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The ultimate paid marketing strategy guide for startups and SMEs.

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As a startup or SMB founder you probably already know that when promoting your business you have 2 options: organic marketing and paid search marketing or SEM. A good digital marketing strategy will include both, plus a few other campaign types that are aimed at boosting your conversion rates, leads and sales. 

While going organic is almost free, SEM or paid marketing requires an investment (surprising, right?). Plus, if you want to optimize your campaigns and have an exponential growth with a positive ROI or return on investment, you will need to find a good marketing specialist if you don’t have anyone skilled in-house.

So, today, we are going over the process of creating a paid digital marketing strategy for startups, or how to scale your business without burning money uselessly. 

Why should startups and SMEs invest in SEM?

According to a study done in the US, which we can extrapolate to the rest of the countries, nearly 74% of people have been influenced by search and social media ads when shopping online. Also, almost 71% made a purchase directly from an ad they saw online.

This means that there are several benefits that can prove to be useful to a company that’s just starting its activity. These include:

  • Increased visibility
  • National and international growth
  • Specific targeting 
  • Faster results than with organic campaigns
  • Bigger customer base and interaction rate
  • Capability to A/B test and find relevant pain points and areas to improve to grow your revenue
  • Online sales

Of course other channels such as SEO or email marketing are also important, but they lack control over what’s happening and often depend on external factors such as the Google Crawler for SEO or the existence of an email list of subscribers when it comes to email marketing.

How to plan a paid marketing campaign when starting a business?

Don’t you hate the word “planning” by now? Well… Sorry to say it, but this time it will be necessary. In fact, an ad campaign without a plan is doomed to failure. Let’s get you a guide to start:

1. Define your goals

You need to keep in mind what you want to achieve with your campaigns. Is it brand awareness? Or website visits? Leads? Actual sales? 

Depending on your type of business and your goals you will choose one digital marketing campaign or another.

Remember to set up goals that are clear, are achievable and you can measure to be able to track the performance of your advertising campaign.

2. Understand you target audience

Different buyer personas require different marketing strategies to be converted. As you already imagine, selling your products and services to people is not the same as selling them to companies. And even among the same target group, there are nuances such as interests, demographics and a long etcetera.

Knowing your audience and what platforms they use to buy products and consume media is a key step to reach your potential customers and convert them into a fruitful relationship that will ultimately benefit your business

3. Assess your budget

Numbers are another focal point in your digital marketing plan. Defining the right budget for your social media platforms and relevant search engines as well as optimizing your spend to reach your goals in a timely and cost-effective manner will mean a world to your results. Also to your financial planning. 

Be aware that very low spends don’t tend to do well on any platforms. Most social media platforms and search engines prioritize campaigns that spend less but do it consistently over longer periods of time, which is what we call the “learning process”. This is where most small businesses and startups fail by choosing to run short campaigns and promotions instead of prioritizing a well thought campaign that will stay for at least a few weeks.

4. Create a good landing page

We know your website is great and offers all the info a customer might need to decide. However, creating a landing page specific to your audience and your campaign can boost your conversion rates and your KPIs. 

Be transparent, offer value and look reliable at the eyes of your potential customers. This is what will help you achieve that growth you are looking for.

5. Select the right platforms

Your audience is not on every platform out there and your budget is not unlimited. In fact, most often than not, you will be running low on investment as you will need to prioritize other areas of your startup to make it successful. Think of where you want to invest and think wisely. 

If you are selling directly to the consumer, you won’t use linkedin, but will invest in social media as part of your social media marketing strategy. Plus, you might want to add a Google Shopping campaign to the mix if you are an eCommerce. 

If you are targeting companies, however, you might want to stay away from socials, because your target audience is using Google and Linkedin to find services like yours, so you might get better results from Linkedin Ads and Google Search and Display campaigns.

6. Get a specialist to create your campaigns

Nothing speaks of success like a well done campaign and ad group strategy. Knowing all the ins and outs of the different platforms is tricky and might be a gigantic struggle if you need to start from scratch without any previous experience and the necessary skills and know-how.

This is why counting on a digital marketing freelance or a digital marketing agency might be the best course of action. Not only will it save you time so you can focus on growing your business in other areas, it will also guarantee you get the best results possible out of your money. Plus, hiring a marketing agency could seem expensive, but believe us, it’s more cost-efficient than hiring someone with only 2-3 years of marketing experience.

