The world is filled with people trying to make their thing the next big thing... But the thing is, startups need to follow a tested strategy that implements enough elements of marketing to fully succeed. If you could semi-master each of these in a month, a year from now you’d be a world-class Internet marketing guru with the knowledge it takes to build a successful startup venture in 2017. Marketing is the bridge between your startup and your customers.
Successful inbound marketing strategies are targeted, and focus not on maximizing your exposure, but exposing yourself to the right individuals -- folks who have a particular set of needs and who are actively seeking a way to fill them. By mastering these 12 startup marketing strategies, you’ll be mastering lead generation marketing which has a higher success ratio, and hence a substantially improved return on investment for your fledgling enterprise. This is even truer in the case of SaaS Startups.
Inbound Marketing Strategies for Startups - 3,2,1 GO!
1. Determine Your Ideal Customer Profile
The first most important part of your lead generation marketing is learning to develop buyer personas: who is the perfect client for your product or service? What needs can you fulfill from their perspective? What challenges can you help them overcome?
If you learn to understand buyer personas from the inception of your startup endeavor, it will go a long way towards generating leads for your business by using a proper conversion funnel. Lead generation strategies are the cornerstone of inbound marketing.
2. Brand Development
Brand development is an essential part of launching a successful startup. All your efforts may go to waste if you don’t begin building your brand early. Your brand is your identity.
Inbound methodology is not complete without developing a solid brand that you can draw faithful customers with. A good logo is just the beginning, as you’ll want to also consider what your business stands for.
Storytelling in marketing is a big part of brands in the modern area. Think of the mythic tales of humble origins of companies like Google to get a sense of what this is all about.
There are several key elements of brand storytelling as described by pioneer marketer Neil Patel:
- How company came to be
- What motivates you and your team to come to work each day
- An inside look at the company
Mastering the art of telling your brand’s story will help customers better engage with your brand. The best brand storytelling will communicate a clear vision or express your company’s mission statement. If you have not created a mission statement, do so now, while your startup is young and fresh.
3. Make a Strong First Impression With Your Website
Design & Content
The first time you lay eyes on an expertly designed and developed website of a brand that is new to you, it leaves a lasting impression on your mind about the professionalism of the company as a whole. A slick graphic interface is just the first part of this inbound content strategy. Content is of the utmost importance, of course, so be sure to keep your it fresh, or shoppers will browse elsewhere to find some fresher, more relevant content.
Security, Speed, and Mobile Friendliness
Mobile friendly is essential these days. If you haven’t checked out how your website looks on a tablet and a mobile phone yet, just make sure you sit down before you check it out. It could be an unpleasant surprise to find how usability plummets when your website isn’t optimized for compatibility with mobile web browsers and screen sizes of varying dimensions.
Using https:// is a no-brainer for any website that handles any kind of sensitive information for the client, including payment information. You don’t have to sacrifice speed for security, however, and you’ll want to find ways to minimize the load time of your website for better SEO and higher rankings.
In an internal analysis, Amazon found that their sales would increase by 1% for every 100 milliseconds they improved the speed of their website.
4. Identify Social Media Platform Channels for your Business
Depending upon the business you’re in, you may find more success with Facebook updates, or Tweets, or possibly Instagram, Pinterest, or LinkedIn. This all really depends on the nature of what your company does. Finding the right platform to focus your attention on focuses your limited resources as a fledgling enterprise and is one of the best inbound marketing strategies you can foster. Spending more time on the optimal social network lets you more fully engage with it instead of diverting your attention from one social network to engage with another one with less promising results. Try using an app like Buffer to maximize your social media marketing efficiency.
5. Strong Content Marketing Strategy
We’ve seen it all. It’s hard to make “clickbait” anymore, since everything seems to try to be that. This is exactly why you have to step-up your game when it comes to naming your content.
You’ll want to bear SEO in mind at all times. Yes, SEO and Inbound are compatible. But beware the over-optimizer syndrome, whereby your webcopy comes to feel robotic to readers, and seems manufactured. The phrase “cookie-cutter” comes to mind. You want to GRAB people’s attention, while they’re just sauntering by, browsing for something to read or watch. The quality and catchiness of your headline has an 80% impact on the rate of people selecting to read your blog post.
Images and other visual content such as video are paramount in a strong content marketing strategy. Well written text can only take you so far in a business cape where everyone is vying for attention. Static imagery like photos, infographic, illustrations, and even simple clip art can increase CTR and garner extra attention when you want to be sure to get your point across.
Guest blogging is a highly effective way to bridge new territory. Supplying content to an industry related blog other than your own lets your branch out and connect with new consumers that might not have known about your brand otherwise. A guest blog post not only builds backlinks, but builds your relationship with the blog owner. Forging relationships in your industry is a smart move, especially for a young startup.
When developing content, always keep track of your information sources. Readers want to be able to verify the information you share, and make sure that what they’re reading is accurate. Whether you choose to include inline citations, or cite your references at the end of your work, these outgoing links not only help you to have a well-rounded link portfolio, but they give credit where credit is due, which increases your own credibility as well.
6. Video Marketing
If you haven’t considered video online as one of your startup marketing strategies yet, then it is time. Getting a viral video going on YouTube pays dividends for the modest initial cost of producing a clever idea. One of the great examples of a low cost, inventive idea for a viral video is First Kiss, from Wren Studios, which had only a cost of $1,300 to produce. So far it’s garnered at least 91 million views, or less than one and a half cent per view.
