For early stage startups, resources are often very tight. With finances, talent and time all stretched, prioritising which activities to focus on is a challenge for any founder. Often resources are heavily devoted to development, design, acquisition and investor relations - with marketing often being thought of as a ‘nice to have’ addition that isn’t core to the growth of your business.

Well I’m here to say that marketing has changed, and no longer does the image that Mad Men’s Don Draper portrays cover how marketing can add value to your bottom line. Recent moves in growth tactics and big data have brought data driven marketing to the forefront of startup development, and founders now have access to a wealth of information that will help to inform both their product roadmap and customer acquisition plans alike.

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Understanding how to market to your customer through Net Promoter Scoring

Net Promoter Scoring, or NPS, is the process of understanding your customer through a frictionless communication method. The process classifies people as either promoters, passives or detractors - all depending on their answer to a simple question, usually something like “How likely are you to recommend [COMPANY X] to a friend?”.

Recipients give their answer in the form of a numerical rating between 0 and 10. If you select nine or 10, you are seen as a promoter, seven or eight puts you as a passive and six and under means you are a detractor.

Once your responses have been collated and added together a score can be calculated. The score is the percentage of promoters minus the percentage of detractors. For example, if you have 70 percent promoters and 10 percent detractors your score will be 60 (70 − 10 = 60). A score can be anything between −100 and 100.

On top of this numerical tracking, NPS utilises a freeform entry that means specific feedback can be given, based on the person’s response.

Now that we have established what NPS is, here’s how you can use it to further marketing outreach.

Segment your NPS targets

Even before you send the survey, think about how you can break down the groups you are talking to. By splitting customers with prospects, UK vs US or any other variable that is important to your business you will be able to gather feedback on specific user groups, and from that information formulate fuller, more relevant responses.

Divide and conquer with lists

Once you have segmented your audiences and gathered feedback, you will be in a very strong position to deliver targeted campaigns to your users based on the feedback you have received. To the promoters, encourage sharing within their network for perks, to the detractors, talk about the improvements being made based on customer feedback and to the passives - send messages that encourage them to move up the scale through rewards for engagement.


Your promoters are your biggest advocate, and within your promoter grouping there will be those users for whom your product has become vital. Find those people and make a fuss of them. Once on board as ambassadors, they can help you create content for advertising, social media or just on-site promotion.


Once you have listened, acted upon your suggestions, don’t be afraid to ask how you are doing again. You don’t want to do this more than once every six months, however, as long as you are acting upon recommendations - you should see a positive trend in your NPS score. This score can then be used for external marketing efforts to indicate your positive growth relationship with your users.

Utilise third party tools

Now you might be thinking, this sounds awesome, but I don’t have the time to implement the platforms needed to gather and understand this data. There is no doubt that building your own solution would be cumbersome and time intensive, however there are a number of great third-party tools that can easily integrate with your app, website or platform.Survey Monkey offers a tool for gathering NPS data for free, or if you want something more fully featured with integrations, analytics and more - I can fully recommend Delighted for sending and understanding your NPS data. It isn’t free, but spending money here could be a wise investment. There are of course other providers that a quick Google can uncover.

It’s important to add that NPS can add value to your whole business, I’m only speaking specifically of the marketing benefit here. You can find a good video here that gives you more information, and if you really want to get into it, read Answering the Ultimate Question: How Net Promoter Can Transform Your Business, by Richard Owen and Laura Brooks - it can be picked up on Amazon here.

Next time: Building marketing into your product to see your viral coefficient boom