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Getting started with digital marketing
April 22, 2019

This article recaps the GIST TechConnect webchat on growing a startup through digital marketing.

(Mira el programa en español.)

In an age of 24/7 connectivity, startup businesses must have a digital marketing strategy that focuses their resources on the marketing tools that best fit their needs. So how do you determine which ones will help your startup the most?

Digital marketing experts, Scott Sorenson, president of Compete Agency, Andrew Nilsson, president of Silverback Strategies, and David Deangelo, program officer at Venture Well came together to share their insights and offer some digital marketing strategies and tools for entrepreneurs and startups to pick the right ones to maximize growth. Moderated by television news anchor and reporter Debra Alfarone, they break down the core components of digital marketing that every business owner should know.

What is the Value and Purpose of Digital Marketing for a Startup?

What is digital marketing? In a nutshell, digital marketing is online marketing — marketing and engagement activities carried out through online media channels. Digital marketing is your online presence and with the right tools, you can be strategic about getting noticed and help improve your customer relationships.

A modern startup must have a digital marketing strategy that “lays the foundation on which you will grow your marketing strategies and your marketing plan, specifically how to convey the value of your product or service to your target audience” says Andrew from Silverback Strategies.  

Scott from Compete Agency adds that he sees digital marketing as “a groundbreaking voice giving platform“ in a world where for the first time ever anyone can reach anyone, and you can put something out there and get real-time feedback.  

The most important thing to keep in mind when it comes to digital marketing is to “Just get started” says Scott. Too many entrepreneurs have a fear of failure and it holds them back. Figure out what you want to do. Get your brand foundation. Then test it. It’s going to be a long road and you can’t expect success right away. Scott adds, “It really comes down to getting out there and being present and having content exist, that needs to be your first step.”

When developing your digital marketing strategy Andrew says, “Learn to love data. Making data-driven marketing decisions is the key to staying cost-effective, efficient, and to optimize and grow things over time.”

Across the board they highly recommend that as a start-up you get a website, get content, and get your tracking and analytics set up.

Content Creation and Curation

All the content that you put online can be free marketing. That content may be the sweat equity of your business. 

When it comes to content marketing, video comes in at the top of the list of type of content used. Dont get stuck in a rut of just posting pictures or text, do a Facebook live or  a selfie video

Scott shares, “video content is extremely powerful but underutilized”.

Andrew adds to this huge topic saying that “by 2023, 80% of all engagement on Facebook will be video views. Video is going to become, if it hasn’t already, the number one source of engaging with people on Facebook as a platform”.

Blogs can serve as a great archive of content on which to base your social media posts. “You could write one great high-quality blog post and have weeks worth of social media content to refer back to that blog post,” says Andrew.

If you have never started a blog before, learn more here about Using Blogging to Tell Your Organization’s Story.

Blogs also serve as a way to bring people back to your website.

But before you begin promoting your business online, you need a good website. WordPress and Squarespace are starting points and additionally Canva can serve as a useful digital content creation tool. Purchasing your website domain and developing the website may cost some money but the investment in developing a good user experience is worth it in the digital age.

When it comes to Content Marketing, Andrew states two core principles for entrepreneurs should keep in mind as they try to get into digital marketing:

Good content: Not just optimizing content for SEO (which we will dive into later), which is important, but having quality, unique content to give people an engaging experience when they get to your site.

Data and analytics: This needs to be set up from the beginning. Data from day one through the rest of your marketing experience is going to be your anchor through everything you are testing and trying.

Startups face a particularly difficult challenge of making a brand for themselves and competing against already established businesses on the market. However with a digital marketing strategy, you can build your presence, increase your web traffic, and most importantly you build relationships with your target audience.

Interested in diving a little deeper into what kind of strategies and tools are available? Read “Digital Marketing for Entrepreneurs: What You Need to Know” to learn more about social media, paid advertising, content creation, data analytics, and search engine optimization (SEO).