Three of the ways that Paired 4x’d revenues
From building the right team, diversifying your channels, to using influencers — here's how your startup can grow like Paired.
Peter MeinertzhagenMay 2, 2023
In the space of a year, the couples app Paired has increased revenues by 4x. Instrumental to that growth has been addition of Gessica Bicego to the team, who joined as CMO in January 2022, after six years of leading performance marketing at Blinkist.
In an interview with Gessica by Peggy Anne Salz and John Koetsier on Mobile Heroes Uncensored (video at the end of the blog), she shares this growth’s three biggest contributing factors. In this blog, I’ll be summarizing what those are, as well as supplementing with further insights from resources such as David and Jacob’s earlier Sub Club interview with Gessica.
How do you fancy 4x’ing your revenue? What’s worked for Paired might work for you. Let’s delve right into where — other than having a great product — it’s got to begin…
1. Build a kick-ass marketing team
Coming into Paired, Gessica had to build the marketing team from scratch. And the initial focus was hiring outstanding candidates for each of the key marketing channels: brand, user acquisition, and CRM. “Outstanding” is an important word to highlight in the context of Paired, because one move that Paired made (that’s proven to have been effective) was investing in senior people right from the beginning.
As Gessica explains in the Sub Club episode, “Something that [Paired] did right is that they invested a lot in having senior people at the beginning. And I think this is such a great move because yes, you spend a bit of money on hiring good people, but then everyone knows what they’re doing. Everyone is super independent… it just feels amazing.”
What other attributes make a marketing or growth team “kick-ass”?
In the podcast episode with Strava’s Director of Growth Engineering, Jason van der Merwe, he explained the concept of “growth engineering” and what makes a great growth engineer. And much of it comes down to mindset. It’s about being very user-focused, about being able to wear multiple hats (product, growth, engineering), and, really importantly, not being afraid to experiment. Strava have woven experimentation into the entire culture of the business, from engineering to growth. And this culture, they believe, has been instrumental to their growth.
So when thinking about these early marketing hires in a startup like Paired, it’s useful to think not only about hiring the most outstanding candidates you can (even if that comes at a cost) but to think about those who share this experimental attitude. Because the second tip from Gessica is…
2. Diversify your marketing channels
“I am a fan of diversification. I don’t like to depend too much on just one channel… and felt that, similar to other early-stage startups, Paired was depending a little bit too much on one platform and together with that I started to experiment with platforms that are maybe not the usual ones that you would start with. I’m talking about influencer marketing, I’m talking about podcast advertising.”
As we learn in the Sub Club episode, that channel, while enormously effective and still the “go-to channel”, was Facebook. But the trouble with having all of your eggs in a single basket is that not only are you taking a huge risk (what happens when that channel, for whatever reason, is no longer effective for you?) but you’re remaining oblivious to other channels for growth.
That’s where channel experimentation comes in. For Gessica, around “30% will go to just testing new things”.
And when evaluating new channels, she recommends looking at:
- Product and market fit
- Customers and their feedback
- Resources needed
Weigh these areas up against the channels you’re evaluating, and the goals you’re trying to achieve, and start experimenting. And don’t just experiment with channels — diversify your messaging, too.
“Make sure that you have at least like four or five creatives that are working at the same time. So if something happens… you have a backup plan.”Gessica Bicego
And if you needed a suggestion on what channel to experiment with — have you considered…
3. Work with influencers and content creators
Third and finally on the list is working with influencers.
“We started to work a lot with influencers and content creators to create content for us that we can then repurpose on either organic social media or paid acquisition.
“I am a strong believer of influencer marketing as a powerful tool both for user acquisition but also for brand building because suddenly you can create these like strong connections with influencers — they talk about you and you become like a trustworthy brand because of the connections you make. So… we thought ‘why don’t we try to use that for user acquisition’ and we try these videos and, I’m not joking, they were insane and then we doubled down on that and started to work more on content production.
The second thing is that there’s that magic tool called Tik Tok. What happens is that when you create a video and you put it on Tik Tok it can go viral and generate tons of revenue.
So that’s more or less what happened — it was like just searching for new channels, trying new things and then it was like ‘hmm it actually works’.”
The idea of using influencers as content creators came up in Jake Mor’s mega-Twitter thread from last year:
#65 — Hiring influencers via TikTok is essential… but not for the reasons you think. The best creators on the planet are on TikTok right now. Use them to create content for ads, not for an ROI positive influencer campaign, that’s too hard to achieve on a small scale.— Jake Mor (@jakemor) July 19, 2022
And it was discussed a more recently in the Sub Club podcast episode with onX’s ex-Director of Growth Marketing, Ryan Watson, who describes the need to create vast amounts of video content just to keep up with the ad platforms:
“We use influencer video heavily. It works. And our in-house video works better in some instances… it ebbs and flows. So it’s a really powerful tool to have variety. And I think just with the monster that is these [ad] platforms, you need a constant flow of video.”Ryan Watson
In summary: Three growth approaches for early-stage startups
- Build the best team you can and don’t be afraid to pay more for the best experience and skills. Plus, look for candidates with a “growth engineer” mindset of experimentation.
- Don’t put your eggs in one basket. Diversify your marketing channels. And put that experimentation mindset to good use: consider investing 20-30% of your time in new marketing experiments.
- Keep up with the heavy demands for new video content by using influencers. Yes, influencer marketing is great for reaching a new audience and brand building, but you can re-purpose the content they create for organic and paid channels.