Digital Marketing for Startups [10-Step Growth Guide]

Viken Patel
10 min readOct 13, 2020


These days, with so many entrepreneurs walking amongst us, the market is flooding with new brands and startups launching on a daily basis.

These startups are competing with so many fortune 500 companies that are capable of investing millions in marketing, while start-ups don’t have that option or the budget for it.

The only real option that startups have is being smart and even more efficient with their marketing efforts to accomplish their marketing goals in a limited budget and get maximum ROI on it.

Because marketing efforts for startups are quite unique, you will have to be very thoughtful about building a one of a kind marketing strategy that works for you and choose the right combination of marketing channels to effectively reach your target audience.

That is where digital marketing for startups can help you.

Better yet, digital marketing is essential for start-ups, in the next section let me explain why.

Why is Digital Marketing important for startups?

One of the most important reasons startups should focus on digital marketing is the fact that it is more cost-effective as compared to traditional marketing.

Television ads can eat up a huge portion of your marketing budget, however, you can reach a wider targeted audience through online advertisements only for a few hundred dollars.

Even blogging as part of content marketing will help you get more leads. All you will have to pay for creating engaging blogs and a hosting service.

With digital marketing, you can easily reach your audience, convert them to leads and customers for a fraction of the cost of traditional marketing.

Now that we have established the importance of digital marketing for startups, let us get started with this step by step guide to learn how to best use digital marketing for growing your business.

In this guide, I will explain to you how to create a winning digital marketing strategy to enhance the online reach for your startup.

Best Digital Marketing Strategies for Startups

All the steps to develop the best digital marketing strategy for a startup

  1. Build your website and brand
  2. Social Media Marketing
  3. Email Marketing Strategy
  4. Search Engine Marketing (Paid ads)
  5. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  6. Content Marketing Strategy
  7. Influencer Marketing
  8. YouTube Marketing
  9. Referral Marketing
  10. Guest Blogging

Build your website and brand

Just like your name as a person, your brand is kind of like your identity for your online business. That is why establishing your presence in the online space and building your brand name is the first part of your digital marketing strategy.

Not only will it make it easier for your audience to engage with your brand but it will help you with your SEO efforts as well because Google is all about showcasing unique brand identities on search engines.

Here are some tips to establish your startup brand on the interwebs

Start with a distinctive logo that defines your business

Your logo is the face of your brand’s identity and will represent your business everywhere including your website, social media, and more. It doesn’t have to be too complicated, just something that is unique and tells your story.

Build a website that talks about your business effectively

Your website will be at the center of your digital marketing plans including SEO (Search Engine Optimization). All your digital marketing campaigns will revolve around getting more and more people to visit your website and converting them into paying customers.

Your home page should answer three important questions — what is your business about, what makes you unique, and how your products/ services are solving the problems of your target audience.

Take care of your website’s structure hierarchy, which ideally should not be more than 3 levels from your homepage.

Make sure that your website is responsive and mobile-friendly.

Establish your business brand on all social media networks

After your website, the most important place to establish your brand identity is social media networks as they play a vital role in marketing your business to a wider audience.

Create a page and claim your business on all major social media networks including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, or any other where you can reach your target audience.

Even if you currently don’t plan on marketing on social media, make sure that you add all the elements of your business on your social pages including your logo, your website link, your introduction content with information about your products and services.

You can always start leveraging the power of social media at a later stage.

Social Media Marketing

Social media can be the bread and butter for many startups and it is one of the most efficient and pocket-friendly ways to reach and engage with your customers.

It can be a powerful tool in your arsenal which will enable you to transform your startup into a profiting business. However, out of so many social media channels, you must know what channels will work for your business

Some of the most popular social media sites include:

Facebook: The oldest player in the game, Facebook ideal to promote almost any business. Although, you need to create social content based on your business, and your target audience and their geographical demography, their age, and more.

Twitter: The best channel to market a B2B business, Twitter is the key to reach the next level of your startup business.

Instagram: As Instagram is a visual platform, it is best for promoting businesses related to the fashion industry, health and beauty businesses, modeling and photography, and more.

LinkedIn: The home ground for business professionals, you must market your B2B business brand on LinkedIn

As a rule of thumb, you must try multiple platforms to start with and eventually choose the ones that best work for your business.

Some important points to remember while creating a social media marketing strategy for startups

  • Be consistent with publishing your content and engaging with your audience via content vehicles such as live Q&A, stories, and more
  • Look out for various groups that might have your target audience and reach out to them.
  • Identify your true target audience and offer them true value through engaging content such as free ebooks, blogs, and more. This will help you build your email list as well.
  • Be active on your social media and don’t ignore any comment, message, or reviews from your audience.
  • Make most of the different social media ads and tools such as Pixels by Facebook to retarget interested viewers and urge them to become customers.

Email Marketing

Regardless of what people say, email marketing still remains one of the most profitable methods for promoting startups.

Even though it has the highest ROI value, many startups are not leveraging the power of email marketing. Which I believe is a huge missed opportunity as you can start email marketing even before launching your business.

Some important points to make most of email marketing

  • Your email subject needs to be lucrative to increase your email open rate.
  • Focus on writing witty and engaging email title and body copy
  • Avoid very complicated language, keep your email short, and crisp.
  • Avoid sending long paragraphs, instead add appropriate subheadings.
  • Shy away from sales content, instead talk about how your products and services can benefit your audience.
  • To improve your conversion rate, make use of successful conversion funnels
  • Be regular with your email content but don’t spam your audience’s inbox with too many emails.

