How do you market your startup? Even the best business idea matters little if you can’t effectively get it in front of your audience. That, in turn, requires a carefully constructed marketing plan.
In 2019, a marketing plan without a digital component is like pasta without sauce. Almost every audience imaginable uses digital means of communication, from Google to social media. If you want to get your message out, you need to account for that.
If you’re not a marketer, that task can be daunting. In the world of SEO and PPC, how are you supposed to still focus on your business? Fortunately, a few tips can streamline your marketing efforts and help your startup grow.
Never go into the vast world of digital without a plan. It helps you stay focused, build a great message, and keep your budget on track. Your digital marketing plan should include:
Congratulations! Even a plan with these components puts you ahead of many startups, who just start a social media account and hope for the best. It also helps you track your marketing efforts over time, and make improvements where needed.
Too many businesses treat their website as a separate entity from their digital marketing efforts. In reality, it should be the center. It’s where your audience comes to learn more about your business, value proposition, and product or service. Existing customers long to share your content and grow your startups through word of mouth.
Your social media efforts will link to your website. So will your ads, your email marketing efforts, and every other digital (along with many non-digital) tactics. Search engine optimization (SEO), the biggest organic traffic driver to your website, starts and ends with your website. Every marketing decision you make, including all of the tips below, should be made with your website in mind.
In modern digital marketing, user experience (UX) is the ultimate goal. If your audience doesn’t like your online presence, you have a serious problem. SEO depends on users staying on your page for long. You can only get regular users and influencers to share and participate in your social media efforts if they actually enjoy your website and content.
Building digital user experience is complex. Start with asking a sampling of your potential customers what they think about your website and other efforts. Try to identify trends that just keep coming up. That might be anything from the content you publish to your website’s navigation.
To achieve optimal UX, less is often more. That extra paragraph, graphic, or menu item might not actually be beneficial. Try to take your audience’s perspective, and regularly consult them to keep getting new insights and track your improvements. Whether you’re writing a social post or adding a new section to your website, always keep your audience front and center.
SEO is at once complex and simple. It’s absolutely vital for startups competing in industries against much larger competitors. In many ways, it levels the playing field. You don’t need a large budget to outrank brands with larger budgets on relevant searches. You just need a great SEO strategy.
Getting there takes both an understanding of the concept and time. It might be different in your industry, but the average SEO effort takes between 4 and 6 months to show tangible results like significant traffic increases. And even that’s only realistic if your strategy includes:
And yet, it’s worth it; do it right, and your biggest traffic and brand awareness driver costs nothing but time. For a startup operating on a tight budget, that’s a massive advantage.
Yes, your social media plan needs to include social media as a central consideration. No, that doesn’t mean you need to start as many profiles as possible, and post as much content as you possibly can. Instead, as is the case with every other digital tactic, you need to be strategic.
That starts with choosing the right outlets. Different demographics prefer very different social media networks. Choose one that matches both your potential customers and your industry. But don’t stop there.
Depending on the networks you choose, optimum frequency for your posts can make a big difference. Most importantly, though, you need to focus on quality. Networks like Facebook and LinkedIn work based on algorithms that prioritize pages with a high degree of engagement. The better your content, the more people engage. More people see your content, and start following you. Over time, that’s how social media growth happens.
Never, ever underestimate the power of video. Entire startups have entered the national conversation on the strength of a viral video alone. Remember the video that introduced Dollar Shave Club to the world? More than 25 million YouTube viewers probably do. Video works on your website, in emails, every social media network, and all marketing channels with the exception of SEO.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you can just point your camera, hit that post button, and hope for the best. The best digital videos seem spontaneous, but are meticulously planned through. Watch that intensely conversational Dollar Shave Club video again. Focus on the background. Everything is carefully planned and choreographed.
Nonetheless, video needs to be a part of your digital efforts. Your content strategy needs to account for that fact, whether that’s a central introductory brand video or shorter snippets for social channels like Snapchat.
So far, we’ve focused exclusively on organic (unpaid) digital marketing channels. That doesn’t mean you can’t spend money. In fact, digital ads can and probably should play a crucial part in the marketing efforts of any startups. The possibilities there are endless.
Don’t rely exclusively on paid ads. Instead, use them as short-term drivers to your website, product pages, and sales efforts. While you see those results, you can strategically grow your SEO and social media presence. In that vein, paid ads can also be great to test new messaging, tactics, and channels before you build an entire strategy around them.
As with any tactic described here, you need to have a strategy. Focus on the channels where you’re also successful organically. Target narrowly based on your audience; the myriad targeting options of Facebook are well worth exploring. Build multiple variations, according for the fact that your audience will probably (ideally) see your ads more than once.
What’s your core goal as a startup? The answer is probably growth. Digital marketing is ideal to support that growth because, used correctly, it can be successful throughout the sales funnel.
Yes, you can gain initial brand awareness through various digital channels. It doesn’t end there. On your website, you can engage anyone from new visitors to existing customers with compelling content. Email marketing compels leads to become customers. Through an active community on social media, existing customers become brand loyalists.
Even your paid ads can function similarly. Most digital channels, from Google to Twitter, allow marketers to upload lists of leads and customers as a targeting opportunity. Through this option, you can focus your ads specifically on those who already know about your brand and just need that final push.
The best digital marketers are never happy. That’s not an indictment on the profession; just a statement that they realize there is always room for improvement. Simply put, there is no perfect marketing plan or strategy.
Those who succeed embrace that fact. They always look for ways to better their marketing efforts. They talk to their audience, finding ways to better their UX. They optimize their website for new keywords. They run A/B tests to find optimal messaging. In short, they live for continuous improvement.
That, then, is maybe the most important digital marketing tip any startup can receive. This is not a set-and-forget environment. It requires close attention, awareness, and changes where needed. Combine that effort with the various channels discussed above, and your digital marketing strategy won’t just raise brand awareness. It will become a reliable factor in growing your startup into a formidable business.