Strategies to Consider For Your New Online Start-Up

Starting a new startup business during COVID-19 has its share of challenges. If you manage to identify a need and finance the launch of your company in this tumultuous time, a new set of challenges awaits: bringing in new customers. Shifting consumer behavior means that you’ll want to look closely at your online presence and digital marketing opportunities as you launch, allowing you to gain traction in the current market, but also positioning yourself for post-pandemic success.

Building an Online Presence
Leaning into a digital presence during COVID-19 will help insulate your business from the closures that many brick-and-mortar companies faced during the pandemic, and may face again in future outbreaks.

There are a few steps that you can take to build a strong online footprint, whether you are a company that operates completely online or one that has a physical presence.

Ensure That Your Online Brand Is Strong
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, e-commerce increased more than 30% between Q1 and Q2 of 2020.1 This means that for many shoppers, their first stop is online, whether doing research or making a purchase. Invest in your website, social media, and Google My Business profiles to ensure they are updated and instill confidence in your brand.

Generate Reviews
Social proof is an essential element of any successful business, and with the shift to digital during the pandemic, reviews of your product or service are increasingly important as people are less likely to be able to experience it or meet with you or your team in person. Reviews from trusted sources are a great way to provide the social proof that will help you grow your business

Provide Digital Booking, Reservations, and Purchasing Options
As shopping increasingly moves online, it’s natural that people will want to buy, book appointments, or reserve online as well. To meet consumers where they are during COVID-19, consider how much of the sales process you can provide digitally to reduce the amount of time people need to spend in your store.

Marketing Your Startup
Effective marketing is crucial during any company launch—and during COVID-19, you may need to deviate from the traditional playbook. A marketing strategy including search engine marketing, social media, email marketing, and public relations tailored to your target audience can help you bring brand awareness to your startup.

Deciding on Marketing Spend
Allocating a marketing budget can be a tricky endeavor, particularly for a pre-revenue startup. The Small Business Administration recommends spending 2%-3% of your revenue for run rate marketing and up to 5% for startup marketing—but notes that the budget really depends on your industry, business size, and growth stage.

Early stage businesses often spend up to 20% of sales on marketing. The SBA recommends that small businesses with revenues of less than $5 million should spend 7%-8% of revenues on marketing, including brand development costs, such as your website or other promotional materials, and promotional costs such as advertising or marketing campaigns.


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