There’s something irresistible about digital marketing (i.e. marketing through channels like email, social media, apps, games, texts, etc.). Not only does it price well under non-digital methods and give companies instant access to global customers, but it also offers the promise of going viral. Yummm, viral…
In order to cash in on digital, though, you need a plan for how to integrate it into your overall marketing strategy and stay rooted to your brand. This can be especially tricky for startups that don’t have deep pockets (or any pockets). Our team at 2A has an inside track on helping entrepreneurs get the most out of their digital marketing. Recently, we released our channel-first strategy into the wild as guest lecturers to the Masters of Science in Entrepreneurship Program at the University of Washington.
The first step requires you to define a channel-first digital strategy. Here are some tips for how to do that well:
Understand the landscape
Digital channels are the ways you reach customers such as email, website, paid ads, social, etc. Not to be confused with platforms, which are the tools or services that allow you to share content in a channel. For example, if social media is the channel, popular platforms include Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Channels hardly get the same press that platforms do, so it’s easy to overlook the implied channel choice you’re making when you jump straight to a platform. But not all channels are right for every startup and investing in a platform on the wrong channel can be a lose-lose.
Choose channels worth your time
While digital marketing has a lower sticker price than many other types of marketing, it still isn’t free—especially in terms of time.
When evaluating channel options, consider the cost of setup and upkeep to ensure you can sustain the activity. Activities that seem easy at the beginning, such as building an Instagram page, might end up costing you a lot in time (for daily posting) and money (for just-right images). Similarly, activities that seem time-intensive and expensive to start, like an automated email series, could be nearly hands-off once you get it up and running.
It’s important to pick channels that:
- Your customers prefer to use
- Make sense with your business model, and
- You can maintain with the resources you have.
Once you’ve decided on your channel, the platforms you can choose from become more obvious. Now it’s time to dig in and vet those platforms to find the one where your target audience is most active.
Not only does a channel-first strategy help you narrow down your platform choices, but it also helps you tune in (and out!) the “hot marketing tips” that could be useful for your brand…which bring use to the last point.
Stay true to your strategy
As a startup, you’re going to get lots of good advice on marketing tricks you HAVE TO TRY. By following the channel-first approach, you’ll be able to confidently evaluate the inside scoop you get from your buddy (or the New York Times).
Hot marketing tip: “MegaMouth quadrupled sales through Instagram! You have to be there!”
Your channel-first strategy: Our customers are more active on email than social, and we have the bandwidth to reach out via weekly emails (versus twice daily posts), so we’ll start with email and re-evaluate in six months.
Your response: “I’ve heard good things about Insta too, but the social channel isn’t right for us right now. Our channel strategy is focused on email, and we chose Constant Contact for our platform because we like the automation features they offer.”
As a startup, the trick to digital marketing is to balance your reach against your resources to keep from overextending yourself—and a solid digital channel strategy goes a long way to help with that.
Find this useful? Want to hear the next step on creating digital marketing content to align with the phases of your customers’ journey? Let us know, and we’ll keep blogging!