Digital Marketing for Startups: Why It’s Critical

Reading Time: 7 minutes

In the digital age, marketing your products and services on the internet is an established necessity. In the early stages, startups must promote brand awareness to land clients, but most startups stumble when trying to define essential details such as the main target, or the actual purpose of using social networks.

The Role of Digital Marketing

Startups are competing with millions of promotional campaigns from well – established organizations with established customer bases. Prying consumer eyes away from these large corporate entities with a yet – to – be proven product, is an uphill task. But that can be overcome with the power of marketing.
Retail startups usually have it figured out with a solid contingency in place for all future marketing needs and a plan to go-to-market. However, technology-focused startups are usually the ones that have it rough. The development cycle causes a lot of changes in the product so they really cannot begin any kind of marketing or branding until they have an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) ready.

Surveying social media trends can unveil a great deal of information about what the current market space looks like. And if it isn’t clear already,  it’s all very digital. Global online ad – spending was forecasted to rise by 4 %, however, 2019 saw a 4.7 % uptick. The average Snapchat user’s revenue generation capacity rose from $1.21 in 2018 to $1.68 in 2019. Simply put, companies are investing larger sums of money on social media and other forms of marketing in the digital arena, and they’re also reaping greater rewards.

And apps like TikTok that focus solely on video-based content, see significant benefits in attracting video ads to their platforms. TikTok’s in-app sales witnessed a 500% surge. Even retail commerce websites put out a 110% growth figures concerning the social referral traffic; the principal form of promotions performed by YouTubers and other social media influencers. “Type in the code to get a 20% discount,” is a statement you’ve heard (and probably responded to) if you’ve ever used YouTube, which of course you have.

It’s Super Cost-Effective

The biggest benefit that digital marketing can offer to budding startups especially, is that if carefully mapped out, it can be far, far cheaper than traditional methods of marketing. And considering how most startups are technology-oriented or at least typically online – facing, this becomes a no – brainer. Retail and e-commerce services, have it the best. Potential customers can be directly led to your service with a click, immediately after they see your ad. Few businesses can boast such easy conversions.

Video: The Hottest Cake

The video makes up more than 80% of all traffic on the Internet. Depending on your budget you can get very specific with who sees your ad. This year American audiences will spend more time on their phones than tune in to their television. You get a level of certainty that even a Super Bowl spot will not guarantee. If your potential biggest buyer spills their coffee during your spot, that’s $5.2 million down the drain. You can get a hundred million pairs of eyes for less than $5000 on YouTube, plus the ad cost. And while not every Ebba Olsson in Sweden is watching the game, she’s very likely going to spot your ad for the latest online music licensing software as she watches a sound mixing tutorial on YouTube.
Dunkin’ reported a 20% decrease in the cost – per – video – view ratio during its trial – run of Instagram Stories stickers and polls. And at 57%, more than half of Pinterest users have said that they are on the app while they shop, in stores and online.

The Audience

Digital marketing can be incredibly powerful if properly leveraged. It’s all about connecting with the right audience.  The brand’s presence is dictated by answering this very basic question – who is your target audience?
Once you’ve adequately measured who your target audience will be, it then becomes important to tailor your marketing practices to ensure that they are receptive. Careful market research is critical here.
As much as you believe in the world-altering potential of your idea, your customer is quite understandably going to need a little bit of nudging when it comes to parting with their hard-earned money.

Drop Some Crumbs

Cookies, you see. Someone visits your website, and you can place a non-intrusive piece of code (with the user’s permission of course) on their web browser. It is an extremely efficient way of serving advertisements based on what websites they show interest in. You simply let them pick up on the trail you lay from there and they find their house of candy.

Cookies essentially serve the function of the modern-day salesman. Using customer data, companies can acutely understand exactly what the customer wants.

User Experience

After you’ve discovered what it is that your audience wants, the next step to building your brand is cultivating the user experience. Social media is an immensely powerful tool at the disposal of marketing professionals.
In addition to increasing sales, social media creates customers that remain loyal; something no other form of branding has been able to properly deliver on. Besides the ubiquitous nature of social media, companies can cultivate an image for themselves unlike any other platform affords them the opportunity to. Sharing posts or stories is something many companies engage in. And the twitter landscape has long been overtaken by large corporate chains like Wendy’s that frequently post funny and entertaining content.
All of this works in creating a sense of what the company is in the consumer’s mind. Carefully controlling this aspect can prove to be supremely beneficial to a growing startup.

Search Engine Optimization

You’ve created your website showcasing your brand and exactly what you do. It’s stunning and minimal. Users can’t help but turn up in droves, right? Few more steps there.

