Our Stock Market Research Company Exploded to $3M/Month [Update]

Published: January 17th, 2024
Matt Paulson
Founder, MarketBeat
from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, USA
started January 2011
Discover what tools Matt recommends to grow your business!

Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.

My name is Matt Paulson and I am an entrepreneur in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, who has founded a variety of technology-driven businesses over the last two decades.

My primary business, MarketBeat, is an 8-time Inc. 5000 financial media company that empowers individual investors to make better trading decisions with real-time financial information, best-in-class research tools, and proprietary research reports.

MarketBeat was first featured on Starter Story in 2019. The company makes money through selling premium subscriptions and advertising. Our advertisers include public NASDAQ-listed companies looking for exposure to retail investors, boutique financial newsletter publishers, and fintech companies. MarketBeat’s audience consists of individual investors who want to do their own investment research and do more than just invest in mutual funds.

We publish several email newsletters, including our flagship newsletter, MarketBeat Daily Ratings and The Early Bird. Our website, hosts original content, and we offer a mobile app that is available on both the iOS App Store and the Google Play Store. We also distribute our content through SMS text messaging and browser notifications. In addition to the MarketBeat website, we run several others, including DividendStocks.com and InsiderTrades.com.

Our biggest strength lies in our distribution, with more than 4.1 million email subscribers, 115,000 SMS subscribers, and 700,000 push notification subscribers. Additionally, our websites attract more than 15 million page views each month.

MarketBeat Homepage


Business growth happens by doing more and more of “the boring stuff” and doing it consistently over a long period of time, especially after you become an established business.

Tell us about what you’ve been up to. Has the business been growing?

MarketBeat’s growth largely follows the stock market. We had exceptional years in 2020 and 2021 with the COVID boom and the Gamestop/AMC mania of early 2021. Our business slowed down in 2022 as interest rates rose and the market slumped, but we saw significant growth in 2023 with the stock market turning around, increasing advertising spend, and improving our monetization strategies. We ended 2023 at just under $30 million in top-line revenue, which was up 35% compared to 2022. We are forecasting between $35 and $40 million in top-line revenue in 2024.

Our team has grown as well. We are now up to 16 employees, with our most recent hires being a digital media buyer and a full-time graphic designer. We also moved into our new office in the Cherapa II complex in downtown Sioux Falls, which has a 500-gallon salt-water fish tank, a garden room, tons of local art, a 40’ scrolling stock ticker, two espresso bars, and a few other surprises. With relatively low operational overhead and strong growth, we felt like we could invest big in an office that could serve as our long-term home.

New MarketBeat Office Featuring Custom Wall Street Mural


We saw exceptional growth in our email list in 2023, growing from 3.2 million subscribers in January to nearly 4.1 million subscribers by the end of December. We were able to grow our list quickly by systematically increasing advertising spend from $300K per month at the beginning of the year to $850K per month by the end of the year. We’ve had good luck working with agencies that have specific experience in the financial publishing industry and also have experience working in a given advertising channel (such as AdWords). We were also able to increase organic opt-ins by adding a “Sign in with Google” button to all of our websites and adding a login wall that requires users to create an account after visiting a certain number of pageviews.

MarketBeat Login Wall Featuring “Sign up with Google or Facebook” Buttons


MarketBeat experienced significant revenue growth linked to expanding our email list. This growth was primarily driven by the implementation of our new triggered advertising campaign system. The basic idea of our triggered advertising system is that when a user opens a content email or clicks on a link within an email, we send them one or two more emails that are advertisements for our advertisers’ products and services. If they are subscribed to SMS alerts, we will send them a text as well.

The system also sorts offers by performance over time so that our best-performing offers are sent to our users most frequently. Of course, there’s more to it than that, but the key idea here is that sending an advertising email as a trigger to users who open a content email is a powerful way to generate additional revenue with your email list.

