10 of the Best Digital Marketing Strategies for Startups (Updated March 2020)

Last Updated On: March 26th, 2020

Marketing has changed at a rapid pace. Some marketers even believe that marketing has changed more in the past two years than in the previous 50 years.

Most startups these days have adopted digital marketing. But not all the weapons that digital marketers have in their arsenals are equally effective. Some digital marketing strategies hit the bullseye, while others don’t even come close.

Do you know which digital marketing strategy you should adopt to boost the growth of your business?

In today’s post, I’m going to share 9 of the best digital marketing strategies for startups. After reading this post, you will have a clear picture of profitable digital marketing strategies for your startup.

Without further ado, let’s dive in.

Table of Contents

1. Email Marketing

Despite predictions of its death in the marketing world, emails are still around and delivering a handsome return on investment (ROI) to marketers.

In a recent survey conducted by Demand Metric and the Data & Marketing Association (DMA), it was concluded that email marketing had an impressive ROI of 122%.

That was four times higher than the other marketing channels which were analyzed. Those channels included paid search, direct mail, and social media.

What startup wouldn’t want that kind of ROI on email marketing? And the best thing about email marketing is you don’t have to break the bank to run an email campaign.

Though email marketing is highly effective, not all startups are able to harness the true power of email marketing. But some brands have excelled at email marketing.

Check out the marketing email I received from Uber India, for example:

They crafted a crisp, engaging, email copy. The success of this email? I took a Pool ride in the evening. How can you craft such an email?

Here are some tips on creating a successful email marketing campaign:

  • A lot depends on a subject line – make it catchy, engaging, and benefit-rich
  • Avoid jargon in your email copy – write in plain, persuasive language
  • Break up text so it’s easy to scan – use bullets and subheading
  • Talk about the benefits you’re going to offer
  • Optimize emails for mobile devices

You can also use an email marketing software solution such as Sendinblue to plan, design, and send your emails.

It also has an email marketing automation option that can help you set up autoresponder sequences that get triggered whenever your receivers take some action.

2. Social Media Marketing

Social media has become a powerful marketing tool these days.

According to a Social Media Examiner’s report, 90% of marketers confirmed that social media is important to their businesses. And 89% of marketers indicated that their social media initiatives have generated increased exposure for their companies.

Social media marketing, in my view, is the second most important marketing strategy for startups.

The following is a list of the benefits offered by social media marketing:

  • It increases exposures and traffic
  • Social media marketing develops loyal customers
  • It improves search ranking and generates leads
  • It establishes thought leadership
  • Increases in sales

So, how can you grow your brand on social media?

To build your authority on social media, you need to create high-quality content regularly. You need to maintain consistency while posting your content and also engage with your audience.

These tasks can be quite challenging. That’s why, it helps to use a social media marketing tool like HubSpot.

Using it, you can seamlessly create social media content and post it manually to platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. It also provides you the option of scheduling your posts so that you can ensure a consistent flow of content.

What’s more?

It lets you engage with your audience and also monitor your social mentions.

Though businesses are increasingly adopting social media marketing, not all of them are doing it the right way. Many of them are making fatal social media marketing mistakes.

How can you avoid these mistakes?

First of all, you should choose the right social media marketing channel, then develop a social media marketing strategy. Just because one business is getting huge success through Twitter, doesn’t mean you will get the same success through it as well.

If your potential customers are on Facebook, make Facebook your point of focus. Likewise, target your efforts on LinkedIn if your audience is on this professional network. For your startup, the best social media channel is where your potential customers hang out most.

A good social media marketing consultant will build a customer persona first, then start creating a social media strategy for your business.

3. Pay-Per-Click Marketing (Google AdWords)

Pay-per-click (PPC) marketing is a method of using search engine advertising to bring visitors to your website. PPC is a powerful marketing tool to generate sales-ready leads.

When I search for “sunglasses in New York,” here is how the PPC ads look:

No startup should ignore pay-per-click marketing.

