Most startups are based on an innovative idea or set of services that are uniquely positioned and marketed. These budding companies are usually very close to their founders’ hearts as they see it as a living manifestation of their dreams. However, the road to success is not always easy. According to Investopedia, 21.5% of startups fail in the first year, 30% in the second year, and 50% in the fifth year.
It is crucial to focus on marketing and growth to ensure a startup’s survival. This post will discuss every aspect of startup marketing, both paid and organic. We will also discuss how we can leverage free tactics such as building a blog, perform content marketing, email marketing, and YouTube marketing. Read on to know when you need to go for paid advertising and when to combine it with organic marketing and SEO.
You’ll also find links to some helpful digital marketing resources from DashClicks for information on agencies you can use for learning and training. Here are some of the best strategies to grow your startup and actualize your entrepreneurial dream.
A startup is a newly launched business venture by one or more entrepreneurs to introduce a product or service to the market. According to Eric Ries, the creator of the Lean Startup methodology, “A startup is a human institution designed to create a new product or service under conditions of extreme uncertainty.” One common feature of all startups is that despite the environment of uncertainty, their primary focus is always on growth. Startups are usually based on an idea or value proposition. Some of the most iconic companies, like Facebook, Uber, Airbnb, and Amazon began their journeys as startups. The common goal of all startups is to grow by leveraging technology and innovative ideas.
Marketing is often referred to as a series of actions to attract an audience to buy a company’s products or services. It usually involves customer segmentation and targeting using laser-focused messaging to achieve the desired outcomes. Effective marketing aims to offer value to its prospects by offering engaging content, highlighting a product’s value, encouraging brand loyalty, and increasing sales.
Some of the issues startups face include adapting to constantly changing market dynamics, customer needs, and operating conditions.
As a business owner and founder of a startup, you may stumble across several marketing terms. Some of these words are shown below:
Here are some valuable resources to help you build the right expertise for running a digital marketing startup:
The marketing of a startup comprises many channels. Apart from offline methods such as community outreach and participating in local and industry-specific events, they should try SEO, paid advertising, digital PR, email marketing, and social media marketing.
Here is a three-step process to run your marketing campaigns:
Based on your SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threat) analysis, it’s imperative to build a sound strategy for growth and development. The presence of a strategic framework saves you from many surprises in the future and helps you secure steady growth. As an easier but just as effective option, you can incorporate white label services as part of your operational strategy.
Identify your target audience and reach out to them using paid ads, outbound sales, and digital PR. It is especially helpful for agencies that want to market themselves as specialists in a particular segment, such as real estate services or business services.
Nothing remarkable can ever be achieved if you don’t measure your campaign performance to gauge where things might be going wrong. Using analytics is the key to success in digital marketing.
When introducing your startup to your target online audiences, you need to pay attention to the two major types of marketing — Organic and Paid. The reach and impact of organic marketing (SEO) are undisputed as it diverts target traffic to your website without investing a single penny. However, in the short term, nothing can beat paid marketing. It attracts qualified leads when you don’t have a significant online presence or brand awareness.
Startups need a mix of both paid vs. organic marketing. However, if you are confused between the two, the following five factors can help you decide:
Budget is often an essential consideration in marketing. To run advertising campaigns, you must have surplus funds, as it may be a while until you start getting results from the paid campaigns. Paid advertising is usually faster than organic marketing, but you can’t anticipate the results right away.
Paid ads run on a definite pattern. It involves a lot of testing and tweaking before you find the right audiences, messaging, and ad practices. You may end up losing hundreds of ad dollars in ad spending before you finally start seeing an ROI. Therefore, before you initiate paid ads, make sure you have sufficient funds for the testing phase.
Time is a crucial factor, especially when you are evaluating various options for promotion. Organic traffic comes from organic search engine rankings, but it might take three to twelve months and sometimes even longer to attain organic rankings. The paid route is faster, but it will take at least one month to deliver an ROI. With lots of content competing for the rankings, it’s becoming increasingly challenging to consistently rank on top. Previously, black hat practices like keyword stuffing and spamming were successful. Today, however, Google will ban you from using these methods. Social media takes time as you slowly grow your audience with engaging posts that offer value.
Organic marketing is much more cost-effective than its paid counterpart, especially in the long run, but diverting traffic from your blog is no small feat. Google loves fresh content. Even if you can produce quality content and rank it high, there is no certainty that the blog will continue to send quality traffic to your website. It’s probable that several other blogs will be competing with yours for coveted attention.
It’s easy to build trust and long-term relationships with organic rankings, as opposed to paid ads, which can sometimes invite an element of suspicion. People trust social posts and blogs that are popularly shared, and have lots of comments and likes. It helps build trust, which means that people will be more likely to consume your content.
