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How Laura Roeder Built Her 'Edgar' App to $150,000 Monthly Revenue in 13 Months Avoiding VC funding and keeping things simple are some of this entrepreneur's secrets.

By Eric Siu

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Laura Roeder

Social media marketers are a dime a dozen these days, but there are still some very talented professionals who stand out -- and Laura Roeder is one of these rising stars in the social media industry.

Related: How to Craft Your Social Media Marketing Plan

Roeder is the founder of Edgar, an application that automates social media scheduling and marketing. Edgar is a cutting-edge service, and one of the fastest-growing competitors to HootSuite. Many experts are very impressed with Roeder's track record; in fact, President Obama asked her to speak at the White House on entrepreneurship.

Recently, I had the privilege of interviewing Roeder at Growth Everywhere, where she shared some of the reasons she believes Edgar has become so popular. Hers was great advice for anyone in the social media industry.

The Model behind Edgar's success

Roeder founded Edgar in 2014 after spending several years working as a graphics artist and web developer. In just over a year, the company earned 2,922 paying users and was generating over $150,000 a month in recurring revenue.

What was even more impressive was that Edgar didn't even use a freemium model to attract customers. Here's what Roeder did instead:

1. Built a list during the launch stage

Most online entrepreneurs have heard the phrase "the money is in the list," but just in case you haven't, we're talking about email subscriber lists.

Laura understood that email marketing is one of the most effective ways to generate customers, which is why she made building such a list one of her top priorities from day one. She also leveraged a subscriber list that she built from her social media training business to reach as many potential prospects upfront as she could

2. Prioritized cash flow

Poor cash-flow management is one of the biggest weaknesses of most new businesses; in fact, an estimated 90 percent of all small business failures are attributed to poor cash flow.

In our conversation, Roeder told me that cash-flow management is something she pays close attention to; too many brands are obsessed with the lifetime value of their customers, she pointed out. The problem with that focus is that it takes a lifetime to earn that revenue, Roeder said. And, unfortunately, brands may spend half a customer lifetime's value trying to acquire a customer, which leaves companies strapped for cash once their accounts payable come due.

3. Didn't make growth an end goal

The majority of entrepreneurs are focused on growth at all costs, when they should be focused on profitable growth. This is one of the reasons that Roeder chose not to take venture capital: "I think when you take funding, there is an expectation to grow at any cost, to just focus on growth," she said.

She added that she believes this is one of the reasons that Zirtual, a virtual assistant matching firm, collapsed. The company had a sound business model, but was growing in a way that couldn't be sustained to appease its VCs.

4. Believed that genius lies in simplicity

Roeder and her team have also been very successful with Facebook advertising. What's interesting, though, is they've found that the most successful campaigns are often the simplest.

Targeting is one of the most important elements of a Facebook advertising campaign. Initially, Roeder said that they would target only customers using other social media tools, as those users were much easier to convert.

The team's messages are also usually straightforward, with one of its most effective ads reading, simply, "Check out this new social media tool."

Roeder is living proof that you don't need to get too fancy when launching a social media advertising campaign; you just need to find the users who want your services and then create an ad that caters to their needs. This approach can be remarkably easy to execute -- if you don't overcomplicate things.

Related: How to Choose Between Instagram and Snapchat, or Whether You Even Need Them

Tested different opt-in styles

Since your email list plays such an important role in generating conversions further downstream, you need to place a priority on maximizing your opt-in rate. And since your landing page plays an incredibly important role in encouraging visitors to opt in, it's important to experiment with different styles.

Edgar is again a good illustration. According to its blog, the company tests different landing page styles every time it runs a promotion. There are a couple of reasons for this:

Keeps users engaged. The average buyer needs to be exposed to a brand message seven times before making a purchase. He or she may not even subscribe to an email list on a first visit.

Unfortunately, people can become numb after seeing the same landing page style too many different times. Those who didn't choose to take an action the first time they visited the page may start to tune out that same call to action on the second, third and fourth visits. Providing fresh landing-page styles keeps users more engaged, making them more likely to opt in on one of their future visits if you keep changing things up.

Test and optimize landing pages. Testing is a cornerstone of online marketing. Roeder said that testing different landing page styles allows her and her team to figure out which formats work the best. Even though they keep changing their landing-page styles every time they run a campaign, the styles are based on data from previous, winning campaigns.

It's simple, straightforward advice, but it's surprising how often marketers miss the basics, as they strive to become more advanced. To hear more about Roeder's success, check out the full video below:

Related: How to Make Time for Social Media Marketing

What do you think about Laura's approach? Share what other insights you've taken from her experience by leaving a comment below:

Eric Siu

CEO, Single Grain. Founder, Growth Everywhere.

Eric Siu is the CEO of digital marketing agency Single Grain. Single Grain has worked with companies such as Amazon, Uber and Salesforce to help them acquire more customers. He also hosts two podcasts: Marketing School with Neil Patel and Growth Everywhere, an entrepreneurial podcast where he dissects growth levers that help businesses scale. 


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