5 Digital Marketing Tips for Start-ups

5 Digital Marketing Tips for Start-ups


Starting a new business is exciting and frustrating at the same time. It’s exciting because of the possibilities but you often don’t know how or whether you will succeed in building a viable business. Fortunately, there are several digital marketing tips that can support your marketing efforts.

Digital Marketing Tips: Lead Generation

You can make assumptions about who will buy from you but you never really know. One way to convert new sales is to build a website and install Google Analytics (GA) on it. GA provides information about website visits such as pages that visitors read and how they arrive there.

For instance, you might find that most of your traffic comes from Twitter or from organic searches. You might also find that your website visitors spend more time on one type of content compared to another and fill out as contact form asking for more information thereafter. This means you have converted a website visitor into your sales funnel using content on your site.

Digital Marketing Tips: Strategies

The strategy that you employ depends on what you want to achieve. Start by creating an awareness of the problem that you want to solve for your customers. Often, your target customers know that there is a problem but they are unable to define it.  

Another strategy could be to retain and deepen the relationship that you have with existing customers. Your marketing activities will differ in this instance. For example, you could provide more long-term customer support, incentivize repeat business or start regular webinars that arm your customers with tips and tricks for optimising their purchase.

Digital Marketing Tips: Competitor Knowledge

Many start-ups ignore the competition or they believe that they don’t have any competition. Online access presents a vast world of information about your competition, similar products and trends. Learn from your competitors.  

Find out which social media platforms that they are most engaged with and see who their followers are. What is working for them and where could they improve? Always thrive to create a distinct competitive advantage rather than just copying your competitors.

Digital Marketing Tips: Creating a Budget

Planning a budget is difficult when you are starting a business. This is because you are not sure what is going to work to grow your sales pipeline. One of the best ways to create a focused budget is by choosing a strategy and executing it.  

Experiment with different ways of generating brand awareness. Pick one or two social media platforms then manage them well, and ensure that you are measuring performance against your goals. Look at the sources of your web traffic and where your qualified leads originate from.  Spend more in those areas.

Digital Marketing Tips: Planning for Growth

You need to be able to calculate what it costs you to acquire a customer. This is how you can forecast sales and grow. This cost is commonly called Cost of Customer Acquisition or COCA.

Here is an example of COCA using Facebook Ads. If your goal is 100 subscribers for your online course, you must first find out how many people need to click on your Facebook Ad in order to get 100 sign ups. Say your conversion rate is 1% on average. That means you need 10,000 people to click on your ad. If your cost per click on Facebook is roughly £0.20 (this varies from industry to industry and from ad to ad), it means you will spend £2,000 to acquire 100 subscribers. Therefore, your COCA is £20.

Other Considerations

There is also the case of customer lifetime value or LTV. And that better be larger than your COCA otherwise you will not sustain your business long term. More on that in my next post.

Photo Credit: iStock photos/Getty Images
How to Create Content for Each Stage of Your Buyer’s Journey

How to Create Content for Each Stage of Your Buyer’s Journey

Guide Your Buyer’s Journey Through Inbound Content Marketing

Content marketing has become an ongoing business process and a crucial part of B2B marketing strategy according to 73% of B2B marketers.

READ: The Importance of Content Marketing For Your Business

While content creation and distribution are top factors for success, 72% of marketers agree that a strategy for development and adjustment contributes enormously to success.

In creating a strategy, you must consider your target buyer’s journey. One reason that they might not engage with your content is because you provide it at the wrong time. That is, your target buyer is not yet ready to engage with or act on the content you provide. It is crucial that you understand a typical buyer’s journey as this will guide your strategy.

inbound content marketing YO!

The buyer’s journey was the main topic of the HubSpot Inbound Certification training that I recently did. Rich with actionable tips, the course focused on how creating the right content drives sales by being relevant to the buyer’s journey.

Now, what are the stages of a typical buyer’s journey? They are:

  • Awareness
  • Conversion
  • Decision

Stages of a Buyer’s Journey

Let’s take these in turn.
Awareness is the stage where your potential buyer identifies that they have a problem. They might sense that something isn’t right, but they are not sure what it is. At this stage, your goal as a vendor is to help the potential buyer become aware of the problem such that they can define it.