7. Analyze your results and iterate

Not all campaigns will be successful. In fact, most probably your beginnings will be hard and full of errors and “unnecessary” investment with no return. The good news is that you will get huge amounts of information. 

If you analyze this information properly, you will be able to pivot and improve your ad campaigns to get better results each time, until you reach a point where you are profitable and able to scale your SEM strategy indefinitely. 

Top paid marketing platforms for startups and SMEs

As we said just above, there is no right or wrong. In fact, the platform of your choice will greatly depend on your journey, where your product is at, your target audience and your business goals for the ad campaign you are planning. 

We won’t go into each and every platform’s benefits, but we will cover the main types of marketing you can use when creating a digital marketing strategy for kick starting your business.

1. Social media advertising

Social media advertising for startups

With their very own targeting opportunities and low click and impression costs, Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok, Twitter and other networks offer an incredible opportunity for your business to reach your potential customers.

That if your prospects use social media of course. Keep in mind that 37% of people purchase from online channels, convinced by social media and 21% of people buy from brands that are present on social media. 

The main goals you want to pursue with social media ads are:

  • Brand awareness & brand recognition
  • App installs
  • Instant purchases of your products
  • Website traffic

The type of ads that might work for you are:

  • Boosting posts for brand visibility & awareness
  • Video ads for website traffic and a higher engagement rate
  • Organize contest for brand interaction and a growing lead base

2. Influencer marketing

Influencer marketing strategy
Influencer content creator blowing kisses in digital marketing concepts. Blogger speaking and recording online talk show at studio using headset, professional microphone looking at camera for podcast

Slightly expensive for when you are starting a business, but very powerful for the initial stages of your marketing strategy. Counting on an influencer and leveraging on their network and fan base can be a very smart strategy when reaching out to your potential customers.

All you need to do is make sure your influencer of choice has a follower base that aligns with your target audience.

To make it worth your investment, make sure to follow these:

  • Focus on micro influencers with 2.000 to 10.000 followers
  • Pay based on their performance and results
  • Work with popular niche bloggers and websites

3. Google Ads

Google search ads strategy
Interior details at the bakery and coffee shop. Bistro showcase with shelves of freshly croissants and bread in assortment. Zero waste shop or sustainable local small businesses at food service.

The good old Google Ads, although you still might call it Google AdWords. It will allow you to reach your target audience right when they are looking for a product or a service just like yours. You might fear this platform because it’s famous for being pricey, but believe us, nothing of the kind.

Before you begin, make sure you have someone in your team who is proficient with Google Ads. Alternatively, you can hire a specialized agency like us to do it for you. This will, again, save you tons of time and make sure every cent is spent wisely.

If not, make sure you:

  • Have a good control of Google Analytics and have set up goals and events to track your progress
  • Link Google Analytics to Google Ads and Google Search Console
  • Go through Google’s skillshop to learn more about both platforms
  • Perform a thorough keyword research to know exactly where you want to invest
  • Create low budget campaigns and start optimizing your bids

4. Retargeting

retargeting ads on google

No conversions from your ads? Don’t worry, it’s not the end of the world. In fact, the customer journey rarely consists of one click and a purchase. Normally it will take you a few approaches to the same potential customer in order to influence the buying decision.

That’s where retargeting comes into play. You will need to set up some display and some retargeting ads to make sure you keep hitting the same person with messaging tailored to their customer journey and their current situation.

It will allow you to:

  • Add more information to what your lead already saw
  • Remind people about your brand 
  • Get conversions from people who already interacted with you

Retargeting is often a high ROI marketing campaign if you do it right.

5. Email Marketing

email marketing strategy

If you have a list of subscribers, email marketing is another extremely powerful tool you could use to grow your sales and revenue. The average conversion rate for email marketing is 8.87%. Succulent, right? Make sure you use it to its full potential. 

Remember to have one, and only one, clear message and call to action. Engage your customers with GIFs and emojis while offering your subscribers a little extra value for their time reading your email. If you do it right, you will get more and more customers who are loyal to the brand. 

Be smart on paid marketing for your startup or SME

Of course, having an in-house specialist sounds nice and all, but the cost and resources needed to hire and train that person are also high (generally speaking). If you want quick results and a fast turnaround, you should definitely consider counting on an agency like Arcomm.Here we have several social media specialists as well as experts for all your digital marketing needs. Want to have a chat with one of them? Don’t hesitate to reach out for a free consultation with one of our people. Stop worrying about your marketing efforts and focus on what matters most, your business model, your product and your management of your growth.

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