Starting your own business is never an easy task and takes a lot of your efforts. While many start-up owners include marketing strategies in their business plan, many still believe in taking that step a little later. Although, pretty much every company develops its marketing strategies at some point in their tenure, earlier the better.
Start-ups don’t succeed just based on the great idea, team or funding that they have. They need to get their sales going, reach out to more customers, build a market appeal for their business and need to invest in good marketing strategies along with personnel. A digital marketing strategy for startups is a different ball-game altogether. You can’t apply the same science that you use for established companies here.
With the boom of smartphones, many marketing channels have changed how they operate over time. Not all digital marketing channels apply to every startup and give you the same result. Some digital marketing strategies give you great output while others don’t. That’s why it’s imperative to choose the right digital marketing strategy for your startup. Which digital marketing channels and strategy works best for your startup depends on your domain, expertise, target segment, location, and many other factors.
Let’s see how startups can create an effective digital marketing strategy
Identify your target segment :
The most important step in building a marketing strategy is to identify your target segment. Who are the people you are selling your product/services? This is often a daunting task and might take significant brainstorming and time. But keep at it, this is usually a one-time job and leads us to derive a customer behavior which later can be used for various marketing aspects.
It’s very ambitious to believe that your brand is needed for everyone but it’s usually not the case. The correct segmentation of your target audience will tell you that. Focus on dividing your segmentation in location, target designations, size of the company, revenue, readiness to opt for your product/service, etc.
Carry out market research:
Once your target segment is ready, the next step is to do some market research. It’s always good to go out there and see if your target segment needs the product/ service you are offering. How does it impact their life or business? How does it make it better?
Any of the demographics might play a huge role in this market research. Even though we chose a target segment, they will not start liking your product/service automatically. Some might refuse to do so, some may not need it OR some might have a better alternative for it. Post thorough research you would understand the complete picture of what is available for product/service in the market.
Conduct competitor analysis:
Next up is competitor analysis. Analyzing your competition is extremely important for building the marketing strategy for your startup. You can understand a lot about your competition just by looking at their marketing campaigns. You can also go through a SWOT analysis study for your competition which will give you an additional edge on the information you get.
Generally, your startup has some overlapping workflows with a few other companies. It is best to compare them and understand where you stand. You can also check what is working for your competition to be successful and where your differentiation lies.
Set a budget:
In the early stages of business, the world doesn’t know you yet and there is no steady cash flow. So it’s important to set a marketing budget for your start-up and stick to it as much as possible. You might want to do many different marketing campaigns but your business might now allow that at this point. It’s better to invest in the marketing campaigns which give you the results you desire.
Decide your marketing distribution channels:
This is an extremely important part of your marketing strategy and the backbone of your strategy being successful. There are many marketing channels you can choose from e.g. Email Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, Pay-per-click Advertising, Content Marketing, Referral Marketing, Viral Marketing, Published on leading news or industry publications, Influencer Marketing, Youtube Marketing, etc. Some channels might be relevant for your business and some may not be. Your research and goals would define which ones are you going to use for your marketing strategy.
Although you have the chance to choose some of these, it’s almost imperative for any business to have their online presence on some platforms. You need to opt for creating a website, optimize it with search engine optimization, enable your social media channels and add analytics to all of these. Analytics will also be a reference point for you to understand if your marketing strategy is working and whether it needs some tweaking or change of marketing channels.
Finalize the content types:
Now that you have identified your target segment, conducted market research, and analyzed your competitors; it’s time to finalize the type of content you would publish to get your prospective customers’ attention. You need to answer the question, ‘What type of marketing campaigns will grab the attention of my audience?’
Some of the content types you can choose from are Blogs, Infographics, Video promotions, Podcasts, Ebooks, Informative guides, Newsletters, Webinars, Articles OR Email, etc. Your priority should be to create top quality and meaningful content. That’s why it’s always better to first opt for fewer types of content and then expand to others.
Measure all your marketing campaigns:
Now that you have launched into various marketing campaigns with multiple content types, the next step is to measure and analyze your campaigns. It will allow you to calculate your ROI, and your budget could be used up before you know it. There are many free and paid analytics tools in the market which you can use for your website analytics and measure data such as Visitor, Session, Page views, Traffic, Traffic by channel, Traffic by device, Ratios of new traffic vs. returning traffic, Time spent on a particular page, Bounce rate and Interactions on the page.
For all your social media platforms, you can use their statistics page to know how each of your posts or tweets are doing. These statistics are inbuilt and are free of cost. Based on these reports, you can derive the understanding of which post or message is more liked vs other, with which you can decide to post more of that type of content.
It’s also important to look at the analytics of your email marketing campaigns for data points such as open rates, clicks, bounces, unsubscribes and especially the leads you received.
Based on all of these parameters, you can understand if your strategy is a success or not. You can analyze what’s working vs. not and tweak your plans accordingly. Coming up with a marketing strategy for a startup can be difficult to start with but as you keep working at it, it does get easier. Digital marketing agencies can help you with this process a lot and might make your path easier.
Atul is Founder & CEO at Xenia Consulting. He has over 22 years of experience in marketing, across corporates as well as SME,start-ups. Over the last 5 years, he has gained significant expertise and has helped several companies drive growth leveraging digital marketing