Have you started a startup business but don’t know exactly where to… well… start when it comes to marketing yourself online? You have stumbled upon the right blog. We are going to explain why it’s so vital to look to online marketing as well as provide you a “checklist” of sorts to cover important aspects of marketing online– such as utilizing PPC ads, creating online directory listings and more.
So before you even think about what family members will be bombarding your house this Thanksgiving, have a look at our tutorial that takes the notion of “how to start a business” to a whole new, digital marketing-oriented level. After all, it’s about securing your startup business’ future… and the future is definitely online.
“If You Build It… They’ll Probably Have No Idea”
Let’s begin by letting you in on a little secret: We KNOW that starting a business is exhilarating…but we also know that the “build it and they will come” theory doesn’t hold much water, and all those “overnight success” stories you constantly hear about – the misleading infomercials seen at three in the morning included – are often the result of behind-the-scenes years of ridiculously hard work.
Put succinctly, a startup business requires startup marketing because no type of overnight success fairy is going to come down from the heavens and grant you riches… no matter how many business cards you put under your pillow. That said, startup marketing is a unique challenge because often times there’s a limited amount of resources, whether it’s time, money, or talent.
You have to be sure, as you move through your startup venture, that every effort – no matter how small – is well-planned and flawlessly executed. What’s worse is that the traditional marketing strategies don’t always work and are becoming less and less effective. But have no fear, because startup marketing is a whole different science meant to get you noticed in this day and age of online-centric communities.
We’re positive that, if you’re like the millions of other startup business entrepreneurs out there, you have gotten utterly confused with the gazillions of online marketing books, ebooks, articles, blogs, videos, podcasts, etc. available; you just want someone to lay out for you the simple steps to take in order to beef up your online marketing and generate more business. Multiverse Media Group is here to help, and we’ve been sharing our expertise in the world of online marketing for years – even assisting businesses with becoming successful through our myriad of marketing services. We’re going to provide a comprehensive checklist for actions to take to get your web presence in tip-top shape and rack up sales. Consider this blog a complete checklist of best practices for online marketing and your own website.
Just A Few Things About the Online Marketing Checklist Before We Get Started…
Online marketing and websites go together like peanut butter and jelly. But unfortunately, that’s their only similarity to this staple delicious sandwich combo, as online marketing and websites’ very nature is very technical. So, we’re going to cover some technical concepts while using technical language… it’s unavoidable but don’t let that scare you. You will be able to understand more than most of what we’re talking about here even if you consider yourself an individual of “limited technical knowledge;” trust us when we say we are experts at explaining things in plain language.
One other thing we’d like to point out is that this list is great for entrepreneurs, small business owners, marketing managers, webmasters, virtual assistants and even entry-level SEO specialists. Honestly, anyone tasked with creating a world-class online presence, on a small-business budget, will get value. If you’re like many people today, you perform some online activities as a “do-it-yourselfer” while delegating more technical-oriented tasks to a capable professional – this list will be the perfect fit.
You’ll also learn enough to perform many of these activities on your own, and for the rest you will learn enough to communicate with your technical staff or outside professionals (and if you find that you need the whole procedure handled by seasoned pros, you can always contact us here at Multiverse). In the end, you will boast the foundation to understand professional advice and recommendations better, because we understand that nothing is more frustrating than hiring outside help only to feel like you’re attempting to decipher a foreign language.
1. Understand the Difference Between the Pay-Per-Click and Organic Approach
Pay-per-click (or “PPC”) advertising is a great way to temporarily boost initial traffic to your new website… but in most cases it’s not a great long-term solution. For long-term traffic, it’s all about ORGANIC. Since we already said we were experts in making things as simple as possible, let’s first DEFINE “pay-per-click” advertising: Also known as “cost-per-click,” this Internet advertising model is used to direct traffic to websites, wherein advertisers pay the publisher (usually a website owner or host) when the ad is “clicked.” In pure layman’s terms, it is defined simply as “the amount spent to get an advertisement clicked.”
Several studies, including one conducted by Google, have proven that pay-per-click advertising drives significant traffic to a website. But what these studies don’t show is PPC’s impact on sales: We have found that PPC has an interesting effect on sales in that:
PPC increases site visitors AND sales
PPC visitors are more valuable than non-PPC visitors from a revenue-per-sale standpoint
MVMG Fun Fact: A case study followed a B2B ecommerce advertiser that launched a new site and tested PPC’s effect on sales; the 10-week list resulted in an increase in site visits by 17-percent and an increase in sales by 136-percent.
