Starting your own business is exciting until you discover that success might not just be waiting for you and that you have to work extra hard to make a real impression in a competitive marketplace.
Online marketing for startups presents unique challenges, not only because you’re charting unexplored territories, but also because you must do that with limited resources.
You cannot only depend on traditional marketing strategies especially since they are not as effective today as they used to be.
Below, we provide a guide to some of the most important aspects to consider when establishing an online marketing strategy.
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1. Establishing the Foundation
Before going into specific techniques and strategies, you must build a solid base on which the other marketing techniques will stand. These include:
- Choose your market: the whole world is not your stage, at least not yet. Marketing to everybody can be a waste of resources and time. Instead, select a market considering size, wealth, competition and your value proposition to them.
- Define keywords: these will be used anywhere you need keywords for, so it’s important to have a consistent target keyword list. Start by asking yourself how searchers looking for you or your products will search for you. There are many tools to help with this e.g. Uber Suggest and Google Keyword Tool. The core keywords can be useful as blogging categories in content creation and marketing.
- Define success: establish business objectives and decide what success means for you specifically. Write it down and circulate to your whole team. Stay consistent with your benchmarks, whether they are profit, sign-ups or revenue.
- Define core metrics: don’t follow metrics simply because they work for everyone else. According to your objectives above, define metrics that are measurable and an accurate representation of the above objectives. Don’t focus on everything. Start by recording your baseline metrics so that you can track your success from the get-go.
- Set a budget: define how much you can afford to channel towards your startup marketing strategy. More importantly, decide how that budget is going to be allocated.
2. Social Media
Social media is a useful platform for reaching influencers, connecting and engaging with influencers, potential and existing consumers and promoting your content. To get the most out of it, you must do the following:
- Choose the right networks: don’t go for a network because it’s popular or your competitors are doing it especially in the beginning. Also, don’t simply choose a network because it requires little strategy/effort. The most popular networks include Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram, Reddit and Tumblr among others. They are all great but have unique requirements that must be understood and leveraged for success. Consider the demographic within the social network, and target the place where most of your audience is first.
- Choose posting times: there is no universal best time to post, but certain times are better than others. On Facebook, for instance, posting on the weekends and nights can give you greater mileage. A post a day is enough. On Twitter, rules are completely different: tweeting at 5 p.m. is better for retweets, but you can do one to four link tweets an hour. All days are great, except Monday and Friday.
- Target keywords: the list you created above can be useful here. Focus your discussions around your keywords to maximize engagement. If you can afford it, social media marketing tools like Hootsuite can be very helpful in monitoring social conversations around a keyword and joining in. keywords are also important for ad targeting
- Create an influencer list: influencing influencers is one of the best ways to increase brand popularity on social media especially for new brands that will take time to build a social following. Community leaders and journalists are a great starting point. Market research can help you to identify other influencers e.g. popular bloggers, people with large followings etc.
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Setting up a blog is relatively simple, especially with content management systems like Blogger and WordPress that have ready-made themes and amazing plugins to help with management, tracking, analysis and other common tasks. Set up the basics like tags and blog categories and install Yoast, a plugin that will improve search engines’ ability to find and rank your pages.
Once you have the back-end set up, think about curb appeal. How does the design look? You can get a designer to help you with customization of themes and polishing up the blog so that it looks unique and professional. Design impacts user experience, but content is even more important as it’s what will win your audiences over time. Ask yourself the following questions to determine functionality of your site:
- Can I see my call-to-action if I stand afar and squint?
- Is there search functionality (for the blog, not Google)?
- Do I have RSS feed and blog subscription options?
- Does my homepage show featured images and/or posts?
- Does every blog post have clear social sharing icons?
- Do I have social sharing and connection plugins?
When spoke to Garry from BigDropInc; he said “WordPress is one of the most popularly-used blogging platforms, but there are many more. If your budget allows, you can even have your blog set up from scratch. “
4. Content Creation and Marketing
With your blog going, content creation and management is your next area of focus. Managing a blog can seem daunting especially if you’re not great with content creation. Fortunately, these four steps will help you:
- Create a topic list: the perfect list should be based on the core keywords to make your SEO easier. This will improve credibility with search engines. Begin by brainstorming topic ideas around your core keywords. If you can fit them naturally, use them within the titles. You should have thirty to fifty topics before you can start writing. Put them into a publishing calendar and decide who will write them. Gantt charts can be extremely helpful with this. Include descriptions in your topics ideas, you won’t remember every detail you talked about, especially as time passes.
- Decide content types: don’t start with everything right away. You can choose between long guides and eBooks (give free eBooksin exchange for email subscriptions), post webinars (videos about various topics), newsletters (for email marketing) and multimedia articles.
- Guest blog: because you’re not well known, find popular and influential blogs to post your content and attract their audiences back to your own content
- Capture emails: these are in three forms: email opt-ins from your site, blog subscriptions and newsletter subscriptions. Use a tool like MailChimp to help you manage communication through email.
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Without a way to test and track your campaign, all your efforts could go to waste. Invest in tracking and analysis tools, which are great for monitoring progress and knowing what aspects to improve upon.