Are you about to start working on a startup or are in the early stages of your startup journey?
If you haven’t been involved in digital marketing before here are some of the best blogs and guides written by some of the smartest digital marketing and startup experts out there.
These resources will help you get up to speed and lay the foundations for growth for your new online business.
The links and insights below cover SEO, blogging, content marketing, landing page design, email marketing and other helpful startup resources. There's much more to digital marketing than this, but lets get through these resources first.
These sources of knowledge are free and written by some of the best minds in the business. Even if you are hiring someone to look after digital marketing for your startup, reading through the links below will give you a very good digital marketing knowledge base.
Blogging for growth
Content is king. Your blog should be relevant, engaging and of value to the reader, but what else should you be focused on when writing posts in your startup blog?
When in doubt turn to Neil Patel’s digital marketing blog for inspiration. Not only are each of his posts interesting and full of digital marketing information to learn from, there are some key insights we can take from his blog:
- Blogging for SEO:
Take a look at the number of links he uses in each blog post. In this example post about the impact of https on SEO I counted 32 links. Of these 29 were outbound to other sites while 3 were internal links to other posts on Neil’s blog. That is key. If you want to write posts with lots of SEO juice make use of relevant internal and external links and lots of them.
- Easy reading:
Make it easy for your readers. Use short paragraphs to keep their attention. His posts always make use of short paragraphs with a good font size with ample spacing. It makes for easy reading even when the posts are long. You might also want to test the readability of your posts and write at the optimal level for your target audience.
- Be helpful:
Neil ensures his posts are super helpful to his readers. There is immense value in every post he writes. They are thoroughly researched and fairly long. The downside is that it takes hours of research to write like this but Neil’s track record of success proves that the time spent is worth while. It brings in the traffic.
- Be consistent:
His blog has LOTS of content and he writes regularly (I say ‘he’ but I wonder if there is a team of people writing this stuff for him). This is our number one challenge for the Launch Lab blog. Writing blog posts takes time. Writing a well constructed post every few days is hard. Stay motivated and start writing.
Look at the example post I mentioned earlier. See how many calls to action there are in the sidebar and within the body of the post. There is no mistaking why you’re getting the content on his blog for free. The right hand side bar has multiple strong calls to action and there are even calls to action within the content of the post.
- Copywriting that sells:
As you read more about how to write great blog post headlines look at the headings used on Neil’s blog. They’re enticing but also full of SEO goodness. Think about how your posts might be shared across social media. Are your headlines strong enough to want to make people click on your link? Neil is an expert at writing headings that convert. Spend some time on his blog and his website to get an idea of what works well for him.
Probably a better description of landing pages is to call them sales pages. Creating a sales page for each campaign you run is a great idea, after all websites with more landing pages generate more leads.
If you want the best advice for designing and building landing pages that convert turn to the Unbounce blog. Unbounce offers AB testing and landing page creation as a service. These guys are the experts. They see thousands of new landing pages each month and based on data from AB tests they know what works.
Their 101 landing page optimisation tips is an excellent starting point before you create your first landing page. If you’ve created landing pages before, reading this from time to time offers a good reminder to scratch out bad habits.
You can also see some visual examples of that landing page theory put into practice. At the start of this post I mentioned Neil’s blog. If you found that helpful you might also want to read his post on the Crazy Egg website about landing page essentials.
Email is still one of the most effective inbound marketing channels and if you are running a startup you’ll no doubt be collecting email addresses via either your blog (people signing up for a newsletter) or from users who sign up to use your product.
You’ll probably use email to upsell, cross-sell, offer advice, provide extra value, for customer retention purposes, to get feedback and possibly other reasons too. If you are using email as a communications channel I highly recommend these 40 tips for dramatically better emails from Australian startup GetVero.
It also helps to write compelling email copy (as an ex direct marketer I love this!).
If you have been running your own email campaigns and already have some analytics, here is a great free tool to calculate email marketing ROI.
If you haven't done email marketing before, or just need a refresher, DirectIQ have a great infographic on email marketing best practices. If you are going to be sending email marketing campaigns as part of your startups communications strategy, be sure to check this out. The infographic cover topics like growing your mailing list, how to craft great campaigns, and when the best time to send email is.
Search Engine optimisation is steeped in mystery. The industry often gets a bad rap as there are so many people out there claiming to know SEO yet deliver poor implementations. Whether you’re going to try and do SEO on your own, through your web developers or by an SEO consultant, reading this in-depth beginners guide to SEO will give you a good foundation to work from.
This is a long read but it is important if SEO is important to your startup website.
Probably the best advice when it comes to SEO is to know that it is constantly changing. Knowing the basics will always helps you but you’ll need to do regular refreshers to keep abreast of changes. With this in mind if you still have some free time after reading the beginners guide then read this SEO research done in 2016 by Backlinko.
Never heard of growth hacking? If you’re launching a tech startup you should probably wrap your head around the concept. Here’s a great definition of a growth hacker.
How do you learn to become a growth hacker and what are the best growth hacking resources? Well, every other resource I’ve mentioned in this post is free. Here’s the first, and only, ‘paid’ resource but it is excellent for beginners or those looking to brush up on their knowledge. I’ve done the course myself and can highly recommend it. Check out One Month Growth Hacking by Mattan Griffel (insight: it doesn’t take one month to complete unless you’re really limiting your time each day).
The next thing to do is to sign up to the Growth Hackers community. It’s free and you’ll get access to some of the best techniques for getting growth for your product. Their newsletter is always full of great ideas and clever hacks.
Alright, so this isn’t marketing to attract new users to your product but it is an important part of the journey for many startups (spoiler: revenue is far more powerful than investor money so focus on all the other links above before going through this).
If you are seeking investment and you are ‘purple’ when it comes to seed investors and venture capitalists then adding Mark Suster's startup and investment blog to your reading list will give you great insights into how VCs think and what is important to them.
If you are planning on raising funds for your startup, Mark’s site offers amazing insights into the industry and will help you plan your ‘marketing’ strategy to target investors. You can also follow Mark on Snapchat for his daily Snap Storms (msuster - I watch him almost daily for startup insights, sales tactics, investment insights and more. If you’re not on Snapchat yet check out Mark’s daily snap storms on the web.
What to do before you start your startup digital marketing journey
If you’re at a very early stage (back of a napkin idea phase) and new to startups then you might find these startup strategy lessons useful. It’s a bit of fun, but there are 15 lessons in there that will make your startup journey that bit easier.
What are you waiting for? Happy reading!
The internet is full of great free digital marketing resources. The links above are simply a collection of posts that I’ve found helpful in the past. If you know of any others please add a comment below.