Marketing for Tech Startups: A Guide
So you have distinguished your tech startup by developing your brand strategy and created an attractive brand identity that appeals to your audience. That’s fantastic, but you’re not done yet. It’s time to convert that audience into paying customers. This is where phase 3 of the D.A.C system comes in: marketing.
Regardless of whether you’re in FinTech, SaaS, or any other tech field, you need a concrete marketing strategy in place to turn your audience or leads into profit. For many promising tech entrepreneurs, knowing how to navigate marketing their tech startup in one of the most crowded markets imaginable can be an overwhelming prospect. It can also be the difference between success and failure.
We’ve put together this article to break down marketing for a tech startup in terms of the problems that you’ll probably face, and how you should approach each one.
Starting From the Beginning: What is Marketing in the Tech Field?
Marketing is a broad term that can cover a whole range of activities, but in its simplest form, marketing is about how you promote and sell a product or service. It’s as simple as that. Do you remember those old fliers you used to get through the door every weekend? That was marketing. The ads you see while you’re searching the web? Marketing too.
Marketing activities can be split into two categories: Outbound and Inbound. Outbound is a more traditional method of marketing in which you push your message out far and wide to potential customers in the hopes that it resonates with them. Cold calling is quite a traditional example of outbound marketing. Outbound marketing is still relatively common, but is quickly becoming replaced by inbound marketing as it is much less costly, is quicker, and offers a much higher ROI.
Inbound marketing is using tactics like content and social media to spread brand awareness so that people learn about your tech company, gain an interest, and potentially make a purchase. Inbound strategies enable you to engage an audience of people that are more likely to become a lead.
Marketing comes in so many shapes and sizes but the key to success in marketing is knowing where your audience is and tailoring your marketing approach to reach where they are.
For tech startups, the most likely place you can reach your audience is online, through inbound and digital marketing. Also known as online marketing, digital marketing is anything and everything you do to promote your business and connect with customers through the internet and other forms of digital communications.
Digital marketing can be broken into five main areas:
Search Engine Optimisation
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is what determines what you see when entering a search query into a search engine like Google or Bing.
When you search for something, search engines do three basic tasks: the first is crawling, which uses bots to examine all of the content they can access across every website they find. Next comes indexing, which categorizes everything that the bots found. Finally, the search engines decide which content is most relevant to your particular search, known as ranking. All of this happens within a blink of an eye!
The secret that not everyone knows is that there are certain things you can do on and off your website to make it so that search engines are more likely to rank your site above others.
The things you can do are broken down into three categories:
On-page SEO, meaning everything you do to optimise the content on your website.
Off-page SEO, meaning everything you do to optimise SEO ranking factors not on your site, primarily your backlink profile.
Technical SEO, meaning everything you do to make it easier for search engine bots to crawl your site and index the content.
On average, the first 5 results from a search accounts for 67.60% of all clicks. This should give you some idea as to the importance of getting your site high up in the rankings.
Also known as Search Engine Marketing (SEM), Pay-per-Click (PPC) allows you to bid on certain keywords, meaning words or phrases that are often searched for, so that your website or advert is promoted to users searching for these keywords. PPC is a great way of increasing traffic to your users in the short term but can be costly to maintain.
Social Media Marketing
Do you remember when we said marketing should be adapted to reach where your audience is? The rise in social media marketing in recent years is the greatest example of this. It’s estimated that 3.6 billion people use social media in one form or another across the globe, with that number expected to rise to 4.41 billion in 2025.
The platform you use will depend on the type of business you are, and whether you’re B2B or B2C, but the majority of tech startups want to have some kind of presence on LinkedIn and Twitter. Instagram and Facebook are both excellent options as well.
What you post will also depend on what you want to achieve through social media marketing, but whatever you do, it’s important to stay in line with your brand messaging and tone of voice.
Content marketing has four main goals: to entertain, to inspire, to educate and to convince. It can take any number of forms including articles, blogs, videos and podcasts.
Good content marketing hooks readers in with a great opening, is hyper-relevant to the target audience or buyer persona, and ultimately serves your wider marketing goals.
