SEO And Digital Marketing For Bootstrapped Startups

seo digital marketing tactics bootstrapped startups online advertising strategies

Let’s face it: being a startup is harder. It's even harder during a global pandemic. 

In fact, it’s so tough that nine out of 10 startups fail. Many that survive don't even become profitable businesses.

A lot of this comes down to expenditure in the wrong places, as well as a lack of expenditure in marketing. If your name isn’t getting out there, no one knows what a great company you are in the first place. 

But digital marketing isn’t always cheap. That’s why we’re looking at how bootstrapped startups can get more bang for their buck when it comes to marketing their new business. 

If The Price Is Right 

It all begins with how you do your marketing. The main options to do this are through hiring an employee, outsourcing to a digital marketing agency, or contracting a freelancer or an employee leasing company. 

None of them are right or wrong. It all depends on your budget and what works for your new business. 

A study showed the average hourly rate for SEO freelancers is $68 an hour. Meanwhile, SEO agencies charge nearly double that at $134 an hour. 

Hiring in-house is significantly cheaper, with the average annual wage for an SEO expert at $39,442, or $16.94 an hour. However, then you have the obvious additional costs of having an extra in-house employee, like insurance. 

All of these options can put a significant dent in your budget, especially for startups without much of a budget in the first place. 

However, it's vital that you do put funds into having someone on the team that knows how to get people talking about your business. Once you’ve decided who will be doing your marketing, you need to figure out a digital marketing strategy. 

Digital Marketing For Startups 

One of the great things about digital marketing is that it’s so affordable. Compared to traditional marketing channels like television and print, it’s an absolute bargain. This is especially true when talking about organic digital marketing channels like content and SEO. 

A good digital marketing plan will know which channels to use to best reach their audience. 

So a good place to start is: who is your audience? Who is interested in your product? Why are they interested? 

If the answer to all of these is a deafening “I have no idea”, don’t worry. Look at your competitors and see who their audience is and where they’re advertising. Use your audience demographics analytics from your website. 

Though with this being said, ideally, it shouldn’t be as basic as demographics. For a great audience persona, you need audience psychographics. That is understanding their interests, hobbies, lifestyle, and more. 

The more you know about your audience, the better informed you are to strategize over which digital marketing channels may perform best for your business. The most popular digital marketing channels are: 

• PPC 
• SEO 
• Display advertising 
• Social media 
• Content marketing 
• Affiliate marketing 
• Email marketing 

You don’t have to use them all. You need to figure out which channels are the best investments for getting your product in front of your audience. It’s that simple. 

If you’re looking to get eyes on your website, the main channels that will perform for you are PPC, SEO, and content marketing. So we’ll dive into those a little more. 

SEO And Content Marketing 

One of the great things about SEO and content marketing is that the largest expense involved is the employee doing the work. You're using organic channels, so there are no advertising costs involved. 

SEO and content marketing are so closely interlinked that it’s almost impossible to do one without the other. But so many startups fail to have a great SEO and content strategy ready to go from the moment they’re out the gate. 

Your SEO and content strategy are the foundations of your website. And your website is your shop window for your audience. So their importance cannot be understated. 

SEO breaks down into three key aspects; technical, on-page, and off-page SEO. You need to be targeting all three for your website to perform well in search engine rankings. 

Technical SEO revolves around the health of your website. You should be auditing your site quarterly to find and resolve issues. This could include improving your site speed, using an SSL, and increasing mobile-friendliness. 

On-page SEO is everything on your site. This is where your content strategy comes in. You should have a list of targeted keywords you know your users are searching for that you want to rank for. 

Off-page SEO is everything happening off your site. This refers mostly to links to your site. It accounts for a huge portion of Google’s ranking algorithm. 

Your SEO strategy should therefore also include link-building opportunities. This means finding other sites that are relevant to yours and can link back to you. This could be other businesses, news websites reporting on your startup, or entrepreneurial bloggers. 

PPC And Display Advertising 

PPC refers to pay-per-click advertising. It’s a great way to get some quick traffic to your website while your SEO and content strategy do the legwork to establish your business in the long run. 

While there is a cost, it’s not always so high. Much of this will depend on the keywords you’re targeting. 

If your startup is selling a competitive product or service, the price is likely to be much higher, as many companies will be bidding on these keywords. If you’re selling something more niche or locally, the keywords will be cheaper to bid on. 

Display advertising is cheaper still. It’s also a great way to get your brand name out into the digital world and increase brand awareness with your customers. So by the time they do get to your website, they’re aware of your company and there is more trust built. 

Both of these are great options because unless you choose a cost-per-impression campaign, there’s no cost to you unless someone clicks on the ad. The risk is minimal and the return can be great for startups on a budget. So it’s well worth investing some of your marketing budget into paid digital advertising channels, whatever the platform. 

Strategy Is Key 

The most important thing to remember for startups is to strategize. Don’t think you can wing your digital marketing efforts or conquer everything all at once. Start simple, cover the basic channels, and build from there with your bootstrapped startup on a budget. 

For more helpful advice, we’ve got articles covering everything digital marketing and startups on our website. Visit the Digital Marketing and SEO section of the Bootstrap Business Blog to learn more about startup search engine optimization and content marketing.

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