For startups looking to get off the ground with PPC, it can be overwhelming. There’s just so much data that can be used and so many factors to consider when setting up PPC campaigns, to say nothing of the cash concerns that come with any startup.
Here are three core aspects of PPC that you can focus on when putting together campaigns so they could develop more impactful ads as you’re building your new business; then, we’ll take a closer look at the organic approach:
Define Your Goals as Specifically as Possible
To create your advertising plan, ask yourself questions about your startup, questions about your prospects and questions about your spending (budget).
Develop a Comprehensive Keyword List
When it comes to keyword selections for startups, what is known as “long-tail terms” are great ones to go after; they’re highly targeted and may be more cost-effective than more competitive terms. The best way to do this is to understand the questions we just covered in the first bullet point about your business and audience. Once you grasp broad terms related to your business, conduct research to determine some of the popular long-tail searches related to those terms; for example: A mortgage lender may have an audience searching for terms like “how to get a mortgage” or “where can I get a mortgage.”
Know Your Competitors Like Your Best Friend
After identifying your goals and a solid keyword list, complete a competitive analysis so you can identify opportunities. What do we mean by this? Well, you need to begin looking at your competition and asking, “Do other startups offer a benefit for which I offer a strong differentiation?” “Are they bidding on keywords I’ve missed?” “How are their ads and landing pages different from my own?” Asking yourself these questions can provide clarity regarding who else is in your market and what their acquisition tactics are.
One thing is for certain: It is very important for your brand to boast a strong presence in search engines to ensure that you’re in front of your target audience. Besides PPC ads, this can also be done with an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) approach, which takes a look at naturally ranking high in “organic” results.
MVMG Fun Fact: Organic results are 8.5 times more likely to be clicked on than paid search results, leading to a conclusion that the opportunity from organic search is 5.66 times that of paid search.
So what can we conclude? There are certainly times to use PPC, such as when you’re first launching your company, as it’s a great way to get your name out there and build brand awareness. But when it comes to the long-term life of your Internet marketing, SEO (organic) offers the better value in search marketing. No, you definitely won’t rank number one overnight, but SEO is more affordable and the long-term benefits have been proven.
2. Create Online Directory Listings
If you run a brick-and-mortar store, your family and friends will undoubtedly know about it, and you may even begin your entrepreneurship foray by boasting a local customer or two, but how does the rest of the world find and contact you? The answer to this in the pre-Internet world was the good old-fashioned phone book – but if you’re a startup business operating in 2015, you need to get listed in an online directory.
Every individual directory you submit to is another chance to get found online, so it’s important to ensure you’re listed in as many as possible. We have compiled a list of the popular local directories available on the Internet, which include:
- Better Business Bureau
- Angie’s List
- Merchant Circle
- Dex Media
There are a plethora of additional local listing sites beyond these, but our point is that making sure you have a presence everywhere that your potential customers might find you is critical to any online marketing plan.
3. Create a Content Marketing Plan and Start Blogging
As a startup, you have many factors to take into consideration when it comes to marketing your business: There’s offline local marketing to consider, as well as online local and expanded marketing. Once your “online staples,” such as a well-designed and optimized website and appropriate media channels, are in place, you need to start thinking about a content marketing strategy. Content marketing is not only affordable, but represents an effective form of marketing utilized for reaching both your primary and secondary target audiences – including B2B marketing and everyday consumers.
Content marketing refers to online content such as images, videos, opt-in email marketing campaigns, newsletters, social media posts, press releases, white papers and blogs…all of which are posted online with the sole purpose of connecting and engaging with your target audience. This relevant and thought-inspiring information adds value, and in turn increases your company’s exposure…but make no mistake: Content marketing shouldn’t be thought of as “posting for the sake of posting,” but rather to engage, interact and leave your audience wanting to learn more.
When you begin blogging (one of the most important steps you can take), you need to make your posts look good because your online audience wants to read and view content that’s visually appealing. You must consider:
- Text that is well-spaced and broken into “bite-sized” chunks with section headers.
