A successful digital marketing strategy requires more than just setting up a Facebook and Instagram pages or doing an email blast about a company’s latest activities. For those who plan to start a business, it is very important to find the right way to attract customers. Attracting customers doesn’t mean just putting up advertisements and spamming random people with emails.
Startups have to build a unique customer base and see their customer support service as an opportunity to learn more about their product and how to improve it. Knowing who your potential customers are and what they want may be the most important tool in creating a digital marketing strategy.
Startups usually can’t afford the high costs of traditional marketing, but they can use platforms such as social media to promote their products and find the audience. Since social networks are part of our everyday life and we spend most of our free time using them, they could be the best way startups can promote their brand.
Here are the top 3 of the best digital marketing strategies that startups must use!
1. Social media marketing.
Through online promotion and social media, marketing brand can establish its identity in an effective and budget-friendly way. Startups can use various channels like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn to communicate with their audiences around the world.
Nowadays, every single person relies on social media to find information about a product or an organization. They are searching for pictures, blogs, and articles about products they are interested in.
In Asia, Facebook is considered to be a major platform with almost 500 million daily active users in the region at the end of 2017. Jeremy Wong, head of the program at online higher education provider UpGrad in Southeast Asia said that social media has changed the way people communicate with each other, the way they view information and news and the way in which governments and businesses operate. According to Wong, having a social media presence is transitioning from a “nice-to-have” to a “must-have” feature. He adds that people used to rely on websites to know if a company’s business is legitimate, and a social media page is a reflection of how big and legitimate business is.
UpGrad’s social media presence also allows its team to “communicate to prospective and current students efficiently on a daily basis” and students to keep track of UpGrad’s events. The main challenge in social media marketing is that a lot of people use social media for entertainment and networking purposes. UpGrad targets only people who are potentially interested in its programs, but Wong says that this is not easy at all because users’ online profiles aren’t always indicative of their interests.
Wong says: “A person in his or her 30s who don’t have a tertiary certificate may or may not be interested in upskilling.” He explains that text and images must show customers that their product is good for them for certain reasons, instead of just: “this product is good for you!”
The impact of social media strategy would definitely be greater if startups focus on where their audience is most active. Based on where their audience is, they will choose the best network to invest their time.
2. Content marketing.
Content marketing focusses on creating, publishing and distributing content for a targeted audience online. Content provides relevant information to the user and acts as a pillar of SEO which is not possible without quality content.
This kind of marketing is all about storytelling. But you must create content for a targeted audience or the right people might not pay attention to you. This means you need to understand your customers and audience.
Advertising tech firm called Unruly released a survey which showed that 86 percent of Southeast Asian internet users lose trust in advertisements that lack authenticity. Because of this, businesses need to find new ways to engage with customers while not being too pushy.
Most companies write blogs that are related to their products and services, but Joline Tang, the founder of Singapore-based e-commerce platform The Sustainability Project, started a blog on sustainable living before setting up the online store. Tang said that The Sustainability Project started as a blog where she shared her knowledge with other people leading a zero-waste lifestyle and that the shop came out as a way to give people the tools to transform knowledge into action.
While opening the shop, Tang ran into a growing number of competitors in the city-state’s sustainability scene. To eliminate competitors, The Sustainability Project has built a community of customers through organizing workshops and giving talks. Tang said that her company has an unconventional approach to content marketing which helps it retain its customer base. She only writes for the blog when inspiration hits her, unlike other businesses that use content calendars to determine the frequency of their content.
She pointed out: “Hence, we only write articles when there is a strong interest in a certain topic.” Her writing style could be described as in between casual and formal, which lets her personality and character show in each article.
3. Search engine optimization.
According to a survey by internet services company Netcraft, over 1.8 billion websites across 213 million domains were recorded in January 2018. This means that a business with a web presence constantly needs to differentiate themselves or risk losing their customers.
Improving a website’s search engine optimization (SEO) will ensure that the website appears high on a list of relevant search results. SEO is the process of getting traffic from the free and natural search results on search engines. All major search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo have primary search results where web pages and other content are shown and ranked based on what the search engine considers most relevant to users.
Stanley Gunawan, technical lead at four-hour delivery service Pickupp, which started in Hong Kong in 2016 recommends that SEO should be part of a company’s branding strategy.
He said: “As with all branding, you need to showcase proficiency of a certain level. If consumers Google your name and are unable to find it, it will look very bad.”
Pickupp’s first name was “HK Pick-Up” but the results that users got when searching for it, harmed the company’s SEO. The original name wouldn’t have worked in its expansion into Singapore and Malaysia in early 2018. When the company changed its name, Google placed its website on the first page of search. To improve its SEO, Pickupp registered on relevant tech startup sites like Tech in Asia, e27 and TechCrunch. They are also forming partnerships in the e-commerce and logistics ecosystem to “leverage on their platforms” for better visibility.
SEO is always a work in progress because of the ever-changing Google algorithm. Gunawan says that no one knows the exact rules and algorithm and articles online might be hard to judge for authenticity or they might be outdated.
UpGrad offers a four-month executive program in strategic digital marketing in collaboration with the Cambridge Judge Business School’s executive education track. The comprehensive course is taught by University of Cambridge faculty and industry veterans to help students master digital marketing tools.