digital marketing

Affordable Digital Marketing Strategies for Cash-Strapped Startups

Once your new business is up and running, you need to find ways to advertise to your potential customers. But before making your first marketing plan, it’s important to understand what digital marketing is and what online channels are the most accessible and affordable for you.

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Understanding digital marketing

The concept of digital marketing seems simple on the surface. Rather than traditional marketing channels like radio or television, digital marketing takes place online. However, there’s quite a bit more to online marketing than can be seen at first glance.

Hennessey Digital defines digital marketing as “a type of marketing that involves using a variety of tools, methods and strategies to increase a (company’s) presence online.” The digital marketing agency goes on to explain that the term is both an “umbrella category” and a “catch-all category for a wide range of online marketing services.”

These include activities like:

  • Email marketing
  • Search engine marketing (SEM)
  • Social media marketing
  • Content marketing
  • Video marketing
  • Pay-per-click (PPC) marketing
  • Affiliate marketing
  • Influencer marketing

With so many different channels available, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with the concept of creating digital marketing strategies. However, the diversity of channels actually works in favor of smaller businesses and restricted budgets. This decentralized nature makes it easier to cobble together effective marketing strategies that utilize the various channels best for your business.

Even better, you can scale many of these digital marketing strategies as your business begins to grow. While there are many different options available, some channels are better for startups to utilize than others.

Related: How SEO Can Help You Future-Proof Your Startup

Here are a handful of the best digital marketing strategies that startups can use to put their name on the map:

Social media marketing

Social media is a powerful tool in the hands of a startup because it is free to use and provides access to a large number of consumers.

If you want to use social media for your new business, start by researching what platforms your target audience uses the most. Then, create a limited number of profiles for your brand. Keep in mind: It’s better to manage one or two profiles very well than to have several neglected social media presences.

Once you have your platform(s) selected and your profiles made, you can begin cultivating a social media community for your brand.

You can do this by:

  • Creating a steady stream of content for your company’s social profiles.
  • Keeping the information on your accounts up to date at all times.
  • Engaging with your followers in a personal manner.
  • Remaining interesting, inviting and relevant throughout your social media activity.

Social media is a powerful, cost-effective marketing tool. However, it is also a time-consuming activity.

While you may have more time than money early on in your business, consider how you’ll scale your social media strategy as your startup grows. This could be by using a contractor, hiring a social media manager on staff or even using a third-party digital marketing agency.

Email marketing

Email marketing is a wonderful, direct digital marketing channel. It lets you interact with individuals who have opted in to hear what you have to say.

This enables you to reach out right into consumers’ inboxes with messages about your brands and products as well as various promotions you might run.

Email marketing is another affordable marketing strategy, as well. In fact, many email marketing platforms offer cheap or even free accounts for new users with smaller followings.

This means, as you start your company, you can have email marketing capabilities without paying an arm and a leg for them. As long as your audience is small, you can use a free email account to help grow your business. Only when your audience (and by extension your revenue) grows will you have to start paying for the service.

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SEO marketing

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the organic side of search engine marketing (SEM). It involves optimizing your online content to ensure it shows up in organic search engine result pages (SERPs).

While pay-per-click ads can drain your bank account, SEO-focused efforts can be much more affordable. This involves creating content that uses various keywords, backlinks and other search engine-friendly items to optimize your content.

This can apply to blog articles and social media content. SEO best practices can even be used on a new e-commerce website.

Much like social media marketing, SEO can be a bit time-consuming. However, once you’ve optimized your content, it remains so and will continue to attract organic search engine traffic far into the future.

Content marketing

All three of the previous recommendations involved creating content of some sort or another. It turns out that content isn’t just part of digital marketing. It’s also an entire digital marketing strategy in and of itself.

The way you craft online marketing content can have a major impact on your young company’s digital marketing efforts. It provides an opportunity to create a unified and convincing message for your brand, no matter what channel a consumer may be using.

With this in mind, your content marketing should aim to accomplish the following:

  • Consistently reflect the vision, message and goals of your brand.
  • Line up your content messages with the pain points that your target audience is looking to address.
  • Create compelling sales funnels that resonate with consumers and guide them toward your solutions.
  • Utilize SEO to increase organic traffic to your e-commerce site.

It doesn’t matter if you’re making a social media post, creating a landing page on your website or drafting a guest post for an industry publication. Whenever you generate content, remember that you’re engaging in content marketing that, if handled well, can have a synergistic impact on your new brand.

Key takeaways

Digital marketing is a large, intricate and effective way for any business to reach consumers. As a startup, it’s important that you adopt digital marketing strategies that will be the most effective for your new business.

By embracing affordable options like social media, email, SEO and content marketing, you can maximize every dollar that you spend promoting your brand online. The best part is that as you begin to see the effects of those efforts, you can scale your digital marketing strategies to match your growth.

Originally published Aug. 10, 2021.

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