Start-up businesses know that if they want to make headway in the big, bad world out there, they have to dabble in digital marketing. But the field seems so utterly complex and overwhelming, it is hard to know where to start.
Fortunately, it’s another place where you can apply the ever-helpful Pareto principle. Just like most areas of business, in digital marketing, you can achieve 80 percent of the results from 20 percent of the effort. That means that there’s a lot of low-hanging fruit out there for you to pluck from the metaphorical digital trees. You don’t have to become an expert overnight to start benefiting. But there is a lot that even complete beginners can do to improve their returns.
Getting your digital marketing and SEO up and running early is almost always better than leaving it until later. The moment you have a minimally viable product you can sell, you should begin a digital marketing strategy. Some companies even begin putting out messages before they have anything to offer customers, simply creating brand awareness. If you’ve ever seen a “coming soon” page, you’ll know what we mean!
So what are the best practices for new start-up businesses looking to make headway in the digital marketing arena? Take a look at the following ideas:
Start Investing In Social Media Marketing Early
Many C-suite executives and marketing managers will wait until the firm is in the perfect position to provide services before putting any paid ads on social media.
That’s a missed opportunity.
Remember, social media advertising isn’t about generating sales right now. It’s about getting people accustomed to your brand so that when they need the solution you provide, they instinctively think of you first.
Think about why people use social media platforms. It’s not for shopping. It’s so that they can hang out with their friends and voice their opinions. Thus, people on social media are in a fundamentally different mood compared to those searching for products on Google. The consumerist bug hasn’t infected them. They’re just chilling.
Strangely, though, this environment is conducive for brand-building and awareness. People want content that’s interesting that they can share with their friends. So start-ups offering something new can tap into this and provide video ads that present their brand and offer users some value. It’s as simple as that.
Take a look at some of these best practices recommended for anyone thinking about engaging in serious social media marketing:
- Use paid adverts to reach a wider audience
- Try to avoid the hard sell; use social media marketing to build the top of your sales funnel instead
- Share relevant industry news or information with followers
- Make your content highly visual and use humour where possible
- Provide sharing option
Create A Blog That Grabs Attention
Writing blogs is a skill (and something that a lot of companies outsource to third parties because it’s so time-consuming and difficult). But it also comes with massive rewards for your enterprise.
First, there’s the SEO benefit. Google and other search engines love pages that contain helpful blogs because they provide value to their users. Remember, these platforms want to direct people to the best pages on the internet so that they can get more advertising revenue. And so they develop highly sophisticated algorithms to determine blog posts that offer unique and original value.
If you can create one of these, Google will reward you handsomely. You’ll get a big chunk of the traffic for your chosen keywords.
Second, there’s the brand advantage. Customers want companies that appear authoritative. They want to know that they can trust a particular firm to just get on with the job and do it well. Brands that create industry-leading blogs automatically jump to the top of the pile and create loyalty.
Remember, the better your blogs, the more inbound links you’ll receive, and the more search engines will venerate you. Put in the time and effort, find topics that your rivals haven’t done justice, and improve on them.
Make Your Content Search-Engine Friendly
SEO seems like an impenetrable subject when you first encounter it. But the Pareto principle applies here more than practically any other field in digital marketing. Getting just a few easy things right is enough to provide you with 80 percent or more of the potential advantage.
Here are some strategies that you should use when creating SEO-friendly content:
- Create metatags for all your posts that describe the content
- Use keywords in the paragraphs, headings, and metatags
- Avoid keyword stuffing – you don’t need to do this anymore
- Target high-volume keywords that your rivals don’t
- Analyze the pages on the top spots and figure out how to improve on them
Build Your Buyer Personas
Do you have any idea of the kind of people buying from your brand? Don’t worry if you don’t. Creating a buyer persona is actually a heck of a lot easier than many leaders imagine.
Creating a buyer persona is all about characterising your audience and figuring out who you should be marketing to.
When you think about it, this makes a lot of sense. The strategy you take will differ considerably if you’re appealing to old buyers instead of younger ones, or rich ones instead of poorer ones. It’s particularly important if you only offer your services locally. There’s no point trying to market to people living on the other side of the world if your service area is a 10-mile radius from your HQ.
Where possible, try to make your buyer persona as detailed as you can. You’re not trying to describe the traits of any individual customer. Instead, you’re asking yourself, “what are the average characteristics of my buyers?” And then you’re building a digital marketing strategy around that.
Here are some of the personal characteristics you should consider:
- The type of social media apps they use
- Their personal disposable income
- Career or job type
- Age range
- The type of services they need from your business
- The kind of customer support they expect
In some cases, you might offer multiple products for multiple persona types. In situations like these, you want to create separate campaigns for each so that you can achieve maximum impact.
Once you have a good idea who you’re marketing to, you can start generating some real leverage. Accurate personas are multiple times more effective for targeting your customer base than going with a generic approach.
Make Your Email Marketing Engaging
Ever since the early days of email marketing, it’s had a bad rap. We all know about the problems of spam emails – marketing messages companies send to users with no interest in their products.
But those kinds of behaviours shouldn’t put you off. Email marketing has a crazy high ROI, making it probably the most effective method of reaching out to customers ever invented.
Data, for instance, suggest that the average email marketing campaign generates $44 for every $1 you spend. That’s several times higher than for social media or SEO.
The trick is to ensure that every email you send your customers is relevant. You want to ensure that they not only open it but also derive value from it.
How you do this is up to you.
Here are some best practices you can try:
- Personalise the email so that it includes the person’s name. You want to make them feel as though you’re communicating with them directly, even if you’re using software to generate personalised emails automatically. Personalisation increases open rates by around a quarter.
- Include helpful information in the email that will add value to your target’s life
- Include offers in the email to encourage immediate conversion. People are always looking for a bargain, especially if they have a pre-existing interest in your brand
- Fill your email with attractive images and pictures. Try to avoid the wall of text approach
Track Your Results
Lastly, when you invest in digital marketing, you want to make sure that you’re getting results. You don’t want to throw money at advertising platforms and then have no way to determine whether they’re providing you with value.
Creating a system to track results needs to do two things:
- Be sensitive to your marketing goals
- Show you your ROI
Brands use digital marketing for different reasons. For most, it’s about drumming up revenue, but not all. Some want to capture leads, others want to build an audience. For some, the goal is brand awareness.
Once you have a marketing goal – say brand awareness – you can then start attaching ROI metrics to it. For instance, you could easily construct a metric which shows you the cost-per-impression – that is, how much you have to spend to get eyes on your branding. For some companies (particularly startups who aren’t selling yet), this is crucial.
Other companies will want to create metrics such as cost-per-lead or cost-per-sale. Again, these tell you how much money you have to spend to get a customer. You can then compare these figures to the average value of a lead or sale to get a sense of your ROI.