You had an idea, filed the legal paperwork, and now you have joined the ranks of startups! Intuitively, it might seem that you have established a business in a difficult time, but this is the time of opportunities. Others saw the potential rewards too - there was a 24% increase in startup business activity in the United States last year. What’s new about those new businesses is that they now even more so rely on technology for their outreach.
But all this hype means that your business has more competition at a time when the most secure way to reach your customers is online. The best way to navigate this high-risk, high reward situation is to make sure your digital marketing strategy is impeccable.
Source: U.S Census Bureau Business Formation Statistics
The Importance of Digital Marketing
Having a good product or service is crucial, but how will people know about it if you don’t market it? Let’s go over why digital marketing will help you achieve your goals.
Starting a business is an expensive process, and while digital marketing is more effective than traditional marketing, luckily it is also cheaper! Digital marketing also gives you more control to reach whom you’re targeting, so you’re not wasting your budget on an audience unlikely to convert to customers.
ROI tracking is easier
Compared to traditional marketing, digital marketing can give you much more useful information by using something like Google Analytics. That information can be obtained at any moment throughout the campaign, allowing you to gauge its success and whether it needs any changes. If adjustments are needed, you can be proactive and make them right then. In traditional marketing campaigns, you might vaguely know the results and metrics, but that will be after it ends, which is too late to make any changes.
Targeting your customers
There are more than enough tools to help you get your product or service in front of those who would care about it. Depending on the means of digital marketing, you can choose the location and several demographic factors. There are so many ways to customize your approach that it can even get overwhelming. Once again, your effort and budget do not get wasted on pointless targets.
When it comes to real estate, it’s all about location, location, location. However, for digital marketing, it’s about information, information, information. Digital marketing metrics can help you understand the needs of your customers. You can analyze what approaches elicit a good response, and what approaches are useless and should be stopped immediately.
A digital platform gives people an opportunity to immediately interact with you should they want to. It captures that moment of interest they might have in what you’re showing and makes it possible for them to act on it. It also gives you that opportunity. Engagement can help you build a relationship with your customers.
It’s not only about selling
Brand awareness is essential nowadays when we are spoiled for choice. If you reach someone using digital marketing and they don’t become a conversion, next time they will recognize your brand and could become a customer. By building your brand and making it recognizable, you are making an investment not only in the near future but also creating long-term benefits.
The majority of businesses recognize that digital marketing is a much more powerful tool for most purposes. Therefore, they have chosen to invest more into it and less into traditional marketing as seen in the graph below :
Types of Digital Marketing for Startups
Digital marketing is an umbrella term covering several distinct categories. Needless to say, a comprehensive approach is the optimal course of action. At the same time, some avenues are generally better than others in terms of effectiveness, but it also depends on what industry your startup is in. Here are the main digital marketing means, listed from highest ROI to lowest.
Search Engine Optimization
This type of digital marketing is considered to be the most effective in terms of outcomes and spending because the results are long-lasting. This process involves changing the inherent characteristics of your website to better suit search engines and adding content that is relevant. A more detailed explanation of the process is available in our ‘How SEO Works’ article. Once the needed changes are applied, your website will be showing up organically in relevant searches, which is a gift that keeps on giving. Ranking on search engines without ads is a known way to earn customers’ trust. This form of marketing is classified as "inbound marketing." The ROI is higher for SEO because of customer intent. They are looking for what you are selling.
Email Marketing is a cost-effective way to reach potential customers and it’s often underestimated by startups. An effective strategy has been shown to bring an impressive 4,300% ROI. You can even start before you launch your product or service. The more you can personalize it, the better.
Pay Per Click (PPC)
As opposed to search engine optimization, pay-per-click ads on search engines can get you quicker results. It’s important to start strong, wherein a PPC campaign comes in. It can be used as a way to drive traffic to your website while you wait for organic traffic to start coming in. Although search engines such as Google and Bing have done their best to make the process intuitive, specialist help is recommended to avoid losing your budget on pointless targets.
Depending on what you are selling, social media can be a very effective way to reach potential customers. You have to consider what persona you are selling to in order to choose the platforms you want to focus your efforts on. You will be able to target your audience, engage with them, collect data, and evolve to suit the interests and needs of your customers.
A step-by-step digital marketing approach for your startup
Step 1: Plan Your Strategy
Firstly, you need to plan the main four components of your marketing strategy: goals, audience, market research, and budget. Every business is different, and those factors will be different too. For most companies, the goal is to acquire new customers or raise brand awareness. Although they are interconnected, there are still nuances that make it better for you to differentiate them, which will help guide your approach. Those goals need to be broken down into sub-goals to make your target clear.
