How to Increase Non-Paid Traffic for Startups

Chris Herbert
2 min readJul 19, 2023

Getting high on spending, Sensate quickly realized they were caught in the classic startup trap — pouring money into ads without seeing the returns they hoped for. Their unit economics took a nosedive and panic set in. But fear not, for here comes Squall to the rescue! Squall was brought in to find a non-paid channel that could keep pace with their paid ads and turn things around. Game on!

Discovering the Truth about Accessories and their Role in the Buying Game:

The original Sensate marketing team thought it was a great idea to offer their fancy device with a bonus pouch and eye pillow. But then Squall went out and asked the customers what they thought…and turns out, the pouch and eye pillow didn’t really make them go gaga over buying the Sensate product.

Split Testing

Squall conducted a split test to find out if the accessories were actually driving sales or not. In the split, Sensate sold their product without showing any accessories during checkout. The results? Surprisingly, it had zero impact on conversion rate! This matched the insights from customers.

Incentivizing Sharing

After the split test concluded, Sensate ended up taking off the accessories from the product page. BUT, they were still included when the product was shipped out. Squall went ahead and created a post-checkout page using reconvert. On the page, users could click the share button and score a free accessory pack with their product. Bonus!

Now, here’s the thing: those clicks weren’t trackable. But who cares? Because guess what? Every single customer got those awesome accessories in their package already. No tracking needed!

In this growth hack, we were able to incentivize sharing by creating the appearance of a reward. You get the goods, you get to share the love, and everybody’s happy. Win-win!

Results

This resulted in free customer referral traffic that had a conversion rate 5x higher than other traffic channels and scaled alongside paid advertising, decreasing the effective cost per acquisition. When building a marketing mix, non-paid traffic is important but always look to build non-paid channels that will scale alongside your paid traffic to avoid a situation of negative unit economics.

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Chris Herbert

Squall Growth Marketing for Startups. Previous 3x startup founder - TrackR, Cliq, Shine