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16 Reasons Why eCommerce Startups Fail

16 Reasons Why eCommerce Startups Fail

By Growth Kolony Blog, Content Marketing, Growth Hacking, growth marketing, Growth Marketing Agency Toronto, Local SEO, Mobile App Marketing, SEO, Social Media, Startups, Tools

16 Reasons Why eCommerce Startups Fail
By: Growth Kolony

Here’s a “fun” fact that might scare your pants off: 90 percent of all startups fail.

And yes. This also applies to eCommerce businesses as well, which means that only 10 percent of all eCommerce businesses succeed.

So if you’re starting a business, listen up. Because you know how the old saying goes: Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

Let’s dive right in.

Why eCommerce Startups Fail Reason 1: Poor Product Content

16 Reasons Why eCommerce Startups Fail

So you’re ready to place an excellent product on the market. You’ve done thorough research and everything looks “okay” so far.

But, when you look at your product picture, it’s a fuzzy one.

On top of that, your copywriting sucks and everything looks dodgy and unprofessional.

So, what do you do?

Duh! Fix it of course, dummy. With tools like Grammarly, there is no excuse for spelling and grammatical errors.

If you show your products to customers with obvious mistakes, it’ll lead to a poor launch, so if you have the chance to change it and improve it, do it.

The first taste of something new instantly comes from the eyes, so you’ll need engaging visual content.

At the very least, look trustworthy and competent.

Naturally, if someone visits your site and views your products and sees low-quality images and product descriptions, you instantly set yourself up for making a bad first impression.

And generally bad first impressions are a symptom of crappy user experiences.

So remember when you’re launching a new product or service, be as professional as possible and try to overcome any objection a user may have before they bounce over to your competitors.

Come up with a list of objections and reasons why a customer may not buy from you and overcome those objections on your website.

Why eCommerce Startups Fail Reason 2: Too Much Friction

The online shopping journey needs to be effortless.

eCommerce startups fail to understand how hard they make it for users to buy from their store.

They make users jump through a marathon of hoops before closing the deal, which is a major no-no.

Keep it simple.

This is one of the biggest reasons why shoppers bounce off the page and quit the purchasing process. A complicated user experience will turn off some shoppers so much that they may never come back to the site ever again.

Another thing to consider is partnering with reliable payment facilitators and offering as many reliable payment methods as possible.

This is the second reason why customers leave a site. If they feel that your payment method is sketchy, they’ll bounce!

So consider the most popular payment methods available, like major credit cards, debit, Pay Pal, Google and Apple Pay etc. and you’ll broaden your customer base.

Why eCommerce Startups Fail Reason 3: Misaligned Pricing 

So say you’re offering a quality product at a very low rate. You have an ad placed and it starts to send  traffic to your website.

You’re excited to make your first sale but nobody is buying.

One reason for this is that your prices are misaligned with customer expectations. Your packing and shipping costs are through the roof and almost half the price of the product.

This means that your pricing and your ads fail to properly align with customer expectations.

You can include the additional shipping cost with the product price right at the beginning to avoid surprise expenses and market the product with “Free Shipping”.

It is all about managing the expectations of online shoppers. If there are hidden costs involved, users will feel like they’ve been lied to and abandon their shopping cart before making a purchase.

It is a crucial aspect and something you want to control. We can say the same thing about misleading ads.

When you present one price in an ad and then show another price once you get to the landing page or checkout, it’s deceptive.

Why eCommerce Startups Fail Reason 4: Return Policy

Your online business can be as successful as they come, but if you don’t have a clear return policy, things can take a bad turn quickly.

For example, if you’re running a dropshipping store and your supplier products fail to meet expectations and customers want to return and get a refund and you have no return policy, you’re setting yourself up for a rude review awakening without any sort of protection.

Also, you should not expect people will jump through hoops to buy a product from a site without a defined return policy.

This is why you need to have every product labeled and identifiable, in case a return is in order.

This is not just a positive aspect from a customer’s point of view. This is something that can protect you too!

Because hey, there are hackers and scammers out there who’ll try to pose as former customers to screw you out of money.

Also, some customers order products, use it for a certain period, and then return it and try to get a full refund. In these cases, if you have a return policy, you can shield yourself from receiving back a damaged or non-functional product.

If the time window of the return is outside your policy, you cannot face any legal actions against you later on.

Why eCommerce Startups Fail Reason 5: Money Management

If you’re starting a new business, one thing is certain: you need money to make money.

In the beginning, you need to fund your business, so you have to know what amount of money you need to execute without any obstacles.

There is a type of money management that you will need to adhere to in the beginning so your business does not run out of money fast.

Make a budget plan and stick to it. Avoid overspending on a particular department and ignoring other aspects of the business.

The inventory is a big part of this too. Your customers will be left dissatisfied if your product takes longer than expected to arrive.

Start by testing a small number of products and see how it goes. After some time, start adjusting the order accordingly.

You don’t need an ungodly amount for online businesses but you definitely need to manage properly and spend money wisely to make more money.

Why eCommerce Startups Fail Reason 6: Ignoring Mobile UX

79% of mobile phone users have purchased something from their phone.

These are the kind of figures that you can use to your advantage. To do that, you need to know how to properly create a mobile user experience that works well.

You can either create a site that is optimized for mobile devices or you can get a customized approach where you can further develop aspects of the mobile version to make it just perfect.

The first thing you need to consider is a test launch.

Before doing the official launch of the mobile version, test it to see whether it functions well.

Put yourself in the shoes of your customer and see if you can work around the site and view the products in all their glory.

Test the mobile site and see if it executes its purpose. Test your forms and the shopping experience on various devices and measure it for speed, accessibility, and visual appearance.

These are the most important bits to take care of when you are launching something new on the mobile market.

When this fails, the eCommerce business fails.

If you need help with improving your mobile experience and mobile design feel free to contact us.