Your niche plays a significant role in deciding the right promotion mix. If you’re in a highly competitive niche, it will take a lot of time to attain organic rankings. In that case, you should focus on paid strategies until you start receiving noticeable results from your SEO efforts. However, if you are in a small and unique niche with little or no competition, you’ll start ranking on Google in just two to three months. Similarly, if you are in an industry where your income depends on a few high-value clients, then paid tactics are often your best option.
Paid and organic marketing are not mutually exclusive, and the ideal strategy should be a combination of both. If you create high-quality blog content, you can use it for your paid advertising campaigns. Some businesses focus more on advertising, using their blog to establish credibility and create brand awareness. On the other hand, some businesses focus on organic ranking because it brings them consistent traffic. Such companies may use paid advertising selectively to drive traffic to their landing pages.
Finding clients as a startup can be a challenge as you are often competing against established brands. However, here are some proven methods you can try:
Not all channels are suitable for startup marketing. Depending on the type of business and its marketing needs, some are more effective than others. You should focus your efforts and attention on the core channel that is most likely to get you the best results.
The key takeaway from their success stories is that building a product or service that people love to recommend is one of the most effective growth strategies. If every user spreads the word to at least two new users, you will see unexpected growth. The second tactic is to align your growth strategy with the channel you are focusing on.
According to Brian Halligan of HubSpot, your marketing strategy should align with the way people learn about and shop for your products. It holds true especially in the context of the marketing channel being used. For example, if most of your customers come from reading your white papers and case studies, you should not invest too much in Facebook marketing. Instead, you should focus on producing high-quality content for your white papers and case studies.
Conversion Rate Optimization comes into the picture when your conversion rate falls below expectations. It involves improving your messaging and value proposition. It is also a good practice to engage with potential customers to find out the reason they are not purchasing your products and services. You can speak to your website visitors directly using a tool called “Intercom.”
You can also conduct a survey using applications like SurveyMonkey or SurveyMonkey alternatives. Start by fixing your landing page, crafting better headlines, and formulating effective calls to action. If you want an efficient lead capture form, you can use a tool known as “Leadformly.” You should also pay closer attention to your website to correct any user experience or navigation issues.
Facebook allows you a laser-sharp focus when running adverts for different demographics and psychographic segmentation. Its conversion tracking feature helps you determine which demographics are most responding to your ads. You can leverage its tools to efficiently identify your target audiences and the cost per acquisition for these groups.
As a startup, you should be agile and alert when it comes to receiving and responding to customer feedback. You can offer incentives in return for honest inputs and suggestions. You can use this consumer behavior data to understand why people are falling off in your sales funnel.
Contrary to popular wisdom, most often, startups require a tremendous marketing investment. You should continue investing in marketing until you achieve positive results. If your paid media channels can drive qualified traffic to your website, there is no reason to ignore them.
Below, we will explore some of the popular paid channels:
Along with being a highly effective advertising platform, Facebook also allows you to acquire new users. You can promote your posts in the news feed and narrow them down to your target audience to generate high CTRs.
Feel free to experiment with offbeat, unique, and bright-colored ads for better results. Qwaya is a great alternative to Facebook Ads Manager for your ad creation needs.
This smart tool allows you to split your ad campaigns into hundreds of variations, each targeting a different segment. As a result, you will be able to clearly decipher which ad segments are performing better than others, so you can tweak your budget and advertising strategy accordingly.
If your product or service aims to solve a common pain point that people frequently search for, Google Ads can be the right acquisition channel for you. For Example, if you are looking for “Houston Astros Tickets,” Google will return results such as MLB tickets to allow you to buy tickets for the event.
Google also allows you to purchase banner adverts through their display network. You can choose which websites you want your banner ads to display on. To run more targeted ads, you can select the websites related to specific keywords and bid on those sites.
Google remarketing takes paid advertising to a different level. When someone visits your website, your remarketing tool places a cookie on their computer, which traces their internet behavior, and also reminds them to revisit your website. You can get creative with your remarking and use customized ads for the different stages of your buyer’s journey. For Example, if someone visited the product page but didn’t buy your product, you can show them the product image and description with a special promotion. Google remarketing works effectively because the visitors are already aware of your product.
Facebook Exchange is Facebook’s version of Google remarketing. In other words, when someone visits your website and doesn’t return, you can reach out to them through their Facebook feed, reminding them to revisit your website.
Content Discovery Platforms promote your content alongside popular articles on major news sites, such as Buzzfeed, New York Times, and The Guardian. Outbrain and Taboola are two such content discovery platforms. Although somewhat expensive, these platforms are tremendously powerful in driving backlinks and traffic to your website.
