8 Digital-Marketing Tips for Bootstrapped Startups
Running a startup on a shoestring budget is hard enough, but if you can keep marketing costs down while capitalizing on successful digital opportunities, you will be able to improve your brands visibility without sacrificing a large budget.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
You just launched a startup and need to get your brand in front of as many eyes as possible. The problem is you are not just competing in your industry, you are competing with the millions of other marketing messages that consumers are bombarded with every day. Not only that, your bootstrapped startup does not have the funds to invest heavily into digital marketing. What's an entrepreneur to do?
Fortunately, here are eight affordable (and invaluable) digital marketing tips for startups:
Let's talk social
Social media is one of the most cost effective ways to market your startup. In addition to providing a platform for growing your brand, it offers an easy medium for promotion and customer service opportunities.
1. Be frequent and consistent: Social media is a way for you to build your brand's voice. You should not only post regularly, but there should be a uniformed identity to your posts. Additionally, do not over post or deviate from your brand's message. Buffer App reports that the optimal number of posts to Facebook is between five and 10 times a week, Twitter is five tweets a day and LinkedIn and Google+ tied for one time a day.
2. It's not about you, it's about your customer: Most brands use their social media accounts only for promotional purposes. This is a failed strategy, as it provides no value to their followers.
Instead, find and share information that your customers want to see and occasionally mix in your promoted content.
3. Engage with your followers: Social media is a way for your startup to interact with current and future customers. Leverage your followers and make them feel like valuable members of your brand.
Also do not be afraid of social confrontation, approach any complaint as an opportunity to show your brand's customer-service capabilities.
Lastly, do not hide from failures, you are a startup and are bound to face some hurdles along the way. Strategically approach these as opportunities to win over customers with good customer service and express your brand's long-term vision as frequently as possible.
4. Try small investments into the platforms: There are a number of different social opportunities that you can invest in -- all of which have merit depending on the industry and your unique selling proposition. Experiment with the below options and see what warrants the best ROI for your startup.
- Pay-to-play on Facebook: Facebook is steadily becoming a pay-to-play platform, and if you want to see any engagement you will need to invest into promoting your Facebook posts.
- Sponsored tweets: While Twitter still provides a good amount of organic engagement, the microblogging platform also has paid solutions for businesses, with one being sponsored tweet. By providing a sponsored tweet, higher engagement will most likely occur with followers (and others).
- LinkedIn's premium services: LinkedIn has a number of extremely valuable paid features, including a Sales Navigator that makes finding leads and contacts seamless. Best of all, you can try the service free for a month.
Content is still king
Content marketing is one of the most overlooked investments in launching a startup.
Why is content so important? It is the vehicle for conveying your brand's message. If your content is not clear and message not well-formulated, you will undoubtedly struggle to succeed.
5. Critically think about your message: Content marketing should not be a process of throwing messages against the wall and seeing what sticks. To effectively brand your startup, you should engage in industry research and formulate a unique selling propositions. Your message then needs to keep these USPs as the focal point. Avoid focusing on your features and instead sell the benefits.
6. Find cheap and creative content: Creative content does not have to be expensive. You can find affordable and high-quality content on sites like Elance, Craigslist or Fiverr.
For instance, on Fiverr you can have an animated explainer video made from a top seller for a fraction of an agency's price. Explainer videos are perfect for startups, because they can quickly and effectively convey your new product or service to potential customers.
There are several other affordable ways to approach content creation and even small investment into content will go a long way in building your startups brand.
7. Optimize internal pages for conversions: What do you want visitors to do when they land on your site? Your entire content strategy should be built with this question in mind. Once you know the action you want users to do then you can find affordable tools for perpetuating those actions.
- Find free plugins for capturing emails and then leverage affordable services like MailChimp or Constant Contact for drip campaigns.
- Use free tools like Google Analytics to monitor visitor's paths to the website and once they are on it, find opportunities to create a more user-friendly experience.
- Optimize forms on your site to build a stronger inbound lead funnel.
- Find cheap and reliable cart services to sell products directly through your site.
- Whatever your objective, there is a cheap and often free solution.
8. Do outreach yourself: One of the most important steps to an effective content marketing strategy is the content promotion. After you produce an incredible piece of branded content you need to amplify that piece of content as much as possible. Leverage your social media profiles, email industry experts, reach out to LinkedIn groups or industry forums, and contribute to other popular sites that your consumers might visit. Invest a few hours a week to outreach or off-site writing and your startup will begin to gain traction.
Running a startup on a shoestring budget is hard enough. If you can keep marketing costs down while capitalizing on successful digital opportunities, you will be able to improve your brands visibility without sacrificing a large budget.