Why eCommerce Startups Fail Reason 7: Crappy Marketing Strategy

So you have an amazing product that solves problems and you think everything will go well but it fails.


Is it because of the quality of the product? Is there no demand?

Or is it because your branding and marketing strategy sucks?

If you have a product that solves a problem, you need to identify and reach the right audience. Selling snow to an Eskimo just doesn’t make sense, right?

So find your target audience. This target audience can be easily obtained by creating a buyer persona template.

This means you must identify your perfect customer for your product and how to reach them across all channels. You’ll have to create your own ideal character and the culture they live in.

Narrow it down to demographics like age, gender, race, religion, politics, industry, yearly income, and interests to just name a few.

What are they like? What do they do? Where do they hang out? What celebrities and influencers do they follow?

These questions can guide you through the process of creating a solid growth marketing strategy.

Then invest in SEO, paid search, social media, and content marketing. Social and search ads have proven to be an incredible way to drive traffic to websites. Same with viral content generation and campaigns.

Online growth marketing strategies are cheaper and more effective than traditional marketing like TV, print, and radio because you can reach the right people, at the right time, at the right price. You can also track user behaviour in near real-time and optimize your ROI.

Why eCommerce Startups Fail Reason 8: Failing At SEO

This one is considered a rooky mistake because every veteran online business owner knows the power of SEO.

Integrate SEO from the beginning.


Get a web developer who knows SEO because it’s far better and more economical to execute web design and SEO all at once.

But here’s a crash course.

First, identify your main keywords using a tool like Google Keyword Planner. Find the most popular keywords and the most popular low-competition keywords.

You’ll want to consider these keywords when you’re labeling your pages on your site.

Remember: Every informational page and product and service that you publish on your site and want to rank for should have its own landing page.

This means every landing page needs its own focus keyword. Each landing page will feature content about one keyword or product or service, which can also feature subcategory-related products and services.

The designated keyword should be included in your URL, title tags, meta descriptions, header tags, in the first sentence of your starting paragraph, and strategically embedded throughout the landing page.

Your focus keyword should appear 1% – 2% of the overall word count.

This includes your multi-media assets like pictures via alt tag.

This will make your product relevant when it is searched for on the internet.

If you want to give yourself the best chance to rank high in a search, then choose keywords that have the lowest competition rate.

After publishing the page send relevant traffic and backlinks to each page. We can understand how all of this may seem a bit too advanced.

If you need an SEO agency or have any questions about SEO, feel free to contact us for a free consult.

Why eCommerce Startups Fail Reason 9: Skip Planning And Testing Stage

In a perfect eCommerce world, making money is a straight line to the top.

All we’d have to do is pick a product and market it and wait for the 6-figure sales to roll in 30 days after and voila! Hello, dream digital nomad life! Hello, new Lambo! Hello, new hot girlfriend!

Unfortunately, in reality, this is not the case.

You need to find product-market fit. You need to enter a niche market and deliver a product that easily solves a problem. After creating a product that you want to launch on the market, first, you need to experiment.

You may think the product may look really good, but if the test groups that you create do not approve of it, you might need to go back to the research and development phase.

Here’s a quick guide on how to create a minimum-viable product. You want to create a product that solves one problem well and roll it out for testing.

This is why the planning and testing stages are extremely important when you are trying to launch something on the market.

Your test groups give you a fresh insight into what you have created. It is an objective point of view that can lead you to many discoveries.

It’s great for the product itself because you can amend it and upgrade any of its features while understanding what the market wants.

This information is useful in terms of what to apply to your product and how you can appeal to a wider audience. If you manage to get this step right, you are almost guaranteed a successful outcome!

Why eCommerce Startups Fail Reason 10: Saturated Niches

When you are launching a new product, you want to avoid saturated niches.

This is when you sell products similar to something that is already on the market and are too generic.

If there is any chance for you to avoid this scenario, then do it.

For example, if you only specialize in dog collars, then this will not get you very far. But on the other hand, if you specialize in military dog collars, then you might just start going places.

The overall subject here is going a bit deeper than usual. So, when you are looking to place a product on the market, you are not just going to scratch the surface.

You need to go deeper to understand what your customers are after. This deep research will provide you with great success.

Why eCommerce Startups Fail Reason 11: One And Done

Sometimes, things do not turn out the way we expected them to, leading us to disappointment.

This is common in eCommerce. You need to remember that in the world of entrepreneurship, ups and downs are normal.

So, if you fail at one product it’s better to try another one until you find one that works.

Before completely quitting on your eCommerce dream, try at least 3 to 5 products and see how they sell on the market.

Maybe 4 of them will fail, but the fifth one might be a hit!

That’s what it’s like in the eCommerce world, you never know how it is going to turn out.

Why eCommerce Startups Fail Reason 12: Too Much Focus On Front End

Of course, every business owner wants to have a brand that’s associated with success.

And yes, there are people out there who believe having a flashy logo, catchy name or a phrase is the key to a successful brand.

The thing is, these are not the elements that keep a business sustainably profitable.

You need to do so much more than just have a good name for your business. In the long run, the business needs to be maintained and sustainable and work like a well-oiled machine.

Attracting new customers should be easy and they should always feel like they are being taken care of.

Because your customers are the people who keep your business afloat, cherish them, and make their experience with your business memorable.

Make them want to come back for more. Make them want to share your product with their friends and family. Make them into your very own marketing army.

Why eCommerce Startups Fail Reason 13: Poor Site Navigation

As we discussed earlier with the checkout issue, the same goes for your entire website.

Your website must serve a positive user experience. It has to look professional so users and potential customers trust your business and feel comfortable buying from it.

This also means your website should be easy to navigate, meaning users should be able to find exactly what they’re looking for when they land on your website.

Get customers the right information as fast as possible. Meaning, if you’re running ads or organic search campaigns, your titles and messaging should align with the content of each landing page.

