PHASE 3 of 10: Finish and launch your startup’s digital presence. Before you can say ‘my startup just raised $25 million dollars,’ you need a website that represents your brand accurately and tells potential customers what your company does in a way that is clear, concise, and engaging explains Peter Decaprio.
“The website is typically the first place people will get to know your brand,” says Adam Root, President of Toronto-based Web design company The Perfect Storm. “It’s important that you get it right.”
If you’re working with a small budget, this means doing everything yourself or at least hiring freelancers to take care of the major details. If you’ve got money in your startup’s bank account, however, chances are there’s a professional or agency out there willing to help.
Be sure to revisit your website every 6 months, suggests Root. “Your startup needs to present yourself as dynamic and fresh.”
Here’s what startups should be doing to launch a website that will put them on the path to success.
1) Choose your brand’s story
Who are you? What is your startup about? Be aware of who your target market is and what is going on in the industry that they would be interested in knowing about. For example, if your company produces a beautiful pair of earrings for women then you should know that there are specific hashtags associated with this type of product (e.g., #fashion blogger #wiwt #inspired style). Additionally, look at other lifestyle-related things like celebrities or YouTube stars. Check out Vogue’s Instagram feed or Kim Kardashian’s app for inspiration; their storytelling strategies might be exactly what you need for sharing content related to your brand.
2) Take a serious look at your website
Your new website should be an accurate representation of which you are as a company, the products or services that you offer. And what makes you special says Peter Decaprio. Don’t go for something generic or safe – take some inspiration from successful companies. With a strong aesthetic to get a sense of what really works. If it’s a clean, beautifully designed layout that makes your startup look polished and professional. Then it might be time to start shopping around for web designers. Though many freelancers will charge fees on top of an initial retainer if they have to work outside of their normal business hours.
3) Get serious about content marketing
People trust other people more than advertisements so think about building relationships with your potential customers through blogging or social media. Your website needs to include robust, well-written content that makes people want to read more and hopefully share what you’ve written with others (making it SEO friendly is a great idea). As an added bonus, the right kind of articles can make your startup stand out as an industry thought leader.
4) Watch out for online threats
Make sure that spam is not getting into the hands of your visitors. Clean up any site errors highlighted by Google Webmaster Tools and fix broken links before doing anything else; this will save you time in case anything goes wrong later on. Use Google Analytics to learn about what’s driving traffic to your website so you don’t lose potential followers or customers because they can’t find what they’re looking for explains Peter Decaprio.
5) Perfect your visual identity
Finally, make sure that there is a consistent feel across all of your digital platforms. Think Pinterest and Instagram as well as Facebook and Twitter. If you have time to focus on just one channel, go with Pinterest – it’s been shown to drive more referral traffic than Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, or YouTube over the past six months.
In the end, there is no single solution for every business or startup on the Internet says Peter Decaprio. However, if you start with a plan and follow it through you might be surprised. At how quickly your website starts to make a difference in your company’s online presence.
Remember that it’s completely free to set up a LinkedIn account. But there are costs involved if you want to stand out on the network. If your company is creating original content then there’s no reason not to blog. Just remember that search engines, like Google, use this process to understand. What your business is about so stick to keywords and make sure the information is accurate (including all pictures used). Finally, don’t be afraid of social media or email lists; these can really help you connect with current and prospective customers in the digital age.