It’s important to remember that content marketing is a long term strategy, and you want to take your audience on a journey and keep them invested in your brand story.
Getting users to sign up to a mailing list is a great way to keep them engaged with your brand. The key is to keep email content concise and to the point. Nobody wants to have huge blocks of text sent to their inbox, but an occasional email that is relevant, succinct and full of engaging visuals is a fantastic way to build a relationship between new and existing customers and your brand.
First Things First: Building your Buyer Persona
You can’t create a marketing plan that will have any kind of impact without first knowing your audience. The way you do that is with a buyer persona.
A buyer persona is a semi-fictional person that represents your ideal customer. You’ll find everything you need to know about your ideal customer through market research and by taking a close look at your existing customers. It allows your marketing to be hyper-focused on the exact kind of audience that’ll be most likely to buy your tech product or service.
B2B buyer personas will differ slightly from B2C, as they will be a lot more focused on the buyer personas role in their company.
Here’s an example of a B2C buyer persona:
There are no rules as to what you can and can’t include in your buyer persona’s, and a lot of what you include will depend on your business. Here just a few of the possible areas you can cover:
Simplifying the Complexity of your Tech Startup
A challenge often faced by tech startups is finding a way to transform their complicated tech product or service into a simple marketing message that is easy to understand.
Tech startups can get so focused on promoting the exciting, but complicated, technical information of who they are and what they have to offer that they end up making it too complex, leaving their audience scratching their heads, or, more often than not, ignoring it entirely.
It’s vital that you talk like a human being, after all, it’s humans that are reading your marketing. Keep it short and concise. A great example is Apple. They effectively communicate their brand purpose by simply saying they want “to empower creative exploration and self-exploration”. It’s short, but it effectively communicates their brand messaging to their audience.
Cut to the chase of exactly what it is you want to convey about the value of your tech offering.
Weak marketing message: “To succeed in a competitive business world every company needs this sophisticated software, our highly advanced coding can help you reach more customers”
Strong marketing message: “We bring companies and customers together.”
Keep in mind your audience and your buyer personas. Your marketing should give them a clear idea of what your technology is and what value they personally can get from it.
Creating a Marketing Plan on a Small Budget
The other problem faced by a lot of tech startups is how to market their tech product or service on a low budget. Here are our recommendations for making a big impact when marketing a tech startup on a small budget.
The number one thing to start with when marketing a tech startup on a small budget is content.
Content, content, content.
Content is generally easy to produce, is extremely cost-effective, and can go a long way in convincing your audience to make a purchasing decision. For tech startups, the main focus of the content will be to educate and to convince. You want to break down for your audience exactly why your tech product or service will be of value in their lives. This is where your buyer personas will come in handy. Use them to inform your content to appeal to your target audience. You can do this in the form of blogs, articles, and even videos.
Videos can be a great way of imparting information in an engaging, very visual way, but if you’re too ambitious the costs can stack up, so if you’re going to go down that road make sure you create a video plan that will work within your budget, but won’t look ‘cheap’ and poorly produced.
A great form of content that goes a long way in convincing your audience of your product or services’ value is case studies and testimonials. Being able to demonstrate exactly how your technology has improved customers’ lives in the past will go a long way in advocating for new customers to purchase from you.
Finally, make sure that everything you do is mobile friendly! In recent years, mobile searches have taken over desktop searches in terms of search volume. More and more consumers are using their phones to search for things, so make sure your website and your content work for them.
Search Engine Optimisation
SEO can be a long and complicated task, it’s true, but there are some things you can do in the early days of your business for free that will have a marked impact on your online visibility.
The first and most important thing you can do is incorporate keywords into your content. You don’t want to stuff in too many keywords at the cost of readability, but a well-placed keyword or two every now and then will make all the difference. Make sure to do keyword research to find which keywords will make the biggest impact on your search performance.
Another easy way of improving search performance is using correctly optimised heading structure, page titles, and meta descriptions.