Everything should be clear and everything must be available at the tip of your customers’ fingers.

Make sure your website is easy and convenient to use. Make it intuitive too, in terms of browsing from one product to the next.

When you’re clear and straightforward with design and copywriting, you’ll save customers a lot of time and headaches.

They will be thankful for that!

The last thing you want is for your customers to land on your website and bounce off to a competitor site because you failed to make it easy for them to find information and products that you have.

A good way to save lost users is to add a live chat option. Make live chat available so users will be able to chat with you in near real-time through email or text.

Why eCommerce Startups Fail Reason 14: Annoying Pop-Ups

If you’ve been surfing the web in the last decade, you’ve noticed an annoying pop-up or two.

These are the forms that pop-up and feature “useful” information, like, a promo code for a discount or a newsletter sign-up.

Showing the occasional one to users is fair if it ads value.

But, force-engaging users with repetitive annoying pop-ups can lead to a bounce.

There is nothing wrong with having a pop-up on your website, just try not to overwhelm users with it.

This decreases the user experience and leads to a person abandoning your site.

Why eCommerce Startups Fail Reason 15: Mandatory Registration

We have all been there!

Visiting a site for the first time because of a clickbait headline and just after it loads boom!

The content is only available after you register or become a paid member. Ya, you want to avoid this model if you’re a startup. This immediately drives people away from your site.

Think about it. That’s equivalent to a random strange man asking a beautiful woman on the street for her contact and credit card information and expecting positive results — it’s sketchy AF.

If you’re eager to collect customer information and have them commit to your site, hook them with your site content and products first.

Give them the freedom they need, and if you are lucky, they might come back and share an article with their network or better yet, buy something!

Why eCommerce Startups Fail Reason 16: No Customer Service

Whatever you are trying to sell, remember, you need to have good customer service.

If you are trying to sell a product online, people are bound to have questions.

Make a customer representative available. Whether it’s an AI chatbot or a live chat agent feature that gives customers the ability to text a real customer service representative on a mobile device.

A good customer representative option will help customers find answers and the right product as soon as possible.

Being an entrepreneur is not an easy job. With the success rate of eCommerce being only 10 percent we can imagine what the pressure to succeed feels like.

What you need to remember here is to be persistent, use this list as a way to learn how to avoid the most basic mistakes, and never give up!

If you have any questions about our article, “16 Reasons Why eCommerce Startups Fail” or need help with growth marketing, feel free to call us at 1-888-593-4159 or message us on social media.

startup sign

Ultimate Guide: How To Build A Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

By Growth Kolony Blog, Startups

Ultimate Guide: How To Build A Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
By: Growth Kolony

There are plenty of startups that struggle with finding funding for their business ideas.

And the venture capital companies that do decide to fund startup founders invest in startups with traction.

So how does a startup founder get traction without spending thousands of dollars and wasting a lot of time on a product that flops?

The answer is building a minimum viable product also known as MVP.

MVP Explained: What Is A Minimum Viable Product?

MVP is an acronym that stands for Minimum Viable Product.

This concept was first introduced in 2001 by Frank Robinson and then later popularised by Eric Ries.

The minimum viable product provides a maximum amount of validated learning about customers with minimum effort. This product allows any team to do this and is explained by Eric Ries in the video below.

Ultimately, the goal of your MVP is to ship out the most basic version of your idea and do it as soon as possible. This is a way for you to test any product or market idea based on the feedback of users from early adopters.

What Are The Benefits Of The MVP

Below we highlight the top benefits of pushing out your MVP:

1. Low-Risk Product That Can Provide Very High ROI

One of the key benefits that come with the MVP is that it is a low-risk task. But, the results for this may be exponential.

Plenty of companies such as Dropbox and Uber have grown into what they are today by having some MVPs testing their ideas. The cue you should take from this is to release an MVP and add only the features that are requested by your users.

return on risk analysis

2. MVP Will Save You Time And Money

All of the money and time that you would have spent on marketing and product development can now be reinvested into customer development. What this ensures you is a good product and an increased chance of success.

Many people have learned this the hard way.

Stop spending your time and energy on a product that has not been tested on the market.

Instead, do the MVP and thrive.

3. You Get The Opportunity To Attract Early Adopter Customers

If you want your MVP to pick up the pace, the thing you need to do is target the right people.

Think about targeting influencers and early adopters. There is a high chance that these people will be the ones who will be most excited about your product and will provide you with honest feedback.

They will also likely promote your product to their network.

early adopter

What Are The Top Challenges When Creating An MVP?

When creating an MVP, entrepreneurs are usually met with a few challenges along the way.

Think of challenges as opportunities that help you become better.

Below we highlight the three most common mistakes entrepreneurs make when building an MVP.

1. Ignoring The Difference Between MVP, Prototype And Proof Of Concept

Even though all of these three strategies are created to validate a certain idea, all of them are created for different purposes.

product market fit chart
The proof of concept helps you check if an idea is developed enough to be released into the world, where a real-life scenario can happen. The prototype is working on a simulation of a product that is based on your concept mock-ups and is discarded right after testing.

Now, the real difference between a prototype and an MVP is that the MVP is the first version of an actual idea. Despite the limited features it might have, the prototype is just a draft that you immediately discard after launching.

2. Lack Of Knowledge Needed To Identify The Target Group For The MVP

The second most frequent challenge that entrepreneurs face is product and market fit. Just because the product is “good” does not mean that it will perform well in the market.

For example, the mobile app Botnim discovered this very soon after launching. Botnim is an app that helps users find a restaurant near them based on their food preferences.

Their market research consisted of talking to restaurant employees and their owners about the food preferences of guests.

But, what they failed to recognize is the target audience, which was the people.

Those people who often went to restaurants did not care much about what they ordered to eat and the people who did care about what is on their plate rarely visited — their MVP fell flat.

