Digital Marketing for StartupsYou’ve created a product or innovation that solves a commonly held problem and now you’re ready to tell the world about it – or at least the part of the world that can use your product. Digital marketing in general is ideal for this because you can scale it up and down as needed; because there are low barriers to entry; and because there are numerous strategies available under the umbrella of digital marketing.

If you’re wondering about the best method to market your particular startup online, the answer is short and simple. It depends. Although no two companies should be marketed in precisely the same way, startups come equipped with even more twists and turns. To get started, set your marketing goals, create a website and then follow this blog post’s verbal flowchart to be guided through a high-level process of making solid digital marketing choices.

Crucial Question for Startups

First, determine if your product is truly unique – meaning there is literally nothing else like it on the market – or if it is an improvement upon what already exists and/or a product reconfigured for a specific niche. It’s tempting to automatically say your product is unique, but take off your salesperson’s hat for a moment. Answering this question the wrong way will likely send you down an unfruitful path.

Once you’ve categorized your startup as either unique or as an innovative improvement, you’re ready to receive value from the rest of this post. For the sake of clarity, going forward, we’ll call products that are improvements upon currently existing ones Type A and truly unique ones Type B.

Search Engine Optimization and Pay Per Click

Let’s say you’ve created a gardening app that will help even new gardeners to create the best designed garden for their available space, location and climate. Your app may be better than what’s currently out there, but it isn’t a unique invention, so you’re Type A – and there are actually key advantages to being that kind of startup. You can most likely use organic search engine optimization (SEO) and/or pay per click (PPC), also known as Google AdWords, as effective digital marketing tools. As four examples, people are organically searching on these terms in these monthly numbers:

  • gardening apps: 4,400
  • garden planner app: 480
  • best gardening apps: 390
  • garden design app: 210

So the demand for your product category is definitely out there, with your task being to use SEO and PPC in the most effective ways to reach your target audiences.

Now here’s an example to illustrate a Type B startup. Let say you’re a true fan of The Jetsons cartoon and you’ve created a device that will rapidly enclose people in a safe delivery systems so they can be dropped out of flying cars and land at their precise destinations, similar to what the Jetson family did.

It won’t do you any good to count on SEO or PPC for keywords specific to your product right away because people aren’t yet aware of your innovation, so aren’t actively searching for that technology. (If they are searching on that concept, they probably want to watch a Jetson cartoon.)

You can, of course, optimize your site for related keywords that already have search figures, such as:

  • future flying cars: 390
  • flying car prototype: 260
  • flying car news: 210

Because you’re ahead of the curve, people aren’t yet searching on “flying car accessories” and other similar terms that will someday become competitive – so proactively use them now. It’s possible they will pay off in future years and it doesn’t take much time investment now.

And, as voice search becomes more prominent, new opportunities might open up for your flying car accessory because search will evolve from typed keywords to longer-tailed conversational queries that you can address.

Guest Posting and Content Marketing

Type B, you’ve got a huge advantage over many other startups. You’ve created something enormously, incredibly, fantastically cool, so guest posting is a viable path for you. Using the flying car accessory example, the earliest likely demand for your product from end-use consumers would be in 2019, since that’s when Terrafugia’s Transition is expected to make its first customer deliveries. But now would be the ideal time to start to let the world know about your mind-blowing invention.

You could research quality blogs that focus on, as just six examples:

  • cars
  • flying
  • business
  • entrepreneurship
  • inventions
  • cartoons

Which of these will accept guest posts? Prioritize your list in each category and use a topic-spoking strategy to write them. With topic spoking, you take a general topic and write each post using a different slant for the different audiences. Although promotional guest posts are usually frowned upon and typically rejected by quality blogs, a truly game-changing innovation is an exception to the rule. (Type A startups: Don’t make the mistake of thinking this will work for you!)

You can then link from these guest posts to your website. Sometimes, you’re allowed to link from the body copy, but virtually every guest blog post opportunity allows you to link from your author bio. By doing this, you are creating backlinks to your site, which helps with SEO, while also laying groundwork for a future content marketing strategy.

Guest posting and content marketing can also work well for Type A startups. Your challenge will be to break through the noise and find non-promotional angles about your product that are of interest to a particular blog’s target audience. Examples could include targeting a:

  • homeschooling blog: Offer to write a post about how garden design could fit into a science curriculum
  • gardening site: Offer to write a post about new hybrid plants
  • business/technology site: Offer to write a post about the process of commercializing an app

Here’s more information about getting started with content marketing.

Additional Digital Marketing Strategies

As powerful as SEO, PPC, guest posting and content marketing are – and implemented correctly, they really are! – there are numerous other ways to market your startup, including email marketing, social media marketing, remarketing, video marketing and more. As augmented reality is becoming more engrained in digital marketing, how can you envision that technology used in promoting your product? What big data can you collect to create fabulous content?

No matter which methods you choose, you’ll want to know how to track sources of online traffic to your site. What is working best? How can you capitalize upon that? What is least effective? Are there ways to improve upon that? Just like entrepreneurship, digital marketing can be an exciting journey, so enjoy the ride!

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Chris Gregory

Managing Partner at DAGMAR Marketing
Chris founded DAGMAR Marketing and directs all of the agency's SEO strategy development and implementation. He is a Certified Master SEO by Market Motive and OMCP.
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