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June 16, 2023

9 Content Marketing Tips for Startups

by
Lily

Lily is a Product and Content Marketer Passionfruit Specialist with extensive experience in all things startup marketing. She has since developed a wide array of marketing skills and specialisms, including lead generation, product roadmap planning, user research, and competitor analysis.

9 Content Marketing Tips for Startups
Table of contents

Think of a brand you love. Chances are, a big part of their appeal is the unique voice they’ve created for themselves through their content marketing strategy.

Content marketing is one of *the* most powerful ways a brand can differentiate themselves from their competition – and that’s especially true for startups. 

Establishing your startup as a subject matter expert with unique industry insights will help you build and maintain that all-important brand loyalty from customers and prospects.

But here’s the catch: getting it right takes some serious effort. And if you’re just starting out with your marketing strategy, it’s hard to know where to begin. Do you aim for volume? Engagement? Originality? 

In this post, we’re rounding up the best tips for honing your content marketing strategy and achieving killer results for your startup.

What is content marketing?

First things first: what do we actually mean when we talk about a content marketing strategy?

According to the experts at the Content Marketing Institute, the term refers to:

creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience – and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.

Rather than simply pitching your products or services as you might in a traditional marketing plan, content marketing is all about delivering useful information in a way that builds trust and loyalty.

Let’s say your startup is in the business of selling software to hotels. Rather than cold emailing and calling every General Manager in the country in the hope of getting a sale, a content marketing strategy would allow you to position yourself as a trusted expert in the hotel industry – and encourage prospects to come to you. 

You might achieve this by publishing blogs on topics like ‘how Google is changing hotel booking habits,’ or ‘how to attract more business travel to your hotel.’

With a bank of compelling, useful information on hand, your sales and marketing teams can engage potential customers at different stages of the buying journey.

Is content marketing for startups important?

Simple answer? Yes.

For the vast majority of startups, content marketing is a cost-effective way to attract new business and encourage customer loyalty. It’s estimated that content marketing generates three times as many leads as traditional outbound marketing – and costs 62% less.

According to HubSpot, 82% of businesses surveyed actively invest in content marketing. Of course, the quality of that marketing will vary widely – so it’s your job to make sure your startup stands out from the crowd.

Why is it important to have a content marketing strategy in place?

The best content marketing consists of more than the occasional blog or video. When deployed correctly, a content marketing strategy can become the bedrock of a successful marketing plan. 

Rather than having siloed email, search, and social campaigns, a well-planned content marketing calendar provides you with multipurpose assets that can be packaged up in different ways across your channels. 

And of course, regularly updating your site with high-quality content is a sure-fire way to improve your SEO (search engine optimization).

9 content marketing tips for startups

So, we know that content marketing is important. But what do you do if you’re a fast-growing startup with limited time and resources at your disposal?

Keep reading for top tips and insider advice from our content marketing specialists.

Tip #1 - Crowdsource your research

It might sound simple, but understanding your target audience – and what they want from the content they consume – is a crucial part of content strategy that many startups forget. 

In order to position your content in a way that reaches the right customers at the right time, you need to take a step back and see things from their point of view. 

And who knows your customers better than anyone else? Your customer-facing teams.

Reach out to your Sales and Customer Success teams to take a quick poll of the topics that come up time and again on their client calls. Often you’ll discover common issues and frustrations that might not be directly solved by your product, but which you can position yourself as a trusted expert on nonetheless.

You don’t have to create content related to every single topic mentioned, but if you see the same thing coming up repeatedly, it’s probably a good idea to have a blog or video on hand to answer that need.

Unsurprisingly, marketing tech companies like HubSpot and Mailchimp are experts at this. They offer all sorts of templates and guides that don’t necessarily relate to their product directly, but which emphasise their reputation as experts in their field.

And the best part about this approach? By working closely with your Sales and CS teams to produce your content plan, you’ll end up with a bank of resources for them to have at their fingertips when engaging clients and prospects. 

Tip #2 - Set achievable goals

Before you steam ahead into producing a tonne of content, think carefully about why you’re putting this plan in place. How can your content marketing strategy’s goals ladder up to your startup’s overall business objectives

Consider what’s going to be most important to your startup for the next couple of quarters. It might be growing new signups, improving user retention, or increasing engagement with your product. 

It can be tempting to try to do everything at once, but having a hero goal for your content strategy will help you focus your efforts and keep your team aligned with the rest of the business.

If you need some inspiration for goal-setting, check out this list of content strategy goals from the team at Search Engine Land. 

Tip #3 - Plan your publishing cadence

With your goals in place, it’s time to plan your output.

Taking into account your available resource, sketch out a rough calendar for the content you want to deliver over the next quarter. Make sure you build in important dates like product launches and industry events to ensure you have capacity to consistently deliver on your plan.

