By Josephine Sabin, Marketing Manager for startup DesignCrowd
Many marketing strategists still believe that you need a large budget to strike it big, in consumer reach terms. $4 million will buy you a 30 second ad spot during the Super Bowl. Or for a little more bang for your buck you could plaster your company logo across a bus for a month or hire an oversized highway billboard begging to be recognized.
Startups don’t have the budget to go to these extremes, and let’s face it, do you remember what this morning’s billboard on your way to work was promoting? It’s time to ditch traditional marketing approaches.
With so many digital channels, offline-online hybrids and a multitude of devices in consumer’s hands, how are you going to effectively reach, engage and convert new customers without that ‘big guy’ budget? It’s not as hard as you think.
Every startup, including the company I work with, DesignCrowd, is trying to do more with less. Having started in 2008, DesignCrowd has become a global crowdsourcing marketplace in just a few years with the help of some modern thinking.
Whether your idea is concept only or your business is established, it doesn’t hurt to explore new strategies. So here are some tips that’ll help you promote and publicise your product or service with a low budget.
Build your own list. Your customers are your business partners and your best marketing tool. Harnessing the power to interact with them will help you build one mean marketing machine.
A clear call to action (CTA) on your product site or in-store will help you build a list of potential or current customers. With this power, you can start doing some pretty cool things to build a loyal relationship – from exclusive email offers to newsletters, podcasts, webinars, beta testing and more. Campaign Monitor is a great tool to get you started. Email your customers and ask them to share their experience on your site and write a testimonial you can add to your product landing pages.
Be Social. Take part in your community on Facebook and Twitter with a combined 1.6 billion users. Social networks offer real-time marketing features and capabilities to get you connected. Your potential customers are waiting to meet you!
Free social network management apps like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck are cross platform (think mobile and tablet) and integrate with Google Analytics and in Hootsuite’s case support 48 apps including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
Get out of the building. We know that every startup is extremely under resourced and always time poor, but talking directly with customers and potential partners is essential.
You can attend local meetups and industry conferences to meet contacts and talk about your product. If you’ve done research in advance, events can lead to serendipitous encounters with potential customers and partners. Have your 20 second elevator pitch ready, prepare ice-breaker questions and print business cards.
‘Learn’ your customer by analysing fan data and page stats on social media. You can discover useful info like the average age of your fan base, gender, info on post reach, engagement and more. There are other free tools like Google Forms, Wufoo or Survey Monkey that let you explore this information.
Get stuck into Google’s free keyword search tool for finding out what keywords are trending in your product niche and discover new keyword combinations.
Become a data ninja if you want to improve your conversion rate, improve site indexing, or unlock more value by understanding how your customers use your site, get on the web tools bandwagon!
Google’s Webmaster – lets you create a sitemap to get your site indexed and appear on search engines
Google Analytics – will help you monitor your site’s visitor traffic and behaviour so you can track your sales funnel
Start A/B testing – testing the conversion performance of landing page design (copy, images, CTAs) to unlock more value. At DesignCrowd we run multiple A/B tests through Optimizely everyday to uncover site tweaks and improve conversion.
Qualaroo and Kissmetrics -allow you to track audience behaviour through user exit surveys and other data collection techniques to improve on-site conversion in real-time
HubSpot – can do an SEO health check on your site, benchmarking you against millions of site reviews and recommending areas for improvement
Integrate a blogging platform like WordPress, Tumblr, Blogger into your site. These platforms come with baked in communities that make content discovery and viral sharing easy, SEO plugin kits, easy-to-use post creation tools, and basic analytics tools.
As Richard Branson says, “You can create a business, choose a name, but unless people know about it you’re not going to sell any products.”
Create SEO optimized content that tells your brand’s story. Then spend time getting to the places your audience congregates online.
Be an expert in your niche. Who are the influential thought-leaders in your niche? What are the hot topics trending in your niche? Cultivate relations with bloggers to test and review your product to their audience. You can follow up with product giveaways and share this content across social channels.
Cultivating Social Proof. The leader in this area is Amazon. The ecommerce behemoth was one of the first (and still a leading example) of how to cultivate social proof for your product or service. Think of pop-up customer reviews, ratings and testimonials that appear across product pages and influence what you choose to buy. The phrase, Social Proof, was coined by Robert Cialdini (Professor of Marketing and Psychology at Arizona State University) as a way of explaining the ‘herd’ phenomenon online. Digital marketing company, Econsultancy, wrote a post about brands successfully leveraging social proof, which rounds up 11 interesting examples of how brands are applying social proof principals.
Australian online graphic design marketplace,DesignCrowd, now has over 100,000 designers and the business has doubled in size in the last year. The startup revealed some interesting figures that show crowdsourcing continues to disrupt and is showing no signs of slowing down.