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This post is for you if….You are you a founder whose startup is still at early-stage and you are bootstrapping everything on low budget.

I strongly believe that a low budget is not an excuse to run your startup on assumptions, blind metrics and gut feelings. That is why I want to share some of the things I have found very useful with you to help your startup run a data-driven marketing approach with zero budget and still be effective.

What does it mean when a startup has a data-driven marketing approach?

A truly successful startup lives by data-driven decision.

At a high level, being data-driven means that you can measure what matters to your business and be able to make informed targeting, marketing, and product decisions.

To give a practical example, let’s take the case of IrokoTV which is arguably a poster child of Internet startups in Nigeria. I used a tool called builtwith to “look behind” the technology they are probably using to track their metrics (pay attention to the Analytics and Tracking category of this report)

irokotv-analytics-using-built-with

As you can see, some of the tools they are using include Google Analytics, MixPanel, Optmizely, AB Tasy, Convert, Visual Web Optimizer etc. It is the insights generated from tools like these that (probably) helped iROKOtv’s team to make informed decisions about their business, the most famous of which is shutting down their desktop business and going mobile only.

The journey to becoming a data-driven startup begins with identifying and measuring the right metrics about your business. In a previous post, I recommended how to decide on useful metrics to measure the growth of your startup.

For example, tracking the right data will help you to answer hard questions like:

  • How do customers get to reach me?

  • Which ads is driving customers to my store?

  • How long do my customers stay before churn?

  • How much am I making per customer?

  • What is the lifetime value of each of my customer?

  • How much am I spending to acquire new customer?

After identifying what to track, you need to know the right tools you can use to measure these metrics. To be able to do this successfully, you will need:

(1) Analytics tools.      (2) Attribution tools.

To get a very clear understanding of how the two work together, it would be helpful to read this illustration. In short, analytics helps you understand your customers’ experience, while you can use attribution to inform the marketing mix you need.

What FREE data driven marketing tools are available for startups?

So, how can you go about becoming a data-driven startup?

Nowadays, there are so many data-driven marketing tools available to pick from. The best compilations are from VentrureApp (40 tools) and NGData (37 tools).

The problem is that many of them are premium tools. While some of them have 14-30 days trial periods, very few are free to use. Hence, many early stage startups may not be able to afford the monthly payment.

There are three shortcuts around this problem (that’s the main purpose of this post). So here they are:

1. Use free versions of Analytics tools.

Many SaaS platforms operate a freemium model whereby you get access to limited functions of their products for free. If you are wondering why they are free, it is because most SaaS products do this to acquire new users with the hope that their free users will upgrade to paid users.

amplitude-pricing-page-2

(Pricing page of Amplitude showing the free tier)

2. Search for FREE alternatives of the products

Sometimes, you like a tool so much, but you cannot afford it. If you are faced with that situation, simply do a Google search with this search query: “free alternative to [insert product]” or “similar to [insert product]”.

(I explained this concept here)

Another important discovery is that when you are comparing multiple SaaS products with similar functionalities, you might observe that one of them is making a particular feature of interest to you available for free. A good example is Amplitude, a behavioural analytics tool that is offering for free most of the paid features that would cost you up to $1,000 in MixPanel.

3. Go the “Google Way”

Google (now known as Alphabet Inc.) has many suite of products for data-driven marketers.

However, not all Google products are free; the free ones for data-driven marketers include Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, Google Studio, Firebase Analytics and Google Optimize. By the way, you can access all the Google analytics tools here.

google-analytics-tag-manger-and-studio

…… these two analytics tools are particularly for app and mobile-focused businesses.

google-firebase-analytics-and-mobile

Here is what each of the tools can do for you:

Google Analytics: Google Analytics is a freemium web analytics service offered by Google that tracks and reports website traffic. It is now the most widely used web analytics service on the Internet.

Google Tag Manager: Google Tag Manager offers a user-friendly way to manage third party applications that you want to send information to from your website or mobile app. Its makes you less dependent on your engineering team as you can easily trigger various javascript snippets without directly installing them on your website.

Google Data Studio: Google Data Studio helps you to create beautiful visualization of your analytics data. You can easily generate branded informational and easy-to-understand reports with your client’s analytics data.

Google optimize: This is another free tool that Google is about to release .Optimize shows you which site experiences engage and delight your customers, and gives you the solutions you need to deliver them. It is a free alternative to Optimizely, a premium tool for A/B testing and optimization that Google lost 92% of the A/B testing market share to previously.

Firebase Analytics: Firebase Analytics is user and event-centric for mobile app analytics. Firebase Analytics provides insight on app usage and user engagement. It is comes with unlimited app event reporting, cross-network attribution, and postbacks.

NOTE: You are required to have a Gmail account to use the products. A single Gmail account can be used to create account across all the products, for free.

My Combination of free data driven marketing tools.

For the projects I am involved with, I am considering working with the 5 Google analytics products as well as Segment and Amplitude (only the free plans)

Here is why?

  • With Google analytics suite, I can track metrics, visualize data, conduct A/B testing and user optimization campaigns for both web and apps.

  • With Amplitude, I am seeking to understand more insights about the app users in a more friendly way than Google can provide. Some of these include behavioral insights for boosting engagement and preventing churn.

  • Segment is like my default dashboard because it allows you to collect all of your customer data and send it anywhere.

By combining these tools, you can effectively gather enough data about your business and customer growth on Zero budget.

UPDATE: I recently discovered Hotjar (all-in-one analytics and feedback tool) and Cyfe.com (all-in-one business dashboard) and they are totally worth checking out. You should create free accounts on both platforms.

Sometimes, you will realise that the functions of these tools overlap each other. You can either decide to configure one of them or use both and compare their data points for better insights.

Get ready for a learning curve.

As it might be expected, there is a learning curve to know how each of the tools work and how to set them up appropriately.

If you look around, you will find resources online to get you started. To give you a head start, here are some of them:

  • For Google Analytics, you can visit the free Google Analytics University or expert blogs like Jeff Sauer, Annie Cushing and the famed Avinash Kaushik.

  • iPullRank created a comprehensive tutorial on Google Tag Managers. A shorter version is the 3-part post created by Chris Mercer on Digital Marketer blog. For marketer, Google Tag manager is a life-saver to help you manage your snippets and javascript without depending on your engineering team.

  • To know more about Amplitude and Segment, read their blogs and resources. Sometimes, a simple Google query like: “how to use [insert product name]”, or “case studies of [insert product name]” yields enough information to get you started.

What You Do With Your Data Matters

Data is a game changer. It becomes powerful when it’s used to support decisions and drive actions needed to grow your startup. When you build your startup on insights and hard data, you are able to grow faster.

Do you have a different approach (or tools) for managing your startup’s data-driven decision? Feel free to share

If you found this post helpful, please share with other (thanks) 🙂

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