5 Ways Successful Startups Drive Growth
As a startup, you’re always eager to find creative ways to shake up the status quo. But your primary concern is figuring out the best (and most cost-effective) way of growing your business. Between determining the next best market to tap into and deciding on where to set up your ping pong table, you’re always looking for ways to drive growth. How you market your business can make or break the success of your company.
You know that advertising is a critical component for success, but your resources are limited. So how do you get your startup in front of as many eyes as possible without the budget that your established competitors have to work with? Don’t fret – we’ve narrowed down 5 helpful tips startups can use to start driving growth for their business now.
1. Publish High-Value, High-Impact Content
You’ve got your website and it looks great. Now you need to populate it with branded content so you can drive traffic to your site and convert customers. So what’s a good strategy for a small marketing budget? Well, there’s this growing trend called content marketing that over 89% of startups are employing as a key channel to drive growth for their businesses.
Remember, in this digital age where communication is so integral to our lives maintaining an ongoing conversation with your clients is important to developing brand loyalty. Content is king, but good content rules supreme. Make sure your content is high-value: it should be educational, can provide useful tips, or is entertaining. Bottom-line, your content marketing should be beneficial and relevant to your target audience. Make their concerns your priority.
What kind of content does this include?
- White papers or e-books
- Blog articles
These are just some of the elements you can incorporate into your content marketing strategy. Bonus, your content marketing can be used to fuel other elements of your marketing strategy including social media and email campaigns (more on these below). Blogging, in particular, is an easy and effective way of not only establishing yourself as a thought leader for your current customers but also helping you to attract new ones. However, don’t underestimate the amount of time you may need to invest – content marketing, when done well, is a major challenge for companies of all sizes.
2. Keep Your Brand In Front of Qualified Audiences with Email Marketing
This is probably the least expensive and most underrated way for a small business to build their brand and generate leads. Email campaigns give you an immediate opportunity to start a conversation and invite interaction – all happening directly in their inboxes. Not to mention this is a chance to engage with your customers on a one-on-one basis. But how can email drive traffic and engage new customers?
Start by writing a simple yet enticing title that your customer wouldn’t want to delete from their inbox. But keep in mind, email marketing isn’t just about writing clickable subject lines and crafting nice templates, it’s about understanding what your audience wants to receive in their inbox.
You know your audience has different wants and needs, understand their dynamics and then use segmented lists. Each list should have personalized or customized content based on demographic and interests. For example, if your business caters to both football and baseball fans then provide content that specifically caters to each type of sport. The relevancy will show your customers that you understand what they value.
Another important element to consider is that many people first read your emails and newsletters on mobile. So first and foremost, make sure your emails are responsive to any screen they’ll be open on. Make sure your content is easy to read and digest; no one wants to read a novel on their phone.
One of the most critical elements of your email campaign is the call to action. Don’t leave your audience wondering what to do next- or else what’s the point of sending the email? Give your audience a clear, concise direction about the next step – ‘Learn more’, ‘Sign Up Here’, ‘Download Now’ and “Click here” are excellent examples.
Finally, be sure to experiment with different frequencies of emailing, days of the week and types. Understand your audiences email preferences by analyzing the open and click-through rates over time. This allows you to know what works and doesn’t work for your audience and then you can continue to adjust your email campaigns for success, accordingly.
3. Get On Board with Social Media
Log out of your personal profile and create a business account for your startup on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn – you name it.
Each of these networks gives your startup a digital presence and the best part? It’s free digital real estate to advertise your brand and reach as many people as possible. Social networks also provide a great opportunity to gather feedback, build relationships and add credibility to your startup.
Use these channels to build your brand’s voice, but make sure it’s consistent to not only your brand but the channel as well. People use different social media platforms for various reasons so catering your voice to each will be key to building strong relationships in each channel. Post frequently and consistently but always be mindful of who’s reading each post.
Another important element of your social media strategy is to include a variety of posts. Don’t annoy your audience with continuous self-promoted content. Instead use a combination of self-branded content and valuable resources, articles and information from others in the industry (just make sure it’s not from your competition!). Don’t forget what these channels are meant for either: building relationships through engagement. Make the effort to retweet, respond, or give shout outs to your followers, fans and subscribers.
Last but not least, be sure to flaunt your social media profiles on your website, in email campaigns, email signature, and any other public-facing initiatives. The Likes and Followers will be rolling in, in no time.
4. Budget for Paid Advertising
Your competitors, big and small, are doing it. So should you. Channels like search, display, or retargeting requires a monetary investment, but you need to budget for advertising.
Start small, test, and then scale your budget as you go. And make sure you’re optimizing for a cross-channel/cross-device ad strategy that encompasses desktop and mobile web (for more tips on mobile strategy, click here).
Start by researching your competitors and measuring your place in the marketplace. Who are your competitors and how do you compare to them? At this early stage, it’s vital to establish your startup identity and communicate consistently about what makes you different. Competitive intelligence plays a key role in helping you determine how to strategically position your startup as you keep an eye on the competition.
Competitive intelligence can show you how your competitors are positioning themselves in the marketplace by helping you track their ad campaigns. With tools like WhatRunsWhere, you can track their strategies, sales cycles, and see all their creatives.
By learning from your competitors, you can save countless hours of searching for ads, split testing creatives and wondering what works in your industry. This will ultimately save you money since as a start- up, every dollar counts. Don’t waste money on resources or marketing strategies that don’t work and start investing in ones that do.
5. Unplug and Host A Party!
This is a bit of a departure from the last four tips, but it works. Hosting and documenting a party on social media is a great way to create buzz. Hosting a party is a great way to attract some attention and make your industry presence known. For startups, it doesn’t have to be lavish or formal. Simply inviting customers, complimentary businesses, other startups and some local PR for pizza, beers, and ping pong can go a long way.
Take the opportunity to invite industry experts to speak and add some educational value to the party as well. Remember, it’s all about targeting and connecting with like-minded people so that you can grow with them. It’s a great way to form relationships with potential partnerships or even future hires!
Last fall, for example, we participated in Toronto’s Startup Open House. The event was great way to gain visibility and make connections with people inside and outside the usual startup circuit, all while helping grow the local startup community Even if you can’t host an event yourself, stay on top of what’s happening in your local community and find a way to get involved.
Bonus tip: Tap into other successful founders’ experiences! Our co-founders Mike Cojanu and Max Teitelbaum say that understanding technology and being digital savvy can drive any business forward. You can read their interview here. Remember, growth is a learning process but with these 5 tips you’ll start seeing positive changes in no time.