Launching a startup is a risky endeavor. A widely acknowledged statistic states that nearly 50 percent of startups fail in the first four years. In order to beat the odds and develop a solid plan for growth, many turn to content marketing as the backbone of their strategy.
Demand Metric reported that content marketing costs 62 percent less than traditional forms of marketing, but it generates three times the leads. Despite this, nearly half of those surveyed didn’t have a formalized strategy for their content. Among all the possibilities for inbound marketing, leveraging content has proven to have widespread, effective benefits for the lean entrepreneur in particular.
The tone taken in the early stages of a startup’s strategy can set the stage for their brand story in the future, propelling them into success as household names. Let’s take a look at a pair of successful startups that have strong content marketing roots.
A breakout star in the crowded beauty industry, Glossier has been able to differentiate themselves from competitors with crystal-clear brand messaging. Founder Emily Weiss began with a beauty blog, Into The Gloss in 2010, quickly gaining a following for her succinct, relatable skincare and makeup content.
Using her fan base and market research, Weiss was able to tease the release of her new line of beauty products amidst a pre-existing pool of relevant consumers. By the time Glossier officially launched in 2014, the brand’s Instagram account had over 15,000 followers, most of whom didn’t even know what it was. That loyalty, homegrown through a solid content strategy, tells the power of storytelling in the consumer experience.
Culinary subscription boxes have exploded in popularity in recent years. One of the top names is Blue Apron, a company that began as a scrappy startup and grew by nearly 500 percent in 2015. They attribute the bulk of their success to their content marketing strategy.
The company needed to create immersive, educational cooking content in order to get consumers to understand their product offering even before ordering. Through compelling articles and videos surrounding the history of specific recipes, cooking traditions, and techniques, they have been able to grow their Facebook audience to 2 million followers to date, and remain competitive through the launch of similar subscription-based services looking to emulate their success. Their educational content went one step beyond just gaining fans. It enabled them to position Blue Apron as a go-to resource for anything having to do with cooking, making them a credible expert in online searches.
What can startups learn from companies like Blue Apron and Glossier about the power of a thoughtful content plan?
As a startup grows, its strategy needs to change to reflect that. A forward-looking plan enables marketers to set measurable objectives and map those against metrics like conversion rate as well as qualitative aspects like the customer persona and user experience. Understanding the cycle of customer retention and renewal helps ideate content that provides value to a consumer along their entire journey through the sales funnel.
It builds brand loyalty
As mentioned above, content has the power to affect the level of authority a consumer gives your brand. Brand trust is critical for companies in their infancy. With companies that blog frequently generating as many as four times the amount of leads, the adage “blog early, blog often” holds true. If you’re trying to sell a product, establishing yourself as an expert in that niche can directly influence those leads.
It yields long-term results
Nearly 34 percent of startups credited content marketing with being the main driver of growth in a WPCurve survey. The reality is that brands that are able to understand their niche and create compelling content are more likely to succeed than those who don’t. Taking it a step further, those who are able to successfully impart their brand through social, blog and video content early on have already laid the foundation for themselves to achieve category ownership in the future.
Izea’s 2017 State of the Creator Economy report discovered that marketers often assume content marketing costs up to five times what it actually costs. This is good news for the lean entrepreneur, who needs to focus on a marketing strategy that is both cost-effective and ROI-positive. Focusing on impactful visual content, search engine optimization, and actionable articles created in-house, can save a startup money they need to funnel into critical operational costs.
If a startup is able to capitalize on current trends and employ a consumer-savvy content marketing plan, they may be able to avoid the strategic pitfalls of the other 50 percent. The key is to be both retrospective and anticipatory, creating content that is reflective of a brand’s journey, and providing a roadmap for its future.