Thereafter, they might start to look for possible solutions. They will want to know how they can solve the problem. Therefore, your goal at this stage is to identify potential solutions to the identified problem.

Now that the buyer knows the problem, and has considered a range of solutions, your goal is to give them the information they need to decide which solution to go for.


Do not try to sell your products or services at the Awareness and Conversion stages. In fact, try not to mention your company at all. Your role at these stages is the role of an educator.

Let’s look at examples of the kind of content you could create at each stage.

At the Awareness stage

Share content that outline best practice for instance, The Ultimate Guide to Writing Persuasive Landing Page Copy. This gives the target customer an overview of what an ideal landing page copy looks like. They then realise how they might not have been following best practices and hence, not getting optimal result. In this example, the target customer probably knows that their landing pages aren’t great but doesn’t know what they are doing wrong. Your Ultimate Guide helps to identify the problem.

At the Conversion stage

Your target buyer is looking for ideas to solve their problem. Let’s say the buyer has identified that they are struggling to generate content within their engineering business. They might come across 12 Engaging Content Ideas for Engineering Companies, which is packed with ideas for content formats that they could implement in their business. You offer solutions to an already identified problem.

At the Decision stage

The possible solutions are known but your target buyer is comparing options to decide. Testimonials, case studies and price comparison content are ideal at this stage of the buyer’s journey. A case study about how employee advocacy worked well in a technical setting might be the key to deciding to go with the vendor that implemented the programme or delivered the tools. Absolutely write about your business’ products and services.

You can also offer free trials and consultative meetings. Do you see how the awareness and conversion stages might not be the right time to offer these? I’d love to know your thoughts and experiences. Comment below 🙂

Photo by Freddy Castro on Unsplash

4 Common Employee Advocacy Challenges and Ways to Overcome Them

4 Common Employee Advocacy Challenges and Ways to Overcome Them

Overcoming employee advocacy challenges could determine the long-term success of your social media advocacy programme. Employee advocacy is a long-term process that aims to engage and influence employees within an organisation such that they acknowledge the need to advocate for their employers in an online setting. It is therefore, not transactional or an “event” so you cannot do it once and move on.


Hence, at the centre of every employee advocacy programme is the need to continuously communicate why employee advocacy matters, and to overcome the challenges that prevent long-term success.


Do the rewards outweigh employee advocacy challenges?

With the increase in employee advocacy in recent years, companies have encountered a host of challenges that could limit success.

Companies that adopt employee advocacy as part of their overall strategy reap many benefits. A Hinge Research Institute and Social Media Today survey reveals some of the benefits. Let’s start by enumerating some of the benefits to the company:

  • 79% of companies see an increase in brand visibility
  • 44.9% realise increased web traffic
  • 11% say that their sales cycle has shortened

And that’s not all. Employees of these companies report direct professional benefits because of taking part in employee advocacy programme:

  • 87.2% of employees expand their professional networks
  • 76% say that the programme helps them to keep up with industry trends
  • 47.2% have developed skills in high demand

With these benefits, it is no wonder that companies strive to overcome the barriers to success in employee advocacy. In this post, we identify the four common challenges in employee advocacy, and how companies might overcome them.

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We have no content to share

Generating content for employees to share is daunting for many companies. Part of the challenge might be about who will write, approve, curate and manage the content. A good content marketing strategy will support a lot of the effort that goes into developing engaging content. Have an owner for content management and a process for collecting and approving content. Remember that not all your content needs to be written by your company. Look out for other content by third parties and industry news feed that your customers will find relevant.

Our leaders are not active on social media

It is difficult to sustain an employee advocacy programme without the buy-in of your leaders. The ideal situation is that your CEO and senior executive are active on social media, and advocate alongside employees. But the reality is that this is not always the case – and it’s a challenge! Whether or not your leaders are active on social media, leaders should openly support and recognise the value of employee advocacy. Drive engagement through middle managers who can be role models, and are closer to the day-to-day operations. Middle managers are often more visible to employees.

Employees think being on social media is Marketing’s job

The Hinge and Social Media Today survey also reveals that 51.7% of employee advocacy programmes are owned by the Marketing department. While it is common for Marketing departments to own social media programmes, it is not the sole role of marketing. The benefits of social media transcend just marketing so it is important to help employees see why employee advocacy matters, while keeping participation completely voluntary. This is arguably the greatest challenge to companies. The most impactful incentive for motivating employees is the continuous communication of the importance of social media as reported by over 40% of companies.