In this case, you need to research your audience and make them use your MVP. Constantly test your audience, over and over again. Because there is a high chance your first testing group will not provide you with any response.

The trick here is that you have to look for passionate people. Show them your product and encourage them to give you some honest feedback.

3. Choosing A Project Management Methodology That Is Incompatible

Many startups are faced with the same challenge and that is collaborating with others to build the MVP.

Tech startups for example require the creation of special software as a part of their MVP development. In these cases, the most used project management methodologies are Agile and Waterfall.

The Waterfall management model consists of a strictly defined sequence of software development. These include design, implementation, planning, production, testing, and support.

You can jump to the next stage even if you haven’t fully completed the previous one. The Agile model is considered to be much stricter than the Waterfall model. This model strives for agility.

You can instantly make changes as you go, based on the feedback you get. Constant alterations speed up the process of product development. If the development process is outsourced on a platform such as Clutch or Upwork, some issues may arise.

This does not happen because of low quality, but because you need to have your development team on hand for any alterations you may want to do.

chaos resolution model

What Is Fake Door MVP Testing?

This is how you’ll learn if people are willing to buy your product at all. Drive traffic to a landing page on a website and see if people will purchase your product or not.

This can be done by a crowdfunding platform such as Gofundme, Kickstarter, etc. When you are doing this, you want to add a button that can help you see if people take interest in the particular features that your product offers.

There is one main piece of information that can help you know whether people like your product or not. It is the ratio of people who show interest in your product against the number of people who have been exposed to it.

By using validation and invalidation, the company can gather plenty of information and decide how to implement them in its next steps.

Fake door testing is a good way to see how many people want your product. You can evaluate some small features with it as well and it can even help you develop some features of the product without spending a lot of money.

fake door testing

What Are Some Minimum Viable Product Examples?

Below we feature MVP examples from startups that went ahead without using the MVP properly and ended up crashing and burning.

Let’s get right into it.


Tom Zaragoza started with a very simple idea: The app was supposed to locate private gyms in your area and provide a membership management hub.

The idea came from his cousin, who owns a gym, and who was eager to try such an app.

This made Tom invest his time and money into it. Unfortunately, one relative’s passing interest cannot form the foundations for a strong MVP and his idea crashed flat.


This is a live video app for blogs. The founder Tom Hunt made the mistake of using MVP without conducting thorough market research beforehand.

He did all of the interviews that could help him identify their desires, needs, and problems, but he simply didn’t do enough interviews.

As a result, they spent time and money on building a product that customers didn’t want. This only goes to show how doing just an MVP is not enough. It needs to be thoroughly researched and watertight.


This is another example courtesy of Airbnb founders, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia.

Their concept was to make people rent an extra room or apartment for a short period, an idea that came to Airbnb founders when they did not have enough money to pay their rent.

At the time they were living in San Francisco and out of desperation for rent money after noticing a design conference taking place in the city, they came up with the idea.

They decided to post pictures of their room and try to rent it out for a couple of days to attendees of the conference.

Successfully, they had three customers.

What they used was an MVP to gain information based on their three customers. So, going with their initial assumptions, first, they created a bed and breakfast, then they expanded to what is today Airbnb.

Watch the video below on how Airbnb started:


At the beginning in 2010, Uber founders Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp used a very simplified interface.

The app was created in San Francisco and the goal was to help iPhone users in the city find cheaper transportation to get from point A to point B with vehicles that can provide excellent service, were fast to find and you knew the price before getting in the vehicle.

This was tested in New York with only three cars before having an official launch in San Fransisco. Uber used their rating system to gather information from their customers to improve the service.

This was when Uber’s founders gained true success. They managed to expand throughout the USA and even in Europe, despite the competitive space.

How To Create Your MVP

Before moving on, make sure you know the benefits, downsides, and challenges of building an MVP.

Only after learning this is when you can continue to make your very own MVP.

Below we show a step-by-step guide on how to crate your MVP:

1. Identify Your Issue

Before you start identifying the issue, you need to take a good look at your business premise. Zoom in on your product. What does it do and which problem does it solve? These are the simple questions that can influence all of your decision from this point on. Also, it will influence your target audience as well.

Who are your customers and why are they attracted to your product?

Potential customers should be given the option to sign up for updates which will give you valuable insight when it comes to audience research. All these potential customers will reveal what their motivations for subscribing are and what they expected to see from the final product.

Also, spy on your competition. By seeing what they do better, or worse, you can develop your unique sales point (USP).

2. Outlining Your Flow Of Users

The user flow explains the route that your potential customer will take with your business. Just like how Uber takes the customer to places. It is a very exact aspect and it contains numbers, but it is an important part if you want to build a solid MVP.

You can easily break it down into a few stages so you can outline the goal of your potential customers. Take Spotify as an example. It is a platform that helps people find the music they like.

First, they need to search for music, then play it, then curate it, and discover new music along the way. These are the most obvious steps that Spotify identified.

They created an end product around it and they managed to do that by providing impeccable service. This is a stage that can help you discover all of the areas where there can be an improvement, now or in the future.

3. Break Down The Core Feature

You have your USP and the issue it solves. The following step is to break down the features that it comprises.

Make a distinction between the ones that are nice to have and the essential ones. The first one can be left for a later date, knowing that you are striving for a minimum viable product.

mvp vs map

After identifying the core features, prioritize them. The one key feature will be the center of your attention. It will be of most use to your potential customers and will solve the problem that you have earlier established.

At this stage, it is important to be honest with yourself. The second pair of eyes is always good to have. This way you can easily determine whether something is a priority or not.

If you need an organizational tool that can help you allocate each feature to the stages of your user flow, then Trello or even Mindmup can help you achieve it.

What To Do After You Create Your MVP

After building the MVP, it is time to test it for functionality and acceptance. You can do this by driving traffic to it. Your goal here is to successfully transfer this from MVP to MMP (Minimum Marketable Product).

