Before we start discussing strategies, let’s just take a moment to step back and figure out why this is so important. Take a look at these statistics on startup failure:
25% of all new businesses don’t make it past the first year.
50% of all new businesses fail within the first five years.
10% of all businesses that make it past year 5 will not make it past the following
As you can see, the longer you survive, the more your chances of survival for the subsequent years. Thomas Koulopoulos, Founder Delphi Group, notes that businesses surviving the first two years are less likely to close shop in each subsequent year.
The next logical question is why do so many new businesses fail. According to Forbes contributor and author Yan Revzin, one of the most common cause of business failure, especially for tech startups, is a product / service released without proper testing. The article linked to above cites the case of Airtime, a video chat service, that launched in 2012 and folded up two years later due to programming bugs in the early stages.
Poor management and lack of capital are another two major causes of business failure. Then comes marketing, which brings us back to the main point of this article – why you need a strong digital marketing strategy.
Vic Lance, Founder and President of Lance Surety Bond Associates, has authored a fascinating article in Forbes on the Top 20 Reasons Why Startups Fail. Vic ranks “Poor Marketing” 8th in the list of 20 reasons.
Furthermore, all marketing is now online, since even potential customers you meet offline will want to see your website and expect some digital followups (email, social media, reviews etc.) before they will consider becoming a customer. This is where I ease you into the main topic of this article, which is “Digital Marketing Strategy for Tech Startups.”
I’m going to explain the different digital marketing strategies that you can come up with by citing case studies of tech startups that have done a fabulous job.
Case Study #1 – The Buffer App Digital Marketing Strategy for Tech Startups
Everyone knows the Buffer app today. But in its early days, it was one of many apps piggybacking on Twitter, trying to make things easier for people who before it evolved into a full-fledged social media scheduling app. How did the Buffer app become such a huge success?
Their digital marketing strategy was focused around content marketing, with the goal of promoting the business through pure organic growth. Specifically, what they did was focus was on blogs & social media by:
Creating their own blog and start producing content;
Try to rank well with long tailed related keywords pointing to their blog articles;
Reach out to other blogs to rope in audiences with similar interests, leading to a jump in user numbers to 100,000 after just after 10 months.
Guest blogging to create awareness and authority for their own site. After gaining huge traction with guest blogging, Buffer shifted their content creation focus to publishing on their own website.
A major change in Buffer’s content strategy came about as an inspiration triggered by Rand Fishkin’s content marketing manifesto. Guided by the manifesto, Buffer started producing content for their influencers rather than for their customers. Buffer’s new digital marketing strategy involved focusing on blogs that housed a large number of influencers, which in this case was business and tech blogs. Once they were reached and converted, Buffer’s growth skyrocketed as these influencers became loyal Buffer evangelists.
Another growth strategy employed by Buffer was the Fremium offering that provided services free of charge, but put a price tag on certain extra features. Their free tool therefore became a marketing mechanism that attracted huge numbers of users, some of whom then started paying for the extra features.
Read the full case study at Cognitiveseo.com.
Case Study #2 – The Mint.com Digital Marketing Strategy for Tech Startups
Mint.com is a personal finance tool and app that is now pretty much the market leader in this space. But when it launched, it was one of many finance apps jostling for the same space and consumers. They stood out because of a online marketing strategy focused on blog content marketing, including:
News, tips, slideshows, videos, and infographics were all part of its content strategy.
Use of social media networks including Reddit, Digg, etc.
Mint’s blog “MintLife” was central to their marketing strategy.
Dedicated resource for content. Significant resources were allocated to its blog, including a full time editorial staff.
Read the full Buffer app case study on Mashable, written by Shane Snow, cofounder of Contently.com.
Case Study #4 – Zagg Digital Marketing Strategy for Tech Startups
Online retailer for mobile accessories Zagg digital marketing strategy was focused on content marketing and SEO blogging tactics. They published 25-30 posts a week on their ZAGGblog, targeting a niche techie audience. The simple principle was “More the content, more the traffic, more the traffic, more the revenue.”
The blog brought in over 10% of site traffic, and 60% of this traffic were new users. This traffic earned the company 172% ROI from direct sales, an end product of creating content for their audience instead of producing content for search engines.
The posts they published were classified under 4 broad categories – news, how-to, entertainment, and promotional posts.
Constant evaluation of the impact of the posts published allowed Zagg to be more flexible to changes in the marketplace and refine their approach accordingly. Every post included ads for related products, primary navigation and header graphics, thus increasing the rate of conversion considerably.
They also made effective use of social media channels and email, creating a beneficial relationship between the blog and these channels. The blog provided the content and the channels brought the traffic.
A link to the post was posted on Twitter once the blog was published. Posts that got a high number of retweets and replies were then featured on their Facebook page. Depending on the Facebook likes, comments and shares, the post qualified for their email program.
Read the full Zagg case study written by Adam Sutton, senior reporter, Marketingsherpa.
Case Study #4 – Nextiva Digital Marketing Strategy for Tech Startups
Cloud-based communication company Nextiva’s video producer Max Anderson is quoted in this case study as saying that their goal is to provide all of the tools a business needs, but also to provide amazing service by exceeding expectations.
So Nextiva focused their digital marketing strategy on providing exceptional customer support through digital mediums. For example, personalised videos enabled Nextiva to present a human face to their customers. A Nextiva employee, in response to a customer’s query, records a short and personalised video addressing the query and replies directly. This effectively communicates to the customer the effort the company is taking to address the issue.
Though the videos are personalised and addressed to only one customer, the impact made is colossal. Any customer who sees it stays loyal to the company and shares his experience with others. Customers recognise the video for what it is – genuine, and not part of a sales pitch.
Video contents ranged from a simple but immediate response to a customer’s query to professionally produced videos on customer success stories, Nextiva culture, “Pro Tips,” etc.
The end result was over 1,000,000 video views on Youtube, with 1,358,499 total channel views.
Read the full Nextiva case study written by Courtney Eckerie, Senior Managing Editor, MECLABS Institute.