7. SEO and Link Building
Keywords are like coordinates to where hidden treasure is buried. You learn what people are already searching for, and you tailor your inbound content strategy to account for targeting these keywords and key-phrases. Keyword phrases are commonly known as “long-tail keywords” ... they are compound search queries often involving a noun and adjective, or a verb and a noun.
Critical analysis of your keyword portfolio when completing your local business listings is crucial to optimizing your SEO strategy. Inbound marketing strategies are substantially enhanced with a local listing that actively targets relevant phrases from your keyword strategy. It helps you get found by more people more often, especially if you’re building a startup that works with clients in person around your geographic service area.
Is what you have worth looking for? Give people a reason to give directions. Making marketable content is an important part of content marketing, and if you aren’t reaching out to owners of other websites with helpful reasons why they may want to include a link to your site, you better start that process sooner rather than later. Backlinks are the backbone of the World Wide Web. Make sure your startup starts now on building them.
8. Online Advertising
Adwords & Retargeting
Adwords and other pay-per-click forms of digital advertising are remarkable in their ability to compel shoppers of varying buyer personas. It’s a great marketing strategy for new startups because you only pay when the ad generates a potential lead, i.e., when someone clicks on it. Content marketing and targeted PPC advertising is great for driving traffic, but doesn’t optimize your conversion rate. That’s where retargeting marketing comes into play. Retargeting is a cookie-based technology that allows you to reach out via pay-per-click advertising to the 98% of your interested customers who didn’t ultimately make a transaction their first time around. Only about 2% of web traffic will convert through the sales funnel on the first visit, so retargeting reminds them to come back for another look after expressing initial interest, helping to optimize your conversion rate.
Increasingly popular options are social ads, which target social media users with promoted content right within their news feed. Often you’ll see the phrase “promoted” somewhere in the corner of the ad, and it blends elegantly with the rest of the content. Social advertising is an effective method of helping people engage with your brand on their favorite social media apps and abounds with opportunities for targeting various buyer personas.
9. Build Your Email List
What better way to stay in touch than with a letter? For many, the craft of wordsmithing is more daunting than alluring, but if you have a way with prose, let me propose crafting a weekly, monthly, or even daily email to help nurture leads and optimize conversion. It helps to offer a freebie for joining, and make sure you include an appropriate unsubscribe option in the email of you’re likely to be blocked by the spam filters.
Communicating is the foundation of any trusting relationship. Your leads will follow a path toward conversion and you can’t justify feeding them content crafted for attraction if they are closer to closing. Design an automated workflow so you can distribute relevant content based on their position along the Buyer’s Journey. Since an inbound methodology (and a CRM, see further) allows you to track your leads’ behavior and interests, you can automate what you say and to whom at every stage.
Give the people something worthy of their praise and they’ll reward you with promoting your services upon discussion with others. Seth Godin wrote a wonderful book called Purple Cow that is all about offering remarkable service that “Wows” your customers and urges them to share with others how delightful your customer service is. They’ll talk about it as if they had seen a purple cow.
10. Strategic PR
Create 3 Story Angles You Can Pitch to the Press
When you have different story narratives that you can pitch to the press, it amps your chances of getting coverage.
- You can pitch your product or service as being a solution to some common problem
- You can relate the human element of your story, going back to your brand storytelling
- You can explain what sets your company apart from the competition
Your various narratives will turn different people on to what it is you’re doing. Having more than one angle to pitch to the press allows a news outlet to potentially cover you more than once without repeating itself.
Turn Your Social Network Into Your Promotion Network
Get others to tell your story -- use all your networks, friend, family business relations and employees to relay the message for you. Create blasts across various channels. You want these blasts to be orchestrated to have consistency with one another, to ensure you are delivering the same message across multiple platforms.
Your Facebook presence should align with your Twitter presence, and this uniformity should extend to your LinkedIn profiles, Google+ accounts, and Instagram messages. Uniformity in your message delivery allows more accurate measurement of message effectiveness and acute comparison across platforms. The message users receive should be similar whether they connect with your brand though one social media platform or another.
11. Math Marketing
When you take advantage of math marketing, you harness the infallible power of numbers to reach your goals. Use data management to allow you to delve into the statistics and metrics you accumulate about your business. A data-driven strategy is like having marketing super-powers.
Statistics & Probabilities
When you have a keen understanding of math marketing, it allows you to drill into the data and access the potential of statistics and probabilities to aid in your prediction models. Accurate forecasting and prediction gives you a serious advantage over other startups who might be “winging it.”
HubSpot is a customer relationship management tool. Utilizing HubSpot CRM is a brilliant move. You will be able to do more with less. Harness the power of automation and gain visibility using. You can effectively follow leads down the sales funnel, and align your marketing and sales into a unified force.
HubSpot is an industry leader in lead management, and with it, you can take your new startup to the next level.
Congratulations! You’re not only launching a business (this in itself is a wonderful accomplishment and exciting adventure), but you’re also one step ahead of the herd. Inbound marketing is not exclusive to established businesses, contrary to popular startup belief. Do yourself and your company a favor by embracing inbound strategies. This will undoubtedly lead you to revise your forecast, for the higher.