For example, say you built a new website that interviewed entrepreneurs and brands breaking the status quo in the tech world. How are you going to find out whether your target audience will accept it?

You’ll learn by analyzing the traffic that you send to the site and studying user behaviour. Did your users stay on your website for long or bounce off? Did they share your content, sign up for your newsletter or follow you on social media?

If you don’t want to spend a fortune but still want feedback from users, here are a couple of ways how to do that.

1. Paid Ads

Whether you use search engine ads from Google or Bing or social media ads from Facebook and LinkedIn, just to name a few options, the more you spend, the more targeted traffic you’ll drive to your site. Generally, we find that social media traffic is cheaper than search traffic but you can test yourself and see what works best for you.

2. Buy Old URLs 

Here you can buy an existing website within your niche from an online marketplace like Flippa. So when you buy an old website, you’ll already have a steady level of traffic. After you have buy it, you can test your MVP on an already prepared market that is related to your niche.

3. Record A Video That Talks About Your MVP.

Video content is the lifeblood of social media. With YouTube being the second largest search engine and short-video content like TikTok and Reels, you’ll expose your website and MVP to more users outside your existing fan base.

4. Get Feedback About MVP

Make sure to drive up the traffic that goes to your landing page. The traffic can be paid (non-organic) or organic. Organic traffic derives from social media, blog posts, and websites that are specific to your industry.

Reach out to anyone who has signed up for your email newsletter or followed you on social media.

5. Start A Blog

Here you will give people a chance to take a look at what happens behind the scenes.

It will also give them an idea of who is working behind the product. This will help you build a loyal audience that is both interested in what you do and is interested in the product as well.

Also when you write and target keyphrases across the web, you’ll be able to pull in organic traffic from search engines like Google and Bing and expose more people who are interested in your niche to your MVP.

6. Release A Survey To Your Audience

This is how you will get customer opinion. Give them a chance to sign up for an email list. It will give you some clear numbers on how many people like the idea in the first place and how many roughly will buy your product.

7. Split Test

Test your videos, test your audience, and test your marketing materials! Make sure that you are doing whatever you can to get the most accurate results.

8. Run A Crowdfunding Campaign To Validate Your Ideas

Whether it’s on Indie Go Go or Kickstarter or both, get more eyeballs to your MVP and create a crowdfunding campaign.

9. Pre-Order Pages

This is a great way to see if people will pay for your idea/product/service. You can easily do this by setting up a landing page and feature an explanation video where the product is explained and copywriting that highlights the benefits and your call-to-action Buy button!

Then, send paid traffic to the pre-order page and get immediate feedback from your website visitors.

how to build a minimum viable product


Don’t give up on your startup idea, it might just be the next best thing! All you need to do is find an idea and test the market to see if it’ll stick. When it comes to the MVP, it is considered to be a widely accepted option. Especially in those cases where you want to test a product idea as soon as possible.

Once the MVP is created, you need to drive up the traffic and ask for feedback. It is the logical path when releasing a new product.

Take the feedback and make your product even better. Once it is vastly known, especially through influencers and early adopters, you will have no issue rising to the top!

If you have any questions about our article “Ultimate Guide: How To Build A Minimum Viable Product (MVP)” or need help with growth marketing for your business, feel free to call us at 1-888-593-4159 or DM us in near real-time on FacebookTwitterInstagramTikTokLinkedIn.

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Viral Success Stories: How These 8 Brands Went Viral

By Growth Kolony Blog, Content Marketing, Growth Hacking, Growth Marketing Agency Toronto, Social Media, Startups

Viral Marketing Success Stories: How These 8 Brands Went Viral

By: Growth Kolony

You’ve likely heard the phrase “go viral” before and it’s something every online brand or business hopes to accomplish one day.

However, there is no simple formula to make a campaign go mega-viral all the time.

Many online brands are blindsided and believe simply adding bells and whistles to low-quality content on a trend will help them reach virality, but there’s more to it.

The truth is most viral marketing success stories are based on many years of long hard work or in exceptional cases a lucky guess on what can lure people’s attention.

And if you ask the businesses who’ve gone viral, like the ones below, oftentimes they’ll tell you that it wasn’t planned and that it felt like hitting a home run on your very first attempt.

Surely, going viral can be an incredible way to propel your brand into overnight stardom.

But we caution you from trying to build your company solely on virality because it isn’t easy for many companies and it isn’t sustainable.

Instead, we suggest brands consistently create content that is either:


  1. informational;
  2. educational;
  3. entertaining
  4. or all three at the same time if possible.

That way new fans and existing ones engage with your brand on a consistent basis and ultimately develop a relationship with you.

Then after building a decent strong loyal audience, the chances of you going viral on any given day increases.


Why Do Brands Want Virality?

If done right, viral marketing can have all sorts of benefits including increased brand awareness and credibility.

At its core, it’s an advertising strategy that’s relatively inexpensive when compared to traditional strategies and paid media.

You’ll see in this list of the most viral videos ever that viral content production can be done without a team of professional videographers and producers — DIY creators go viral all the time.

But considering we’re growth marketing professionals, in this article, we look at some of the most original viral marketing examples in business and highlight the marketing strategies used by each campaign.

Let’s get right into it!


Viral Success Story 1: Purple’s Video Marketing

Purple decided to produce a series of short videos showing how their comfort-tech mattresses are better than the mattresses created with regular memory foam.

Using video content as their medium, Purple gradually became well-known for creating videos that were informative and funny, so naturally, when these videos came out, they were a huge hit!

Their videos consistently hit the multi-million mark and the video below has over 183 million views on YouTube and all of this is because of their series of consistent witty content.

They show in about 4 minutes how the raw egg test is done by none other than, Goldilocks!