Sure, your idea is unique. However, it still exists within a niche or a subset of one. And there are easily a hundred other results that existed before your website in your very niche (unless you’ve got something remarkably special going on). So, how’s the customer going to find your page?
SEO (Search Engine Optimization), not only boosts traffic, but your business/enterprise seems more legitimate. No one is going to click a link that’s on the third page of a Google search, because no is even clicking on the second page. SEO is a vast topic and merits an article of its own, so we’ll be covering that later.

Location-based Marketing

89% of marketers reported a boost in sales after utilizing location information to specifically focus their promotional material. And location-based marketing is expected to increase this year by 14%. But what is it exactly? Ever received a text about a Buy One Get One free offer that’s running on a nearby Dominos? There you go, location-based marketing.

Companies use location data from your phone and send you location-specific alerts to promotions or things you may like to purchase nearby. This is another very promising facet of digital marketing for startups to tap into.

Email marketing

Yes, emails are antiquated. Or so you’ve been led to believe. One of the best-kept secrets is that, after everything is said and done, emails are probably the best way to reach your customer/client. Any email you send to a potential or current customer falls into this category. Especially when it comes to B2B startups, email marketing can be a real boon. Finding email ID’s are incredibly easy so there is no reason not to be marketing this way. The zero-cost to the company can only be a plus.

Recently held survey results from the Demand Metric and the Data & Marketing Association (DMA), showed that the ROI on email marketing stood at a not – to – be – scoffed – at figure of 122%. Which is actually four times higher than the other most commonly used marketing channels.


Say you run a startup that offers rental equipment to filmmakers and photographers. Now you could take the old, well-trodden path and approach filmmakers, pay for branding at film festivals and art galleries, or simply put up ads on TV and billboards. Hopefully, enough filmmakers have seen your ads and you’re doing some decent business. But what if you could do all that for a tiny fraction of what you spent and be able to reach your target audience with far better results? All you have to do is find a filmmaker/photographer that is active online. Get them to do a referral code plug. Maybe you could throw in a 20% discount if you’re feeling particularly generous. This is an extremely popular form of promotion that’s driving a lot of local business to achieve outstanding growth.

Customers are more likely to engage with a brand recommended by a person that they trust. Influencers spend a lot of time building this trust, fostering a connection with their followers and building a community.

Recently the stock footage accumulation website saw a huge influx of users after its creator was featured on a prominent Instagram and YouTube-based influencer’s video. So many users joined that their servers crashed, and they were forced to ramp up their capacity to adjust for all the new faces.

digital marketing for startups

Marketing in the 21st Century

Most customers have developed an apathy to traditional forms of advertising. The sense of wonder and the immediate want for a product that television ads could inspire in the ‘50s is all but lost.

Management in the 21st century must be informed by the successes of management in the 20th century. The 20th century in addition to improving the plight of the worker made incredible leaps and lunges in terms of branding and marketing philosophies. And this drive to look ahead and constantly innovate, not just on the product but on the way the product is sold has been an instrumental part of what defined that era. This century supplements the last as it continues to see an increasing number of options for immense creative outflow. Adidas pioneering its Instagram checkout feature reported a 40% increase in online purchases in Q1 sales.

Startups generally function under conditions of extreme uncertainty. And most of them thrive in this uncertainty. And on their path to creating a sustainable business, startups will have to endure as a massive bunch of hiccups, pitfalls, snags, and all sorts of bruise-inducing gags are bestowed upon them. The one constant as the startups attempt to carve their path is the vision.

Vision is what drives all the marketing too. By getting online, and seeing real-time responses, startups can work on fine-tuning their strategies and optimizing their product to best suit the needs of the consumer. And gaining information from web analytics and various methods to determine online metrics is a very simple task, that’ll help you to accurately measure what works and what does not. Gone are the days when companies had to guess how many people saw their ad in the newspaper and decide on make-or-break situations based on these approximations. The sophisticated tools that are available today immediately offer metrics, such as how many viewers, and from which locations are interacting with their advertisements.

Startups must entirely bank on being more efficient in their marketing than the big dogs. This, however, gets quite challenging given their limited budget and resources. By cleverly making use of a domain that the younger generation (who constitute most startup founders) are very privy to, startups can use some of the methods mentioned above to get there. Digital marketing provides a cheap and effective way to directly reach customers that you most definitely know are going to at the very least be interested in your product.

Top 10 tools for executing your Social Media Marketing strategy

Reading Time: 4 minutes

The daily active social media population is 42 per cent of the entire globe’s population- which amounts to 3.2 billion people. This is the reason that dropping Social Media from your marketing strategy has become impossible. Social media has moved way past the stage where it was an option to explore and has become a mandatory medium to maintain a presence in the online world. It is a certain and powerful tool for businesses globally and across industries.

