How to escape the paid growth trap 
March 19, 2024

How to escape the paid growth trap 

Paid advertising is like a drug - it provides an immediate high but can be addictive and dangerous if over-relied on. For many startups and companies looking to scale quickly, pouring money into Facebook and Google ads delivers fast growth...at first. But what happens when those channels inevitably saturate? Your growth engine stalls completely.

This is the paid advertising trap that threatens companies that put all their eggs in one basket. Fortunately, the solution is to proactively diversify and build up your organic marketing channels before desperately needing to.

Here are some key ways to avoid that fate:

Test Channels Before Aggressive Scaling

It's prudent to test organic channels on a small scale first to prove fit before aggressively investing. See if you can drive consistent conversions from search, referrals, social, etc. This prevents wasting resources on diversification that won't work.

HubSpot scaled content by determining writer output, improving processes, then hiring more writers to hit goals. Set measurable objectives and scale resources to achieve them.

Make Search Optimization Your Top Priority

Search should be your first focus when diversifying beyond paid ads. Map your product features directly to topics people are searching for. Create content targeting those searches - from specific keywords to broader themes.

Don't just focus on transactional keywords. Target informational topics earlier in the journey to dramatically expand your reach, like HubSpot did by converting educational content visitors into customers.

Create Content for All Funnel Stages

It's crucial to create top-of-funnel, middle-of-funnel and bottom-of-funnel content. Failing to bridge your content strategy to conversions causes issues. For example, HubSpot created templates and guides to monetize related blog posts. Determine what content best supports conversions at each funnel stage.

Many teams focus too heavily on one stage, typically top or bottom of the funnel. It’s critical that you have content that pulls people in, like podcasts, and that you have bingable content at the bottom of the funnel that converts.

Burst Test Your Paid Spend

Before aggressively diversifying, do a "burst test" where you significantly crank up paid ad spend over a short period of time. Watch closely for diminishing returns to determine how much you can scale paid before hitting saturation. This allows you to build organic without completely sacrificing short-term revenue.

Analyze Keywords and Competitors

How do you determine the revenue potential for organic channels? In-depth keyword research and analysis of competitors' rankings is key. Assess search volume and difficulty for target keywords to forecast potential organic traffic, rankings and conversions. This will inform your content strategy.

Aggressively Optimize Existing Content

When diversifying marketing, aggressively optimize existing content for search visibility and conversions. Update on-page elements, interlink internally, earn backlinks, and leverage promotions.

Repurpose

One I’d like to add: In addition to optimizing content, find ways to repurpose cornerstone content like podcasts, webinars, events, and blogs. You can get so much more mileage out of a single piece of long-form content that can be repurposed for each stage of the funnel. Start with a foundational piece of content like a podcast or webinar, and use AI transcription tools like Wysper to chop it up into smaller pieces of content.

The key takeaway is that traffic diversification should happen proactively, not reactively. 

When paid advertising is working well, that's the time to test and build up your organic channels - not desperately after paid ads are too saturated. 

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