They decided to carry it out in a manner that would include the character from a fairy tale with three bears.

They featured an incredible product that was engineered from a unique material and that makes everything easier.

However, just having an excellent product was not going to do the trick, they needed to go the extra mile and create an online advertisement that went the extra mile and appealed to the digital audience.

If you’re a growth marketer online, you know “How-To” pieces perform well.


Because they’re informative and educational and sometimes entertaining.

And Purple’s viral marketing example shades all the boxes.

The viral title “How To Use A Raw Egg To Determine If Your Mattress Is Awful” instantly grabs the attention of viewers with beds, which is a large demographic.

And it wasn’t only the copywriting that stood out, they also coupled it with video content, which also performs well online.

They showed 4 eggs intact after being attached to a heavy glass panel that was then dropped onto their Purple mattress.

It was a great use of all elements and it earned them the fame it deserved.

Viral Success Story 2: Beardbrand Authority Content

This is one amazing example where good content marketing can get you the exposure you want at a low cost.

Since beards and men’s grooming became a trend over the last decade, this was just what the founders of Beardbrand needed.

They created a platform and online shop called Beardbrand, an online community where anyone can share stories and find all sorts of useful educational material on men’s grooming.

But putting their informative and educational articles aside, their presence and the interest in their site grew mostly because of their look and branding.

One of the founders was featured as a “beard expert” and from there the site took off.

They took the site even further and created more products and made an entire lifestyle around it becoming a high-authority source for beard culture and men’s grooming.

They understood the assignment and soon after it was not only beards and styling they were talking about but also hobbies for men and literature too.

With consistent content that targeted their ideal buyer personas, they positioned their site for viral success and from there created a path that moved into other relevant niche products for growth.

Consistent informational, educational and entertaining content is the key for community growth.

It is considered one of the most powerful and effective tools that attract people.

Because it lures in your target audience without forcing them to buy anything.

Free content helps you position your products or services in front of your ideal customer.

And chances are, after a while, they will turn to buy something from your site.

Viral Success Story 3: Dove Inspires Women With Experiment

If you shower and hopefully you do, you’re probably familiar with the company Dove and their products, so no introduction is necessary.

In this video, they documented a social experiment that featured women and a forensic sketch artist.

It was simple.

Each woman was told to describe themselves to Gil Zamora, an FBI trained forensic sketch artist behind a wall.

The forensic artist would then draw them as each woman described themselves.

Then a second portrait was sketched of the same woman through the eyes of another person, which showed to be more attractive then the self-described photos.

And since it was a video filled with raw emotions, it quickly turned into one of the most viewed videos of all time, creating much more fame around the products.

Since Dove is already a well-known company, they have had all of the resources and professionals they wanted to finish the project.

But even then, any brand can create this low-budget “reality-tv” piece of content.

The brilliance of the social experiment proved women wrong about what they initially thought of their looks, and that they were more attractive than how they saw themselves.

It was simplified and was created in a very light way.

And again, the targeted piece of content was informative, educational and entertaining.

Viral Success Story 4: Tommy Hilfiger Goes Outrageous

The ridiculous campaign that went out in 1985 was just the twist Tommy Hilfiger needed.

It was considered outrageous in the era where there was no viral marketing like the ones we are used to today, but, it still made the impact it was intended.

Back then, Tommy Hilfiger was an unknown struggling designer.

But when advertising genius Georg Louis suggested Tommy Hilfiger present his name on a large billboard next to some big household designer names, he was in shock.

Even though at the time he was a nobody, he still decided to do it.

The billboard was hung at Times Square in New York, with his name among the likes of Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, etc. and it worked perfectly for him!

The campaign was a success and immediately started a create buzz around the Tommy Hilfiger brand.

People wanted to get to know the brand and understand how it worked and what it offered.

The marketing strategy they decided to go with here was a word-of-mouth strategy.

The billboard created a sense of mystery around the fourth American designer.

After the brand was recognized after the campaign, Tommy Hilfiger decided to work even harder on reaching the goal of being one of the top 4 American designers.

The ad itself was a perfect place to start.

They had heads turn for their company and their products, but it would not have been as successful as it was if the products were not good themselves.

So in this case, taking a risk is always considered to be a good thing.

However, you always have to make sure you deliver once you take the step into going big or going home.

It turned out good for Tommy Hilfiger.


His brand is a recognizable fashion statement and well-known all over the world.


Viral Success Story #5: Old Spice’s Once-In-A-Lifetime Ad

When one thinks of men’s body deodorant, the first thing that comes to mind of many is Old Spice.

The reason for this is because of their incredible campaign that captured the dreamy vision that society has when it comes to men.

It is considered to be one of the most successful campaigns of all time and it earned them the reputation of being a world-famous company.

Their sales went through the roof after the campaign was released to the public and it received excellent feedback and reviews.

Their ad shows a man who claims that when he uses Old Spice, anything in the world can be made possible.

It is a single-shot video where the main character of the video is seen riding a horse, then on a sailboat, all the while his bathroom was his starting point.

Old Spice saw that the campaign was very successful, they made some more ads that similarly appealed to the public eye.

When the reviews were in, Old Spice was in too.

The campaign was big business!

Relatability is key.

If you have a product that needs to be placed in the market or want to improve an already existing product, then the focus should go on making it a more relatable product for your target audience.

The people who were behind the campaign for Old Spice did a very good job investigating the market, what is already placed out there (and how), and determining the right target group designed specifically for Old Spice.

This is what made things easier for them and created a feeling of connection between the campaign and the viewers – resulting in sky-high sales.

They did everything right.

Viral Success Story #6: Skittles Taste The Rainbow

When one thinks of a rainbow, the first thing that pops into the minds of people is not an actual rainbow but other things like rain, LGBTQ+, or rather the incredible burst of the taste and colour found in a bag of Skittles.

This campaign was not a new one, but their approach surely was.

