If you’re running a startup, you have some difficult choices to make when it comes to marketing. On the one hand, marketing is the lifeblood of the company because good marketing attracts customers and investors alike. On the other hand, you can’t spend too much time, effort, and resources on marketing because it will be too much of a distraction from other concerns like product development, sales, and support. In this post, we’ll talk about six big pitfalls to watch for in your quest for efficient marketing.
Overspending on marketing is a classic mistake. With online marketing, it is very easy to see the results coming in and feel tempted to increase your allocation for AdWords, your banner ads, and whatever other campaigns you run. This is dangerous for a few different reasons.
First, you are simply putting too many eggs in one basket. By pouring more money into marketing, you leave less for your actual product and everything that surrounds it. All the marketing in the world can’t make up for a bad product or missing features. You need it all to succeed and grow. That means you have to be smart about when your rate of return is leveling off and it’s time to concentrate on other things.
Second, you need to be aware that you can fuel some temporary and short-term growth with a marketing binge, but that isn’t sustainable, because you won’t have high-quality leads. It will get you a few quarters or even a few years of growth, but then it will collapse because the customer has no true commitment to your brand.
In the world of online marketing, it is easy to get fixated on site visits, bounce rate, clickthroughs, and other stats. In fact, many startups treat all of these things with equal regard. However, only one is a meaningful measure of success: conversion to sales. All the visitors and ad-driven interaction, and social media engagement mean nothing if it doesn’t generate revenue in some way. This is similar to the mistake above: by spending a ton of money on ads, you can boost your visits, but without efficient targeting and well-crafted design, you won’t succeed in converting them. Furthermore, a bad product will undermine the numbers because people won’t come back for repeat business. Don’t lose track of the fact that your bottom line matters. Try looking up some of the biggest and most headline-grabbing startups and realize how many of them are deeply unprofitable.
Not Using Automation
Automated tools represent the potential for significant time and attention savings for marketing. They will enable you to carry out critical marketing tasks with a minimal investment of oversight and resources. For example, look into automated email services. They can manage personalized template messages to send to different subscribers based on demographics, specific actions that the subscribers take, and so on. These can trigger based on almost anything. Build a message to remind people about items left in their cart or a free eBook they can download. Once they buy a product, follow up with later emails offering discounts on related items or refills. Send extra offers to those who haven’t engaged in a while. The possibilities are endless, but effortless to execute. As a startup, you need all the time you can get for other things, so using automation whenever you can will add up to get you a very large edge.
Forgetting Mobile Users
This is a key issue, especially if your website is your most important point of sale. Never forget that globally, a majority of all internet traffic is now coming from mobile devices, and the share is growing. Mobile is everywhere. It’s the home of the impulse buys and social media integration. If your site isn’t fast, light, and easy to navigate on modern smartphones and mobile browsers, you are risking the alienation of a huge potential audience. You simply cannot afford to have your site design fall behind in functionality on mobile. Text must be clear and easy to read. Images should resize themselves appropriately. Links should be easy to tap with a finger. Everything has to fit on a small screen. There are a hundred little details that make a mobile site work well and you need to make sure you don’t have any holes, or visitors will look elsewhere. Find a web design agency to help convert your site if you don’t have the experience on hand.
Not Building Relationships
Yes, the early days of a startup can be a frenetic time. However, it has to be a top priority for you to not just make sales, but build strong relationships with customers. What this looks like depends on your company and industry. In some cases you might only have a few customers and you will be able to cultivate personal relationships. At other times, this might need to happen via email and social media. Whatever the case, you need to build those relationships so your customers come back to buy from you again and act as your brand ambassadors through word of mouth. It’s a key investment in your own future. With a core of loyal customers, you get a dependable revenue base, sources of referrals, and a better reputation. Moving to the digital era has not obviated the need to build trust and warm feelings with customers. Set up a strong business phone service with Voice over IP to connect directly with customers and be sure you have business internet that will support your growth overtime.
Lack of Data Integration
Data is becoming more widely available, and there are ever more accessible suites of software to help you search it for it in house. Combine marketing campaign analytics with sales data and add in records and outcomes from customer support calls. Add in social media feedback if you can. These should all inform each other. Sales have to show what people want in terms of features, and the developers have to implement that. Strategy has to be comprehensive, and that means drawing on all data sources to build a big picture approach.
Of course, these aren’t the only mistakes startups make with their marketing approaches, but they are some of the most common ones. Think about the challenges you’ll face as a startup and remember the key points of this post. Every business has to deal with unique situations, but with this knowledge you’ll be better equipped to handle them.