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These Marketing Strategies Led to Blinkist’s Fast-Paced Growth

Jessica Mendoza | October 01, 2018| 1 min. read

Self-made millionaires like Bill Gates, Jack Ma and Elon Musk understand that learning and growing quickly is necessary to adapt to fast-paced markets.

Aware of the time constraints entrepreneurs and professionals face, Blinkist’s founders distilled critical insights from non-fiction books and developed the best way for lifelong learners to grasp them in 15 minutes or less. This simple idea has made them one of the fastest growing startups in Europe.

Holger Seim, CEO and Co-Founder, discusses the marketing tactics and budget strategies that are fueling their fast-paced growth in this article. Here are his insights on how to invest smartly in business growth goals.


Blinkist's Marketing Investments

  • Select one marketing channel at a time to grow
  • Develop user personas from existing user behaviors
  • Create a foundational team structure to explore each channel
  • Hire technical marketing talent
  • Invest in your team's professional growth
Paid acquisition as a growth channel

In growth management, paying for advertising must be seen as an investment rather than an expense.

 In Blinkist's case, Holger had a formula — impact to effort ratio. Blinkist took a look at which marketing channels produced the highest impact, conversions from ads, and a low amount of effort.

 Holger elaborates, "Facebook and Instagram were the ones that made the most sense for us. Facebook and Instagram users are accustomed to seeing ads within the platform. They have the time and are receptive to seeing ads in their feed.”

By using a mature advertising platform, they were able to gather detailed analytics and test ad variations without needing to spend too much time on setup. Over time, Blinkist developed universal and local personas which helped them craft personalized web funnels and variants.

Structuring the marketing team to expand channel diversity

The company was founded in 2012, but it wasn’t until 2015 when Blinkist was able to grow their marketing team and build conversion funnels. A combination of channel managers, video producers, web developers, designers, and copywriters make up the team.

Their constant ambition for growth led the team to examine owned and paid channels. Their channel diversification now includes the Simplify podcast, YouTube videos, blog posts as part of the Blinkist Magazine, content marketing, display and search advertising, all the while maintaining the ongoing stream of ads from their original Facebook and Instagram paid acquisition channels.

Blinkist grew their presence by using a simple model: once a channel has an established operational process, it becomes part of their business as usual track (BAU).

With a small team, there is no need to move to a new channel unless the first one is optimized.

Finding the metric for sustainable growth

In every growth-focused company, there is a clear metric that determines sustainable customer growth. For Blinkist that metric is the Customer Acquisition Cost ratio to the Lifetime Value (LTV).

If the CAC is one-third of the LTV, then they are on the road to building a sustainable return on investment. They achieve this by removing friction points that would slow down users’ engagement with the app, and by incentivizing new users to acquire the annual subscription, which is billed in a one-time payment.

Upskilling the marketing team

Outsourcing marketing support has not made a big difference in the company's growth. Instead, Blinkist opts to internalize the knowledge they’ve gained from their marketing tests and hire technical marketing talent.

Holger explained, “you get better targeting, better creative and better results when the team is kept in-house." He continued, "we have good technical marketing, good creative and copywriters working together. It’s not a pure creative challenge anymore.”

The understated performance factor is Blinkist's diverse staff. Over 40 different nationalities work at Blinkist which helps the teams to focus on objective performance, become aware of their biases and examine facts with scrutiny. The co-founder's mantra reinforces the company's values, “we can’t grow as a company unless we grow as individuals.”

A growth mindset

The change in the teams approach to marketing and the resulting effectiveness was one of the key reasons for Insight’s investment in the company.

 “Even though I have known the company and its Founders since the start in 2012, Blinkist really hit an inflection point in 2015 that made us a lot more confident in their ability to fulfill their big mission to bring `big ideas in small packages` to everyone. It has been a pleasure to have partnered up with the company since then and seeing how they are getting closer and closer to that goal", adds Nicolas Wittenborn, Principal at Insight Venture Partners.

Leveling up

To advance your marketing efforts, here are the current Top 5 Sales & Marketing books on Blinkist: 

  1. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini
  2. Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson
  3. Getting To Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In by Roger Fisher and William L. Ury
  4. Made To Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip & Dan Heath
  5. Purple Cow by Seth Godin