Master Your Startup Marketing: 3 Strategies To Ramp Up Growth

Creating a great startup marketing strategy doesn’t have to be stressful. You can use solid frameworks and marketing principles to start successfully. It just helps to hear those recommendations from someone that’s had the experience before you stumble through trying to discover the best approach yourself. The ideas in this article will help you get started.

Hitting the ‘pause’ button

Startups are under great pressure to quickly deliver results. At the same time, startups are still learning about their audience, testing their value proposition, and defining probable outcomes. 

This chaotic mix often leads startup marketing teams to be in the neverending ‘experimental phase’, meaning they’re constantly in a ‘test & flight’ mode. They try out a new approach, test it, and pivot quickly to something new.

It isn’t a bad idea to experiment when building your marketing strategy. Quick innovation is key to pivoting quickly when new information arrives. However, that doesn’t mean that you don’t have downsides when following this mindset. 

In my experience, I find that many startups:

  • Begin a specific tactic and don’t wait long enough to see it perform,
  • Start certain tactics too early and are perplexed why they didn’t work, and
  • Test multiple tactics without benchmarks, goals, or defined objectives.

Before you start any marketing implementation, establish these core elements first.

1) Define your marketing mix

Back in marketing school, some were taught the 4P’s, or Product, Price, Promotion & Place. It’s also known as a marketing mix. It's a pretty basic concept, but I often see startups skip over this vital portion of their marketing strategy. A well-defined positioning strategy will help you define the core messages.

Then, you can broadcast to your intended customer market. Even if you’re unsure of the validation of those messages, you can still define them and test them. Testing and user interviews will help you define those messages further.

2) Create goals and benchmarks

A well-defined key performance indicator, or KPI, will help you drive startup revenue. Marketing is often given very general KPIs from leadership - to generate leads for example. Even as a startup, it’s important to define measurable metrics that are reasonable goals and act as benchmarks for your growth.

Measurable doesn’t mean ‘grow website traffic.’ A better way to set a goal is to say ‘grow inbound traffic by 20% in the second quarter.’ Try using the OKR framework to help define realistic and measurable goals.

3) Document your marketing strategy and plan

Many startups don’t document their marketing strategy. Maybe with so much in flux, they forget to do so or they simply don’t see the importance. Even if your marketing is based on assumptions, it’s important to document your strategy and marketing channel plan. By documentation, you set a framework to test, review and rework again.

Don’t leave it to chance by storing your marketing strategy in your brain and not documenting ‘learnings’ along the way. Startup marketing can be messy, and it’s rarely defined from the beginning. Consider your marketing strategy document as a work in progress and always evolving.

I’ve worked with startups during all phases of their growth journey. More often than not, I don’t see them ‘hitting the pause button’ to review these marketing principles first. Your marketing mix, KPIs, and a documented strategy are important components for startup marketing success.

Three marketing strategies for startup growth

When your marketing team begins the work, you most likely will choose a selection of channels and methodologies that fit your startup’s growth goals. Digital marketing has a wide range of different channels and your team is most likely small and under tight time constraints. It’s with these limitations in mind that you have to think carefully about where you focus your time and energy. At the end of the day, you’re not superhuman.

But this is where experience helps. As a digital marketing expert, I’ve worked with various startups over the years. During that time, I’ve learned what works for startup growth and where to focus your attention. These are general recommendations that I’ve found work well.

Optimising your website

It’s tough to dedicate budget and time to designing a website at the beginning, but I highly recommend the effort. A well-optimised website will grow with you. There are many benefits to optimising your website early on including long-term growth and conversion opportunities. Here are five steps to consider.

  1. Start by reviewing Google’s recommendations for website best practices. Inbound traffic from search engines is a cost-effective conversion opportunity with a lower acquisition cost.
  2. Optimise your website for speed, user experience, and be mobile-friendly. If your website doesn’t meet these criteria, it will be less likely to rank organically and reach your audience in search.
  3. Effective and well-written web copy will position your brand for growth. Words can ‘sell’ and copy that is written well is a good investment.
  4. Consider your on-page SEO strategy as you build your website and write the copy. What phrases, sentences, or keywords will your target audience use to search for a solution like yours? A keyword list can be very valuable in setting a strong growth foundation for your brand.
  5. Map out conversion opportunities across your website. As your website generates inbound traffic, you will want to channel that traffic down the customer funnel and encourage them to convert. Consider how a visitor will appear on your website and what the next step will be in their journey. Optimise the website for conversion opportunities along the journey like newsletter opt-in, links to service pages, or content asset downloads that help drive customers down the sales funnel.

Starting email marketing

Email marketing is the next underused opportunity. Even if your value proposition isn’t defined, you can still start an email list to collect general interest in your product. Meaning it’s very important to start building your email list from the beginning, even pre-launch. Email marketing can be a highly effective method to funnel potential customers from one sales funnel level to the next.

Through email segmentation, you can define specific marketing messages to specific markets and buyer personas and at different stages. Lastly, sale-focused email campaigns can be effective in targeting specific customer behaviours and triggers resulting in a customised experience. For example, abandoned cart emails or behaviour trigger SaaS emails are useful to startups.

Running paid campaigns

There are several methods to generate demand for your startup. Paid advertising is just one of the many methods. By running paid advertising campaigns, you have the opportunity to reach new audiences and convert them into email signups, product purchases, or demo sign-ups. This is a great way to kickstart your marketing engine and keep customers engaged as they move down the marketing funnel. 

A cost-per-click (or CPC) campaign can be a highly effective option for early-stage startups. The model only charges you when someone clicks on your ad, and even if thousands view your ad, you’ll only be charged for those that click. This is a cost effective campaign for testing new audiences and advertising copy. You can run a CPC campaign on various platforms like Google AdWords, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. It’s important to know your budget and audience before choosing a platform.

Remarketing campaigns are another opportunity to re-engage past website visitors across various platforms. For example, Google Ads remarketing is a popular advertising tactic for startups. Simply put, remarketing ads give your startup a second chance at converting website visitors. Remarketing engages with your past website visitors through specific targeting campaigns, directing them to your website, and enticing them again to convert.

It doesn't have to be stressful and difficult to master your startup marketing. All that is needed is a strategy, a plan, and in the best case, knowledge of what works. Focus on getting the marketing principles right sooner rather than later to help ensure long-term growth. Once you have a solid foundation, you can deep dive into these three marketing strategies to ramp up growth.