The Startup Guide - Where to start with digital marketing

Oct 17, 2017 · Guest post from Sarah Wood, Co-founder of Find Your Audience

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Most startup founders are eager to learn about digital marketing since it is usually fundamental to the growth of their new company. Based on my experience working with startups, I hope to give you some pointers on where to start with digital marketing, enabling you to make the best decisions for your company.

Step 1: Start with your objectives

Depending on the stage of your company there will be different objectives. Your goals should be the main factor to feed into your digital marketing strategy. Think about your long-term goals, where do you want the company to be in 1 or 5 years? Thinking only about your short-term return often leads to a disjointed strategy since launching and building a brand takes time. Here are some example objectives I have heard from startups:

1. Funding – crowdfunding target - £250,000 funding within 3 months

2. Growth - locations, company size, number of customers - To open a second office in year 2

3. Income – revenue target - Drive £30,000 revenue in year 1

Funding will often be restricted for a new startup company, particularly at the crowdfunding stage. An objective might be to grow funds to build the company infrastructure or manufacture a product. In the first example, the objective is to spread the word online about an innovative idea but to not spend a fortune doing so and this relies on exploiting free opportunities.

Step 2: Exploit free opportunities

There are so many routes to get the message out online about your startup company which are relatively low cost or free. All of which require a lot of creativity and determination in your approach to be noticed. Here are some ideas:

- Post relevant content on your website, providing visitors with updates on your progress and at the same time you grow your remarketing audience for future use.

- Develop your social media profiles, posting regular, interesting content which showcases why your company is different. Don’t be afraid to introduce your founders and team to add some personality behind the brand.

- As well as the obvious social networks, think about posting on other highly subscribed sites such as Reddit, Google+ and StumbleUpon that may have communities who might be interested in what you are sharing.

- Share your story by opening as many communication channels as possible, not just external sites but also on your website by having live chat, your phone number, email address and blog comments enabled.

It makes sense to really maximise your exposure through free channels first of all, whilst creating a plan to maintain them. This might simply be allocating half an hour every day to scheduling updates for social networks and working on blog updates. When you start to build your digital marketing plan, these activities should all feature.

As well as maximising free opportunities, there could be other digital channels which might be beneficial depending on your objectives. Paid media channels can help to reach the audiences who are most likely to be responsive to your product/service. Channels such as pay-per-click (PPC) on search engines, social media adverts and display retargeting are worth exploring to expand your visibility beyond organic reach.

Step 3: Explore paid media channels

Again, it comes back to your objectives to determine what will supplement the free channels and deliver the results you need. The benefit of investing in paid campaigns is that you can increase site traffic quickly which will in turn help you learn about what type of website traffic is effective. This really is a case of trial and error, being open to different platforms which each have their advantages and disadvantages is crucial.

At this point you might choose to get outside advice as to which channels to test and how to go about it. Here are some ideas to test based on the third example objective, to drive £30,000 revenue year 1:

- As a startup the awareness of your brand is likely to be limited. Paid search is a great way to introduce your brand to people actively searching for what you offer. It is easy to think that running campaigns using keywords relating to your business will work from the outset. You will need to be creative in your targeting and the messaging you use to stand out from other advertisers.

- Promoting your posts on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter will increase the reach of your posts and provide you with a better understanding of which demographics and audiences are responsive.

- Facebook advertising offers great segmentation of audiences which will not only verify that you do actually know your target audience but it is also very affordable.

- Video provides a great opportunity for startups because video formats are more powerful than other media in explaining what differentiates your product/service. If you invest in creating videos to introduce your startup then you could promote these online to drive awareness.

The extent to which you use paid media will often be dictated by your marketing budget. When budget planning, think about how you might increase your efforts over time allowing test budgets for new platforms and channels. Bear in mind that you should quickly learn which channels are effective which means that being flexible with your budgets is important.

Finally, I would advise writing down your plan on paper or create a fancy excel spreadsheet if you prefer, but either way it will help you to visualise what you plan to test and when. Focus first on the areas you can do yourself and maximise all your organic channels and posts, sharing your content far and wide to help grow your brand awareness. For help with building a plan, setting objectives or implementing any paid media channels contact Find Your Audience.

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Sarah Wood, Co-founder of Find Your Audience

Sarah Wood is the Co-founder of Find Your Audience, a digital consultancy formed in 2016. Their goal is to help startups to understand digital marketing and the opportunities that it provides to their companies. Their services range from implementing paid media campaigns right through to measurement and conversion rate optimisation. With ten years in the industry, Sarah has vast experience of building and managing successful campaigns for a variety of clients.

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