If there’s one thing most startups need more of, it’s money to market their disruptive technology. I’ve preached in the past that building something cutting edge is only half the battle; adoption (or customer acquisition) is often the bigger challenge.
No matter if you’re in the very early stages or starting to take off, the cost of PPC campaigns through Google AdWords and other similar offerings can be prohibitive. Cost per click can range from a few dollars to over twenty depending on your vertical and focus. The actual cost of acquisition can skyrocket from there.
This is where startups, like ours, are thankful that an inbound strategy, whereby customers are earned through thought leadership rather bought through PPC, can often be even more impactful at a fraction of the cost. Part of building your startup is becoming an expert on your industry – not just your product. This positions you with the ability to offer deep insights which will help educate potential customers or influencers of your offering.
Out of the gate a content strategy can start with minimal investment. At the very early stages at Uberflip it was on myself, our CEO and our director of marketing to pump out content (often in blog format) that would appeal to our audience. Even the drip emails sent to new signups are part of your content strategy. The original version of what we called a “Content Tip Series” was written by yours truly late one night at home.
As we gained traction we increased our spend, variety and sophistication of content creation. I’ll skip the details but eventually along the way we reached a point, like many other startups, where we needed more structure. We needed the equivalent of what Salesforce offered salespeople for our marketing team: a quarterback of sorts. The time had come to evaluate a marketing automation software. We did our research (which we wrote up in this post) looking at HubSpot, Marketo, Eloqua and Act-On with highest regard. All of these offerings are great with various perks. In the end, we chose HubSpot as the best suited centre of our marketing universe.
Although marketing automation providers are no doubt focused on big enterprise sales with published pricing into the thousands, you can get started with a tool like HubSpot or Act-On under $500/month. Compare that with the dollars you may be spending on the aforementioned PPC campaigns and it’s really peanuts. Many people told us to wait before we made the jump to marketing automation. Looking back I’d actually argue the opposite as these tools help provide the structure, discipline and mindset you want for your content strategy from the get go.
Once you’ve chosen your marketing universe, you’ll also find evaluation and selection of other content and communication tools is made simpler because you narrow down to what connects. You’ll find that many of the tools to manage your video content (like Vidyard), your chat software (like Livechat), your CRM (like Salesforce) or curation tools (shameless Uberflip plug) will integrate with these tools, whereas others may not.
As you start to add on more pieces to your content marketing strategy, cost will no doubt increase, but not at the same proportion which you’d see with scaling a paid AdWords campaign. The key is to make content a part of your strategy from the get go so you do not reach the point of inefficient spend and panic when things level off. Great content and great structure will help you accordingly.
If you want to learn more about any of these tools check out their content or join us for a HubSpot meetup (aka a HUG) which will be hosted at Uberflip’s offices on December 4th, 2013. You can find more details and RSVP here.