Your heading structure should flow down from your H1 into multiple H2’s. A H3 goes under a H2 if it’s appropriate, and a H4 would go under a H3 and so on. If you’re moving on to a new section or topic, you go back to a H2. There should never be more than one H1 on a page.
As an example, here’s the heading structure of this webpage:
The final thing to consider is page title and meta description length. Page titles and meta descriptions both appear in search results as seen below:
The page title can be seen next to the green dot, and below that is the meta description, marked by the red dot.
Search engines will be more likely to favour pages with page titles that are between 50-60 characters and meta descriptions that are between 120-155 characters.
Sites like WordPress provide great functionality that makes optimising your web pages’ headings, page titles and meta descriptions easy.
Setting up a social media account is completely free, and will be a vital touchpoint between your audience and your brand. Here are some of our top tips for using social media in your marketing strategy:
When selecting which platforms to use, it’s important to know what platforms your audience are on. If you’re B2B, odds are good that LinkedIn will be the best platform to focus your efforts on. If you’re B2C however, it’s more likely to be a site like Instagram. Do research to find out exactly where your customers are. It’s best to run accounts on multiple sites to maximise your reach, but be careful not to overextend yourself! You can make life easier for yourself by using the same content across multiple sites, but only if it makes sense to do so, and the platform doesn’t prevent it. For example, Twitter’s character limit will stop you from being able to post longer pieces of writing directly onto their site.
Tailor your posts to fit within your marketing strategy. What do you want your social media accounts to do? Do you want to drive more traffic to your site? Do you want to increase brand awareness? If you don’t know what you’re trying to achieve, you won’t achieve anything.
Use hashtags! Hashtags are a marketer’s best friend when it comes to social media. If you get it right, the reach of your post will extend far past your follower base and can bring in swathes of new interested users. There are numerous tools available online that’ll help you find the most popular and relevant hashtags.
Another thing you should incorporate into all of your posts is a call to action or CTA. A call to action is anything that encourages a user to take a specific action that achieves the desired result. This result can range from signing up for a newsletter to clicking through to a product page or leaving a comment. Something as simple as ‘sign up here’ or ‘find out more now’ next to a link is proven to have a marked effect on click-through rate.
Consider using a social media scheduling tool like Hootsuite or HubSpot. They can be a bit of an investment, but certain tools like Hootsuite offer free to use versions of their platforms. A social media scheduling tool allows you to link all of your social media accounts into one place, and create and schedule posts weeks in advance. The posts you create will be sent out automatically at a time chosen by you. It’s a great way to stay organised
Finally, make sure your social media presence is visually engaging. Social media platforms are about as crowded as it gets, so make yourself stand out from the crowd with unique visuals that work in tandem with your branding visuals.
When you’re doing anything marketing related, it’s absolutely crucial that you keep track of your analytical data. Before you start your campaign establish your key performance indicators (KPIs) that you can use to measure success. Some common KPIs for marketers include: organic traffic, bounce rate, click-through rate and ROI. Use tools like Google Analytics to keep track of how well your website is performing. Some social platforms like LinkedIn give you the ability to track analytics for their individual platforms, but if you’re using a tool like Hootsuite or HubSpot they’ll provide you with much more detailed analytical data.
Remember that just tracking the data isn’t going to achieve anything. Use it to inform your strategy and if you find that something isn’t working, try changing things up! Don’t ever let your marketing efforts become complacent, as you’ll find that your analytics will always reveal new opportunities and areas to improve.
When you come to market your tech startup, remember to: identify your audience, make your message accessible to everyone, and be creative with your budget to maximise your marketing effectiveness.
If you would like to receive a complimentary brand assessment with the 3 Colours Rule agency
Would you like to find out what is preventing your brand from achieving your business goals? What if during a 30min call with us we could identify the areas of your brand that need improvement so that you can attract the right clients? We will use our D.A.C. (Distinguish, Attract & Convert) (explained in our YouTube video) growth system to swiftly evaluate your brand strengths and weaknesses. We will provide you with directives and your brand score so you can measure your progression. 3 Colours Rule will help you find your USP that resonates with your audience.