did:
- Tested the webinar model and found that it consistently produced sign ups.
- Created a wide open affiliate program (no approval required, just sign up and you’re in)
- Gave affiliates 30% of lifetime recurring revenue for every referral (this is very generous by any standards).
- Every new customer had a chance to become an affiliate (new drip created specifically at boosting the number of affiliates).
- Hosted the same webinar over and over with different affiliate partners.
- Asked every new affiliate if they wanted to co-host a webinar (didn’t matter if affiliate had an audience of 100 or 10,000). Reason being; Darrell was not sure who was going to make it big so everyone got the same royal treatment.
- Total of 150 webinars in 12 months: 30 per month, some days 2-3 per day!
- Booked Pat Flynn and his list of 135k subscribers. About 1,000 people signed up from that first webinar co-hosted with Pat. This paid dividends.
- Won trust over webinars by not asking to buy anything at the end. Straight up told people so and instead focused on delivering value and teaching something valuable – for free. Gave away online courses, ebooks, t-shirts.
- Allowed webinar participants to try product free for 1 months with all the resources they needed to succeed.
- Focused on one audience – bloggers. For bloggers, by bloggers.
- Used Leadpages, Youtube Live and Chatroll to host the webinars. Used Ambassador for promo links.
If the steps in this strategy sound familiar, that’s probably because these are almost the exact steps Clay Collins of LeadPages used to grow his company. He used the affiliate+webinar model over and over. Clay uses the Rule of Five Ones for customer acquisition:
- One product
- One persona
- One traffic source
- One conversion mechanism
- One year
Do this until it stops working.
I’ll be covering LeadPages’ growth and the Rule of Five Ones in another post coming up soon, so stay tuned!
Can you replicate this strategy?
Ask yourself these questions:
- Does an open affiliate program make sense for our product? (More likely to work in B2C scenario).
- Have we pinpointed our ideal customer persona and know where to find them?
- Are we at a stage where this strategy makes sense? (Most likely early stage before you’ve exhausted the first marketing channel.)
- Can we be generous in offering recurring commission for the life of the referred customer (to attract passionate and motivated affiliates)?
- If the answer is yes to the above, can we integrate affiliate signup into a post-customer-signup drip sequence?
- Do we have resource to dedicate ourselves to hosting webinars?
If you answered yes to all, it’s worth exploring this strategy as an option.