Startups are unique in that they need to survive in a tough environment, where they must constantly learn from failed business ideas. It is a well-known fact that startup employees function more like families than like co-workers because this is really the only way forward.

Because the startup boom has been going for a while (and is certain to continue expanding as people move away from more unfulfilling work and even dangerous jobs), the culture has actually begun to transform trends in traditional businesses, as well as innovative ones, such as solar panel maintenance. However, what traditional businesses have but startups don’t, is a huge maneuvering space. Startups must take bold risks and weather all difficulties in order to survive.

Because of that, startups need to employ both traditional and innovative methodologies in order to strive, with marketing playing a huge role in the process. That's why they are filled with freelancers, digital nomads looking for tax breaks and entrepreneurs ready to look for a change.

Unfortunately, research shows that 80% of entrepreneurs have no idea how to measure the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns, meaning they are missing out massively. With so many options available, marketing efforts do not necessarily have to cost an arm and a leg, although some amount of money should certainly be allocated for this purpose.

Let’s take a look at a couple of effective, low-cost marketing types every startup can use to its benefit.

1. Email Marketing and Social Media Marketing

It would seem that no topic about marketing can overlook this important segment, and not without a good reason. Email marketing is inexpensive and can be highly successful if done properly.

“Properly” covers a number of factors, starting with lots of research. In order for an email marketing campaign to be successful, it needs to be targeted and personalized, meaning that the first step is defining a target audience, such as those interested in business topics or home decor. Next, there is the mailing list to consider. While many businesses use questionable methods to obtain people’s emails, this strategy is rarely successful. In most cases, it creates the opposite effect, resulting in recipients blocking all incoming emails. Some acceptable strategies for building a mailing list include subscriptions, paid surveys, various incentives and direct feedback.

The actual email marketing strategy and quality content come after that. Lastly, the crucial skill — writing stellar subject lines — needs to be mastered.

Nowadays, email marketing automation is common practice, so there are only a couple of things to keep in mind, notably the time zones of your customers and the frequency of your emails.

As for social media marketing, it’s not that difficult to understand why it is important. On top of boosting your brand’s visibility, social media posts also attract more followers and are easily shareable.

In fact, cross-promotions of any kind (especially these two strategies combined) can make dramatic changes in your overall marketing effort success. If your audience consists of younger people, chances are, they are likely to follow your brand on social media platforms.

2. Content Marketing and SEO

Just like email marketing, content marketing has become a standard. The reasons are not so difficult to ascertain, seeing as people “hang out” online nearly during all their waking hours. There’s a twist to that, too. Not only does content need to be attractive, but the design also needs to be responsive. Namely, the majority of interactions take place on mobile devices, and the trend is on the rise.

Content marketing is either cheap or free, but it takes lots of time, and continually at that. Blogging is usually one of the first steps, but in order to increase web traffic, content needs to be published on a regular basis.

Of late, visual content has been gaining popularity. Infographics, videos and podcasts are extremely popular. On top of that, they help the page rank better, increasing your brand’s visibility in turn.

Closely linked to the matter of content is search engine optimization (SEO). Namely, it is an unspoken rule that every business that hopes to achieve long-term success (meaning — all of them) needs to rank on the first page of Google’s search results.

Because Google ads are expensive, SEO should be taken seriously and be integral to the content you publish. Don’t think about it only in terms of text; SEO-optimized images can easily boost your brand’s ranking, too.

Finally, if you’re new to the game, use one of the numerous tools to help you discover the best keywords unique to your brand. General keywords won’t help you much, so do your homework and be persistent in finding the best keywords. For example, when setting up SEO for your SaaS, there are numerous tactics that really only apply well for an SaaS. So, get that research in!

3. Referrals

Good old referrals are still going strong. It seems that people trust personal recommendations more than any paid ad.

Given that referrals are cheap (and can be totally free, depending on your strategy), this type or marketing should not be overlooked.

There are various ways to go about referrals. Many small businesses offer rewards to customers recommending them. These incentives do not necessarily have to be of monetary nature. Depending on the range of products/services you provide, you may choose to offer discounts, special gifts on the next purchase, and so on for pricing your services in this way.

Some businesses have different ideas. One of our favorite examples is restaurant management software Upserve, which donates $200 to The Clean Water Fund for each referral.

Options are limitless, so use a strategy that will appeal to your customers.

4. Press Releases and Newsletters

Press releases may sound archaic, but they are actually quite effective and also inexpensive.

How come?

People actually like reading the news (even those who don’t can’t beat the habit).

Of course, this means that the internet has unearthed its own equivalent. Newsletters are a popular way to advertise what’s to come in the following period and also to announce special offers. For example, if you're reducing manufacturing overhead, that something your business partners would want to know, so feel free to shout it out!

While there is no general consensus in terms of the frequency, the best practices show that newsletters should be sent either weekly, bi-monthly, or monthly, depending on your forthcoming offer.

5. Networking

People love to socialize (most people, anyway). Networking is one great way to not only promote your brand, but it will also help you get connections and hear useful tips.

Networking events are varied, so you can easily select the ones you are most likely to profit from on a regular basis.

If you’re thinking in terms of the ongoing pandemic, don’t be alarmed. Networking is still going strong, with the only difference being that gatherings are being staged online. In fact, many networking events are focused on helping you grow your business, incorporating mLearning, brainstorming and more.


As you can see, communication remains the key factor in marketing. No matter the way you choose to reach out, you are certain to be heard. The main goal of your marketing efforts should, therefore, be to reach wider audiences and keep communication alive.

Excerpts appear on Busines 2 Community

Author's Bio: 

Angela Ash is an expert content writer, editor and marketer, and she works with Flow SEO, founded by well-known SEO specialist, Viola Eva. She writes on a multitude of topics, but places a special importance on content marketing, SEO, productivity, remote teams and business applications.