Creating a Digital Marketing Strategy for your Startup using Growth Marketing

No Comments

Over the past few years, I have had the opportunity to mentor hundreds of startups from around the world, ranging from fintech in Nigeria, hip flasks in London to CRM systems in the US, both through mentoring with Google and with my marketing consultancy agency We Scale Startups.

Over time, I started to develop an intuitive understanding of which startups scale and which fail. One of the significant factors that became evident is the importance of understanding your customer and making plans based on that data. 

Below I have assembled what I believe to be the most critical areas to think about and frameworks to use to create an effective digital marketing strategy. Whether you’re already running a business or looking to start a startup, you will hopefully find this actionable and useful. 

It is, however, by no means exhaustive, and I would recommend you conduct further research. Please feel free to drop me an email if you have any questions.

The Digital Marketing Strategy 

A digital marketing strategy aims to communicate your company’s value to the right people at the right time in the right way. It can be daunting to get started but worry not! There is a range of tools and frameworks that make life easier.

Goal Setting

The first step of creating a digital marketing strategy is to understand what you’re trying to achieve by setting goals. I always recommend setting SMART goals as they help ensure you have a proper target.

Smart Goals

SMART goals are based on a paper by George T. Doran called “There’s a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management’s goals and objectives” and allow you to measure the progress of your goals. This is why it’s best practise to create goals that are:

  • Specific – Target a specific area for improvement.
  • Measurable – Quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress.
  • Assignable – Specify who will do it.
  • Realistic – State what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources.
  • Time-related – specify when the result(s) can be achieved.

Here’s an table showing how to set SMART goals:

Initial GoalImproved
SpecificGenerate more sales.I want to generate more customers through Google.
MeasurableI want to generate more customers through Google.I want to generate 30 more customers per month through Google.
AttainableI want to generate 30 more customers per month through Google.Since we already generate 100 sales per month, I want to generate 30 more customers per month through Google.
RealisticSince we already generate 100 sales per month, I want to generate 30 more customers per week through Google.Since we already generate 100 sales per month, I want to generate 30 more customers per month through Google.
Time-related Since we already generate 100 sales per month, I want to generate 30 more customers per month through Google.Since we already generate 100 sales per month, I want to generate 30 more customers per month through Google 6 months from today.

Vanity Metrics

When you’re thinking about measuring KPIs and numbers in your business, it’s easy to focus on numbers that are easy to get but far away from your business goals. Lots of companies set goals to increase their website traffic, for example, but you can have lots of website traffic without having lots of sales. So it’s important to think about your business goals and what you can measure.

Summary

If this is your first time creating a digital marketing strategy, I’d recommend just focusing on setting one to three goals at a time. Any more can become challenging to manage.

Goal setting can feel tedious, but it is vital as it helps shape our marketing priorities. I’d highly recommend reading more on how KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) are set and how Google uses OKRs (Objective and Key Results), a more user-friendly version of KPIs. 

Understanding Your Customer

Truly getting into the head of your customer is one of the most poorly understood and executed aspects of business development and market research but one of the most crucial; businesses who understand their customers succeed. 

Creating customer personas

Before you can create a customer persona, you have to do the research. The closer you can get to the customer, the better. If you already have customers or can speak to people you think are the customers, then invite them for a cup of tea and have a chat.

Fortunately, the web also offers lots of free ways to learn about the demographics and behaviours of people. Here are some tools you may find useful:

  • Facebook Audience Insights – Originally designed to help target ads more accurately, it can also assist with customer research.
  • Statista – Super useful when looking for a variety of business insights.

One of the best ways to then collect the learnings from your customer research is to create a customer persona. A customer persona (also known as a buyer persona) is a semi-fictional archetype that represents the key traits of a large segment of your audience, based on the data you’ve collected from user research and web analytics. 

The way I like to think about customer personas is that they assemble all the different bits of information I collect about customers in a meaningful way that helps me take action. 

Different companies have different types of personas. For example, if you have a B2C business, then certain information such as customers’ job responsibilities may be less relevant than. If you’re a B2B business, then you may find specific customer psychographic information less relevant. 

Here is an example of a B2B Customer Persona generated using Hubspot’s Make My Persona tool:

Regardless of your business, you may find that if you have several different types of customers who purchase your products, and as such, there’s nothing wrong with creating one to three personas. However, any more than this may become difficult to constantly pay attention to.

Recommended reading: The 5 best guides for creating a customer persona.

The “Jobs to Be Done” Model

It’s crucially important that you understand what problem you’re solving for your customer. This will ensure you are being customer-focused. A great way to understand your customer’s problems is to use the “Jobs to Be Done” Framework.

