What is one of the most common reasons startups fail? It’s because they undervalue the power of marketing.
Young entrepreneurs and company founders easily get obsessed with business plans, seeking funding, product development and setting goals, so they often forget to ask one important question – How are we going to market our business? Some startups begin thinking about marketing when it’s too late, while others never even get there.
Businesses like GroupSpaces, Everpix, and RiotVine all had amazing ideas, thorough planning and exceptional product offering. Yet, they lacked product/market fit, customer trust and brand awareness, which, in turn, cost them their whole venture.
So, don’t make the mistake of skipping the marketing plan and regretting it later. Instead, check out our tips on marketing for startups and how to kick-start your business.
1. Set Clear Goals and KPIs
Developing any marketing strategy begins with laying out goals that reflect what you want to achieve. They can be short term goals or long term targets. You can also separate them by end results – increase in sales and revenue, improved SEO rankings, entering a new market, etc. Make sure you tie these goals to your entire business plan.
When you know what you’re aiming for, you need to define how you would measure your success. This includes setting relevant Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to keep track of your progress.
Examples of some metrics you can include in your report based on activity are:
- Lead & Sales – Number of new leads, conversion rate, cost per conversion, net promoter score, etc.
- SEO & Website Traffic – Organic traffic, new and returning visitors, average time on page, bounce rate, goal completions, events, keyword rankings, page authority, etc
- Social Media – Return on investment (ROI), engagement rate, amplification rate (or how much of your followers truly engage with your content), social media conversion rate, etc.
- Advertising – Cost per acquisition, leads and conversions from paid advertising.
If you’re not sure of your marketing knowledge or your team doesn not have any, reach out to an experienced marketing agency to help you kickstart it. With some external help you can set the right goals and approach, so you can avoid any marketing failure.
2. Identify Your Target Audience
The more you know about your audience, the easier it will be to target it. Understanding the needs and wants of your target customers can help you better connect with them, build brand trust and loyalty and improve your marketing strategy.
When your target market is clear you can construct a strong action plan on how to approach them and attract new customers successfully.
Research and brainstorm with your team to create buyer personas profiles based on different sets of criteria for each stage of the buying funnel. This will help you get more familiar with the people you are trying to reach and target them properly.
3. Pay Attention to SEO & Content Marketing
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a critical component of any digital marketing strategy. It’s a free and smart way to reach your target audience by letting it find you organically. With a good content marketing strategy in place you can create and promote useful and original content that helps you index your pages on certain keywords.
Ranking in the top search engine results (SERPs) indicates that your website is a valuable source of information. This gives consumers a sense of confidence in your business, thus building trust and authority.
To boost your SEO, your website should be well organized. Its pages should be properly named and thematically related. This ensures that whenever a customer searches for a product like the one you have to offer, they can easily find your page and navigate it.
It will also guarantee that search engines know the exact information your site has and how it links to other pages.
4. Invest in Email Marketing
Email marketing is a great approach to start building your startup’s network and boosting your digital presence. But it’s not as simple as sending just an email. It’s a long-term strategy that calls for thorough planning and frequent revisiting and improving.
This includes creating a relevant email template that can deliver your message to the right customers. The content should be tailored to the language of your buyers and should reflect the different stages of their customer journey. It has to be targeted, personal and specifically designed to match your audience’s needs.
You should set some parameters to measure the effectiveness of your email marketing campaign. For example:
- Track click-through rate, open rate, forward rate etc.
- Identify the appropriate frequency of sending the emails – once a month, once a week, once every two weeks, etc.
- Consider the size of your email list and use smart tactics to grow it – e.g. have the subscribe form accessible on every page of your website.
- You should also make sure to track and analyze website conversions via email traffic.
Based on this data you can adjust your content and approach to ensure your subscribers are engaged.
5. Craft a Powerful Social Media Strategy
Do you know that your customers are spending roughly 2 hours of their time every day on social media? With so many brands out there competing for customers’ attention, how are you going to stand out?
Social media is more than just a medium for brand awareness. It initiates a two-way conversation with your audience, and allows you to get to know them better. It is a great source of feedback and this can also give you tips on what you need to improve in your product or service.
