Digital marketing for early-stage startups

Indian consumers are evolving very fast and the marketing landscape is changing every day. It is critical for startup entrepreneurs to build comprehensive marketing plans before they start talking to customers. Today, digital marketing is crucial for all businesses, big or small, and even more so for startups because of its cost-effectiveness.

Start-ups can’t afford to be off social media because power has shifted to digital platforms. Every startup is different, but the secret sauce is usually a solid digital marketing plan. It creates аwаrеnеѕѕ, роѕіtіоnѕ you correctly, build a соnѕіѕtеnt flow of traffic, gets the first few uѕеrѕ, and drives lеаdѕ and online ѕаlеѕ.

It also enables startups to test market in a smaller geography with minimal budgets. Test marketing explores consumer responses to a product or campaign by making it available to a limited audience before a wider release. It helps to get insights on performance and acceptance of the product and impact of the campaign. Startups can tweak the offering, or strategy, based on the insights.

The first step is to define your audience; you can’t build a campaign without knowing who to sell to. Identify your customers, market and competition, customer’s touch points, formulate your brand message based on your differentiators, identify your digital marketing options, develop and distribute content, and measure results.

Consider the following:

E-mail marketing

Believe it or not, e-mail is still relevant and delivers a handsome return on investment. Not all startups have harnessed its true potential, but some brands have excelled at it. All major e-commerce players use it for varied objectives like brand awareness, sales promotion, product launches, announcements and acquiring leads. Use a service provider – for instance, a do-it-yourself platform like MailChimp. The subject line is made or break – make it catchy, engaging and benefit-rich. Use simple, persuasive language in a bulleted format. Offer discounts or a privilege for people to sign up or to encourage action. All emails should be optimised for mobile devices.

Social media marketing

This is the most powerful tool in your arsenal – it increases exposure, builds brands, generates leads and fosters loyalty. However, most businesses don’t get it right. You must stand out in the cluttered space by creating engaging and relevant content. To start with, choose the right channel. If your customers are on Facebook, use it as your primary social media marketing channel. If you are targeting professionals or a B2B audience, focus on LinkedIn. Then define content strategy – content could be funny, informative, controversial or inspiring depending on your brand personality. As long as it enriches the audience, they are likely to share it and give you free word-of-mouth publicity. Interact with your community and drive meaningful conversations. Use hashtags to drive engagement, and review success so that the course can be corrected if required.

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising

PPC campaigns are popular methods to drive visitors to your website. They are widely used by B2B and B2C startups, helping them generate leads. When you pay for PPC ads, people will see your website listing when they search using specific keywords. For startups, PPC offers quick entry and complements social media marketing. You can control your spends and PPC results are easy to measure (impressions, clicks, conversions).

Search engine optimisation (SEO)

It іѕ cost-effective with mеаѕurаblе, long-term benefits. If you choose the right keywords, it ensures your website is placed high on search results. Research and use the relevant ones to create valuable content. SEO increases visibility and organic trаffіс to the website, helping you build trust and credibility. It involves competition overview, producing SEO-friendly content, ongoing content development and more.

Google AdWords Remarketing

Use it to connect with visitors even after they leave your website without making a purchase. Remarketing ads have higher click-through rates and conversions than regular display ads. Past visitors will see your ads while browsing other websites, keeping your brand top-of-mind and reminding them to return. Remarketing is used to promote a specific offering, or to achieve conversion goals such as lead generation. For example, it can be used to remind potential customers about products they searched for or added to their carts but didn’t purchase.

Digital marketing has several layers but makes a start with the above. Startups can experiment with PPC and social media marketing on their own. All leading platforms have help centres and tutorials, but for SEO and Google AdWords remarketing it is better to hire professionals as they are more complex.

About the author:
Pankaj is a principal consultant with Pitchfork Partners Strategic Consulting. He has over 20 years of experience and consults start-ups and SMEs on business, branding and strategic marketing and communication. He is an alumnus of the Indian School of Business (ISB).

 

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