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5 Essential Inbound Marketing Tools for Startups and Entrepreneurs

marketing tools

Startups and entrepreneurs have a unique challenge they need to face to effectively promote their solutions in a digital environment. The days of creating amazing content, paying for advertisement, and then leaning back on your chair to get great results are essentially over. Here are five essential inbound marketing tools for startups and entrepreneurs.

Today—and particularly in the pandemic context—you need to put a little more work to build a relationship with your audience.

Rarely will you turn cold leads into happy customers if you don’t address their concerns and questions throughout their buying process.

But how to get started? Let us help you with that!

In the guide (below), we’ve compiled five key marketing tools you can’t miss adding to your social media and video marketing strategy. By using vids, not only will you create excellent content to display in your pages and networks— but you will also attract new and returning customers.

Display Your Competence with Downloadable Written Material

Whether your business consists of marketing solutions to gardening tools or grilling equipment, you can deliver great value to your prospects by giving them long-form written content.

This is a staple that many brands use today to showcase their expertise on a particular subject. There are countless options you can go for, including:

  • Compilations of your best blog posts or essays that dive deep into important topics.
  • ‘Ultimate guides’ and workbooks to help those interested in developing a particular skill.
  • Manuals to show your prospects how to best take advantage of your product.

The benefit of the free written material is that visitors must subscribe to your email list to get it. Rather, if your content is great and easy to consume, prospects will likely see you as a reliable provider and consider your services when comparing your brand to other options.

To succeed with eBooks, you don’t have to offer something completely revolutionary, try to create content that sets you apart from the rest. For example, there are many writing guides out there; but perhaps not many offer specific advice on crafting an effective hook.

Bonus tip: You can repurpose the eBook’s long-form content to produce shorter blog posts, infographics, newsletters, or videos—anything that helps you keep your content up to date. Just be sure to give them a different perspective or expand even further on the eBook’s ideas.

Convey Your Ideas with Powerful Animation

As with eBooks, the purpose of creating videos for your brand is not to shamelessly advertise your services, but to present yourself as a useful and knowledgeable provider.

Adding videos to your marketing toolkit is a very versatile solution. Your vid will provide insights, tips, and tricks on topics related to your brand. There are many types of videos you can produce to follow prospects during every stage of their buying journey.

An animated video production comes particularly in handy for framing a problem. Then you show how your solution can ease the viewers’ lives. With the use of colorful visuals, sympathetic characters, and an engaging story, you can help your prospects better understand their needs and identify their pain points—all while watching a fun video!

Having this content on your landing pages and social media accounts will help you differentiate your ideas and solutions to those of other brands.

Bonus tip: Audiences love interacting with videos. When you create them, be sure to upload them everywhere, and don’t be afraid to repurpose your vids as shorts, for marketing and fun.

Enjoyable, informative videos tailored to a social media platform are great material to generate interactions and shares.

Create Amazing Sweepstakes and Contests to Entice Your Prospects

The chance of winning an awesome prize gives your prospects a unique incentive to engage with your brand. Now, with services like Rafflecopter and ShortStack, launching sweepstakes and contests events via email, social media is easier than ever.

One question you may have, though, is whether this is an effective strategy. After all, isn’t marketing more about gaining than giving away?

The answer is that sweepstakes and contests can be useful not only for generating buzz about your brand but for research purposes. You can collect valuable information from participants, which you can later use for developing a targeted content marketing strategy. Some essential entry options include:

  • The participant’s name.
  • Email address.
  • Phone number.
  • Address and zip code.

Now the trick to creating killer sweepstakes and contests that attract valuable leads is the prize. You will surely gain lots of entries with a MacBook or Super Bowl tickets, but hardly any of them will become potential customers.

Instead, you need to offer something more relevant to your audience. One good idea is to give away a product that complements yours. For example, if you specialize in selling drinks, a set of custom glasses would create a great response.

Bonus tip: As you start in the business, consider partnering up with other people to provide the prize for you. There are many brands out there who are eager to promote their products via other users.

