9 Cost-Effective Ways to Use Content Marketing for Startups

Category

Marketing

Read Time

16 min

Published

21 March, 2023

Content marketing for startups is an essential way of getting your business noticed by customers and prospective partners.

Having a great idea is step 1, but getting the word out about it requires a robust, well-thought out strategy.

Investing in content marketing is the perfect way to get more eyes on your product/ service as it takes so many forms.

For example, you could create:

  • Blog posts
  • Podcasts
  • Newsletters
  • Social media
  • Videos
  • Infographics

..Just to name a few.

And the best thing about content marketing is that there’s options to suit a whole range of different budgets.

This is great news for any business, but especially for a startup as you might be watching the pennies a bit more.

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If you’ve just started out, you want to know how you can get your product/ service out there without spending a fortune upfront.

Thankfully that’s what this blog is all about as we’re going to give you 9 cost-effective ways to use content marketing for startups.

Not all of these ideas might suit you and your business, but this list will act as a great starting point.

It’s then up to you to choose which one is right for budget and will generate the most value.

So let’s get cracking!

1. Write blog posts

Having a blog is great for any business (startup or established).

To begin with, it’s easy to add a blog to your website and you can use this space to share your thoughts and industry insights.

Blogging brings so many advantages as by talking about topics that your audience cares about, it draws them further into your brand.

Use this space to hone in on important topics and show your audience that you understand their wants and needs.

For example let’s say you run a cybersecurity company (like our client TLR) and you provide businesses with robust cybersecurity solutions to protect their assets.

You could write blogs about password protection, phishing scams, and the importance of training your IT team.

All of these topics play on issues that your audience cares about and will give them the answers they’re looking for. These blogs also give you the perfect opportunity to promote your own offering and to position your company as the go-to solution.
For instance using the example of TLR…

  • Worried about password protection and hackers stealing your credentials? Get in touch with TLR
  • Need a more robust solution to prevent phishing scams? Get in touch with TLR
  • Have a poorly trained in-house IT team with gaps in their knowledge? Get in touch with TLR

As you can see, by talking about topics close to your audience it’s the perfect way to subtly promote your own services whilst also providing genuine help and support.

Now, for the big question on everyone’s lips – cost.

COST:

You can create a blog for free by using platforms such as WordPress but creating high-quality, targeted posts on a regular basis can take some expertise. If you have the budget, we would always recommend partnering with a content agency to manage this process for you.

2. Start Guest Posting

Guest posting is a fantastic way to get more eyes on your content whilst also improving your SEO.

As well as attracting more people to your site, there are a whole host of other benefits, inclduding:

infographic showing 5 benefits of guest posting

Essentially, this content marketing strategy involves submitting blog posts to other websites that fall within your niche.

So as an example, if you were a food brand you probably wouldn’t submit posts to a recruitment agency.

For guest posting to work there has to be a link, otherwise the strategy makes no sense.

The idea is by submitting your post to another website, you can link back to your website from theirs. This indicates to Google that you’re trustworthy as other people are recommending you.

Use the analogy of applying for a new job and getting references.

The idea is here that these references can vouch for you and can give your prospective employer confidence that you’re worth hiring.

The same concept applies to guest posting.

By having other websites link back to your website it’s signalling to Google that you’re trustworthy because these other sites already trust you.

However, the most important thing about this content marketing strategy is making sure you guest post on reputable websites.

You can check how reputable a website is by doing a quick check on a tool such as Ahrefs. This allows you to check various metrics including the domain rating (the strength of a website’s backlink profile) and the number of keywords it has.

COST:

Submitting a guest post is usually free as most websites offer an exchange, where you post on their website (and obtain a backlink) and they post on yours (to also obtain a backlink). It’s a mutually beneficial agreement as you’re both getting more exposure to new customers. However, writing good guest posts that other brands actually want to post, and finding reputable websites in your niche, can be time consuming. The best idea is to leave it to a creative agency who can make sure you get good backlinks from trustworthy sources.

3.SEO, SEO, and More SEO!

One of the most cost effective ways to improve your content marketing is to focus on SEO.

This means creating strategic content that is targetted towards your ideal customer instead of just guessing and creating content that you ‘think’ will work.

For example, using the case of a cyber security company, their audience might want more information on malware attacks and how to stop hackers, so the company would create content focussed on these topics.

Whilst the term SEO often intimidates people, there are hundreds of helpful online tools.

For example, Answer the Public is totally free of charge and allows you to see what questions people are searching for related to a certain topic.

All you need to do is plug in your niche, and the tool will generate hundreds of questions that people are looking for on Google.

You can then create content that answers these questions so that people will find your blog post in the search results.

