Getting a digital makeover for 2020

Happy New Year! As the newest (currently) columnist at Startups Magazine, I’m here to solve all your digital and marketing problems. Well. Not quite. 

But what I will be doing each month is sharing some of my tried and tested digital expertise that you can directly apply to your own startup, giving you a leg up in the ever-increasingly competitive world of online commerce.

Why digital?

...I hear you ask. 

A report by Statista revealed that in 2018 there were 1.8 billion digital buyers - that’s 21.55% of the world's population, and remember that many of them will be purchasing for themselves, for others, and for their businesses. 

And if you are a B2B startup, the importance of digital actually becomes more important. Your customers’ purchasing journey is likely to be long, perhaps over twelve months, and that means you need to activate multiple touchpoints to keep them moving through that funnel.

Digital marketing and brand awareness provides the most cost-effective, trackable, and measurable means of doing just that. 

All of this, and we haven’t even discussed brand reputation, crisis comms, and the opportunity for you as a founder to share your expertise and thought leadership.

Why do I need a digital makeover?

Heading into not only a new year but a new decade is a fantastic excuse to take some time out of your busy day to consider whether your digital activities are working for you right now. 

From my experience in working and chatting with startup founders around the UK, startups generally fit into one of three camps:

Camp 1: No digital, thank you.

This is the camp that has avoided digital like the plague - either because your value proposition is tied into direct person to person interactions, because you believe there’s a high upfront cost to getting digital, or because you simply don’t enjoy the digital landscape for yourself.

But a digital footprint for your business is completely different from the digital footprint of your personal life. Ignoring the digital world puts you at a distinct disadvantage, and your competition will not wait for you.

If you’re in Camp 1:

  • Take an objective look at your digital ‘shop window’. Can you find out enough online about your business to make a purchase?

  • Where does your target audience ‘hangout’ online - is it LinkedIn? Twitter? Forums? You don’t need to be everywhere, just where your target audience is.

  • Watch your competitors. What are they doing on social media? What does their website look like? Sign up to their newsletter - how do they try to warm you up?

Camp 2: We’ve done digital

This camp embraced digital a while back - and nothing has changed. You probably created a website a few years ago and popped your logo on Twitter and a few other social media sites, but since then you’ve essentially done...nothing.

Most startups don’t fall into this category simply because they are not old enough, but sometimes you’ll spot one who clearly created a free logo, chucked it online, and haven’t touched it since.

This is a real challenge for two reasons. Firstly, digital design changes over time and you’ll easily look dated if you don’t give your branding a refresh. Just Google image search ‘old Google logo’ and you’ll immediately notice the difference between the current and older versions.

Secondly, the digital tools available now are vastly different to even a few months ago. By not actively moving your digital landscape, you’re missing out on opportunities to leverage touch points and interaction just because you haven’t updated. 

If you’re in Camp 2:

  • Be honest with yourself: does your branding look a little dated? Has your industry moved on, and does this leave you behind?

  • Have a creative session with your team and discuss the personality of your brand. How can you best present that on the digital stage?

  • Take some time exploring the new ways you can use automated emails, chatbots, social ads, and more. How can you use them to attract new customers?

Camp 3: I’m all digital

Last but by no means least, you are part of the camp of startups who are digital first. They are usually a digital delivery business themselves, so digital comfort is high and that means you’ve probably explored a wide variety of digital tools - but that can lead to complacency, even for the most digitally aware brand.

It can also lead to digital overkill - not something that you hear many marketers talk about! But sometimes you can be spreading yourselves far too thin. You see this sometimes with startups who have social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat, a Whatsapp group, Weibo…

It’s too much: it’s rare you can deliver high quality content over so many channels, and what’s more, your audience is unlikely to be on all of those channels! It’s a huge amount of effort that is probably not delivering. 

If you’re in Camp 3:

  • It’s time to detox. Look critically at your engagement - not your followers - on each digital channel. Does your newsletter get any sign ups or clicks? When was the last time someone watched one of your videos on YouTube?

  • Ask your customers! A short 2020 survey can give you valuable information about how they feel about you, but also where they are present digitally. Hone in on those aspects.

  • Talk to your staff. Do they feel spread thin? Where do they feel the most value is coming?

This 2020, make digital a priority - but understanding where you currently sit will help your next steps.

Disagree with me? Email Emily now!