Lately, I’ve been working with a lot of startups and people looking to get their startup off the ground, specifically with their online marketing efforts.
I’ve found that people still feel uncertain as to what they should be doing, when they should be doing it and how it all comes together. People either know about finances, how to get the product made or organise logistics for their services – or they have a very good birds eye view – but little knowledge of marketing in the right way. I met someone who forgot to renew their domain which would have made for a unique brand name. Another person left their social media strategy too late and they now have to settle for less than ideal profile names. One entrepreneur had no idea about SEO and is wondering why their website doesn’t rank for anything!
With this in mind, I’ve come up with an online marketing roadmap for startups to help prioritise their online marketing efforts.
Here’s some of the things you need to keep in mind and ‘worry about’ when building your startup:
Get a domain name – a lot of people have ideas for this already so it’s best to get your domain name now and secure it before someone else snaps it up. Even if the name may change, this is still strong advice which I really can’t stress enough!
Setup a single page, coming soon website – get a 1 page/coming soon template or code one from scratch to let people know you exist and what to expect. Do this even if you don’t even have a product yet or aren’t 100% on features you will launch with. SEO takes time and this is one way to hit the ground running when you do eventually launch.
Setup a newsletter – on your coming soon page, add a field to collect email addresses to let people know once you’ve launched. It’s an easy way to get new subscribers which you can retain once you launch and you can even incentivise this and offer these people special perks (eg. first 50 people to sign up get a huge discount once we go live). If you’re hoping to launch in beta and take on new users gradually, this is absolutely essential.
Secure your social media accounts – now that you have a name/brand, get your social media accounts in order. Try to be consistent with your naming (it’s helpful!) but aim to keep all social media profiles similarly named. For example, if your company is called Hot Spot Dubai, aim for “hotspotdubai” or “hotspotdxb”. You don’t have to post anything yet – focus on getting your profiles ready by adding your logo and a relevant bio with a link back to your website. I’ve used Knowem.com to help secure brand names on social media.
Start collecting imagery to be used with your social accounts – in the lead up to your launch, you can post relevant images on social media to create buzz and build hype. For example a travel startup can focus on images from around the world (sights, food, maps). Collect 10-20 to begin with – bear in mind you won’t be posting all very quickly – but it’s good to have enough in the arsenal! You can start promoting via social media the moment your images are ready (ie. with your branding, text, etc). Each social network requires a different posting schedule. You can post on twitter many times a day and its not seen as unusual for a brand (I recommend 2-3 times where appropriate) but if you use LinkedIn, once a day or a few times a week is more than enough. But remember to post in accordance with the nature of each network and use those #hashtags!
Start writing content for your website – think about what matters most on your website and write content for it. Yes, your About Us page is important but focus on writing about your products/services and what sets it apart from the competition. Operating in a niche without any competition? focus on selling benefits or what solutions you offer. Plan to have a blog? even more of a reason to write content. As with social media, you won’t be publishing all the time but aim to get about 10 pieces lined up. You’ll definitely have other things to write about as you go along so those can slot in between the pieces of content you’ve got as backups. You dont have to publish now but think about the lead up to your launch and when you feel you can open up your blog. You may find that you want to retain a 1 page coming soon design but with a link to your blog with content pieces designed to build awareness. This is key for SEO, especially if your blog will be a major drawcard to your website. The sooner you start, the better!
Don’t forget to setup Google Analytics, Google Search Console and Hotjar on your website (yes, even the 1 page coming soon website!). Google Analytics gives you statistical information, Google Search Console gives you more technical information and Hotjar gives you user behaviour information. It’s all important from the very start and will give you tremendous insights as you launch and evolve.
Of course you have to do all of this while building your startup but you now have a clearer idea of what needs to be done as part of your roadmap to launch. Remember, your name/brand is a cornerstone of your startup so it’s important to secure your domain name and social media accounts to avoid disappointment!