Getting your startup noticed is one of the most essential steps in building a successful online brand. You can have the coolest app/site in the world, but if no one knows about it, well, you’re out of luck. Luckily, promoting your startup isn’t the mysterious and magical process some marketers will have you think.
Dozens of small business owners and social media, SEO and marketing experts share their nine top tips for how new businesses can get noticed online, without having to spend a lot of money.
1. Establish profiles on the major social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest)
Before launching any social campaigns, take time to figure out which social media site or sites your target customers frequent. Then set up pages or profiles on those sites — and post content regularly, at least once a week. To centrally manage your social media posting, consider using a service such as Hootsuite.
Facebook’s ad platform allows you to get very specific with the target audience. How much you spend is up to you. As Facebook notes, you can choose between a daily or a lifetime budget, as well as a cost per thousand impressions bid or cost per click bid and only pay for the clicks or impressions you receive, up to the amount you set for your budget.
2. Submit Your Site To Relevant Resources
This is a no-brainer, but it is absolutely essential. Find sites that cover what you do, and submit your site there. Some easy ones:
- Knowstartup.com– Use the online form and fill your information here :http://knowstartup.com/submit-startup/
- KillerStartups.com- Use their online form (http://www.killerstartups.com/submitted)
- Launchfeed.com– Use this site to announce the launch of your service. Not as important on the site itself, but other sites subscribe to launchfeed and use the info on their blogs.
- Simplespark– Another source of what’s new online
- MOMB– (Museum of Modern Betas)- A site listing new apps
- Go2Web20.net– A flash directory of startups that actually delivers some fairly decent traffic.
- TechCrunch- The grandaddy of internet startup blogs. You can enter your information here:http://www.crunchbase.com/companies/new
- CenterNetworks– Another great web 2.0 blog
- Mashable!- Awesome blog covering all that’s new on the web. Read this post before submitting your site:http://mashable.com/2008/04/10/get-your-startup-on-mashable/
- ReadWriteWeb- http://www.readwriteweb.com/contact.php
3. Ask friends, family members and employees to get the word out — and reward referrals
Even if you don’t have many (or any) followers on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram, chances are some of your friends or family members or your employees do. Ask them to follow you/your new business on social media sites and spread the word. Better yet, reward people for sharing links to your site or products by offering them referral discounts, say 10 percent off their first or next purchase, or a freebie.
4. Use paid search (Google AdWords)
Paid search marketing is an inexpensive and scalable form of web marketing designed to connect your ads with searchers actively seeking what you provide. The smartest paid search marketing campaigns are pay-per-click, or PPC campaigns, and the logic behind them can be summarized simply: you bid for ad placement in a search engine’s sponsored links for keywords related to your business, then you pay the search engine a small fee for each click.
Paying for every click may sound like you’ll end up paying a lot, but in a well-designed campaign, the opposite is true. Because your potential customers will see your ads only when they’re searching for precisely the products or services you offer, they’re far more likely than a casual browser to be at the point of purchase. And so, with the right research and a little tinkering, the paid search ads you place will actually end up earning you far more than it costs to place them.
This one is easy in theory, not so easy in practice. It should be a no-brainer by now, but so many people think of this as the last step. Rather than using a blog as an ongoing chronicle of the evolution of a startup, they think of a blog as a nice-to-have. 5 years ago that was true. Not now.I won’t get into the specific advantages of blogging, but let’s list a few:
a) Starting a conversation about your offering.
b) Adding search engine content.
c) Creating a place for customer feedback.
6. Comment On Other Blogs
This is one of the most crucial yet most ignored steps. It’s one thing to write your own blog. It’s another to go out and give your thoughts and appreciation to other bloggers. It builds relationships. It adds link love. It ups your google juice. It makes people think you’re an actual human being with opinions. Spend an hour a day doing this and you won’t believe the return you’ll get.
7. Go to Events
The startup scene is full of great opportunities to show off your brand, with a lot of local city meet-ups, workshops and networking events, as well as more established conferences. Things like Tech Cocktail can be great to get noticed, but even attending bigger events where you can rub elbows with industry hotshots can be beneficial to get your name out there. There are also a lot of social networks and media outlets that create specific hashtags or coverage around events that you can latch onto to benefit from the association and generate more awareness.
Obviously there are hundreds of techniques to promote your startup online and get noticed, but if you start with these seven, you’ll be off to a great start.