Google Trends is another fantastic tool (which is also free), as it allows you to see what people are searching for, and how those searches change over time. You can also filter by season and location so all of the insights are relevant.

Aside from knowing what to write about, there are lots of other quick wins that can massively improve your SEO efforts, including:

  • Creating content on a regular basis
  • Linking internally and externally from your content
  • Adding images and visuals into your content
  • Making sure all images have alt text
  • Promoting your content on social media and your newsletter
  • Updating your content frequently

…And all of these things don’t cost a penny.

COST:

The great thing about SEO is that you can get started for free. All of the things we’ve listed above are great starting points to make sure your content is optimised for Google. Remember SEO is a long term game and can take 6 months to generate results so be patient and keep publishing quality content on a regular basis.

a stock image of a camera

4. Create Stunning Visual Content

As well as writing content, you should also be creating visual content to attract your audience.

Whether this involves creating impressive feature blog imagery or custom infographics which you can share via social media, visual content is key.

That’s because reading text is not everyone’s bag.

Some people prefer to learn through visuals which is why catering for both types of customers is important.

I’m not saying to cut down on your blog content, but make sure it is accompanied with good visuals to strike the right balance.

You might also find that visuals work better than text when you’re trying to explain more detailed concepts.

For instance, if you work in the medical industry and you’re trying to communicate information about medications with lots of numbers and statistics, then an infographic would be super useful and A LOT easier to read.

It allows people to learn the same level of information without reading lines of text.

Instead, let the images do the talking and use these assets across a variety of media including social media and your newsletter.

Now, you might think that creating high quality, professional visuals is expensive.

However, there are other options available for those on a tighter budget …

COST:

Adobe Photoshop is the tried and trusted tool used by professional graphic designers worldwide (including Canny), however, it comes at a cost and can require some experience before use. Canva on the other hand is a free content creation tool but has limited functionality and is quite basic.

5. Treat Social Media Like Your Best Friend

One of the best ways to use content marketing for startups is to start capitalising on the mighty force that is social media.

Perhaps you’re already using social media for your business but you’re not too keen on it?

Unfortunately for the majority of brands, having a social media presence is key as this gives you access to a huge pool of customers.

Not only that, but social media is FREE and it’s easy to set up a business account.

Once you’re up and running, you can use this platform to add more personality to your brand which makes it easier for customers to relate to you.

If they see you posting or tweeting about topics they care about, then they’re more likely to take notice.

They’ll feel as though you understand them which is very powerful when it comes to choosing a brand to invest in.

Social media also opens up two-way communication through comments and direct messages, which makes it easier for you to connect with customers in a more relaxed way.

Make sure you share your content through these channels too, as this drives more traffic towards your blog posts which you’ve spent so much time creating!

Creation is key, but so is distribution, so use these channels to your advantage.

Whilst getting set up on social media is free, planning and executing a social media strategy that attracts your target audience can be difficult.

You need to understand what type of content to publish, and when, to drum up maximum engagement.

COST:

You can set up your business social media for free, but creating a successful social media strategy might take a little help. One option is to partner with an agency who have prior experience in this area as they know what it takes to make this a success.

6. Focus On Industry Topics

When you’re just starting out, finding topics to talk about can be difficult.

Perhaps you’re still figuring out what type of content your audience resonates with, or maybe you’re still working out what types of content work best?

Well, one of the easiest ways to get started is to research popular industry topics.

These are the things that are happening right now in your industry that everyone is talking about.

As a result, writing about these things will show your audience that you know your stuff as you’re putting yourself in the conversation.

You’re clearly aware of what’s happening around you in the industry and you’re giving your take on it.

An example of this is the current cost of living crisis.

If you’re a mortgage broker who provides loans and insurance, then addressing these issues on your website is key.

For instance, you could write a blog on the top tips to saving money or how to keep your house warm in the winter.

This shows your audience that you’re aware of the issues they’re facing and you’re here to help.

Some industry topics you might already be aware of, whereas others might fall slightly under the radar.

There are lots of ways to find out about what’s happening around you such as signing up to industry newsletters or using a keyword tool to find out what topics are creating a buzz.

COST:

It all depends on how you start finding popular topics as signing up to newsletters is free. You can also learn a lot about your industry and get different ideas by speaking to people at networking events.

mail icon on iphone screen

7. Save Time and Use Email Automations

We’ve already written a blog about why email marketing is not dead so we’ll not repeat ourselves!

However this next point is not just about using email marketing, but using email automation software to make your job a whole lot easier.

As a startup, you’re already going to be rushed off your feet.

You’ll have a million and one things to think about, and sending out emails might be at the very bottom of your list.