Entice Visitor with Optimized Landing Pages

A landing page is a great place to showcase your content and explain your ideas in full detail. In general, landing pages should be very informative and direct to communicate what your product or service is about.

When you design one, focus on clear goals: tell visitors what your value proposition can do for them and what steps they can take to learn more. In practice, that means having your most important content front-loaded.

Prioritize clean, minimalist designs that draw attention to your product and CTA. For example, if you’ve produced videos and images related to your product, they should be in the center of the page and not have intrusive elements that distract visitors.

Bonus tip: It’s critical to define the right spot to place your forms: that’s where visitors interested in learning more will subscribe to your list and/or download your content.

Visitors shouldn’t have to scroll down to the bottom of the page to find the form. Place the form in the upper right corner. Pay attention to your metrics and data to gauge response and interaction with the content positioning as well.

Launch Social Media Promotions and Offers

Having a solid social media presence is an essential component for any startup or entrepreneur’s success that aims to build a strong relationship and trust with their prospects.

You can use social media to give your followers preferential treatment by keeping them up with your news and big announcements. But you can also provide value with special promotions and offers, such as discounts, coupons, and promo codes.

Some of you may feel that social media promos are no more than an inconvenience every startup goes through to reap benefits in a very distant future eventually. I get it, and that’s true for many people—unless you learn how to strategically launch your promos.

To run successful social media promotions and offers, you first need to define your goals.

Although promos are very effective for attracting new clients, you can also use recurrent promo cycles to target your existing customers and encourage retention.

The key is not to launch promotions for their own sake, but to identify real marketing gaps and develop targeted promos and offers to address them.

Bonus tip: Often, we need real-time experience to assess whether we are using promos effectively. Fortunately, services like RevLifter and Rignite not only help you generate and share promos easily—they also give you comprehensive reports that let you track and analyze data. Or you could use live-streaming platforms as promotional venues and get instant feedback and metrics you can use to improve your future campaigns.

Time to Get Started

We’ve reviewed the purpose of the marketing tools to turn casual websites or social media visitors into eventual clients and committed promoters of your brand.

You really need to work on your social media platforms, since those are the places where users will most likely first hear about your brand. Give your followers an entertaining yet informative video and make them feel special by promoting your promos and giveaways in those platforms.

When users decide to pay you a visit to your website, be sure to have optimized landing pages and a value you can offer them for free, such as an eBook.

Together, these tools will allow you to successfully navigate your first experience with your online business.

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Why You Shouldn’t Use Statista to Make Business Decisions

business decisions

Every veteran entrepreneur knows that there’s a long journey from a business idea to its execution. Not even the brightest minds out there can ever predict all the potential roadblocks, the ever-changing market trends, and the hidden growth opportunities. However, the good news is that they don’t need to. Here is why you shouldn’t use Statista to make business decisions.

Develop the correct insights for your business

While we can debate the importance of gut feeling, the truth is that when it comes to business, having the right insights at your disposal is priceless. Let’s take a look at Starbucks, for example. The coffeehouse tycoon has taken an everyday beverage and turned it into an experience.

With tasty drinks, stylish interiors, and other attractive aspects like free wifi, it has built a buzzing community of over 24,000 stores.

But the company didn’t shoot in the dark: It managed to find out exactly what consumers wanted and how much they would be willing to pay for it. Would Starbucks be able to achieve such impressive growth by studying generic information on hospitality industry trends? Unlikely.

When you utilize advanced market research in your business strategy, you invariably outperform syndicated research platforms. Here’s why.

You need quality third-party insights

Businesses don’t exist in a vacuum.

While being data-driven has predominantly become a slogan that is pushed to sequestered sections of websites, the truth is that running a successful company requires having a long-term vision that enables leaders to make optimal decisions.

To power strategic business direction – whether that’s launching a new product or revamping a website – it’s key to generate strategic knowledge based on both internal business intelligence and actual market data.