- Font and text color that is complimentary, without being “loud.”
- Images that are clear and relevant, making the prospective client want to learn more.
- Videos that are professional, yet fitting; whether this be creative, informative or fun.
Check out our article on how to write a Google friendly blog for even more tips
4. Have a Mobile-Responsive and Search Engine Optimized Website
If your website isn’t “mobile-friendly,” you’ll quickly find that its ranking will plummet on Google’s search results. There’s no doubt about it – “Mobilegeddon” is here to stay, and websites that aren’t mobile-friendly will suffer from the latest “Google-apocalypse.” (try to say that 5 times fast)
Previous changes to Google’s algorithm simply required website owners to ensure their sites were mobile-optimized for better viewing on smartphones and tablets. Now, factors such as readability, responsive design and not using non-mobile-friendly software such as Flash is also taken into consideration in a website’s search ranking.
With regard to SEO (Search Engine Optimization) the end goal is to increase the number of people arriving at your site through ORGANIC search results (something we touched on earlier in this blog). As a startup, optimization for SEO has the potential to enhance the efforts of your other marketing strategies – if you are anticipating driving a great deal of social interaction with your site, having your pages and URLs optimized for SEO will ensure that as individuals share your site you receive the most value from that sharing.
It should go without saying that SEO is something that startup businesses should be engaged in.
5. Create Social Media Channels
Successful startup companies such as Distractify and Airbnb have proven that a great social media strategy is the cornerstone of a strong company launch. What’s more, an effective social media presence can help brand-new companies create lasting, meaningful relationships with their clients, while using social media for customer service, recruitment and feedback puts businesses ahead of the game.
As a startup, you should know all about the process – that’s why we have decided to share the social media tips that have helped many firms grow into the corporate entities they are today:
- Create your social media strategy before creating social media profiles
- Choose the right social networks for your business
- Save money on customer service by using social media
- Expand by recruiting new team members on social media
- Build an online community of “brand ambassadors”
- Evaluate your social media strategy regularly
- Don’t be afraid to experiment
6. Build an Email List and Begin Email Marketing
It’s a widely known fact in the marketer world that failing to start building and continuing to grow an email list is major mistake startup companies tend to make. So why do beginners in business make this error over and over? The best explanation is that there is a false presumption in the “regular world” that email marketing is dead.
In reality, email marketing has never been more alive than it is today. Think about it: Every website wants visitors to give them their email address, whether it’s Twitter, Facebook or The New York Times. Why? The answer is very simple: Everyone’s got an email address which they log into several times a day. Further, most smartphone owners are signed into their email accounts 24/7 with push notifications enabled. Email is much more direct, personal and reliable with regard to getting in touch with other human beings.
From our years as online marketing experts, we have learned that building an email list and starting an email marketing campaign is probably the best thing you can do for your website and your startup business. There are a number of free email subscription services available, but while these save costs for startup owners, they are not the most ideal way to go about it. To build a powerful email list, you should go with an email provider like Aweber or, one of our favorites, MailChimp – or, contact us here at Multiverse Media Group to talk about additional options and tactics.
7. Do Competitor Research
We touched on this very early in the blog, but it bears repeating: Get to know everything you can about your competitors. Whether you want to face it or not, they’re out there and just as hungry for customers. While we may seem a bit cruel asking you to take an additional step after everything else we’ve covered with regard to building your business, you will want to consider devoting the time and energy needed for keeping tabs on your competition.
In a nutshell, by monitoring competitors on an ongoing basis, you get to know their behavior and as such can begin to anticipate what they will be likely to do next. Here are some actions you can take:
- Go beyond a Google search by visiting your competitor’s web page or using AdWords campaigns.
- Do some reporting by utilizing resources such as Alexa, Compete, Keyword Spy, Hoovers and ReferenceUSA.
- Tap the social network by “tuning in” to your competitors’ tweets, Facebook posts, blogs and other “new media mentions.” Facebook has a “Pages to Watch” analytics function you can add them to.
- Attend an industry trade show or conference to learn about who your competitors are and what they’re offering.
Always remember that it is vital that you look to the future and have clear goals in mind before deciding on a web platform and marketing strategy. Our hope is that this checklist we have provided for you will be a major step in that direction. Feel free to leave any questions you have in the comments below! We’re always online to answer them.