Digital Marketing for Startups: Where to Start

The primary goal of a startup is to grow fast. Typically if it doesn’t experience rapid growth in its first years, you can assume that something is not going as it should. But, especially in today’s market in which new companies spring up at an impressive rate, if you want to grow you should absolutely spend time and energy (as well as resources) in developing a solid marketing strategy. Given the fact that often new startups operate in the digital sector and that – especially at the beginning – they have limited resources, digital marketing should be your first option. Sure, it allows you to deliver highly targeted campaigns with a limited budget but that isn’t the only reason why digital marketing can be so effective. In fact, if used at its full potential, digital marketing allows things that were unthinkable even a few years ago and can truly represent the difference between success and failure. Let’s review some of the key advantages of digital marketing campaigns for startups and the connected actions you should take to capitalise on them.

 

Customer research and demographics

One of the first things a new company should do is understand who are and who could be its customers. Because that is the heart of everything: there’s no way of doing business effectively without knowing who your clients are, what they do, what they love, what they are looking for. Once you understand this, then you can understand how your company fits it, how you can add value and how to communicate with these potential customers.

 

Quite often you’ll want to engage with more than one segment, maybe even proposing a dedicated offer to each one. You may even dream of pushing this further, reaching a truly one-to-one personalisation. Well, with an intelligent digital marketing campaign you could go close to reaching this bold objective. And just think of how much that would cost you with traditional marketing! 

 

Of course there is also some investment required for digital marketing. For example, a good data management platform may be needed, or tools based on machine learning and artificial intelligence that can analyse the data and extract conclusions from them. But both the effectiveness and the cost of the digital approach wins when examined in terms of benefits to costs ratio. So, the first thing you should do when starting a digital marketing campaign for startups is implement a system to collect, store and analyse data as well as installing an advanced analytics system on all your properties.

 

Customer engagement

One of the most important objectives for companies, startups or traditional, is customer engagement but it is also one of the most difficult to reach. However, with digital marketing this is within reach because everything digital greatly fosters interactivity and interaction. The first thing you should do is (as explained in the previous step) develop a deep understanding of  your customers. Find out who they are, what their hopes and fears are and what they seek to change.

 

Then you should take care of the channels through which they come to you, optimising – thanks to the knowledge you gathered – the contents and the user experience (and of course ensuring that all your channels are also fully responsive or mobile optimised). Exploit the power of social networks that have been conceived to enable interaction: from webinars to social media posts, from twitter campaigns to messengers and chatbots, through digital marketing tools customers may feel that they have a true direct relationship with your company. And once a relationship is developed all you have to do is maintain it.

 

Understand what is working and what is not

With digital marketing you can easily experiment: try certain actions, address a potentially interesting customer segment, run A/B tests, send traffic to your website with certain keywords and analyse the results. Set the goals you think would be desirable for you and see if everything is going as expected. 

 

So the first thing you should do to implement an effective digital marketing strategy for your startup is set the goals you want to reach (develop brand awareness and visibility? Increase conversions? Generate more leads? Increase sales? Generate a healthy customer relationship?), then write down a marketing plan detailing all the instruments and the steps to reach the objectives you set. But with digital marketing you can allow yourself room for some trial and error experiments. So for example have you SEO optimised your website (something that by the way you should absolutely do)? You should then analyse if what you did is indeed attracting more traffic and if not you should change it. The real advantage of digital marketing over traditional marketing is insight and penetration: if you’re skilled enough and you did your work well, you can understand what’s happening, almost in real time.

 

Finally, be clear on what your objectives are and stick to them

It’s true that digital marketing is a great asset for startups but it is certainly not a quick fix. For example, if your goal is to increase conversions, it’s not sufficient to attract people to your website hoping that something will happen. You should instead study what your customers do, understand why they abandon before converting, and create (hopefully) brilliant strategies to retain them. 

Again, if your goal is to increase customer engagement, great contents alone will not suffice: you should invest in personalised emails and great customer care. Digital marketing is an extremely powerful tool for startups, but using it at its full potential it’s a time consuming, labour intensive and difficult job. If you think you need a boost to accelerate your learning curve, a course like the Growth Hacking Master could be an excellent choice. It can help you to acquire all the transversal skills that are essential to set up a proper digital marketing strategy for your startup.

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