Pay-per-click advertising offers many practical advantages, such as:

  • You can reach your customers at the right time with the right ad
  • High ROI as you will have to pay only when an interested person clicks
  • Control over how much you want to spend
  • You won’t have to wait for results
  • Data and insights to help sharpen other marketing strategies

PPC campaigns exhaust the budget quickly. So it requires a certain kind of expertise to engineer a successful campaign that generates more conversions than clicks.

4. Search Engine Optimization

You have built a website with an awesome design, and you have created service pages for all the services you offer. And you think visitors will come. Right?


There are hundreds of websites in your niche alone. How can your website come up on the top when potential customers search for the keywords relevant to your business?

This is where search engine optimization (SEO) plays a decisive role.

Search engine optimization not only increases traffic to your website but also builds trust.

If your website ranks high in search results when your potential customers search for the keywords related to your products or services, it leaves an impression that you are a reputable company.

Search engine optimization is a must for every startup. Just be sure to follow the best SEO practices for your website.

What else can you do?

To improve your website’s SEO, you need to keep track of it consistently. For this, I recommend using SEMrush. This tool is an all-in-one tool for your SEO needs.

It helps you conduct keyword research, track your SERP rankings, monitor your competitors, and also lets you find out where you stand in comparison to them.

What’s more, you ask?

SEMrush also makes it easy for you to build backlinks for your website and comes with a built-in website auditor that helps you figure out issues with your website as well.

However, there are many challenges faced by startups involving SEO. You can overcome these challenges by hiring a good SEO company.

5. Influencer Marketing

The trend of influencer marketing is catching on really fast. It was observed in a study that 84% of marketers expected to launch at least one influencer marketing campaign in the next 12 months.

94% of marketers in a survey believed influencer marketing to be effective.

Influencer marketing is a highly effective tool for startups to grow their brands. And the best thing is that it’s inexpensive compared to traditional marketing channels.

Here are some reasons why startups should adopt influencer marketing:

  • Most customers have become immune to traditional marketing channels
  • Influencer marketing is less expensive than other promotional strategies
  • Influencer marketing is easy-to-implement
  • Word-of-mouth aspect of influencer marketing builds trust for your brand
  • Customers will engage with your brand because of the authenticity of influencers

When you are starting your business, you might not be able to rope in big digital marketing influencers.

So, what can you do?

If you don’t have a big budget, you should find micro-influencers for your startup. They typically have higher engagement rates than macro-influencers and charge significantly low fees due to a smaller follower base.

6. Content Marketing

Content marketing has become a must for businesses these days, whether you are working in the B2B or B2C domain.

Look at the following stats from the Content Marketing Institute:

90% of B2C organizations are extremely/very committed to content marketing, and 88% of B2B marketers agree that content marketing is an important part of their marketing programs.

Why is content marketing so effective?

When you map your content strategy to follow the different stages of your buyer’s journey, you create useful content that your target audience will love to read since it will solve their problems. This eventually builds trust and increases conversion rates.

By adopting content marketing strategies for your startup, you can:

  • Increase visibility for your brand
  • Build lasting relationships with your customers
  • Boost brand awareness and brand recognition
  • Build credibility and authority
  • Create thought leadership

As an added bonus, content marketing supports your SEO and SMO efforts. You will have more content for your website’s blog, and social media postings.

So, how can you create high-quality content regularly?

Coming up with new content ideas can be challenging. It can also be tricky to keep track of what’s trending.

However, Social Animal can solve this problem for you. It can help you find the top-performing content for every keyword. This can help you figure out if you should target that particular keyword.

But, that’s not all.

This tool also lets you find influencers in your niche. You can then reach out to them for collaborations and grow your authority even further.

You should remember that content marketing seldom offers quick results. It takes time before you start noticing the results of content marketing. But the impact it offers is long-lasting.

7. Retargeting Ads

You kicked-off your startup because you were convinced with your business idea. Why? It was your business idea, so you believed in it.