The strategic knowledge should be provided by external sources – and there are various reasons for that.

Let’s say that a company like Unilever wants to conduct a study on the most preferred soap globally. Coming from an inherently subjective background, the company will struggle to secure a neutral perspective.

Not only will the results be distorted, but respondents might fail to give honest feedback, and there’s more pressure for further disbalances when presenting the results to the company’s structures.

Outsourcing research is key when looking to acquire market data as well.

If you were to call up a distributor of Procter and Gamble and Johnson & Johnson on behalf of Unilever to inquire about the data, it’s likely you wouldn’t get very far.

Independent market research can, on the other hand, work within the broader guidelines from ESOMAR – the world’s leading market research house.

These guidelines include an agreement that enables data collection in an integrated but anonymized manner, allowing market research agencies to display trends without giving out any sensitive information.

Market research agencies often have powerful capabilities at their disposal.

Anyone can pick up the phone and make a call, but the right agencies know how to judge who to call, who to avoid, how best to approach preferred leads, and how to carry out research in the most effective ways.

Agencies also have access to databases, expertise, and tools to carry out the analysis – something that many in-house teams lack.

However, one must be picky with external sources too. Syndicated market research is to insights as Wikipedia is to knowledge. It might be useful as a springboard to help you orient in a topic, but can’t really work to build strong foundations for an argument.

Even if the statistics are correct, there’s no actual validation of the data, meaning that it can’t be considered credible. The sources are not known, the names of the analysts aren’t disclosed, and there is no information about the methodology – which is fundamental to every research project.

From traditional market research to platforms

There is, in fact, an even more important reason why syndicated research just won’t do anymore.

Our data capabilities have developed immensely over the last 15 years, and with that, the demands too. Two decades ago, generalized sources would provide valuable information, but companies now are looking toward more targeted insights that are specific to their unique business needs.

The parameters that market research has covered in the past are now freely available on the internet – so there’s a need to dive much deeper into the real business problem.

Simply said, intelligence starts with business-specific studies.

While the traditional model has businesses paying tens of thousands of dollars for hundreds of statistics, it’s obvious that we are moving toward a more hybrid and dynamic market research landscape.

The new market research landscape is one that still provides high-quality insights but often with a focus on your specific niche.

Rather than comprehensive reports with thousands of samples, businesses can get similar results by running a Twitter analysis for only a fragment of the price.

In fact, technology has enabled new sources of knowledge, further diversifying market research to be even more accurate and integrated: Apart from social media analysis, we’re seeing increased use of sentiment analysis, video analysis, consumer engagement monitoring, and much more.

Analysts are no longer focused on one domain, they are ramping up their experience in diverse, platform-oriented research fields. Platforms are brimming with experts that can help answer tough business questions by running a specific analysis at prices starting at just a few tens of dollars.

Targeted insights – immediately

Back in the mid-2000s, it was common to spend up to 3 months waiting for an external research assignment – after all, you were probably going to get “something good�. Ten years later, the waiting time has reduced to a maximum of 20 days, but today, even that doesn’t suffice.

Thanks to platforms, expertise, and capable analysts, today, we can have insights at our fingertips in real-time.

The need for real-time insights has proven particularly important during the current COVID-19 crisis. In fact, 49% of companies are now using data analytics more than before the pandemic, and both the quality and the delivery of data plays a key role.

No one will wait for a survey to be carried out in 60 countries – industries are dynamics and market conditions change constantly. However, syndicated research sites might fall behind due to its inability to deliver in short time-frames.

Businesses are now looking to get answers to their unique questions.

Staying up to date with the latest developments isn’t just a differentiator anymore — it’s a vital aspect of business decision-making.

Whether looking to launch a product, find when things will go back to the pre-COVID level, or understand the real impact of the crisis, the answers can’t be found with internal data only.

A bad decision is going to cost you much more than the cost of a market research report.

Image Credit: Ketut Subiyanto; Pexels

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