3 Critical Online Marketing Mistakes that Startups Make

There are a TON of helpful articles out there that warn startup companies of common online marketing mistakes and how to avoid them. As a startup company ourselves, we appreciate how difficult it can be to keep on top of all the important elements that go into building a successful business. This is especially true for smaller, self-funded outfits that often lack the time, money, and/or resources of larger, VC-backed startups.

As the saying goes, however, anything worth doing is worth doing right. If you’re going to pour blood, sweat, tears, and money into your startup, how you market yourself online should play a key part in your overall strategy. Still, time and again, we see startups making the same mistakes when it comes to building an online presence and promoting their products and services.

Below are 3 of the more critical online marketing mistakes that I see startups consistently making. Simply taking precautions to address and avoid these 3 mistakes in particular will help position new businesses for success online.

1. Not Including Online Marketing as Part of the Plan

Ask an entrepreneur to elaborate on their startup business plan, and they will happily walk you through their roadmap to success, step by step. Charts, graphs, SWOT analysis, prototypes, financial predications – everything has been painstakingly planned out and evaluated so that each stage of the startup cycle is accounted for. Unsurprisingly, the bulk of the planning is dedicated to the development and launch of the product or service being offered.

What we find, however, is that a surprising number of startups fail to properly plan for the stages after their product or service is ready to launch – specifically how it will be marketed to consumers online. Simply offering the product or service online does not constitute a “marketing plan.” Startups need to develop full-scale online marketing strategies that include social media, PR initiatives, content creation and promotion, paid advertising, UI/UX optimization, conversion rate optimization, and more. Within each of these online marketing channels, additional planning is necessary in order to create a cohesive message and build up brand awareness for startups. Is it more work to develop a detailed online marketing plan? Of course. Is it worth it? OF COURSE!

Don’t Listen to Dwight!

2. Allowing the Wrong People to Lead the Conversation

Would you want a medical intern performing surgery on you? Or how about a legal intern handling your case in court? No, you wouldn’t. Still, this is exactly how many startups assign the responsibility of online marketing for their new company – to an intern. Or maybe to a web developer. Or graphic designer. Surely anyone who does stuff with computers all day should be able to lead an online marketing campaign, right?

Now, this isn’t a bash on interns, or web developers, or graphic designers. But they are rarely online marketing experts. As the owner of a new, fragile startup business, are you going to allow a non-expert to be the online voice of your company and lead the conversation with millions of potential customers? Sadly, the answer is “yes” for a lot of startups.

3. Failing to Invest Properly in Online Marketing

When I see startups failing to invest properly in their online marketing strategy, it’s not always just a lack of time or money. It also has to do with how and where they are investing their resources online. For instance, a lot of startups invest thousands of dollars into creating a flashy, sexy new website, but fail when it comes thinking about how users will actually interact with it. Will visitors actually watch that video on your homepage? How will that image slider look when viewed on a mobile device? Putting usability first is always the best option.

Another resource-related marketing mistake happens when startups focus on only one or two online channels. Social media is great, but does that mean you should scrap email marketing? You’re creating killer content, but are you marketing it properly so that people actually see it? While you shouldn’t spread yourself too thin, it’s important to develop an integrated approach to online marketing to ensure that you are reaching potential customers across multiple channels.


Are there any other critical online marketing mistakes that startup companies regularly make? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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3 thoughts on “3 Critical Online Marketing Mistakes that Startups Make”

  1. I often look for good marketing content to share on Linkedin. I think one marketing mistake made is NOT including a LinkedIn share link. This post is an example of this. I want to share it but can’t so I move on to another post elsewhere.

    • Hi Jennifer,

      Thanks for the comment! We are working on integrating a LinkedIn share button to go along with our share buttons for Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.

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