The Holy Grail of Startup Marketing: Search, Social and Content
Where do you start, with marketing, when you’re about to launch your product or service? This is possibly the most asked question when it comes to startup marketing, and one Guy Kawasaki once famously weighed in on, saying, “Sales fixes everything.”
Certainly, in today’s context, that's true: Sales is about driving inbound leads to your business. But Kawasaki also added this: “If you have more money than brains, you should focus on outbound marketing. If you have more brains than money, you should focus on inbound marketing.”
So, where should you begin? Three of the most important channels to consider if you want to drive traffic to your product’s website and increase sales, are Search, Social and Content.
It’s not one or the other, but all three that you must do simultaneously to get maximum benefits. The reason: They’re all interlinked and often you'll have to use one channel to help amplify the other:
Organic search still makes up about 64 percent of referral traffic to a website. Accordingly, SEO or search engine optimization continues to be relevant to your marketing efforts because content marketing alone will not rank you higher in Google searches; your content needs to be as well optimized for search as as your website.
There are two core SEO components to pay close attention to: on-page and off-page optimization.
On-page optimization: If your website is slow to load, is not optimized for mobile and isn't providing a good user experience (high bounce rate), you’ll be left wondering why your website doesn’t draw organic traffic from Google. Google wants the best possible experience for users -- meaning that people who are looking for something should arrive at their desired result in the least amount of time. This is how Google ensures that its own product remains relevant to its huge user base.
But if your particular website isn’t relevant to a user searching for the keywords you’re optimizing for, or if users are hitting the back button in their browsers the moment they land on your site, Google will ensure it doesn’t come up in user searches for those terms.
Off-page optimization: Once you’ve ensured that your website is well optimized, you need to start building an authority for your domain and its pages. Domain Authority (DA) is a website metric developed by Moz. It is one of the most important numbers known to SEO. The greater your DA, the more likely you are to have strong traffic and high rank.
The most important off-page factor that influences your domain’s authority is your ability to get fresh and good backlinks to your website from higher DA websites (with a minimum DA score of 25) and, at the same time, get rid of bad links.
For a detailed understanding of how search works, download the Beginners Guide to SEO by Moz.
The more that people share your content, the better it is for your Google ranking. Not just that: Creating viral content for social media also helps you get organic traffic from different social media channels where most of your audience is active.
Here are the important components that will help you leverage social in the most effective way to drive organic traffic, as well as aid in search rankings.
Selecting the right channel(s): Not all of your audience will be across all channels; you must pick one that engages the largest segment of your audience.
Creating a strategy: Once you identify what type of content that will most resonate with your audience, one that isn’t overtly self-promotional, you will find it easier to sustain and grow your fan following.
Be consistent: It takes time to build a strong loyal following in bigger numbers, and the only way to build one is to be consistent in your social media strategy.
Build a community: Once you successfully create a community, you will have a loyal following of highly engaged, targeted audience members whom you can market to (subtly) over a period of time. For instance, HubSpot created Inbound.org.
Don’t post only your own content: The last thing you want to be perceived as is someone who only blows his (or her) own horn. When sharing content across social media, keep a mix of curated content and your own.
Content is at the heart of any marketing initiative -- be it social media or your efforts to optimize for search. Across marketing channels, the one thing that your audience engages with is content.
Here’s some proof why content sells: In one study, 71 percent of B2B marketers used content marketing to generate leads, and content marketing generated three times as many leads as traditional outbound marketing, but cost 62 percent less.
Meanwhile, pay attention to the key components of effective content marketing to generate more traffic, build a brand and increase sales.
Set the objective: Write down your objectives clearly -- what is the desired result of content marketing. Is it to get more traffic, build brand recognition through thought leadership, increase signups to your mailing list or build a personal brand?
Create a writing mix: Play with different formats without limiting yourself to plain text. Videos and visual content are known to be more engaging than plain text-based articles.
Plan on 20 percent writing, 80 percent promotion: Two really good, detailed posts a week packed with value can bring more traction than five shorter and non in-depth pieces will. Spend 20 percent of your time writing those two awesome pieces of content a week and the balance of your time amplifying it.
Understand the connection between Search and Social: Writing great content that addresses or answers your audiences’ queries (typically, keywords associated with your SEO) will help in ranking you higher on search engines. The more people who find your content of value, the more they'll be likely to share -- sending Google the signal that a particular article is of value to readers, and thus pushing it up in rankings.
Good content also provides fodder for your social media marketing.
If you hit on both channels, you'll be well on your way to reaching that "holy grail" of marketing.