Happy DISTRO New Year: 7 Growth Resolutions for 2015, in GIFs

Susan Su

December 30, 2014

Instead of another list of doomed goals about weight loss and iPhone use… the 500 Startups Distribution team is officially making this a DISTRO NEW YEAR.

Here are 7 growth resolutions for 2015 we’d like to see more early stage founders take on.


Before you get fancy with email marketing or Facebook Custom Audiences, get a list.

Are you collecting user emails:

  • In your personal email footers — yours + all the people on your team
  • On your home page
  • On all your social profiles: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube channel
  • At all offline events & promotions
  • On your Angellist & Crunchbase profiles
  • On your company / team About pages
  • Persistently throughout your site in the header AND/or footer
  • As part of content you publish on a blog, slideshare, infographic, YouTube descriptions and annotations, downloadable white paper or report
  • Via a Qualaroo poll

If not, DO IT.

Yes this one takes resolve, friends, but you’re so worth it.

As Distro wizard Mat wisely counsels:

This year, if you’re planning on growth through paid advertising, you’d better start out by investing significantly in email marketing and email acquisition.

Many advertising platforms simply won’t ever be profitable for you if you don’t feed them frequently updated segmented audiences and cookie pools. If you aren’t the leader in email marketing in your category, you’ll likely have a hard time competing with them in paid channels.


A lot of companies bounce between radio silence and talking at users.

Broadcasts are boring and kind of irritating. Conversations are much more interesting and persuasive.

Are you talking with users:

  • Regularly, at least one good conversation one time a week
  • Live via chat, in person, or by phone
  • Sliced by engagement level and demographic
  • Who CANCEL

The team at Solidarium puts every new hire on their 800-line for two weeks. Everyone — whether dev, sales, “growth hacker” or CEO — comes voice-to-voice with real users in their first days on the job.


“Content” applies to every word, picture, video or sound byte you put out about your business.

Most businesses think of content as a great time to talk about themselves.

Good businesses know that content is an (almost free) chance to demonstrate clairvoyance into their customers’ problems and wants.

Less: blast-y company announcements or minor internal updates that abuse users’ inbox space and social feeds

More: content in any format that educates, amuses, scares, solves, and sells.

A big part of “do better content” is its regularity.

Many of us (i.e., me) get excited about content ideas that never see the light of day.

Good content requires regularity. Regularity comes from establishing an editorial calendar and predictable pipeline.

Whether it’s once a day, once a week or even just once a month, simply being consistent and persistent sets expectations for your audience and for the content creator.


Your quality goes up, and your content’s impact goes way up.


By “better tracking” we don’t mean implement more tools into your stack.

Mat says:

The plural of anecdote may not be data, but often it’s the right answer.

Nothing is more infuriating than investing a lot of time and effort in analytics only to find out later that you aren’t quite tracking exactly what you need to roll up data into stories.

Earlier this year, I spent time with a marketplace startup that had a great analytics stack.

We found that they had the right analytics to track buyers and sellers well, but still couldn’t show the path of a product through from listing to negotiation to sale and articulate what a typical or reference transaction looked like. We had all the user data we needed but would have killed for a handful of solid transaction anecdotes.

Track individual user stories, not just aggregated event data.


Don’t just send it because you wrote it.

Are you optimizing:

1. Subject line: copy, length, emotion

2. Preview text

3. CTA: language, size, color, commitment

4. Content layout

5. Content length

6. Show prices vs. not

7. Simple vs complex

8. More vs fewer choices

9. Send time / day

10. Personalization

11. Trigger events

12. “From” name

Patiently optimize each of these and you can see meaningful lift in specific metrics like open rate, click rate, reply rate, and buy rate.


Price is a psychological anchor that signals product quality, brand reputation & trust.

If you’re scared to price-test aggressively because you think it might alienate your customers, then two realities for you:

  1. No one memorized your old prices
  2. Almost all of your future customers have never heard of you yet — so they don’t care.

Instead of fearfully cowering under “But that’s so much money!” make this the year you optimize your pricing and revenue with aggressive — but objective — price testing.


2009 was the year of mobile.


If you’re not doing mobile, it’s never too late to start.*

*Correction: it’s almost too late, so hurry up and DO IT NOW.

4 ideas / commandments for mobile:

1. CRO your mobile landing page by:

  • cutting your copy in half or more
  • limiting headings to 4 words max
  • using responsive layout
  • reducing scrolling so your page is comprised of simple actions collected onto one screen.

2. Use deep links to take users to a specific location in your mobile app rather than just launching the app.

3. Explore push notifications and, if you’re adventurous, SMS as unsaturated engagement and conversion channels.

4. Finally, if you see a high open rate on an email but a low CTR, keep in mind that people are less likely to take action from their phone. Consider segmenting these recipients out and sending them a targeted followup.


It’s easy to put off “obvious” goals for growing your company — or heck even yourself — till tomorrow or next year, but there’s no time like right now.

From all of us at 500 Distro… Happy New Year, and DO MORE DISTRO!!!!!

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