Employees are worried that they will do the wrong thing

A social media policy and a set of guidelines is one of the first things a company needs to put in place before any employee advocacy programme. If your guidelines aren’t clear or they contradict what you are asking employees to do, you are unlikely to generate participate from your staff. Nobody wants to inadvertently do the wrong thing and risk disciplinary action or worse. Ensure that clear guidelines are easily accessible to employees looking for more information. Have a contact person that can answer any questions about the use of social media in an online business setting. This person should be visible, able to give or organise training at a basic and advanced level for all employees who intend to take part in employee advocacy.

Final words

You might look at the benefits of employee advocacy and think that there is probably just as much in it for the employees as there is for your company. That’s correct! Therefore, communicate why employee advocacy matters and equip your staff with training and guidelines. Ensure that everybody knows where to go to for resources and support. That way, common employee advocacy challenges will not hinder your success.

 Feature Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash
A version of this article was originally published on the Smarp blog on 13 June 2017.
What GE Oil & Gas did to supercharge employees on social media

What GE Oil & Gas did to supercharge employees on social media

GE Oil & Gas supercharges its social media presence

A few years ago, GE Oil & Gas, one of the world’s leading equipment and services’ providers in the oil and gas space, embarked on a series of online experiments. The oil equipment giant trained a cohort of 20-40 high potential leaders to engage online. Becky Edwards was Chief Communications Officer at GE Oil & Gas during this time. I spoke to Becky about GE’s approach to digital interactions. She explains:

The GE team asked this question early on: what would it be like to take this cohort and supercharge them digitally?”

Becky started at GE in 2010 as Global Employee Communications Leader. She describes the internal environment she joined as ‘socially-enabling-digitally’ and employee-driven. Existing internal GE systems allowed employees to comment and even retract offensive comments. She remembers that in 2010, the ability to request a retraction was a progressive capability at that time.

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GE Oil & Gas empowers high potential staff

By 2012, GE had put together a robust set of guidelines for external social media activities.  This set the scene for Becky and her team to develop a specific training programme for the high potential cohort. The programme focused on how they might use their influence in a digital world. As part of the training, Becky and her team prepared the cohort to showcase their digital know-how at the GE Oil & Gas Annual Meeting normally held in January/February of every year.


The team covered topics such as the importance of content marketinghow to create content for social media and where to publish the content once it is created. They also co-created content with the cohorts. The cohort, now digital ambassadors, applied their knowledge from the training on social channels such as Twitter. They could provide a glimpse of the annual meeting for those not present.

GE Oil & Gas enables more online conversations

Becky explains that having set guidelines isn’t enough. As a result of the experiment, Becky says the team realised they needed to visibly and deliberately give people permission. Contrary to the idea that only the most senior person in the team can have a voice, Becky says,

“We needed to tell employees that it’s OK to have a voice, own what you know and share it”

What would be a good outcome for GE Oil & Gas? Becky explains that social media is an enabler that allows the organisation to:

  • Do more commercial transactions that stem from digital interactions
  • Generate goodwill and positive mind share such that people looking for information can find positive information
  • Position GE Oil & Gas employees as thought leaders in their field
  • Draw potential and existing customers into a deeper conversation

Traditionally, technical experts share their knowledge through conferences for instance. At conferences, the conversation would be one to many people sitting inside a room somewhere. Becky says,

“Thanks to social media platforms, more people can now fit inside that room”


Check out other employee social media examples: Rackspace

Check out tips for starting a social media pilot: 20 tips

Photo credit: momoneymoproblemz, CC 3.0 license, 2014, General Electric Sign, Fort Wayne, Indiana
I interviewed Becky Edwards on September 2015. This is a modified version of a blog originally published on LinkedIn on December 15, 2015
How to Select the Right Employees for Social Media Advocacy

How to Select the Right Employees for Social Media Advocacy

Identify the right employee advocates to get the most out of your social media advocacy programmes.

Social media advocacy has become a key mechanism in B2B marketing. Allowing employees to promote your brand, products and services could significantly shorten your sales cycle and improve employee engagement. It is also a relatively low-cost way to increase your brand reach.

