25 Startup Marketing Tips To Get Traction

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During our most recent Digital Growth Broadcast, we caught up with startup marketing experts and asked them to share their tips for getting traction.

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1) Involve your team to participate in customer service.

By Karl Pawlewicz, Voice of Olark

We have a pretty cool tactic we call All Hands Support, where everyone in our company participates in Customer Service. It prevents our CS team from burning out on support, and gives us all a better sense of our product strengths and weaknesses through the eyes of our customers.

Everyone in our company participates in Customer Service - @KarlPawlewicz

2) Put up your marketing site and blog at least 6 months prior to launch.

By Jeff Kear, Owner/Founder, Planning Pod

We learned early on that you should launch your marketing Web site around the same time that you begin building your product.

The reason for this is so you can start to get traction online long before you have a minimum viable product. Your initial Web site doesn't have to be a full-blown site or even that well designed or that big. But you do need to do a few key things, including:

  1. Talk about your value propositions and key differentiators on the home page so that any members of the media who stop by your site can understand what sets your soon-to-come product apart.
  2. Optimize your initial pages for the keyword phrases that customers will use to search for your product/service.
  3. Include in your launch a basic Wordpress blog to start creating content related to your industry.

Put up your marketing site and blog at least 6 months prior to launch. - @PlanPod

For example, we launched the first Planning Pod marketing site and blog 14 months before we launched the product, giving us time to gain a foothold online and developing a groundswell prior to product launch. This has allowed us to hit the ground running, as we have added around 1,000 new customers in our first 10 months of business.


3) Use content marketing to become a thought leader.

By Yael Kochman, Marketing Manager, Roojoom

Marketing is all about making people trust your brand. Trust leads to sales. The best way to both spread the word about your product and make people trust you, is to create quality content. Content should not be about your company or product! Choose a niche in your industry that is relevant to your product and establish your brand as a thought leader in that niche.

Use content marketing to become a thought leader. - @YaelKochman

Examples: Unbounce, a landing page platform, writes about conversion optimization. Buffer, a social management platform, write about social media marketing, what works and what doesn't. Pick your niche and create a steady stream of content, then distribute this content and the places your target audience will see it.


4) Your primary objective is to get the product in front of your customers.

By Harri Rautio, CEO, BTTN

  1. Do your homework well: Make a good brand strategy and good marketing communications concept so you have a basic toolbox (what are you, what are you not? What do you want the customer to remember you by?)
  2. Startups rarely have a marketing budget, so you have to outsmart everyone. Your primary objective to get the product in front of your customers, so you have to work on distribution.
  3. Be interesting: First do interesting things and then tell people about it.
  4. Be different: Lots of startups out there today, not to mention other stuff competing about the customer's interest, time and money.

To get the product in front of your customers you have to work on distribution. - @HarriRautio

5) Have an understanding of which publications your users are reading.

By Lydia Howard, Account Director, Vantage PR

Startups should have a good understanding of not only WHO their target customers are, but WHICH PUBLICATIONS those people are reading. Taking it even further, they should have an understanding of individuals at each publication - not every reporter covers the same thing (far from it) and if you read a reporters' articles closely, you'll get a sense of what they actually care about and tailor your pitch to them.

Startups should know who their target customers are and which publications they read.- @LydHow

6) Nailing your value prop first is crucial.

By Bryan Clayton, CEO and Co-founder of GreenPal

Begin testing around your value proposition. What is it about your product and offer that compels people to say yes? Until startups know this, any marketing efforts or spend in any channels will be like pouring gasoline on wet leaves. For instance, when we first launched, we thought people would like our service because its a cheaper way to get their grass cut. What we found through copy testing in different channels such as ad-words and FB is that the customers ability to get same day service is a much more effective and compelling subset of our value prop that drives more visitors and more conversions on our landing pages.

Nailing your value prop first is crucial. - @BryanMclayton

7) Share all of your industry knowledge on your website.

By Brian Thackston, Director of Content, WebMechanix

You shouldn't be afraid of sharing all your industry knowledge on your website - whether that's through service pages, blog posts, images, FAQs, or anything else. You should also share that knowledge with social media over and over, even if you feel like you're repeating yourself.

That way the next time somebody searches on Google for something related to your niche, you'll be showing up at the top of the results. You can call it SEO, social media marketing, whatever you want. I call it confidence.

You shouldn't be afraid of sharing all your industry knowledge on your website - @GuyDoingThings

8) Ask users to share your service on their social networks.

By Lauren Browdy, PR Coordinator, Unroll.Me

One of Unroll.Me's most successful marketing tactics has been asking our users to share our service on their social networks. Unroll.Me is a free service that allows you to mass unsubscribe from all the email subscriptions you no longer want to receive and place the ones you want to keep into a daily email digest called the Rollup. Since Unroll.Me is a free service, we ask that our users share Unroll.Me via Facebook, Twitter, or Email upon their 5th unsubscribe.

