Inbound marketing is all the rage. Writers, business owners, and professional marketers everywhere have tried to cash in on the strategy and have professed the purported benefits of a unified, consistent inbound marketing effort driven by SEO and content.
But SEO and content marketing are more than just buzzwords. They’ve gotten a lot of attention in recent years, but that attention is warranted; building your business up with content marketing and SEO is cost effective, and starts paying off exponentially after only a few months of dedicated effort. And because the strategies are so practically useful, they can be used by almost any business in any industry.
Startups tend to neglect their marketing, since marketing and advertising are sometimes viewed as superfluous expenses. But every startup should be focusing on SEO and content, from the very beginning, and here’s why:
Startups have major budgeting problems. That’s not to say that all startups budget ineffectively; in fact, many startups have flawless budgets, but still face the tight constraints of limited capital. Even when startups are fully funded, the demands of recurring expenses typically outweigh initial incoming revenue, leaving little to no money to allocate to marketing.
This is where SEO and content marketing come in handy. Thanks to WordPress and similarly intuitive CMS systems, setting up your website with basic onsite SEO is relatively simple and painless. Getting started with a content program can require as little as one article a week, a task you can easily delegate to one of your team members. Of course, with the bare minimum investment, you won’t see much in return, but you can get the skeleton of your strategy in place with almost zero overhead. All it takes is a little research and a little time, making it a perfect fit for burgeoning companies.
Startups tend to arise to take advantage of key opportunities in the market. That usually means creating something entirely new, taking a slightly different approach to an existing business model, or improving on a business model that already exists. The first two possibilities create a perfect opportunity for startups: a world with minimal competition.
Let’s say you’ve created a new product. It can probably be tied to a series of keyword phrases that cannot be easily tied to any other product in the market. If that’s the case, you have almost zero competition, and ranking for those keyword phrases is going to be a snap. That’s going to reduce the already low costs of putting an initial strategy together, and allow you to start seeing results in as little as a few months. That’s going to open up a line of near-immediate traffic (and hopefully revenue), which will help you significantly in your first year of operations.
When you’re launching a startup, chances are you aren’t going to have a dedicated audience to start with. You might have a target demographic in mind, supported with mounds of research that supports their willingness to buy your product, but you won’t have actual people familiar with your brand. The only exception to this is when a startup launches as a subsidiary or an extension of a larger company.
Content marketing is the perfect opportunity to build that initial audience (and that will help SEO, as well). In the early stages of your startup, before you’ve formally launched, you can start building an audience by syndicating content, engaging in social groups relevant to your industry, and letting people know you exist. Your content is going to form people’s first impressions of your company, including how authoritative and trustworthy you seem as well as how much they like your brand personality. If you approach it correctly, you can start growing an audience long before you ever start selling.
The vision you have for your startup before it launches is not going to match what your startup eventually becomes. That’s because it’s impossible to predict how your business is going to react to new developments, and it’s impossible to fully develop your brand in a stagnant environment.
Going through the steps of a content marketing and SEO campaign will force your brand to undergo a natural form of development. As you write more blogs for your brand and communicate through social media channels, you’ll become better acquainted with both your brand and your audience, and you’ll be able to make adjustments accordingly. Undergoing these steps of evolution early in the process, while your ideas and structures are still malleable, is valuable in forging a stronger initial business. Seeing your early SEO results can also guide you toward specific topics or offerings that may present a good ranking opportunity.
You don’t need to be a seasoned SEO expert to get the ball rolling. Building a little bit of momentum in your content and SEO strategy is all you need in the early stages of your startup, and you can do that simply by creating and updating a blog. Once your blog is established, start writing content—at least one article per week—and promoting it through social media to your target audience. Identify a handful of keyword phrases to build into the meta data of your site, and install Google Analytics so you can track changes in your traffic. After the first few weeks, you can start analyzing the data, learning more advanced SEO tactics, and preparing to launch your startup formally.
Want more information on content marketing? Head over to our comprehensive guide on content marketing here: The All-in-One Guide to Planning and Launching a Content Marketing Strategy.