LESSONS FROM A SUCCESSFUL ASIAN STARTUP: Growth Marketing Interview with David Fallarme, from ReferralCandy

Working in South Asia is amazing for so many reasons, and one of them is getting to know a lot of innovators and entrepreneurs right where they are. We weren’t satisfied with the fact that there are so little information about those companies and entrepreneurs, because we know that there is so much to learn from Southeast Asian startups and their founders.

To start this quest to consolidate that knowledge, we thought it would be best if we got the information straight from the horse’s mouth. We spoke to David Fallarme, Inbound Marketing Director from ReferralCandy, and he shared with us good insights. Check it out!

Initial Stage

How did you get your first 1,000 users?

David: Since the very beginning, we had a strong focus on publishing regularly on our blog. Lots of quality posts on an active blog led to a lot of search traffic, which led to people signing up for ReferralCandy. As for specific tactics: we liberally used Brian Dean’s skyscraper technique for creating content. It’s a great framework for thinking about creating blog posts that get traffic.

What were the best performing acquisition channels?

David: Organic search has always been an important channel for us, hence our focus on producing content in our vertical and continually making SEO tweaks. Platform partnerships were also important in jumpstarting ReferralCandy’s growth. In our case, we got our app on the Shopify app store just as it was really taking off. When you see an opportunity to piggyback off a growing platform — jump on it, especially in the early days.

Growth Hacking Asia Startup Interview with ReferralCandy

Growth Stage

What were the biggest challenges you faced while scaling the company?

David: Finding new, sustainable channels is an interesting challenge. We’re past product-market fit and trying to profitably find as many people in our audience as possible. So most of our challenges center around either tweaking existing parts of our acquisition machine to make them more efficient, or running experiments to unlock new, unexplored channels.

Did your focus on user acquisition channels change over time or were your initial channels scalable enough?

David: Our acquisition strategy hasn’t changed, it’s more matured. For example, organic search was a key channel in the early stages, and it continues to be very important today. But we’re looking to diversify that; it’s always scary when Google announces any changes or even just sneezes in your general direction. So our acquisition channel strategy still has a heavy focus on search, but we’re also aware that we need to continually diversify.

(…)it’s always scary when Google announces any changes.

What was the split between paid and organically acquired users? How did this change over time?

David: We started with organic, with some marginal amount being spent on paid just to have a presence. But we’re doing more and more paid acquisition now. We have a much better handle on all of our funnels, and now that we’re bigger, we’ve got more budget to spend, which means we can run more and more experiments and learn faster.

What were the success metrics you focused on during your growth stage? Did they change over time?

David: We started with a focus on reliably generating website traffic and signups. We just wanted to get people in the door and learn along the way. As our growth ramps up, our spend also increases — so as we try to scale up we’re keeping a much closer eye on unit economics. Our metrics now are more centered on CAC, LTV, payback period and ROI per channel.

What is the biggest mistake you made and what did you learn from it?

David: Not prioritizing campaigns & data reporting. It’s hard to run growth experiments when you don’t have the measurement frameworks in place. Most people skip this step. For example, they install the plain Google Analytics code and they think it’s done. I would love to be able to go back in time and tell myself to be meticulous in setting up events, setting up funnels and goals, and ensuring that I’m regularly using UTM values for as many campaigns as possible.

Thanks, David, for sharing ReferralCandy’s story!

Growth Hacking Asia Startup Interview with ReferralCandy

If you’re a startup founder based in SEA looking for help with growing your business, let’s have a chat about growing your startup through an experiment and data-driven approach.

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