Being based in Silicon Valley, I often see budget-strapped startups desperately looking for a way to ramp up their digital marketing efforts before they bring their products to market. For a new product or service to have any chance of success in this extremely competitive consumer world, the marketing team must be ready to roll the moment a product goes out the door. So while the product people do their thing, it’s important that marketing is busy building campaigns and strategies to jump-start awareness across the array of mandatory channels: email, social media, mobile, blogs, and the website.
Hitting all these marks precisely and punctually requires marketing tools that can disseminate a message across channels and start real conversations in real-time. Engagement marketing tools do just that: they allow a company to automate its marketing message across platforms while creating a personalized experience for each potential customer in the queue. When it comes to marketing to a vast audience across channels, automated tools are priceless… but they don’t have to be expensive.
I encourage startups to invest in marketing automation before they get big. Here are a few reasons why:
1. Create “Don’t Look Behind the Curtain” Marketing Magic
Engagement marketing tools can turn a one- or two-person marketing team into a full service marketing operation that can handle every channel at once and produce great content. Instead of spending time hand-crafting email newsletters, picking through recipient lists manually, and copying and pasting messages from email to Facebook to Twitter to Instagram to Pinterest, marketers can automate campaigns from within one platform. This lets them reach out to prospective customers at the right time, in the right place, with a consistent, ubiquitous message that helps a startup brand-build more effectively and efficiently.
2. Gain the Freedom to be Clever
With marketings’ hands freed from the heavy lifting of continually crafting new emails and building out the technical side of splash pages and social media campaigns, marketers are able to concentrate on the fun stuff: creative campaigns designed to showcase your brand’s unique personality.
One of my favorite examples of this is the food delivery app Eat24 (now Yelp!), which connects hungry customers with delicious takeout all across the world. When I’m feeling equal parts hungry and lazy, which is often, Eat24’s service is great. But it’s the brand’s marketing that I really appreciate. Every week, I get an inventive email from Eat24 that always grabs my attention—even if I’m not hungry.
I’d like to think the creative minds at Eat24 have the bandwidth to infuse their marketing messaging with creative oomph precisely because they’re not burning all their brain cells trying to figure out how to send a marketing email. After all, original, inventive content marketing transcends your product and helps build your brand from the start—the first step to customer loyalty.
3. Benefit From a Fatter Piggybank
Whether you’re running on fat VC money or bootstrapping it in a co-working space, chances are you don’t have a huge marketing budget. Because automating your marketing turns one or two marketers into a virtual team, with the ability to produce more content, richer campaigns, and easier testing, you get vastly more return on your investment when you implement marketing automation.
And speaking of ROI, the sophisticated tracking and reporting features inherent in marketing automation software make it much easier to prove the marketing team’s worth to company leaders and your board.
My advice for startups is to invest in marketing automation early and make it a part of your company’s DNA right from the start. Do you have advice? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.