Not all startups should advertise on LinkedIn, although some can derive truly positive results from it, especially those in the education or the financial service industry. They can achieve extraordinary results by running targeted ads for people based on their job title and industry.
If you have invested in creating a compelling promo video for your brand or products, pre-roll advertising may be a good advertising option. With tools like Tubemogul or MediaMath TerminalOne Marketing OS™, you can pay for your video to appear as an advert before video content on sites such as YouTube and 4od.
It can be a cost-effective option since you do not have to pay if your ad is skipped within the first five seconds.
Here are some highly potent methods to dramatically improve the prospects of your startup:
Affiliate marketing is quite powerful, but it works only for high-margin products with a reasonable conversion rate. You can use affiliate networks such as Clickbank or Affiliate Window to offer an affiliate program. Although not as effective at the beginning of a startup journey, affiliate marketing can help you reach newer heights when your brand is somewhat established.
You can try something remarkable to create buzz and get the press and social media to talk about you. It shouldn’t be an expensive event — it should just be different. For example, you can run an awareness campaign for the ordinary folks, arrange a training workshop for your prospects, arrange a doctors’ meet for your community, and guide them on different aspects of health and safety, especially during situations like the current pandemic. You can also establish yourself as a leader by organizing a conference of experts in your niche.
Moz has created a weather report tool MozCast, which receives lots of love from the SEO industry, generating free publicity for the company. You can create similar resources that might be helpful for your current and prospective customers. Make sure that the resources you build add value and solve users’ problems.
Influencer marketing is hot, as it can contribute greatly to promoting your startup. However, you should be selective about the influencers and collaborate with only those who have a sizable niche-based audience with lots of engagement on their channel.
With over 3.5 billion searches every day, Google virtually dominates the search engine industry. SEO is something you can’t ignore when promoting your startup. If you have a product that offers a utility that people are searching for, these latest SEO practices can help you in a big way.
When you run ads on social media, your aim is to pull people onto your site. With SEO, however, you are simply helping them find what they are already looking for. You should be aware that organic rankings don’t have a quick fix; they usually take time, and with constantly changing algorithms, there is no guarantee of definite results.
With a planned approach, you can gradually rank on some of your targeted keywords over a minimum period of three to nine months. However, it is still very little time to expect something substantial, especially a top-slot ranking.
Startups can significantly benefit from creating a signature blog. It’s free to set up and is one of the best ways to add visitors to your site. If you have an active blog that offers value, you will create a loyal audience, many of whom can potentially convert into customers.
However, it is important to publish content that interests your readers. Instead of bragging about your products and services, your blog should engage your visitors by addressing their core needs and providing them useful information. If you think an article on positive self-image can help your audience, publish it even if it has nothing to do with your existing products and services.
Generally speaking, once you have published at least a hundred quality articles on your blog, it will start generating new traffic, backlinks, and sign-ups every day.
Email marketing is no longer about building your mailing list and sending cold emails and newsletters. These days businesses use marketing automation and send visitors personalized messages based on their online activities. For Example, if someone signs up for a free trial on your website and doesn’t use the product within a specified period, you can send an automated email inviting them to check out your product. Make sure that you are sending professional emails with a good subject line and a beautiful HTML template.
With 50 million searches every day, YouTube is one of the best traffic sources for businesses and organizations. Short, three-minute videos attract a high number of views, ranging from 50000 to 1 million. Another advantage with YouTube is that it’s less competitive than Google. YouTube videos also feature in Google’s search results.
Content marketing has become an essential element of digital marketing, as it is challenging to grab users’ attention without quality content. Content marketing is both a science and an art. Content-based online PR is highly effective, and many marketers are quickly shifting their focus to this burgeoning new field.
Content marketing can be your go-to strategy to build loyal audiences for your startup. For Example, in terms of social shares and the number of backlinks, infographics win hands-on with roughly 198% more social shares and backlinks than any other content format. The key is to create premium quality long-form content, which is difficult to replicate.
Social media marketing builds your presence on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other social networks to drive potential customers to your website. However, you can’t use these channels indiscriminately to broadcast your marketing messages. When you are on a social network as a startup, you should focus on building relationships and getting feedback. Once you earn the trust of your audiences and establish brand authority, you will start seeing the results of your content marketing efforts.
When it comes to marketing, you cannot just count on the tried and tested methods. Since it is a rapidly evolving ecosystem, it is best to test, evaluate and tweak your strategy for the best results. If something that worked in the past isn’t working anymore, you should find new ways to make it relevant and interesting. The end goal is to build credibility and generate revenue by offering value through your products and services. When people see value in what you offer and appreciate your commitment to service, you are on the right track to success.