Another big strategy we adopted in 2023 was the concept of partner lists. This is where we work with a financial advertising network that has remnant traffic that is not monetized. Utilizing the remaining inventory, we construct an email list for the advertising network. This involves establishing a website and newsletter under a new brand, monetizing the newsletter and site with ads, overseeing billing procedures, managing the list, and maintaining the technical infrastructure behind the website and newsletter. The advertising network provides all of the email sign-ups and we split the revenue 50-50. We have three of these deals in place currently and they have added more than 200,000 new subscribers into our universe in the last year.

While there were several highlights in 2023, perhaps the biggest highlight was that we got to participate in a NASDAQ closing bell ceremony. We provide original content to NASDAQ’s website and they sell us a variety of data feeds. They invited us to come visit their offices and displayed the MarketBeat logo on the NASDAQ tower in Times Square in Manhattan.

Group from MarketBeat in Times Square


What have been your biggest challenges in the last year?

Building out our new office space has been an incredible challenge. We believe that if you want white-collar workers to come work in the office and collaborate with their coworkers, you have to create a better work environment than your employees have at home. This meant creating an office with unique amenities and an excruciating attention to detail. Like every construction project, our new office was behind schedule and over budget. We also had to work with a variety of contractors, which meant we had several weekly meetings to make sure our project was staying on track. Thankfully, the project is now done for the most part and we can get back to business as usual.

Another big challenge we faced in 2023 was profitably growing our advertising spend. At the beginning of the year, we were buying advertising from 6 different channels. By the end of the year, we were buying from 22 different channels. We aim to grow our advertising spend to $1 million per month in 2024, which means working with a variety of different media buyers, individual website owners, and niche media agencies.

Our approach was to test any advertising strategy that sounded like it could plausibly work at a rate of $10,000 per month for 2-3 months. Then, we scaled the strategies that worked and discontinued the strategies that didn’t. We also brought on a full-time media buyer to lead the effort for many of these new advertising channels.

We also struggled with shipping technology projects. While aiming to make a big push into A.I. in 2023, we ultimately found it to be time-consuming and expensive to ship anything users might find useful. Our focus turned to using A.I. to make variations of marketing copy and create a “pros and cons” list for large stocks on our website. There’s some other stuff we simply didn’t get done but hope to launch in early 2024. A lot of technology projects fail, and that was true at MarketBeat in 2023.

Snippet of MarketBeat’s A.I. Generated Pros and Cons List


There’s a saying that you don’t often know that you are in the “good old days” until they have come and gone, and you can look back at them. But I think the good old days are right now. I love working on MarketBeat. I love the type of work that I do. I love working with the people on our team.

What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?

The biggest realization that we’ve had is we are not a stock market website but rather a media company whose primary mission is to connect readers with our network of advertisers. To that end, we’ve decided to rename our holding company to MarketBeat Media in 2024 (previously American Consumer News, LLC).

We launched three new digital media brands in 2023, with the most recent being TickerTalk.com. We centralized our ad-serving to a single platform and worked to build as many direct relationships with advertisers as possible. We are also working to build our audience across as many distribution channels. For example, we made a big push into YouTube in 2023. You can see our YouTube channel here.

MarketBeat YouTube Channel


Another thing we learned is that we are not strongly positioned to sustain and grow our software subscription offering, MarketBeat All Access. As Jesus said, no one can serve two masters. We learned we can’t effectively build and promote our premium subscription product at the same time we are promoting our advertisers that have similar offerings.

In 2023, we streamlined our subscription products into one offering called MarketBeat All Access and reduced the entry price of the product to make it more accessible. We also largely stopped advertising it outside of our website and our newsletter.

MarketBeat Compare Products Page


Outside of the business, I learned that some cool things can happen in life but you have to proactively make them happen. For example, my son and I got second-row seats at the WWE Royal Rumble in January. We got them by waiting on the computer as soon as the tickets were released. We also got a turf suite for our team at a Vikings game in Minneapolis, which required identifying the right contact in the Vikings organization and writing a big check for the opportunity. Our invitation to see NASDAQ also didn’t happen by accident. We worked to make that happen. It can be incredibly difficult to find time to plan trips like this when you are an executive at a growing company, but they are so worth it.

