As soon as you launch your startup, the clock starts ticking. To start, you need to grow your customer base, create a steady flow of income, and establish your brand’s credibility within a particular industry. Your time, energy, and resources have never been more valuable. You’re willing to do what it takes to scale your business to the next level, but it needs to be worth it.
Within the first year, you can find startups presenting at conferences, hosting launch parties, and building public relations in the hopes of getting noticed. However, your digital footprint is just as essential as your physical one. In fact, it may be even more important if you are trying to attract customers from across the globe.
To market your startup successfully, you need to choose the right digital marketing channels. This means:
1. Knowing who your customer is.
2. Knowing where you can reach them.
While there’s no one size fits all, these tips will help you get your startup on the map.
Set ROI Goals for Your Marketing Efforts
Image via Getty Images by Ross Hellen
Marketing isn’t meant to be a vacuum where you spend money and hope to grow your customer base. Digital marketing, in particular, is useful for tracking the effects of your promotional efforts. Before you launch your marketing plan, set return on investment (ROI) goals for how you define success. These may include:
- The number of hits to your website because of each campaign.
- The number of leads generated.
- The number of sales made.
With these goals, you can make sure that each marketing channel is contributing to your business. These goals can also help you adjust your spending so that you get the most from your efforts. Do you drive more customers from Facebook promoted posts or Twitter sponsored ads? Does the traffic convert more from social media or Google Ads? By analyzing your success, you can invest where the profits are highest to keep growing and optimizing your digital marketing portfolio.
Get Found Organically by Investing in SEO
Successful investors get rich while they sleep, and smart startup founders grow their leads in the same way. The goal is to keep bringing people to your website even if you miss a day on social media or your sales team is off for the weekend. Search engine optimization (SEO) can help. SEO is the practice of making your brand visible in Google searches by ranking for certain relevant terms.
Consider working with a company that specializes in search optimization to help you get noticed. You want to rank well online for easy terms like your brand name, as well as more competitive terms related to your industry, products, and services.
Use Your Content to Educate Customers
Content is one of the cornerstones of SEO, which makes it an important tool for digital marketing for startups. By writing quality content, you can address the questions and concerns of your customers — the same concerns they are typing into a Google search bar. While most brands use their content to promote their products and services (which is valuable), you should also use this platform to educate customers.
Create how-to guides and articles for frequently asked questions related to your industry and products. This content can help establish your brand as reliable and professional.
Supplement Your SEO With SEM
SEO is the organic process of ranking well on Google, while search engine marketing (SEM) uses paid promotions. The most common forms of SEM are Google Ads and Bing Ads, the sponsored listings you see at the top of most searches. If you are a startup that wants traffic now but lacks a large social media following or SEO presence, consider investing in SEM.
With Google Ads, you bid on certain keywords that people use as search terms. For example, you might bid on the term “running shoes” if you are a shoe retailer. If other brands are willing to pay more to bid on that term (like Nike, Reebok, or any other sports shoe company), the price goes up. This will either reduce your position on the ad listings or cause you to spend your budget faster.
Here’s a quick tip: Look for lesser-used terms related to your industry. If you have a brick and mortar location, the term “running shoes [city name]” can lower the competition and give you more exposure for less money — all while attracting shoppers who want your items.
Grow Your Social Media With Influencer Marketing and Paid Advertising
As a startup owner, you might feel like growing a social media presence is a near-impossible task. How can you win over thousands of followers when only a dozen people follow you right now? The secret lies in networking. Form partnerships with other brands that are in your industry or adjacent. For example, a real estate agent can partner with mortgage companies, home construction firms, and interior designers to cross-promote each other.
Influencer marketing can be paid or handled organically. You can pay a larger influencer with a significant following to promote your brand, or you could exchange promotions as a collaboration with a business that’s more like yours.
Additionally, you may want to use paid advertising in the form of Instagram and Facebook ads to boost your social media exposure. Use these channels to test your messaging and see how they perform with different audiences.
Turn Your Customers Into Advocates
No startup is too young to build brand loyalty. Customer advocates can help you market your brand and win over new customers. Trying something new is always a risk, which is why people read reviews and learn about companies before buying from them. If you can share some customer reviews early on, you can convert people who are on the fence about giving your company a chance.
There are multiple places where you can share customer reviews. You can update third-party sites like Google and Yelp, where people share their thoughts on local businesses. You can also post them on your homepage for a lead-generation site or on individual product pages if you have an e-commerce brand.
Try to build up a large number of organic reviews when you first start out, and never pay for reviews.
Building a startup is full of risks and hardships. To get the most out of your digital marketing efforts, take time to understand your customer and how to reach them with these six tips. At Pericus Ventures, we love working with growth-stage startups to help them in their daring pursuits! Let us know how we can help.