However, engaging on social media isn’t for every employee. Participation must be optional, empowering employees who have a combination of skill, interest and credibility.

Social media advocacy, who will do it?

A good first step to selecting employee advocates is to develop a sound understanding of the appetite for social media participation within your organisation. One useful approach is to create a survey that asks employees key questions about their social media activity. The survey should find out some of the following things:

  • Social media platforms used
  • Frequency of use
  • Mode of engagement i.e. whether they create, engage or just skim content
  • Willingness to share content on behalf of your organisation

Keep the survey anonymous, identifying respondents by department/level, e.g. sales, customer service or team leader, manager etc. and by office location for instance. You can create your own questions or use existing ones.

Here are five ways to select employee advocates:

1. Credibility and influence

Employees who already have a strong presence on social media could be highly valuable to your social media advocacy programme. Such employees are probably well respected by their peers, and regularly engage online in a professional way. Moreover, they are likely to be not just content sharers but also content creators. This is a highly valuable characteristic as research has shown only 1% of social media users will fall into this category.

2. Involve senior leaders 

You might find that the best advocates are your senior leaders. Whether you are bringing a new product to market or reinforcing your brand values, senior leaders as employee advocates could provide real impact online. Their participation also motivates employees, giving them role models that walk-the-talk. However, be mindful that getting senior leaders to actively engage online requires active support in areas such as time management.

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3. Some functions have more appetite

When it comes to social media advocacy, you can assume that employees in marketing, sales and customer support services will have more of an interest in getting involved. Therefore, engage these departments as advocates, at least to get the programme started. Depending on your industry, employee advocates in technical functions might be extremely valuable to engage. But don’t worry if technical employees e.g. engineers aren’t keen. There are several ways employees can get involved in social media e.g. “listening” in on online customer conversations and finding solutions to their challenges.

4. Engage where your customers are

Sometimes, it will come down to location. If your business strategy is to increase market penetration in a specific region, it might make sense to get mass social media participation in that region. The web is global, but there is value in a customer knowing that they can contact an employee who has shared some useful information about a product – knowing that the employee is local, and more likely to be able to meet them in person to discuss their needs. This might be just what a customer needs to make a final decision on a purchase.

5. Train existing social media users

Employee advocates should be social media users. Trying to convince employees to get on social media, solely for the purpose of becoming advocates doesn’t work. But not any social media user will do. Ensure that the employees have appropriate guidelines and training for how you want them to conduct themselves on social media. Also, consider focusing on one platform at a time e.g. LinkedIn or Twitter, providing not just education around social media policies but education on the idiosyncrasies of each platform.

Final words

You don’t need an army of a 100 employees to begin your social media advocacy programme. Ultimately, you should start with a few early adopters – then grow!


This blog was written by Yekemi Otaru and originally published on the Smarp blog con 28th March 2017

10 cost-effective marketing tips for small businesses

10 cost-effective marketing tips for small businesses

Marketing is often on the bottom of the list for  small businesses, and I understand that. The priority is usually to get business as quickly as possible, yet things like building a website tend to be nice-to-haves in some cases. I run a marketing consultancy but I haven’t been immune to the reluctance to spend on “marketing stuff”. In this article, I will highlight 10 essential yet cost-effective marketing tips for even the smallest budgets. These tips will help you build a foundation for your business. Many will cost you nothing, but they will make a significant impact in growing your business long term.

cost-effective marketing tips for small business by yo marketing

Cost-effective marketing tips for small businesses

1. Email Marketing

If you have a contact list of potential customers, email marketing could be a good way of letting them know about your business. You could start with a small list of people that know you and would not mind getting your email. For this, you don’t need an email marketing service. You could just use your email provider. Remember to keep your contacts’ emails in Bcc so that you don’t share their email addresses with your entire list. As your list grows, consider email providers like MailChimp, Mad Mimi and MailerLite. These all have free plans. The paid plans cost as little as £7 a month if you grow to a list of over 1,000 subscribers. If you get to that point, well done!

2. Business cards

Giving out your business card is a simple way of telling people what you do and how they can reach you. Thanks to companies like Vistaprint, you can get 500 business cards for £15. Other options are Fiverr, an online marketplace for your digital needs. Someone can design your card for as little as £3, and then you could print it elsewhere. I don’t recommend going too ‘cheap and cheerful’ with your business cards but don’t spend too much on it either. I changed my mind about my tag line a couple of times and that meant new business cards. Luckily, they didn’t cost much so I was able to make new cards to reflect my business’ value. Remember that as you evolve, your business will too. Make provisions for the changes that you might make.