Under this framework, every business solves a problem. For example:

  • Google – Helps you find what you’re looking for
  • Uber – Reduces the time (and cost) of getting from A to B
  • Xbox – Helps us stay entertained

Here is a simple way to apply the “Jobs To Be Done” framework?

Recommended reading: https://jtbd.info/.

Creating a Brand Strategy

If you haven’t come from a marketing background, it can be tough to articulate the look and the feel of your brand. Getting it from head to paper can be very difficult.

Before you start any of the activities below, I’d highly recommend completing Google’s Brand Sprint exercises, a series of easy activities you can do to help you convert some of the ideas about your brand to paper. 

A fully comprehensive brand strategy includes:

  1. A brand heart
  • Purpose – Why does your company exist?
  • Vision – What do you want to achieve?
  • Mission – What are your goals?
  • Values – What is important to you and your customers?

Recommended reading: How to Define Your Purpose, Vision, Mission, Values, and 

Key Measures

  1. Brand Messaging 
  • Brand voice – How do you communicate with your customers? This includes the words you use, the tone you take and so on.
  • Personality – How does your company come off to customers? I.e. how customers perceive the personality of the brand if it were a person e.g. serious, intelligent, quirky and so on.
  • Tagline – How do you summarise your company in one line?
  • Value Proposition – What is the solution to the problem you are solving?

Recommended reading: How to Create Brand Messaging that Really Resonates | Salesforce

Check out this awesome guide: https://trello.com/b/trDB25DX/brand-messaging-for-startups-framework

After you have established these things, you can then go onto build your:

  1. Brand Identity
  • Logo
  • Colour
  • Typography

Recommended reading: How to Develop a Unique (& Memorable) Brand Identity in 

2020

The brand heart, messaging and identity all work together in synergy to help communicate a coherent whole, as if your brand is a person and each of the parts are one of the essential organs that serve unique purposes. 

Experimentation

Experimentation is the basis of modern startup growth marketing. It has been the “secret sauce” of many unicorns around the world.

Previously, customer acquisition was focused around traditional marketing campaigns that were very large, very slow and not data-driven. The problem with these campaigns, which can take a year to start and execute, is that they don’t adapt nearly as effectively as the market moves.

The basics of growth marketing boil down to coming up with potential marketing ideas that  are suggested by date then performing tests to validate the effectiveness of the ideas. If they work, then you scale the process. It’s more about the learnings than actually acquiring customers at this stage.

In the wild, this is a five step process:

  1. Brainstorm – Work with your team and come up with lots of different marketing ideas. The important thing is to come up with a lot of ideas rather than focusing on the quality of the ideas at this stage. Add them all to a document.
  2. Prioritise – Assign a number out of five for each idea’s Impact, Confidence and Ease. Sort the sheet by the highest combined number.
  3. Create a test – Write down what you think will happen and try to use numbers and quantify where possible.
  4. Execute! 
  5. Review – Did the test go to plan? If so, what went well? If not, learn from what went wrong so you can ensure not to make that mistake again.

Here’s a free template that you can use to catalogue, manage and run your growth marketing campaigns.

Analytics

To properly understand how your users find your brand and what they do once they’ve visited your website or app, it’s essential to continually be looking at and evaluating analytics, which will help you to understand your users truly. Learning this part well will build a foundation that will serve you for years.

Although jumping into analytics can feel like jumping into a black hole, there are a lot of resources for people new to this field. Lots of companies such as Google and Microsoft offer free high-quality training, in addition to everything on YouTube.

In the beginning, you shouldn’t need anything much more than Google Analytics and Google Search Console. Still, as you want to learn more about your users and their behaviour, you’ll find all sorts of new tools and resources available.

Google offers excellent free courses on a few of its platforms, including this course on the basics of Google Analytics, which I highly recommend.

Getting started on your digital journey is daunting and whilst this isn’t fully comprehensive, it’s a good place to start. Where possible fully jump in, there’s a nearly unlimited amount of free resources to help you out.

I love helping companies start and grow and if you’re ever stuck or have any questions, drop me an email at [email protected].

I’m Daniel – a freelance marketing & growth expert based in London. I specialise in helping companies and startups acquire the right kind of high-quality users that are critical to your mission. I do this by deeply understanding who your customers are and by finding ways to bring them on board in a way that is scalable, predictable and repeatable by creating a Growth Machine. I have capacity to assist in advisory or execution roles, so do get in touch and let's see if I can help.

About us and this blog

We are a digital marketing company with a focus on helping our customers achieve great results across several key areas.

Request a free quote

We offer professional SEO services that help websites increase their organic search score drastically in order to compete for the highest rankings even when it comes to highly competitive keywords.

Subscribe to our newsletter!

More from our blog

See all posts

Leave a Comment