The use of digital marketing has been seen as one of the most effective tool start-ups can use to advertise products and services, push brand awareness and help in capturing and maintaining a position in the market.
Internet penetration has reached 50% at the start of 2020, and this has changed behaviours and influenced the decision-making of customers.
It could be of great benefit to start-ups if they incorporate the use of digital marketing in their day-to-day business advertising and develop comprehensive digital marketing strategies to boost their business performance.
Digital marketing is not only important for marketing exposure but it is very crucial to customers, as it offers them an opportunity to communicate directly with company officials and build strong relationships, which, in the process, improves customers’ trust in the business and the products or services it offers.
Therefore, digital marketing is considered to be extremely relevant in the survival and success of small and new ventures, as it offers diverse benefits to start-ups, such as reaching targeted customers at a cost effective and measurable way.
In addition, digital marketing can be done at a lower cost than traditional marketing.
It further allows start-ups to reach new clients and develop relationships at the fraction of the cost of traditional marketing.
Moreover, it is trackable, making it easy for startups to establish the effectiveness of campaigns.
If used well, all these social media benefits can add up to more sales and profit for start-ups.
In addition to the benefits digital marketing offers, I would like to turn the adage on its head, and say ‘every silver lining has a cloud’.
The main challenges associated with digital marketing cannot be overlooked, as they hamper its effectiveness.
However, if they are brought to light and discussed with best practices on solving them, it could assist start-ups in a long run.
These challenges include – but are not limited to – measuring the return on investment (ROI) of marketing activities, which can be addressed by using effective analytics measurement tools.
Generating traffic and leads has also been top of mind with marketers, as they are always faced with the challenge of developing high quality-content – the type of content people would pay for.
From the business perspective, to ensure that you are creating content that resonates better with your audiences, you will want to refer to analytics and use tools to properly track and use the content that performs best with your audiences when designing your marketing messages or information.
In addition, a lack of internet trust is observed; security and privacy as well as high competition could also contribute to the challenge of using digital marketing.
However, in light of the pros and cons highlighted above, it is worth noting that the benefits of the use of digital marketing by start-ups still outweigh its challenges in a sense that digital marketing liberally allows start-ups to understand their businesses, target appropriate customers and in the process influence their purchasing decisions, which results in increased profits for them.
There are different forms of digital marketing strategies/tools that start-ups can employ to effectively market their products and services.
These strategies include the use of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Pay-Per-Click (PPC), which increases the search engine traffic to business pages.
Social media marketing strategy basically involves everything a business does on social media channels.
However, for this strategy to be effective, efforts must be coordinated and consistent, rather than an afterthought.
Content marketing can also be used by start-ups in a form of storytelling and information-sharing to increase brand awareness.
When used effectively, e-mail marketing reaches an audience of regular customers, potential buyers and allows businesses to regularly update clients on new products and promotions.
In addition, mobile marketing can be used to reach out to customers through their smart-phones, tablets and other devices, this strategy mostly benefits business that offers services over products and finally affiliate marketing, also known as influencer marketing, has become popular among many organisations.
With this strategy, industry experts and social media influencers can be used to promote products and services for compensation.
These social media strategies offer an opportunity to startups to greatly put their products and services out in the market and reach the targeted audiences.
Furthermore, start-ups must invest in developing a good digital marketing strategy, highlighting the goals, objectives and plans on how social media could be used to achieve them.
Another strategy start-ups could capitalise on is the development of a business website.
This helps in creating brand awareness and showcase the brand to prospective customers.
Moreover, the importance of social media networking cannot be overlooked in effective building and managing of network relationships between key stakeholders.
LinkedIn is one of the professional networking site startups can use to connect on a professional level and find professional information that can be used to benefit their business.
Overall, there are approximately more than 2000 social media platforms, ranging from 200 followers to billions of followers for each site; there is more potential market in future; hence, it is going to prove that social media marketing could place in high ranking of marketing platforms for any business, especially for startup companies to move in the fast-paced competitive world.
It is based on these that for startups to flourish, they need to incorporate the use of digital marketing in their day-to-day advertising.
* Albertina Kashuupulwa is a PhD candidate and a communication and digital marketing professional. She writes in her personal capacity.