3. Networking events

Networking events could cost anything from nothing to hundreds of pounds. The trick is to find those events that are relevant to your industry. When attending a networking event, don’t be shy to give away your business card. But also don’t worry too much about how much business you will get at the event. It could hinder you from just having a good time. You could be pitching all night! I’ve started to see networking events as an opportunity to just be known, help people put face to name. If new clients come as a result, fantastic!

4. CRM systems

When you think about CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems, you might imagine a complex database that does things that as a small business, you are not ready for. However, CRM systems are essential to build your business. One of the first things I did was get Highrise, a simple CRM tool that allows me enter details of new contacts, potential and existing clients. Within Highrise, I can maintain details of all potential and existing client interactions, from first contact to conversion. Needless to say, Highrise is free for businesses with less than 250 contacts. It increases to roughly £15 a month for up to 5,000 contacts. Another CRM system for small business is HubSpot CRM. It’s free, but I haven’t tried. If you have, let me know what you think!

5. Website

Gone are the high costs of building a website. Tools like WordPress.org and Wix make it easy for novices to build a website. I built my first website a year ago, and it was my steepest learning curve yet! I plan to improve it with expert intervention soon, but as a small business owner, spending on a luxury website might not be an option. But you need a website. You also need to make it SEO-friendly so that potential clients find you for relevant services. These days, a decent website costs from £500 if you contracted a website designer. Try your hands on building one yourself but get feedback. One advantage I’ve found from building my own website is that I have access to the back admin and can always change elements of the site myself. This is invaluable for a business that is growing and evolving daily.

6. Blogging

Blogging is even easier than building a website. Without a full blown website, you could use platforms like Blogger and WordPress.com to start writing blogs about your industry, and your solution. You could invite guest bloggers, people who have complementary expertise or a unique view about a subject that your target audience might be interested in. Blogging is free, and a good way to be online and findable. Not blogging about your business is like being on mute in a customer meeting. Why are you there??

7. Social media

We all know it doesn’t cost anything to be on social media. But it might cost a little to be heard above the noise. Still, you could do a lot with £3 on Facebook. The key is to truly understand your target audience and where they hang out. If your clients are not on Twitter, you don’t need to be there. If your small business works with other businesses, a LinkedIn business page could be powerful. Spend time testing different social media channels and see what brings the most engagement. Also consider how much time you have to spend on these channels. For instance, LinkedIn and Facebook tend to require less time while Instagram and Twitter are about constant engagement i.e. 5-8 posts a day for real impact.

8. Google Analytics

Google Analytics is another free tool that every business website should have. It allows you see the sources of traffic to your website, and provides analytics on your website visitors. Google Analytics will show you how many visitors come from social media channels, and from organic searches via keywords. This was valuable for me as I contemplated which social media channel to invest in. For instance, LinkedIn brings over 40% of my social media traffic with Twitter as a close second. However, organic searches is by far the greatest source of traffic to my website. Therefore, I might decide to invest in Google Ads for specific keywords.

9. PR

PR used to be left to Public Relations experts. But with social media and fantastic new tools like PingGo, PR has been democratised. For £30 a month, you can write your own press release anytime you want! So if you win a new client, expand your business or launch a new product, use PR to tell your story. Identify relevant news outlets and start telling the world the good news.

10. Brochures

Not all businesses will benefit from brochures because so much of marketing has gone online. Yet, I believe this shift has made brochures a novelty, and it could be intriguing to receive a brochure from a small business. The less we expect something, the more positive impact it could have on your customers. You get their attention. A well-designed 8-page brochure that simply lays out your value proposition, key products and services, pricing and contact details is a good idea. You could leave it in cafes, doctor surgeries, office receptions etc. It will cost from £150 to get one designed. Assuming you provide all the copy and images, all you have to do is print it. Online printers like instantprint could print 100 copies of a 8-pp from as little as £45 depending on size and paper quality.


Next time you think about marketing for your business, know that it doesn’t need to cost the earth with these cost-effective marketing tips.

yo marketing thank you

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