Learn more about what is email marketing and how it works.

Search Engine Marketing

When they say you have to spend money to make money, what they are talking about is search engine marketing or more precisely paid ads also known as PPC (Pay per click) ads.

Startups can immensely benefit by advertising your products and services on search engines and get a boost in your brand publicity which leads to more sales.

  • Paid search engine ads can accelerate your sales cycle
  • It can help you reach your target audience faster and boost your reach as well
  • The ROI with PPC ads is quite high, as you only pay when a potential customer clicks on your ad
  • The data collected from your SEM ads will give you insights on user behavior which will help you optimize your future marketing strategies

Search Engine Optimization(SEO)

SEO is no longer an option, every startup needs to focus on SEO to get more and more organic traffic on its website.

On-Page SEO is the best way to improve your website’s rank on the search engine result page (SERP) without any additional cost, improve your click-through rate, and ultimately convert visitors into customers.

Following the SEO best practices, you can optimize your home page, service pages, blogs, etc and increase the organic traffic on your site.

Off-Page SEO is a great way to build quality links for your website which is an important ranking factor for search engines like Google, Bing and more.

Check out my step by step guide on how to learn SEO and implement the best practices on your startup website using this SEO tips for beginners guide.

Content Marketing

You can’t do digital marketing without content marketing which is one of the most assured ways of building your startup business.

While researching content marketing, the Demand Metric found that more than 90% of organizations are actively using Content Marketing for their businesses. Especially for startups, content marketing is quite a fruitful technique for promoting your business.

The only drawback of content marketing is that it takes a long time to deliver results but it surely gives weightage on your SEO and Social media efforts as well.

Refer my guide on how to develop content marketing strategy

Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is a more commercial way of getting celebrity endorsements for your brand. It is an effective and economical tool as a part of your digital marketing strategy for startups.

Using Influencer marketing can expose your brand to the huge fan following of your influencer. Additionally, this audience will already trust your brand because it will come from an influencer they already know and trust. As a result, the chances of them buying from you are quite high.

YouTube Marketing

After Google search engine, YouTube is the second go-to search engine for people all over the world. With more than 265 million active users, YouTube marketing is great for digital marketing for startups in India.

As a result, more and more brands are opting for YouTube marketing to effectively reach their target audience.

You can create engaging and informative videos about your brand USPs and how your products and services can be useful to your audience and easily promote (organically and paid ads as well) them on YouTube to get maximum visibility and easy conversion.

Referral Marketing

In one way or the other, Referral marketing has been around for a long time. It is the more advanced version of word-of-mouth marketing. Referral marketing is the best way to increase your customer base at a very fast rate.

The way referral marketing works is your existing customers promote your products and services to other people in their contact list and basically become your seller. And because people are likely to trust people they know, referral marketing can boost your business without you doing anything.

While there are many things you can do to encourage your existing customers to recommend your business, the best way to do so is to offer them something in return.

For example, if you have a salon business, you can offer your customer a 50% discount on a haircut if they refer your salon to their friends and bring you more business.

Guest Blogging

Guest blogging is a great way for a start-up to prove their knowledge in the business domain. and reach a lot of potential customers at the same.

If you publish lengthy, informative blogs on popular blog sites in your industry, you are sure to make your name as a brand that knows what it’s doing and reach your target audience as well.

For example, if you have started your own Yoga classes, you can write a blog about the importance of yoga in life, plug in your business details, and publish the blog on a forum with a fan following of other yoga enthusiasts.

They will get access to your blog, understand your offering, and maybe they might join your classes.

Additionally, you will get a backlink for your website from a reputed source that is already known to Search Engines for their content on Yoga.

This will build your brand authority as someone who can be a trusted source for information about Yoga.


Digital marketing for startups is not rocket science. However, it is a lengthy, challenging, and continuous process to build your startup business via digital marketing.

Don’t go overboard and try to do everything at once. You should start small with 2–3 digital marketing channels and work your way up.

The first thing you need to do is create a website for your startup business showcasing everything you are and all that you do as a startup. Make sure that your website looks great, is mobile friendly and SEO friendly.

The second step in the process of digital marketing for startups is to start marketing your services on social media.

Building a content marketing strategy will help you decide what kind of content do you want to create, what to publish when, and where. It will also help you create a realistic plan of who will create the content and how it will work in the long run.

One thing to remember is that content marketing as well as digital marketing for startups is an ongoing process and not a one-time thing.

The next step is to build your email list and start promoting your business via email marketing.

As a part of your digital marketing strategy, you also need to allocate a portion of your budget on paid ads. This will speed up the process of boosting your reach.

Understand your business, your audience, and your target marketing while working on paid advertisements. Understand that, you have to spend money wisely if you hope to get a good return on your investments.

Move on to SEO or any other ways to get organic traffic if you reach a point where you are losing money on ads with nothing to show in return.

This especially true while building digital marketing tips for startups to not run paid ads on all platforms but choose one or platforms that work for your business.

Saving the best for the last, you need to do everything you can to leverage the power of SEO. Hire an SEO expert, learn digital marketing, and learn how to become an SEO expert yourself or outsource your work to an SEO expert. Know this, your business is officially a success if the majority of your customers are acquired organically by SEO.

There you go, now you have all the steps to build a digital marketing strategy for startups.

What did you think of this guide?

Have you been able to drive business to your startup business through these steps or any other techniques? Let me know in the comments.

Originally published at on October 13, 2020.