But your potential customers might not be convinced when they first visit your website. They need one or more nudges before they actually become your customers.

Retargeting ads do the nudging.

What is a retargeting ad, and how does it work?

Retargeting is a means of marketing in which you show relevant ads to those who have previously visited your website.

When a potential customer comes to your website, a pixel (an unobtrusive piece of JavaScript) is placed on their web browser. In other words, your potential customer’s browser is cookied.

What happens next?

And when this customer visits other websites, the retargeting platform is notified by that pixel and the customer is served with the relevant ads based on the pages he/she visited on your website.

With effective retargeting ads, you can convert those visitors who have previously shown interest in your products or services and increase your conversion rate.

8. Viral Marketing

As a startup, there’s no better way to create a strong buzz about your brand than going viral on the internet. Creating content that goes viral can make your business an overnight success.

What’s more, you ask?

What’s more, viral marketing is essentially a result of the combined efforts of the other techniques we’ve already discussed. Blendtec is the perfect example of its potential.

One day they’re not really selling any of their high-grade blenders. One viral video of its potential to blend practically anything and the orders started to rake in. Quite frankly, it was an ingenious ploy by the brand’s marketer.

Image via YouTube

So how do you go viral?

Well to put it simply, by doing something incredibly hilarious and possibly weird (like this out-of-the-box thinking by Blendtec). Leverage social media to get yourself noticed and shared to the best of your abilities.

It’s sure to cause a major surge in the traffic to your website for a certain period of time. And once you’ve gone from relatively obscure to trending, your job is half done. The other half, of course, is converting that huge traffic into purchasing customers.

As a strategy, I’ve seen several B2C businesses leverage it well. The Dollar Shave Club is another brilliant example that illustrates its potential. As a bonus, it’s a somewhat frugal strategy as well.

9. Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing can be treated as a sibling of influencer marketing. It too relies on the influence of people to bring in sales. Which is why you should consider integrating it with your influencer campaign.

In affiliate marketing, you can sit back and relax as others do your marketing for you. That’s a rather simplified version of putting things. Disclaimer – I don’t recommend the sitting back part as it should never be your only strategy.

What is Affiliate Marketing?

You recruit affiliates for your brand to draw in leads for you. They can be thought of as salespeople who work on a commission basis. This commission is entirely up to you to decide. Whether you pay them according to the sales they generate or on a flat fee per product basis.

But how do you keep track of these sales? You do so via affiliate links which are customized links you provide your affiliates with. They share the link with their social media circles who, in turn, can use the link to visit your site and make a purchase.

You can use tools like Google Analytics to generate these customized links. Further, you can even track the number of sales coming in from each link to track the performance of your affiliates.

10. Referral Marketing

One of the best ways of promoting your brand is by letting your customers do it for you. Launching a referral program can be one of the best bets in such a situation. You can share a referral code with each of your customers, and they can share those in their circles.

So, what does this do?

When anyone from their circle purchases from your brand, you can provide a freebie or discount to the referring customer. This can motivate them to refer more people and help you grow your startup.

To set up a referral program, you can use tools like InviteReferrals. This tool can help you set up your referral campaign on social media, website, or mobile app with ease. You can also get in-depth analytics about your campaign using this tool.

Ready to Get Started?

Building a successful startup is an uphill battle of fierce competition in the business world of today. However, by choosing the right digital marketing strategies, you can stand out from the crowd.

Email marketing, social media marketing, pay-per-click advertising, search engine optimization, retargeting ads, influencer marketing, content marketing, viral marketing and affiliate marketing are proven to yield a high ROI.

What about you? Do you want to add any strategies or tips to this list? Share them in the comment section. I’d love to hear about them.

Lalit Sharma is the Founder & CEO of Ranking By SEO. He has been working in the SEO industry since 2005. He is an author for big industry sites such as SEMrush, Social Media Today, and Business 2 Community.


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