Group from MarketBeat at the Vikings game

What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?

Business growth happens by doing more and more of “the boring stuff” and doing it consistently over a long period of time, especially after you become an established business. No, it’s not glamorous or exciting to email back and forth with a website owner who can send you 2,000 new email sign-ups per month. However, if you do that 20 times over and do it for a period of years, you can build a truly massive email list. Our big plan for 2024 is to continue to do more of the boring stuff -- launch new newsletters, test new advertising channels, go visit our advertisers in person, write compelling content, and send more emails.

We think there are between 15 million people in our total addressable market based on industry data that we have seen. Currently, 4 million people are actively subscribed to at least one of our newsletters. Our goal is to stay focused and keep working on the same growth strategies until we get all 15 million of them to subscribe to one of our newsletters. We don’t plan on going into other industries, offering software to other people in our industry, or building products to compete with our vendors or our customers. We just want to do a lot more of the same.

So much so that we think we can grow the business from $30 million per year to $50 million per year over the next 3-5 years simply by doing more of the same. We’ll spend more money on ads. We’ll get more people subscribed to our newsletters. We’ll send out more emails. We’ll drive more new customers for our advertisers. We’ll make more money as a result. It’s not exciting, and there’s no secret strategy, but it will work.

There’s a saying that you don’t often know that you are in the “good old days” until they have come and gone, and you can look back at them. But I think the good old days are right now. I love working on MarketBeat. I love the type of work that I do. I love working with the people on our team. I even love working with our accountant, who periodically drives me crazy. I just want to keep experiencing the “good old days” for as many days as possible.

MarketBeat’s Full Team of 16 Employees

What’s the best thing you read in the last year?

Over the last few years, I have become a big audio learner. With small children at home, I’m always on the move doing chores, giving baths, making supper, folding laundry, and the like. This is great podcast listening time. Some of the podcasts I have enjoyed this year are Acquired.fm (especially the Costco episode), David Senra’s Founders (especially the David Ogilvy episode), and 20VC. I also enjoy watching Alex Hormozi and Leila Hormozi’s videos on YouTube. Watching them build their holding company in real time is fascinating.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?

When a founder is struggling to get traction in their business, I try to help them understand what the source of their challenges are. Are they facing an industry problem where every company doing what they do is struggling, or are there other companies succeeding in the same space? Are they facing a marketing problem where they have a few very happy customers but just not enough of them? Or are they facing a product-market fit problem where other people are succeeding in the space, but they find it tough to attract and retain customers with their current product offerings?

Understanding where things are falling short is the first step to understanding how to correct the problem. If it’s an industry problem, perhaps you switch industries. If it’s a marketing problem, you use tools like SimilarWeb to see where your competitors are getting their customers. If it’s a product-market fit problem, interview current and potential customers to ask them about the challenges they face and what kind of solutions they might be willing to pay for to solve problems.

When you are struggling in business, the solution can be more obvious to people outside of the day-to-day of your business. Try to find people who have succeeded in your industry or other related businesses and have them give you a fair assessment of where you are at. You may find the answer to your growth problems to be simple and obvious to others, but not necessarily easy either.

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

We will be posting a full-time office manager role this month. We will likely be posting for several additional marketing and technology positions throughout the year. You can always see our latest job postings.

Where can we go to learn more?

You can always visit our website to read our latest news and analysis. If you would like to subscribe to MarketBeat’s newsletter, you can do that at newsletter. You can follow me on Twitter @MattPaulsonSD and read more regular updates about MarketBeat by reading the quarterly updates on my website. Finally, if you would like to improve your email marketing skill set, you can read my book Email Marketing Demystified which is available on Amazon.

Email Marketing Demystified Book Cover