After all, when you’ve got an important client meeting and products to perfect, email marketing is one of those things that can get pushed to the bottom of the pile.

However, email is a fantastic way to push even more of your content as you can link out to blogs or articles on your website to drive even more traffic.

On top of this you can also include links to your social media which helps boost your following on these channels.

But, we understand that manually sending out emails and nurturing customers can be very time consuming.

This is where email automation software comes into play as this allows you to create, schedule, and track multiple email campaigns with little input from your team.

Obviously they need to set them up and write the content but from that point, the software pushes out the emails at a set date and time.

You can also set up email sequences depending on certain triggers. For example on the Canny site, once someone downloads one of our templates they receive a bespoke email sequence which is tailored towards their needs.

This sequence is set up based on specific triggers so that the customer only receives content that is most beneficial to them.

For example if someone downloads the branding brief, they will receive testimonials, client case studies, and top tips centred around branding. On the other hand, if someone downloads the packaging brief, the information they receive will be tailored towards packaging projects.

COST:

Email automation software differs in price depending on which platform you use. There are lots of options to choose from including Active Campaign, Mailchimp, and Hubspot. For Active Campaign, pricing starts at just $9 per month, for Mailchimp it costs £10.74 a month, and Hubspot is £38 per month. There are also free versions of some email software so you won’t have to spend a penny.

8. Create Engaging Video Content

If you’re not creating video content then now is the time to start.

Lots of startups can be intimidated by video content as they might lack enough resources in-house.

However, thanks to technology, there are lots of online tools and pieces of software that can make creating your own video content so much easier.

This means you don’t need to be a video whizz to create high quality, professional video content in-house.

Regardless of your business, whether you work in the IT or FMCG sector, video content is a great way to attract your target audience.

Being able to see concepts in motion instead of reading static paragraphs of text is so much more enjoyable for the viewer.

That’s why so many businesses are already investing in video content so that they can capture a wider audience.

There’s also a whole plethora of ways to cut up and reuse video content so that you’re maximing its usability, and in turn, your content marketing budget.

For instance, using the example of a mortgage broker, if you record one 10 minute video all about the best ways to save money, you could slice this down to 10 1 minute videos which can be shared on your social media.

As a result, you’re getting more value out of this one piece of video content.

COST:

There are lots of tools online that can help you create professional looking videos in-house, including Premier Pro, WeVideo, and Biteable. It all depends on the level of functionality you require and how comfortable you are using the software. You could hire a freelancer who will have more expertise in this area.

9. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Case Studies and Testimonials

Never be afraid to ask clients for a testimonial or for information to build up a case study.

This is one of the most effective forms of content marketing for startups as the hard work has already been done.

If you’ve worked on a great project with a client and achieved great results, then now is the time to shout about it.

You need to let the world know what you and your team are capable of so that they want to get in touch.

This doesn’t have to be a lengthy process either.

When it comes to compiling a case study, it’s simply a case of wrapping up the project and presenting exactly what you did to help.

A good idea is to start with the problem the client faced and how your product/ service was the solution.

This allows prospective clients to understand your input, and ultimately how you helped to solve the problem.

Make sure you get the clients permission first as you don’t want to share anything they’re not comfortable with. After all, maintaining healthy client relationships is essential, especially when you’re a start up!

COST:

Obtaining client case studies and testimonials is totally free of charge as the hard work has already been done. This is one of the easiest ways to get your name out there and to show potential clients what you’re capable of.

person holding a magnifying glass over a keyboard

9 Cost-Effective Ways to Use Content Marketing for Startups

Content marketing for startups can often get put on the back burner.

When you’ve got other things to think about and clients to onboard, writing blogs and posting on social media might not be at the top of your list.

However without content marketing, you’ll not have any clients to onboard in the first place.

You need to get your brand out there and tell people about what you do and why. Having a great product/ service is fantastic but if no one knows about it, it’s pretty much obsolete.

And we get it, budget is important especially for a new business. But if you’ve been reluctant to focus on content marketing because you think it costs an arm and a leg then we’re here to change that.

By starting with some of the ideas we’ve listed above, you can engage your target audience, promote your offering, and increase your sales without forking out loads of money.

In the meantime if you need any help with your content marketing or simply don’t have the time to dedicate to it, then get in touch with Canny for an informal chat. We’ve worked with lots of clients to help them create content that attracts and retains a loyal audience. Getting started with content on your own is great, but sometimes you need that extra help hand!

Hi, I'm Amy, Content Strategist at Canny. In my day-to-day role, I'm responsible for creating content that gets you noticed and makes you stand out from the competition. Naturally, I love writing and creating engaging copy that brings your brand to life.

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