‘Marketing is for companies who have sucky products. If you build something that is amazing (think Flipboard or Instagram or Instapaper) people will adopt it because it is amazing. And you won’t have to do much marketing, at least at the start,’
—Fred Wilson, venture capitalist and blogger.
If you are not an Instagram-like startup yet, you will probably have to turn to marketing. But what marketing channel should you start with? How do you know that the chosen channel will work for you? These questions are totally normal because employing marketing channels can become a challenge.
There is no silver bullet in startup marketing. With a sea of options in the digital marketing world, you might feel like there is no clear path. Some start-ups resolve this cognitive dissonance by narrowing down their efforts to a single marketing channel, while others spread themselves thin over every available promotion opportunity. Both strategies do have a chance to work out successfully. But the better option for start-ups is selecting a few marketing channels to focus on.
Let’s break down the landscape of the marketing channels which most companies are using for growth. Not all of them will work for your startup. Nevertheless, you should know what is out there while coming up with a digital marketing strategy.
Journalists, market influencers, community leaders and everyone in between are the potential candidates for building relationships with. It will take a long time for your startup to gain influence and build trust among thousands of people. Alternatively, focus on connecting with people who already have that influence and credit of trust. That will help you to spread a word about your startup around the world in a blink of an eye.
Content marketing is a wide field. The line between content marketing, blogging, SEO and PR is often blurred. For example, Chanty’s current acquisition strategy is reaching out blogs for guest posting, mentions, and sometimes paid promotions. So is that just ‘pure’ content marketing? Well, it depends. But there is no doubt that content marketing has helped many companies, such as HubSpot, Buffer, CrazyEgg grow rapidly.
Tip: Experiment with content types to attract different kinds of traffic. For instance, you could start with video. Streamline the video producing process using these handy tools: Lumen5, VideoShout, Animaker.
Guest blogging is essential for startups. Guest posts are a perfect way to build your reputation and awareness among your target audience. Most blogs will accept your articles openly. However, if there is no Contributors’ page on a site, reach out the blog owner or editor on social networks and ask to email them a pitch. Just make sure this pitch is polished and relevant to this blog.
Paid acquisition is generally split into two areas, though they are often used together in different proportions:
Search Engine Marketing (SEM) helps you capture people as they are searching for a solution you can offer. Fine-tuned SEM campaign is often one of the highest intent traffic.
Social Ads allows to target users with great granularity and set up custom audiences.
Display Ads reaches out niche groups of people based on interests.
All that sounds great. But don’t rush throwing your budget to the wind until you make some math work on ROI of paid advertising.
How can you find out if SEO is worth exploring? Keyword research. If you discover that the keywords’ volume is high enough for your market, SEO can be a long term growth strategy.
Tip: Start to explore your market landscape by looking at your competitors and checking what they are doing in the world of SEO. The tools like Ahrefs and SEMrush will be your reliable assistance in SEO research.
Probably all companies are doing email marketing to some extent. Most likely, there are few companies who are doing it well. Meanwhile, email marketing is one of the best ways to convert new customers, as well as retain and engage existing one.
Sales are another scalable marketing channel for start-ups. Maybe all companies, especially B2B, incorporate sales to some extent in their growth. Furthermore, at the beginning of your startup journey sales is a source of the best feedback and early validation you will ever get.
Using this method our marketing team shaped the image of the Chanty messenger that sets us apart from the competitors. So don’t neglect this more traditional yet effective marketing channel.
Reddit is often ignored as a paid marketing channel though it is very affordable and always worth trying out. Reddit ad works by running a promotional link or text at the top of any subreddit you’ve chosen. Each subreddit has a very granular audience helping you to target ad copies effectively.
Tip: Reddit could be a priceless source of early adopters for your startup regardless of what stage your product is at. It is a great place for getting honest feedback and validating a business idea.
Let’s be honest, we all waste time reading weird stuff on Quora. Whether it is a post about how you would prepare for a chance meeting with Lord Voldemort or how many chihuahuas it would take to kill a human, it is amazingly easy to lose hours reading user-generated answers on different topics.
At the same time, Quora could be a perfect marketing tool, especially for B2B startups. In fact, tons of questions and answers on Quora are promotional. You can do the same creating the awareness for your brand. All you need is initiate a discussion on a particular topic or start answering questions related to your product.
LinkedIn and Facebook Groups
Many LinkedIn and Facebook groups seem to be comprised of cheesy used-car salesmen. Nevertheless, some of the niche groups are a great chance for you to find high-level professionals who are decision-makers in your industry. The cost of this type of ultra-targeted promotion? Next to nothing.
So, find relevant groups, start conversations, take part in heated discussions and pique group members’ curiosity about your product.
APIs have become a new business development technology that enables businesses to deliver intelligent and connected digital experience to customers, partners and employees. Simply put, APIs can help you win, serve and retain consumers. It is a great emerging marketing channel and a boat you shouldn’t miss.
Сhoosing the right marketing channels can make-or-break your startup. Your choice depends on a lot of factors: the team, the product, the stage of the startup and the market. But there are a few hints that could be significant in choosing and scaling marketing channels:
Focus on a few channels rather than spreading your efforts too thin;
Adapt and investigate. Channels and their effectiveness may change;
Look for emerging channels where you can find reasonably-priced and beat your larger rivals.
That’s it! Following this tips while launching a marketing start-up will help ensure your startup has the best possible chance for success. Good luck on the road to great digital marketing!
Julia Samoilenko is a Marketing Manager at Chanty – a simple AI powered business messenger and a single notification centre. This powerful and free Slack alternative is aimed to increase team productivity and improve communication at work. Having a 5-year experience in digital marketing field, Julia is responsible for Chanty’s online social media presence and public relations. Follow Julia on Twitter @juliasam111 or feel free to connect on LinkedIn.