Ask users to share your service on their social networks. - @LBrowdy

9) Take your well-defined target market and make it smaller.

By Mark Lassoff, Founder and President, LearnToProgram, Inc.

Divide your well-defined target market in half, and then in half again. Most founders start off with a target market that is too aggressive - meaning it's too large and they can't afford to market to such a large potential client base. To succeed your product shouldn't have broad appeal, but narrow appeal to a small audience of users who say This is just right for me! Once you nail your target market you can scale up and include secondary markets in your plans.

Take your well-defined target market and make it smaller. - @MLassoff

10) Don't forget about analytics.

By Nora Leary, Director of Marketing, Uplifted

It's so important to measure each and every aspect of the campaign and constantly analyze what is working and what is not (and changing the latter). Measuring how effective you social media, blog, PR, etc campaign is working is vital to user acquisition and fundraising, so having someone on the team designated to measuring this on a weekly and monthly basis is a good idea.

Don't forget about analytics. - @NLeary

11) Promote your business on social media.

By Christine Perkett, Christine Perkett

Social media can play a role in successfully and affordably promoting just about any business. Twitter is good for just about any business, Facebook works best for consumer businesses - but can work for B2B as well, and sometimes Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn and even Quora are great for marketing. Blog and Linkedin Publishing - Linkedin now makes it very easy to become a publisher where you can share your expertise widely without having to drive blog traffic. However, your own blog is also still vital - and can be made more powerful by featuring interviews with experts (partners, prospects, journalists, etc.) in your own industry. When someone is featured on your blog, they will spread the news and link back to your site.

Feature others on your blog so they will spread the news and link back to your site. - @missusP

12) Invest in professional videos for YouTube and Vimeo.

By Lisa Devaney, Director, Hai Media Group

Startups should keep in mind that YouTube is the second biggest search engine next to Google. Invest in professional videos for YouTube and Vimeo that will give your product or service a "wow" factor. You can then use these videos in your content marketing and seed them deeply across the web. With press, a video is often the best way to demo your product and the easiest way to get them to understand it, especially when a journalist is pressed for time. You can also mix your video footage up a bit, using your smartphone to film interesting happenings at your startup. Interview your CEO, or show your employees doing something fun. Visual content marketing helps show personality as well as the facts.

Visual content marketing helps show personality as well as the facts. - @LisaDevaney

And don't overlook other visual content marketing opportunities. Instagram is a wealth of opportunity for building interest and users. Search for relevant hashtags, follow relevant users and post and tag interesting content. Integrate Instagram to your Tumblr, Flickr and Facebook channels so that one photo gets blasted out to your network. Also explore Pinterest and be sure that you are adding photos and videos to your tweets.


13) Find ambassadors within your users.

By Tine Thygesen, CEO, Everplaces

Start searching for selected early users who really love and understand your product, and then empower them. In Everplaces, we made 79 people Ambassadors, and as a result they started writing blogs, spreading the word to their network and connecting us with local press. As an unexpected bonus, they started answering customer service requests from users on Twitter too, in their 21 respective native languages!

Empower users, who really love and understand your product. - Marisa Katz

14) Don't be afraid to take on your biggest competitors.

By Daria Shualy, DaPulse

For example, Freshdesk claims they're better than ZenDesk or KISSmetrics says they're better than Google Analytics. Comparing yourself to your biggest competitor means assuming that you can explain why you are a better alternative. This strategy can turn small and unknown into new and cutting edge and "get your foot in the door" with new users.

Don't be afraid to take on your biggest competitors. - @DarShu

15) Do something unexpected and tell your users about the results.

By Nicholas Foster, Creately Diagramming

We had been in beta for a year. When we were looking to launch our service to paying users and we had a problem - how to price it? We decided not to set a price, we used Paypal and allowed users to enter the price they felt the service was worth to them. We discovered this Pay What You Want PWYW model was quite unique. It lead to stories on a number of high profile blogs. It also provided a great mechanism for engaging with our users, many of which became very long standing customers.

Do something unexpected and tell your users about the results. - @Nick_Foster

16) Do non-scalable activities early and often.

By Patrick O'Keefe, Director of Marketing and Growth, Clutch Prep

Our target demographic is college students, so we've been using Facebook groups and targeted ads to be successful. Some startups argue large companies wouldn't do this, how would this look, or what would an investor think about this. The truth is if you do what large companies do only you will lose and any good investor will respect your hustle.

Do non-scalable activities early and often. - @POKeefe363

17) Facebook advertising can be very cost-effective if it’s done with a strategy in mind.

By Maggie Hagan, Director of Content and Social Media, Bicycle Creative

Facebook makes it really easy for small business owners to waste money on advertising if they aren’t familiar with the ad platform. You'll waste money if you ‘boost’ every post hoping people will see it. Facebook advertising can, however, be very cost-effective if it’s done with a strategy in mind. We’ve had clients see a 350% return on their spend by targeting the right people and creating effective ads. Whether you work with an agency or not, you need to develop a strategy that involves targeting specific demographics that are most likely to buy your product or service.

