All startup founders have dreamt about their new product going viral and producing “hockey-stick growth”, but people do not find new products on their own – that is why you need to focus on marketing. Many think that the likes of Uber and AirBnB had overnight success, but in reality these unicorns marketed their products very hard for months or even years before the general public took notice.
There’s a lot of misinformation out there about online marketing, but hopefully after a quick explanation about each element and how they can work together you should have enough knowledge to get started.
Search engine optimisation (SEO)
Everyone receives emails from companies offering them the chance to place first in the Google search results for their key words within days. However, in reality this is a tough and long-term job that includes both on-page search engine optimisation (SEO) and building links on external sites through methods like content marketing.
On-page SEO essentially boils down to writing good copy and using the correct markup to heighlight the important elements to search engines and social media firms. Both Google and Bing offer to help monitor your search engine performance, so make sure you sign up to them and track your progress.
Writing good copy is a skill in itself, but if focus on clear, concise and accurate writing that highlights what makes your product stand out form the crowd then you are heading in the right direction. If writing is not your strength, then it might be worth looking to outsource the job to a copyhacker or journalist who understands the industry and task at hand.
Once you are happy with the copy, then make sure that every page on your website is correctly formatted HTML, with a meta description of about 155 characters for the search engine results and meta tags for the various social networks, so shares of your site will looks great on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and more.
Even if your site has perfect on-page SEO, you will still need to get other sites to link to you in order to rank well in search engine results. There are various link-building strategies, but content marketing is one of the most popular, where you either write guest articles for relevant blogs and magazines and include a link back to your site in the piece, or you write such fantastic articles on your own site that people will link to you as an authority on the topic.
Just as with writing good copy on your sales pages, there are people that can help with writing high quality and informative articles and placing them on other sites to building your link profile, with content marketing a major growth area for online marketing in recent years.
Here on TechFruit we welcome startup founders submitting guest articles where they explain their market and how each competitor compares. No-one wants to read advertorials, but if you can write interesting articles about topics related to your startup, then various publications will happily run them, helping you to make a name for yourself as a “thought leader” in the industry your startup is disrupting.
Search advertising: Google AdWords
Whilst they are great long-term options, it can be months before SEO and content marketing gets your site into the first few results on Google. Luckily, if you want to launch with a bang immediately you can get around this problem by using search advertising, where your ad appears next to or above the top results.
Google’s AdWords is the biggest and best search advertising platform, and lets you target people based on the words they enter into the search box, and you only pay when they click on your ad. The amount you pay depends on your budget and how many other people are bidding on the same key words, but can range from as low as £0.10 per click to over 100 times that.
The AdWords bidding process is not too complicated, but it can be tough to find less competitive keywords that will mean a lower cost per click and a number of AdWords management firms have sprung up to help you with the task and making the most out of your limited budget.
Facebook is everywhere today with over 2bn users worldwide, and so every company needs a presence on the platform. Setting up a Facebook page is pretty straightforward, but do remember that social platforms are only useful if you use them to interact with customers or potential customers – so always answer Facebook messages in under 24 hours.
Facebook advertising also offers a way to target people on a more personal level than any other platform, allowing companies to target something as specific as men aged between 18-34 who have an iPhone, drive a Volvo, and watch Game of Thrones. the level of targeting is almost scary, but it can be extremely useful in finding new customers.
The other social networks can also attract customers if used correctly, with Twitter useful for customer support and aligning your brand with current events, and Pinterest useful to target those more interested in beauty or cooking. Snapchat and Instagram are also very useful tools if targeting younger demographics, but in reality they all pale in comparison to the behemoth that is Facebook.
Now you know all the basic elements to online marketing, the best course of action is just to get started. If you run a startup you know that the best way to learn is through trying things and failing until you find the right path and marketing is no different – the quicker your start the quicker you’ll end up with the best marketing plan for your unique business.