The startup will be in travel technology space. Need to come up with a plan on how to get initial subscribers (its a paid service). I am talking about 5-10k per month.
Would like to know what else can we do aside from the usual advice of blogging, SEO, PPC, Ads and mass email.
I've led Marketing as VP/Marketing or CMO for multiple firms and have been tasked with gaining paid subscriber. Some of the best advice I've found comes from a great book called "Traction" by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares. The entire book is dedicated to answering your question in detail - and they break down each channel by chapter.
Do you have more time or money?
The "usual advice" is usual advice because it works and is considered best practice.
Your growth goal is quite aggressive, especially when starting from nothing AND a paid service.
How will you differentiate yourself and what value do you offer 5-10k subscribers per month that they cannot get elsewhere for free?
That seems like an aggressive goal, but I'll assume that you have created a product that offers significant advantages over existing solutions and that the total market size is much larger than your 5-10K target.
An excellent starting point for a subscription-based technology product is the book Hooked by Nir Eyal. He analyzes how apps like Instagram grew rapidly despite the existence of many other photo sharing apps. Check out his Hook Model and see if you can apply it in your situation.
Ensure your website is optimized for conversion. That will maximize the yield you get from your SEO, SEM, ads, and other expensive activities.
A freemium model has been proven to work to get lots of subscribers quickly, but you'll have to plan your feature list carefully to deliver great value in the free product but make the upgrade to paid status enticing. Buffer, Evernote, and others do a great job of this.
If you are budget-constrained, creating brilliant content that's relevant to your potential users might be cost-effective. But, it's not going to work overnight. With a big "results not typical" disclaimer, I'll offer an example of how this could work: http://www.movoto.com/blog/movoto-com/buzzfeed-for-real-estate/
Without knowing more (idea, price point, audience, b2b or b2c etc.), it is hard to give you in-depth or potentially relevant advice. Would say, initial thought is that your target for your subscribers is fairly punchy and would need some considerable investment from both a perforce marketing perspective but also wider activity.
There are things that can be done to optimise your current activity e.g. your PPC conversion. For example, if you're a new company and there is limited info about you in the public domain it may be harder for you to convert a click to a subscriber as there may be lack of trust. Would you give money to a new company if you didn't know if what they were selling was any good or not? So things like reviews and endorsements from experts, media, bloggers, journalists in the sector are important.
Areas to look at would be:
PR - engaging the industry with your idea or product. Be that trade media or consumer depending on the audeince
Influencer outreach - hitting up the influential people in that industry and getting them onboard so they talk about you socially, on blogs, twitter etc.
Community engagement - working with existing online communities that are in your niche/sector and getting key people there to talk about it and test your product out
Social media - activating your current customer base through engaging content so they share with their followers (friends have friends that are in similar sectors) and also showing customers they have somewhere public to come should things not go to plan
Hope this helps, would need to know more to help further. Give me a shout if you want to talk. Cheers.
I think your acquisition plan, especially since it's paid, is quite aggressive without a significant investment unless (and perhaps even if) you are solving a prevalent, high-pain-point problem in a way that is easy to understand and difficult to mimic or for which there is no similar or alternate solution.
Most of the advice I would offer has already been stated and, without knowing specifics, it's hard to pinpoint a solution. General advice rarely works for all cases.
I agree that great content marketing is probably part of the mix, although that's rarely a quick path to growth. You may also find inspiration in Growth Hacker Marketing: A Primer on the Future of PR, Marketing, and Advertising by Ryan Holiday a useful quick read on how services like Uber, Box, AirBnB and others quickly entered a new market and achieved uncommon customer acquisition success.
This question really does depend on if you're talking about B2B (selling the technology to other travel companies) or B2C (you have a compelling travel site or app that a customer can directly use).
On the B2B side, nothing beats patience and focussing on making an amazing product that people understand why they should use it (the value proposition), keep using it (retention), and then recommend and tell others about you. In the travel space, word travels fast and you'll build up a reputation for having something valuable.
To accelerate that you'll want to establish yourself as a company that can add value in the space through speaking at industry events and conferences, hosting your own events where you educate and inform on a particular topic and capture contact details / briefly chat to the attendees, and publishing regular, quality content that again is interesting and engaging.
I'd invested in numerous SaaS based companies of this nature and this approach is by far the most successful, albeit often a slower burn than direct marketing.
You should also look at using Hubspot (www.hubspot.com), and reading the blogs of Tom Tunguz (http://tomtunguz.com/) and Christoph Janz (http://christophjanz.blogspot.co.uk/) that focus on this in particular.
For B2C, it's a very competitive space and happy to go into that too - depending on what your focus is..