The original slogan “taste the rainbow” was created in 1994, however, it is still being used today.

There is a catchy undertone to the entire expression and it does not take a genius to see that this is the type of campaign that will stick for a long time.

In the original ad that was released in 1994, it showed that you can make quite a few combinations from the various Skittles flavours and in each case, you would taste the rainbow in your mouth.

Even if you decided to take the Skittles one at a time, the effect would be the same as you would still taste the rainbow!

And through the years that followed, Skittles had made some variations of the original slogan that sounded like “Find the rainbow” or “Harvest the rainbow” but in the end, it all boiled down to tasting the rainbow every single time.

Since their target audience was teenagers and children, the success after releasing this campaign was imminent.

The campaign was spot-on, that it is what made it so popular and made Skittles’s sales rocket!

Viral Success Story #7: Greenpeace And Iceland Make An Impact

Throughout its history, Greenpeace has always been very well known for creating a voice of its own and standing its ground with its marketing.

Their campaigns mostly include controversial material and can be made political too.

However, the case for their campaign that we are going to dissect today went viral for neither of the reasons above.

The campaign was called “Rang-tan in my bedroom” and as soon as it was released, it went viral, and within a few days, millions of people from all over the world were watching it.

The campaign made companies sign the Greenpeace petition that pledged to use only sustainable ingredients in their products.

Such a case was the one with Iceland, the British supermarket, that signed with Greenpeace and managed to remove all products that contained unsustainably sourced palm oil.

According to the Financial Times, this move and the campaign overall helped Greenpeace make quite an impact.

It received a whopping $70 million and is considered to be one of the most successful Christmas campaigns of all time.

The success is measured not by the funds that it received, or for the ability to go viral for such as short period of time, but for the peak that was noticed in the sales of the said British supermarket.

The numbers went through the roof.

The key to this particular campaign was understanding the current issues the world is dealing with and how to connect it with buyers or your target group and make an impact all the while increasing sales.

This was the perfect opportunity for them and they seized it at the right moment.

Solving the problems and servicing the needs of customers should be a top priority for everyone involved in the business.

Viral Success Story #8: Barilla’s How To Make Al Dente Pasta

Barilla is well known around the globe for being one of the leading pasta manufacturers in the world and their products are connected to high-quality taste.

Since Barilla had been fond of traditional media, they suddenly surprised all of their loyal customers (and everybody, really) by creating a Spotify playlist for cooking different types of pasta.

The aim of this is to achieve the perfect al dente pasta while listening to great music.

To be honest, the approach was perfect.

Because when you’re cooking, you want to set the atmosphere with cooking music.

The world loves pasta, whether it is cooking it or eating it, and Barilla led their minds into a completely different setting.

Now when you’re searching for cooking music, you think of Barilla.

They created 8 different playlists for 8 different types of pasta and let the audience enjoy themselves.


The music they included was filled with joy and was the perfect excuse for anyone to come home, put it on and make their favourite pasta dish that evening or any other evening for that matter.

This is how Barilla used music content to attract new customers from a new medium.

Their incredible playlists have been played thousands of times and they have gained plenty of new followers.

Food brings friends and family closer together and music creates an environment for good times!


And of course, what better way to learn how to properly cook pasta than with some Barilla pasta, right?




And there you have it fellow growth hackers: 8 examples of viral marketing success stories.

When you create consistent content that’s informational, educational, entertaining or all three in one for a target audience, you’ll drive consistent eyeballs to your products and services and become an authoritative voice and trusted resource in your niche industry.

After building a consistent following, the chances of going viral for each campaign increase.

If you have any questions about growing your online business and attracting new customers feel free to call us at 1.888.593.4159 or chat with us in real-time on Twitter.



growth marketing toronto

11 Growth Marketing Stories From Successful Startups

By Growth Hacking, Growth Kolony Blog, Startups

11 Growth Marketing Stories From Successful Startups

By: Growth Kolony

9 out 10 startups fail.

It’s a tough pill to swallow if you’re a new startup founder but research concludes that 21.5% of startups fail in the first year, 30% in the second year, 50% in the fifth year, and 70% in their 10th year.

And really, growth hacking and marketing play a huge role in whether or not a startup fails or succeeds because a growth marketing agency (like ours) helps determine your product-market fit.

So if you’re struggling with growth, below, we highlight 11 growth marketing success stories that you can use for inspiration which may help you survive the law of 9 out of 10.

Let’s get right into it.

Growth Marketing Success Story #1: Instagram

In 2012, Facebook acquired Instagram for $1 billion.

During this time, it had 35 million users with no revenue. 10 months later, it grew to 100 million users and in 2018, it touched over 1 billion.

So, how did Facebook grow Instagram at such a fast rate?

The concept is very simple.

Facebook integrated its products with Instagram to cross-promote its users to use the app.

Cross-promotion is not anything new.

A lot of companies have been using cross-promotion as a growth hack to grow at an amazingly fast rate.

In today’s marketing world, there are tools like Madneto which allow you to discover potential brand partners and cross-promote with other brands.

Growth Marketing Success Story #2: Dollar Shave Club

Using videos for a marketing tactic is extremely effective but Dollar Shave Club incredibly changed how effective it can be.

The company took a boring topic and spun it into something entertaining and humourous worth sharing with friends.

The video went viral with over 20 million views and Dollar Shave Club grew to 1.1 million subscribers and eventually sold off to Unilever for a whopping $1 billion all-cash deal.

Growth Marketing Success Story #3: PayPal

PayPal’s big challenge was to get new customers.

Advertising was too expensive.

They needed organic viral growth.

So they started to give people money.

New customers got $10 for signing up and existing ones got $10 for referrals.

Growth went exponential and PayPal wound up paying $20 for each new customer.