Facebook makes it really easy for small business owners to waste money. - @LoyalToLocal

18) Spend your marketing budget on building your sales funnel.

By Aaron Endre, Marketing & Public Relations, Aaron Endré

Many startups are penny wise and pound foolish when it comes to budgeting for marketing. Often, you don't need to immediately spend lots of money on PR, events, swag, etc. Instead, utilize tools like Optimizely to ensure that your website drives visitors to a call to action. Ensure that visitors are being retargeted across websites. Monitor which Google AdWords keywords drive customer acquisition and optimize your marketing vocabulary accordingly.

Spend your marketing budget on building your sales funnel. - @AaronEndre

Leverage your customers. It's unsurprising that CEOs and company execs always have great things to say about their company and their products. It's much more meaningful, therefore, to leverage customers for external communication. If customers will come to bat for you, it speaks volumes about your company. Tools like TechValidate help startups get customer data and testimonials anonymously and automatically, which makes this process much easier.


19) Convert users by creating unique content & using the best SEO practices.

By Steve Woda, President and CEO, uKnow

Here at uKnow, we have found that inbound marketing is the best resource for us to expand our brand. Through content marketing and using the best SEO practices available to make our content accessible, we are able to draw thousands of Internet users into our business model. By creating unique content, we are able to convert people who find us through keyword searches to readers, readers to blog & content subscribers, and subscribers to service users.

Inbound marketing is the best resource for us to expand our brand. - @uKnowKids Steve Woda

20) Seek out and encourage online reviews for your company or product.

By Chris Campbell, Chief Tracking Officer, Review Trackers

Asking at checkout or via a follow-up email is often all it takes. Then actively manage them by responding/replying as often as possible, even to the positive ones. Don't let negative reviews go unaddressed or unresolved, or assume that an angry customer can't be made a happy customer.

Seek out and encourage online reviews for your company or product. - @ChrisrCampbell

21) Create scarcity by offering early access to your product.

By Ben Schwartz, Marketing Manager, Ticketbud

Find users relevant to your product and instead of marketing to them with generic emails that are ignored and sent to SPAM, send them an Early Access Invite or Beta Invite to get a first look before releasing to the wider public. Often times, offering discounts or promotions can come across as hokey and actually cheapen the legitimacy of the brand and product. Creating scarcity by offering early access to your product, one, makes the person you contacted feel special and valued by your company and, two, leverages the age old emotion of wanting to see something before everyone else can.

Create scarcity by offering early access to your product. - @BenSchwartz3

22) Stick to the long tail keywords, especially when on a thin budget.

By Michael Lazar, Growth Hacker, TrueShip

SEO matters and can get expensive. Stick to the long tail keywords, especially when on a thin budget. Since it will be difficult to compete with the more competitive and short tail keywords, you can instead use long tail keywords and affordable software like Hit Tail (starts at $10 per month), to find the best keywords for your website, enabling you to create content that gets ranked faster and drives targeted, organic traffic. In addition, these long tail keywords are much cheaper to use PPC and retargeting on, which can save you cash while maximizing your search engine marketing results.

Stick to the long tail keywords, especially when on a thin budget. - @TrueShip Michael Lazar

23) The secret to successful marketing is big data - smart, targeted, and cost-efficient.

By Josh Weinstock, Head of PR, Moviepilot, Inc.

We've developed software that helps us understand audiences based on their social media habits and tendencies, and that's made us successful in growing our own business and the business of our studio clients. When you know who to market to and what messages appeal to them, you spend smartly and get bang for your buck.

The secret to successful marketing is big data. - @Josh_Weinstock

24) Refine your content based on users' feedback.

Optimize for conversions by refining your content based on user feedback. - Brian Lehmer

By Brian Lehmer, TurnMVP

Use Google Trends and Google AdWords’ keyword tools to find low competition, high search volume terms that relate to the value your startup provides. Put those words in your website headline and title tag. Blog about those things. Have a friend read it. Rewrite it until they get it. Email your blog posts to your users. Ask them to share. And then optimize for conversions by refining your content based on user feedback. Other free tools: Read Able, Peek User Testing.

Startup Marketing Tips To Get Traction

25) Introduce your product on a platform that already has critical mass.

By Drew Taylor, CEO, Cofounder, 3DaGoGo, Inc

One way to get traction is to piggy back your product on a platform that already has critical mass. Kickstarter is a great example. We launched our AstroPrint platform through Kickstarter not just to get some pre-orders, but because Kickstarter has a huge following that will naturally bring people to our product. We thought of Kickstarter as a marketing platform first, and as a sales channel second.

Introduce your product on a platform that already has critical mass. - Drew Taylor of @3Dagogo

[su_spacer size="1"] What Startup Marketing tips to get traction do you have? Let us know in the comment box below or join our next Digital Growth Broadcast.