To build an outstanding social media presence, take the following points into account:
- Have a unique approach to each social media network – Find where your customers are and plan a strategy for each platform you want to use. Share content that makes it easy for them to engage with your brand. Add links to your website and cross promote your other social media profiles to gain more exposure.
- Learn from your experience – Performance insights are available on any social media platform and can be your secret weapon to success. Social media analytics can provide you with audience engagement data, preferences, as well as demographic and interest details. Using these insights you can segment your customers and run tailored campaigns for specific groups.
- Don’t be afraid of reviews – Ask your customers to share feedback on social media. Buyers don’t often think about adding a review, unless they’re asked for it.
6. Organize a Giveaway and Offer Free Trial
Your brand is new and people can be skeptical about your products. Hence, it’s normal they don’t trust you at first. So how about offering them something free to break the ice?
Pamper your first interested prospects with a free version of your product or your service. Based on your business specifics, you can also offer special promotions or gifts for first time purchasers. By offering compliments, you will surprise your customers and make them feel special.
As a startup, one of your goals is to build a network of supporters, so this will be a good way to receive feedback and your first reviews. You can understand what features they value and which one you can improve.
Offering free plans and trials will add to your marketing strategy as this is an opportunity to start collecting lead data that you can use for future campaigns and promotions.
You can also organize a giveaway and make some noise around it by partnering with a bigger brand in your niche that can give you a hand with promotion. This will increase your brand awareness as you can also reach out to their audience as well.
7. Run a Referral Program
Referrals, or so-called word-of-mouth marketing, are a pretty powerful tool for driving attention towards your products. This concept implies that happy customers will spread the word about your brand to their networks. They will become your ambassadors and promote your business. If they get you new leads, they receive discounts of your product or get other benefits.
According to statistics, the referral marketing programs work because:
- 83% of buyers trust their friends and family about product recommendations.
- B2B companies that have referrals achieve a 70% higher conversion rate than companies without.
- Referral leads convert 30% better than leads coming from other channels.
8. Get Featured in a Major Publication
If you get featured in a major publication, among other credible sources, you will gain popularity and trust in your target audience. This tactic has various benefits such as:
- Increasing your brand awareness
- Building an online reputation and authority
- Strengthening the domain authority of your website
- Boosting your traffic
Getting your business mentioned in a major publication may cost you more effort as it is not easy, but it will add some points to your authority as an industry expert.
You can start by creating quality content that will help building relationships with authority websites such as Forbes, Entrepreneur, New York Times, etc by sharing their content and engaging with them.
You can go even further and offer a guest post. When pitching your ideas you need to propose a topic that is relevant to your business but at the same time aligned with the publisher’s audiences.
If that sounds too complicated for you, you can always hire a professional to take care of your content marketing.
9. Sponsor an Event
Sponsoring a local event or an online conference can also help you kick start your startup and get you noticed by the right audience. Whether online or physical, you can sponsor an event that is related to your industry and use banners or marketing materials to make sure people remember your brand.
Since online events are getting more and more popular, let’s outline a few cool ideas you can try if you sponsor an online event:
- Add banners or pop-up ads during the live-stream.
- Use sponsored intros or video ads.
- Share on social media you will be sponsoring an event.
- Craft branding registration pages.
- Organize a virtual game.
By sponsoring an event you have the chance to strengthen your brand and demonstrate your commitment to a certain community and distinguish your brand from the competitors.
10. Create a Video Showcasing Your Product or Company
Did you know 96% of people have learned about a product by watching an explainer video? Explainer videos are an effective way to showcase your company or product to your target audience. These types of videos are usually located on a landing page or the homepage of your website.
Video also does a great job to influence people’s decisions as 84% of people say that they’ve been convinced to buy a product or service by watching a brand’s video.
Having an explainer video on your website helps people to become familiarized with your business. If you plan to make a video explaining your brand’s values or show your products, keep in mind the following tips:
- Make it short.
- Keep it simple and briefly explain the benefits your customers are getting.
- Use a professional tone.
- Choose the right music.
- Use a little humor if this aligns with your company.
Starting a business is always challenging – from positioning your brand on the market, to fighting the competition, and overcoming financial difficulties. Implementing a startup marketing strategy is essential for your growth, but it’s often neglected. Remember that with careful planning and teamwork your startup will grow.