The way businesses leverage social platforms has been rapidly evolving. This dynamic state indicates that you need to continuously upgrade your social media marketing strategy to stay ahead of the competition.

The way users consume information, make buying decisions, interact with people, and socialize, has completely transformed how businesses approach them.

If you are a business owner or social media marketer looking to expand your reach or create a buzz around your products or services, you have social media platforms at your disposal, waiting to be leveraged.

Seventy-three per cent of marketers believe that a social media marketing strategy is very effective or somewhat effective for their business.

However, with the multitude of social media platforms available for businesses, it can be hard to manage your brand presence across all. To help you with this, here is a list of the top social media marketing tools.

Content Curation Tools


Most companies use at least three social media accounts and find it difficult to manage content and reach across them. Hootsuite is a social media marketing tool that can help you efficiently create and manage presence across social channels.

The key features include:

  • Schedule hundreds of posts across platforms at once.
  • Secure all login information for various social channels.
  • Organize and save all shareable content in the cloud for access from anywhere.


Buffer is one of the most popular and recognized social media marketing tools for scheduling content. With Buffer, you can schedule any content format across any platform. Moreover, you can choose to automate posts, such as for every day or every weekend, and so on.

A key feature of Buffer is its follow-up tool to evaluate how your posts are doing across channels, analyzing which were the most effective and why.

Monitoring and Sharing Tools

Sprout Social

Sprout Social is a one-stop-shop social media marketing tool for managers to get more control over their efforts. The tool features multi-level access, making it easy for managers to delegate tasks to team members and oversee them.

Sprout Social also comes with post scheduling capabilities, an in-depth analytics platform, and a social listening tool. All of these features help optimize content and gain a deeper understanding of your demographic audience and their interests.


SocialOomph might look more basic than the other apps on this list, but look close enough and you see its rich functionality for social media marketers.

The tool makes it easy to upload multiple posts at once and schedule when each goes out. You also have complete control over when and where the content goes live. SocialOomph also allows intuitive follower analysis features and tools for improving audience engagement.

For all these critical features, this tool is a keeper!

Graphics Creation Tools


Promptly add this to the list of much-needed tools for social media marketers. Canva helps you create stunning graphics for your social media campaigns. Use Canva to jazz up the images to get more traction from your social efforts.

You don’t need to have expertise in graphic designing to work with Canva. You can readily use templates and graphics out-of-the-box. If you are looking for a little more than a drag and drop editor, use Canva for Work which has premium collaboration tools and costs only USD 12.95 a month.


Videos are huge for social media marketing these days. Animoto allows you to create professional-quality videos on social media. It’s a great tool to create engaging and compelling videos that go viral on the social.

Use storyboard templates and drag and drop designs that help you create videos within minutes. For marketers who want to get creative, Animoto offers a blank canvas so you can go ahead and create videos from scratch.

Content Ideation Tools


Creativity forms the core of any social media marketing strategy. If you are stuck on ideas, use BuzzSumo. The tool lets you discover new and popular content making rounds on social media. Type in a topic or a selection of keywords and view all trending posts in those categories.

BuzzSumo also gives you a list of influencers who share relevant content. You can use these to ideate your next social media marketing campaign and connect with top influencers in your domain.


Tagboard is a listening tool for social media content. Plug in a term or topic or hashtag and monitor how people are talking about it on social. Tagboard provides an advanced way of discovering how people are discussing a certain topic, your brand, or something that concerns your business.

You can use these insights to come up with ideas and engaging content as trends develop and surface.

Analytics Tools


CrowdBooster provides real-time data you can access and use quickly. Create reports using your Key Performance Indicators and export insights using graphs and tables. This information helps you adapt social media marketing toward your audience effectively, and work on engagement and content improvements with in-depth, real-time analytics.

Growth hack your marketing campaigns on Instagram using

You can use this tool to snoop on your competitors, monitor campaign performance, tweak profile engagement, and connect with influencers. Use the basic free research tool for all these features.

Or, you can go for the premium subscription that costs USD 59.35 a month and gives you better and more tools for connecting with influencers and researching markets. This tool is a must for marketers looking to overhaul their Instagram strategy.


Although vast, this list of Social Media tools for businesses is not exhaustive. For you to align some of these tools to your digital marketing strategy, you need to first identify the pain points and bottlenecks you need to resolve using an appropriate tool.

Once the requirement is clear, test a number of tools to see which one fits best to your existing system and solves the required purpose. No tool can be deemed best as it varies with the type of business and it’s requirements. 

If you are interested in taking up Digital Marketing as a career, read about the job roles you can pursue in this domain here. Take the first step towards your digital marketing career with Great Learning’s PG program in Strategic Digital Marketing.