Eventually, PayPal decided that the referral programs costs were too high but it certainly brought them a lot of customers early on, and possibly helped them cross the tipping point to growing exponentially.

growth marketing success story paypal

Growth Marketing Success Story #4: Groupon

Here’s a perfect example of applied social psychology.

By creating a sense of urgency Groupon puts users in a buy or else you’d miss out on a time-sensitive deal.

If you ever noticed an e-commerce website displaying how many items they have left in stock or how soon a deal would expire, they are creating a sense of urgency. 

In its early days, Groupon used this growth hack amazingly well but took it a step further.

Groupon needed a minimum number of people to buy the deal but they also had a limited quantity available.

Not only did it create a sense of urgency, but in order to take advantage of the deal, you had to spread the word about the deal and about Groupon.

Growth Marketing Success Story #5: The Sumo Group

Content upgrades are an increasingly popular growth hack to collect email subscribers.

Think of a 1,000-word informative blog post on a topic you’re interested in.

At the end of the post, you realize that whatever you read was just a trailer, and there was much more to it.

All users had to do was download a more detailed PDF to learn more.

A popup would appear to collect your email and a shiny new book (for free) would be sent to your inbox.

Sumo tried various content upgrades including downloadable spreadsheets, infographics, videos, cheat sheets and e-books.

Additionally, they created a 12,000-word guide to social sharing and published an e-book of the article.

They believed people were too lazy to read the entire article at once and that they’d rather download the e-book and read it later.

The e-book resulted in a whopping 21.2% conversion rate.

Growth Marketing Success Story #6: HubSpot

When HubSpot wasn’t as famous as it is today, it tried a lot of different things to acquire customers but none of them really worked.

Content marketing is great but almost everyone out there has a content marketing strategy in place. 

HubSpot’s founder built a small tool to grade websites on performance and SEO.

It was an incredible success and millions of people used the free tool to grade their websites.

It helped build an awareness of HubSpot and helped grow its email list.

The company’s founder credited the tool for its initial success and has since been revamping the tool and also launching others to acquire customers.

growth marketing success story hubspot

Growth Marketing Success Story #7: Gmail

In today’s world, the fear of missing out (FOMO) is a powerful growth hack and if you have a product that offers value to the masses, this tactic can be instrumental to your growth.

When Google launched its email service Gmail, it used an invite-only system to drive growth and it was a an instant hit.

It worked so well that people were running eBay auctions to sell invites.

However, use this strategy very carefully. Google has used this strategy for their Google+, Buzz, and Wave products that failed.

Also FOMO can be tricky for closed communities.

For example, using Gmail doesn’t require the email recipient or sender to also use the Gmail service.

But that’s not the case for Google+.

With closed communities, it’s best to ensure that you choose a small but connected community to send exclusive invites.

Facebook did this in its early days by sending exclusive invites to Harvard students.

Growth Marketing Success Story #8: Dropbox

We’ve all seen call-to-action prompts like “Like us on Facebook” or “Follow us on Twitter”.

Some brands go as far as running contests or announcing special rewards, like a free T-shirt, to incentivize users to spread the word on social media for overall growth.

Dropbox decided to go in a different direction.

With each follow or linking of social accounts, Dropbox would give 125 MB of storage space.

This growth hack was incredibly powerful.

Not only do users spread the word but they also were given more reasons to keep using the product.

Today, Dropbox has over 3.8 million Twitter followers and most of their growth success goes to this powerful growth hack.

Growth Marketing Success Story #10: Netflix

Back when Netflix was into DVD rentals, it struck partnerships with DVD player manufacturers like Panasonic, Philips, Sharp, Sony, Toshiba, and others to include a Netflix coupon inside the DVD player box sold to customers. 

This solved a critical problem faced by DVD manufacturers.

Customers didn’t want to buy DVD players since they found it difficult to buy DVDs, which were at the time weren’t widely available in stores.

By including a Netflix coupon in the box, the DVD manufacturers could showcase a library of more than one thousand titles to customers.

At the same time, Netflix benefited because they could easily target customers who owned a DVD player. Within a year, Netflix’s subscriber base doubled to 500,000 customers.

Growth Marketing Success Story #10: Hotmail

Freemium is a popular way to onboard customers today, especially for SaaS products.

Get your target audience to use your products and once their usage goes beyond a certain limit, or they need extra features, start charging them.

Super easy and efficient. 

But going freemium isn’t a growth hack.

Sure, it helps you, onboard customers, faster since they don’t need to pay, but it doesn’t get customers to your website in the first place.

But if you couple the freemium model with advertisements, it can really blossom into a great growth hack that’ll help spread the word.

Hotmail used this model to spread the word. Every email sent by Hotmail had a “Get your free email at” signature at the end.

That one line made the sender an advertisement to the recipient.

And the word spread fast.

Heck, an iPhone isn’t even free but Apple adopted the same strategy for an email with a “Sent from my iPhone” signature in the end.

However, tread easily if you’re planning to use this for your paid product.

Customers may not welcome it as much as they do Apple unless you’re a premium brand.

Growth Marketing Success Story #11: Airbnb

In its early days, Airbnb used an extremely bizarre way to grow.

They provided a feature on Airbnb to simultaneously post on their biggest competitor Craigslist. 

If you think about it, it was a genius growth hack at the time for Airbnb.

Craigslist had a massive customer base and Airbnb was new.

So, they gave their users the chance to post on Craigslist at the same time, and in fact, encouraged them to do so.

The Craigslist users that viewed the property were allowed to contact the owners only if they joined Airbnb.

They also noticed that Airbnb listings were far more superior than the other – nicer photographs, better descriptions, and more personal.

The rest is pretty much history.

Many claims that this single hack was responsible for Airbnb’s success.

Today, Airbnb has raised more than $4 billion and a valuation in excess of $30 billion.

If you have any questions about growth marketing and growing your online business feel free to call us at 1.888.593.4159 or chat with us in real-time on Twitter.