According to recent data from The Startup Genome project, analyzing some 3,200 high-growth technology startups, 1 out of every 12 startups fails.
While there are a host of reasons startups fail, most startups fail due to lack of funding or because they spend too much on customer acquisition.
Let’s face it; marketing is a huge part of building a successful startup. You have to market or you wouldn’t get past having a great product, but must it be at the cost of your startup’s success?
According to data from The Startup Genome project most startups that fail spend in excess of $15,000 a month on customer acquisition before optimizing their conversion funnels and acquisition costs.
While marketing is important, it doesn’t have to be very expensive. In fact, you can market your startup on a relatively small budget if you don’t have a big budget and this article shares 5 practical ways you can do that.
1. Utilize Content Marketing
One of the best ways to market your startup on a budget is by utilizing content marketing.
According to Wikipedia: “Content marketing is an umbrella term encompassing all marketing formats that involve the creation and sharing of content in order to attract, acquire and engage clearly defined and understood current and potential consumer bases with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”
Essentially, the idea behind content marketing is to embrace all forms of content, with focus on building an audience base and educating people in your industry as a strategy to get them to use your service. It’s easy not to see the logic in this, especially if you’re used to advertising your products to drive-by visitors, but content marketing can be very effective if done right.
One of the best and easiest ways to utilize content marketing for your startup is to start a blog for your startup where relevant articles are published on a consistent basis with the aim of attracting users and educating them about your services with the end goal of getting them to use your product or services. Gradually, the posts published on your blog will start getting traction on social media, get ranked in the search engines, and lead to more traffic and as a result drive more users to use your product/services.
There are several successful case studies that prove how effective having a blog can be:
- Hubspot was able to achieve a 350% growth in one year by combining a host of different content marketing tactics, but mostly thanks to its blog.
- Kissmetrics built a blog that received over 1 million unique visitors in 10 months without spending a cent on paid traffic, which resulted in significant growth for what they offer.
- American Express created the Open Forum blog, which focuses on bringing together experts to contribute content on a consistent basis, results in millions of hits every year and results in more business for the Amex brand.
These are just a few case studies that prove the effectiveness of content marketing, especially having a blog.
While having a blog is important, consistently updating it is important too. All the examples above update their blog at least once a day and in some cases more than once a day. If you can’t write, hire a freelance writer.
Recent data from Hubspot has shown that businesses that blog at least 20 times per month get 5 times more traffic than those that blog less than 4 times per month. B2B businesses that blog just 16 to 20 times “per month” get 3 times more leads than businesses that don’t.
Having a blog can be effective marketing tool for your business. If you don’t have one, start it now and update it regularly!
2. Start Smart Guest Blogging
While guest blogging is a part of content marketing, it is worth talking about it separately since it can be phenomenal if used wisely, yet most startups ignore it today.
There are two ways you can approach guest blogging and both are effective:
- By writing quality guest posts for authoritative blogs in your niche with the aim of driving traffic and customers
- By writing quality guest posts for blogs in your niche with the aim of building backlinks that can drive long-term search traffic.
Two noteworthy case studies to the effectiveness of guest blogging as a marketing strategy are Leo Widrich’s from Bufferapp and mine.
- Leo helped Bufferapp gain its first 100,000 users, within 9 months, by guest blogging for major blogs. By writing hundreds of guest posts that were published on top industry blogs, Leo helped Bufferapp build buzz and gain its first 100 thousand users in the process. When asked how effective guest blogging was to growing Bufferapp, Leo remarked that it was literally the only strategy used to grow Bufferapp.
- Another case study that proves the effectiveness of guest blogging, in regards to building backlinks for SEO, is mine. I was able to gain an additional 120,000+ search engine visitors in a one year period by effectively leveraging guest blogging. The process was easy, but very effective. Traffic kept increasing even with little effort from my part, thanks to a guest blogging campaign I started over a year ago.
While guest blogging can be very effective, how it’s done is just as important and outreach is a major part of the process. If you’re not familiar with guest blogging or don’t have the time for it, hire a guest blogger to help you with the process or use guest blogging tools to make the process easier.
Should you decide to automate your guest blogging by using tools, here are a few noteworthy ones:
1. PostJoint: A platform that connects “Advertisers” with “Bloggers”, PostJoint is a new and effective guest blogging platform being talked about a lot lately.
PostJoint makes the process of connecting with and publishing guest posts on top blogs in your industry easy; you write the guest post, you submit it via PostJoint and you wait to get published. This completely eliminates the stress that comes with reaching out to bloggers personally, the wait times and the uncertainty of getting published.
2. MyBlogGuest: MyBlogGuest is a community of guest bloggers that make it easy to interact with other bloggers who would like to publish your guest posts. With tens of thousands of members, MyBlogGuest is the biggest community of guest bloggers online.
3. Be Active on Quora
Unlike other question and answer sites, Quora is different. It encourages thoughtful and long-winded discussions. Essentially, Quora is designed to get thought-leaders and people with something to say to answer questions asked by the community. Quora is also being frequented by journalists and a large majority of the entrepreneurial world, making it very effective.
By actively participating on Quora and answering questions relevant to your industry, you position yourself as an authority and thought-leader in your niche, build familiarity with your audience, and drive more traffic and users to your startup.
There are case studies attesting to how effective Quora can be for marketing. The idea isn’t to spam Quora with links to your products or advertising, but to position yourself as a thought-leader in your industry, build relationships, create awareness and get clients and media coverage as a result.
4. Develop an SEO Strategy
Aside from the fact that search engines serve as the #1 source of traffic online, search traffic can be powerful for startups. When people search for a keyword online and discover your website, they’re more likely to convert compared to if they discover your blog on social media.
SEO is easy and cost effective; you can do it on your own if you don’t have the budget to hire an SEO company. By leveraging the power of content marketing on your startup blog as well as on other websites, you can gain relevant links and improve your rankings. While it takes time to get results from your SEO efforts, the traffic you get is consistent and it keeps growing.
If you’re new to SEO, here’s a resource that can help:
- The Beginners Guide to SEO – from SEOMoz
5. Reach Out to Bloggers and Industry Leaders
When you’re trying to grow your startup, the idea is usually to gain a lot of press. As a result, most startups focus their efforts only on getting coverage from major tech sites like TechCrunch and then ignore the impact bloggers can have. Before your startup launches, get in touch with bloggers in your industry who you think need your product or services and get them to beta test your product. Give them lifetime access if you have to and ensure their experience with your product is great. In return, ask them to write honestly what they think about your product on their blog.
Of course, not all the bloggers you contact will publish an article reviewing your startup but a significant number of those bloggers will be happy to mention your startup in relevant articles when the need arises.
Joseph Oni is a marketer with over two years of marketing and guest blogging experience. If you want a professional to help you implement one or more of the above strategies for your startup, hire him!
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