Digital Is Not a Strategy

Reading Time: 2 minutes


Digital is not a strategy. Social Media is not a strategy. Google is not a strategy. Mobile is not a strategy. Yes, you heard that right. Digital and the various mediums that it offers are not a strategy but mere channels to achieve the objectives of your marketing strategy. Before jumping onto tools or channels, one needs to define the problems that need a solution. One perhaps already have a marketing strategy and list of objectives, often defined by the board; you can achieve those more effectively using unique attributes of digital channels i.e. measurability, cost-effectiveness and better targeting.

Let us take a scenario. Your CEO asks you to generate ideas and build a strategy to reduce cost per acquisition by 20%. A quick look at sales funnel will tell you that it can be achieved if you increase lead to sales conversion ratio by 25% and a look at your CRM dashboard will tell you that leads which have higher lead scores and the leads which are organic (inbound, a fancier term) convert better. Lead scores are a direct function of lead demographic & engagement; the more a prospect visits your website, reads and replies to your emails, engages with quizzes/ contests on social media, talks to your sales representative for long, etc. i.e. higher engagement, higher the lead score.

So you define marketing strategy objectives as

  1. Improving customer engagement (in turn lead scores)
  2. Generate more inbound/ organic leads. And note that it doesn’t have Google, Facebook or digital as part of it.

To achieve the desired objectives, you can list out the activities using digital or social channels. To increase customer engagement:

  • Generating higher engagement through Facebook posts or quizzes (using Facebook)
  • Creating short videos with sneak peek of product usage or customer stories (using Video/ YouTube)
  • Sending important information through e-mailers (using email)
  • Doing regular webinar with industry professionals or (using webinars)
  • Sharing customer testimonials on your website, (using the website)

To increase the number of organic/inbound leads you can:

  • Write for leading blogs or magazines of your industry (using affiliates)
  • Work on spreading the word of mouth digitally (using Facebook/ LinkedIn)
  • Create referral schemes using customer advocacy platforms (using referrals)
  • Provide avenues for visitors to leave their contact details on your website (using website)

Remember what you do with Facebook, Google, YouTube, Instagram, affiliates or website are tactics deployed to achieve objectives outlined in marketing strategy.

More often building strategies around tools are what gets marketing teams in trouble. Marketing executives decide to do something with Facebook or Google or Video because everyone is talking about it or because it is working for a competitor and HOPE that it works for them too. And as a wise marketer once said – ‘Hope is not a Strategy’.

So next time you speak to your marketing team or the agency don’t get into the discussion on how Facebook or Google can work for you rather focus on what needs to be done and how can that be achieved by using either online channels or offline channels or a mix of both.

Google analytics: When it’s Time to Impress the BOSS

Reading Time: 2 minutes

To most of us Google Analytics may seem like a massively baffling thing that we’ll never get our head around. But actually the thing is its no rocket science at all and with little effort, anyone can rock ‘n’ roll completely in front of their bosses. Here are few easy ways for marketers to impress senior management with their Analytics ‘Gyan’.

  1. Disclose the secret: Tell him how people find you on web

Well, it’s not amusing at all that people find your business’ website through typing in the URL or through a Google search. However, besides that there are plentiful other things too to enhance that ‘story’.

Google Analytics gives you that bundle of data enough to tell your boss how your website was found. It will tell you insights how they landed on your site and also give you an idea of which keywords to be used to optimise the content of the site.

  1. Is it worth? – Tell him if social media is right for business

Mostly all businesses today have presence in the social world. If you aren’t there, get there!

When analysing how people find your website, do not miss to check these accounts and see what your return of investment is like here. Are you spending so much of your time for little return, or maybe you aren’t posting or interacting enough?

Knowing the success of your social media campaigns can assist you identify whether hiring a social media executive is important or not. It also gives picture of whether advertising on social platforms would be a worthy investment.

  1. Money always works – Make him aware of the cost of each customer

How much are you spending to grab every customer of yours?

Of course, this would be a thing of interest for every single boss on earth. Everyone would want it to be as low as possible to maximise profits. Here, putting the exact figures together would be really helpful.

The cost of each customer through a particular channel is the average amount spent on marketing campaigns to lure new customers. This value gives insights about which methods/techniques of marketing were successful and will also play a vital role in future marketing campaigns.

  1. Time for ‘Gyan’ – Tell him who your Target audience is

You may have some picture of people that you would like to target your business at, but are you sure that these people will actually use your product or service.

Google Analytics is one tool that will help you with an Audience report and give you right idea when it comes to your target market. The report gives insights such as where your customers are coming from, how old they are, if they’re male or female, what interest they have, etc.

The invaluable data is excellent enough to create your best ads, blog posts and other marketing campaigns.


Google Analytics is absolutely free, so let’s make the best of it? To know more about marketing in the digital age, click here.