Goal: Acquire New Customers
Acquiring new customers would revolve around getting new people to your website and converting interest into purchases using approaches such as calls-to-action.
Goal: Raising Brand Awareness
This goal is more about being informative by explaining what your brand is, what it does, and why it’s special. In this case, getting your brand name, logo, and products in front of as many users as possible can be a central strategy.
Specify Your Target Persona or Business
To figure out who should be your target audience, you need to think about your brand characteristics :
- What you are selling?
- Why is it special?
- Why would it be chosen over your competitors’ products?
Even if you have an unlimited amount of time and a substantial budget, you want to waste neither. To make the most out of digital marketing, you need to figure out who is your ideal target audience.
The number one reason that startups fail is that there is simply not enough demand for their product. You need to make sure that there is either enough demand for what you will be selling or that you can create a niche and subsequently create demand for it.
Your marketing budget will depend on many factors such as revenue, cost, and investment. The great thing about digital marketing is that you can start small and then spend more to reach more customers as you are able to afford it, since the different types of digital marketing provide a lot of flexibility. To avoid wasting your budget, choose your platform and your target wisely. Alternatively, you can contact us to make sure you get more for what you pay.
Step 2: Create your website
It’s tempting to use drag and drop website tools to create your own website for a small price. It’s easy to use and quick, but there is a reason that well-known companies don’t do that. Due to the drag and drop process, a lot of unnecessary extra code is added. This affects loading time and suitability for search engines, which makes it a terrible option for a serious business. You will need an SEO-friendly website sooner or later. Older websites have more authority in the digital world, so don’t delay getting your website made. If done right, its inherent characteristics will bring you much more organic traffic.
Google recommends getting SEO as soon as possible. It’s a long-term strategy so it really is better to invest in it early. However, it’s not a one-size-fits-all strategy. Make sure that your SEO provider has YOUR goals in mind. For example, if there are only a handful of businesses that you can offer your services to as a contractor, you don’t need SEO. You probably don’t even need a website and you’re better off contacting those companies directly. However, most companies do need SEO. The costs and what’s included completely depend on how fast you want to grow, what areas you are targeting, and what approach is best for your business and your budget. For example, local SEO is cheaper than targeting the entire nation.
Content is one of the best ways to get people to your website organically. You need to post as many articles as possible in your blog relevant to your products and services. There are two ways to get it done: do it yourself or pay content writers. Bear in mind that not all content is equal; you will need to do keyword research and integrate keywords that have significant search volumes into your text. However, be careful not to stuff it with keywords because search engines don’t appreciate that. If you are looking for professional help, we provide content separately and as part of our SEO packages.
Some believe backlinks to be the most effective way to get your website ranking. They are one of the hardest tasks in digital marketing, because if you break Google’s guidelines, you may get blacklisted. Google states that paying for backlinks is not allowed. Therefore, after you have some great content, reach out to relevant websites in your industry, present it to them and ask them if they could link to it. It takes a lot of work and personalized emails to achieve backlinks.
Organic traffic is the best type of traffic because it elicits more trust. However, it can take years to grow to your expectations without SEO and months with SEO, so you might need some quick solutions for the beginning. PPC is a great way to get customers during that time.
Step 3 : Collect and Analyze Marketing Data
Once you have implemented your digital marketing strategy, you need to assess the results. They can be evaluated during and after the campaign, unlike traditional marketing methods. It’s important to make sure you keep track of progress so that you can make adjustments when needed during the process.
As we all know, goals need to be measurable, and that’s what key performance indicators (KPI’s) are for. They vary depending on your marketing goals. If it is to raise brand awareness, they can include impressions, website traffic, and follows on social media. If your main goal is to get new customers, then the number of filled-out contact forms and conversions would be more relevant KPI’s. Analyzing review is another great way to track what your customers think about your product.
Digital marketing is more so a process than a set amount of changes that stay the same. The only way to be successful in it is to be flexible. That’s why most digital marketing packages are subscription based. If, for example, a certain PPC advertisement is not yielding many results, you need to change it so that you’re not wasting your money. Or, if a piece of content is bringing you a lot of traffic, you’ll know that it’s best to write about that topic.
Final Thoughts On Digital Marketing For Startups
Digital marketing has a unique learning curve for each website. Keep working on your company’s website and you will make sure it survives and thrives in any situation since your digital footprint will be essential to succeeding.