If you need a hand, the content experts over at Superpath have shared a handy example of a content publishing cadence for a startup just getting started with their marketing strategy:

​​

Tip #4 - Get measurement in place early

It might sound obvious, but you can’t judge how successful a strategy is unless you have a way to measure its results.

This doesn’t have to mean investing in a lot of expensive marketing software. Google Analytics is still one of the most versatile and powerful ways to track how your content is performing. 

For example, if your goal is to generate inbound leads for your startup’s sales team, you can go ahead and set up a GA event which tracks every time a user requests a demo from your site. With this in place, you can see which topics generate the greatest number of leads – and iterate your output accordingly.

Or, if you have an existing martech stack that allows for more sophisticated tracking of leads and prospects, you may want to set up a way to measure which pieces of content are popular with different segments of your audience.  

Tip #5 - Bring everyone along for the ride

The ultimate goal of a content marketing strategy is to drive profitable customer action. That means it’s crucial to ensure your marketing team isn’t working in a silo.

We’ve already discussed the value of Sales and Customer Success teams when it comes to researching your content’s intended audience, but it’s also vital to ensure they’re bought into your strategy’s goals. Getting your colleagues on board with the aims and value of your content marketing will make the world of difference to your end results.

Consider where you can remove friction from your internal comms and processes. For example, you could set up a quick integration that immediately alerts a sales rep when a prospect in their region downloads a piece of content. (Your CRM may have this functionality built in, or you can build a quick workaround with tools such as Zapier.) If you don’t have gated content on your site, another option is to set up a notification for when a prospect opens an email containing your content piece (just make sure this won’t overwhelm your team with hundreds of notifications!). 

Make life even easier by providing a template follow-up email that builds on the content’s theme and starts a conversation about your startup’s offering.

And the same technique can be used if the goal of your content is to improve customer retention, or increase lifetime customer value (LTV). You can automate an alert that informs an account owner if their client downloads certain content, or navigates to specific FAQs within your platform – giving them the opportunity to open a conversation and keep the customer engaged.

Tip #6 - Choose your channels wisely

Content marketing for startups can take many forms, from quickfire blogs to informational videos. What’s more, you’ve got a vast array of distribution options too.

But before you commit yourself to a monthly podcast, weekly newsletter, and daily TikTok updates, take a step back and consider (a) what’s feasible and (b) what’s appropriate.

As a startup, you’re unlikely to have a billion-dollar marketing budget at your disposal. To begin with at least, you’ll need to use a combination of organic and paid channels to get your content out there – and those channels will vary depending on your audience and goals.

Take stock of your current resource and choose your initial distribution channels wisely. Remember, you can always add more! 

Tip #7 - Focus on building a niche

An important element of content marketing strategy for startups is identifying and building on your company’s specific niche.

On a limited budget, you’re not going to be able to be all things to all people. What you can do is develop a clear and coherent voice within your market, one that potential customers can instantly associate with your brand.

Are you an upstart disruptor, taking the side of the downtrodden customer against established industry players? Or maybe you’re a helpful voice of reason, providing handy explainers and how-to guides? Whatever it may be, make sure your content plan reflects how you want to position yourself to your customers. 

And that brings us on to…  

Tip #8 - Set your tone of voice

Even if you’re currently a team of one, having a set of editorial guidelines in place for your content marketing strategy will help you to produce consistent, quality content that reflects your brand positioning.

Ask yourself how you want your audience to feel when they engage with your content. Do you want them to feel like they’re being reassured by a trusted advisor? Or maybe like they’re having a good-natured conversation with a friend? 

With this established, work backwards to get a style guide in place that ensures your content will always hit the right tone.

If you need some inspiration, there’s no shortage of example style guides available from leading players in the content marketing arena. Slack, Mailchimp, and Intuit have all made their editorial guidelines publicly available to interested marketeers. 

Tip #9 - Don’t skimp on backlinks

Finally, one of the most powerful content marketing tips for startups in any industry is to put a backlink strategy in place for your site.

Backlinks are exactly what they say on the tin: links back to your site from another source. The higher the domain authority of the site linking back to you, the better it is for your SEO.

And aside from the SEO benefits, the appeal of backlinks is obvious: it’s a way to attract qualified traffic from high-value sources.

Sites such as Help a B2B Writer are a fantastic way to secure links on high-authority websites. This is where B2B content writers can request expert insight from professionals in specific industries – so for example, a content writer for an event planning company may want a quote for a blog on conference A/V from a specialist in the industry. If your company offers A/V services for large corporate events, this would be the perfect opportunity to showcase your brand in front of your target audience.

What can a content marketing expert from Passionfruit do for your startup?

At Passionfruit, we match the very best freelance content marketing specialists with startups across multiple industries. 

Whether you’re just starting out or revamping an existing brand identity to hit new goals, our carefully-vetted freelancers can help you build a successful content marketing strategy at any stage. 

With no long-term contracts, you can engage a specialist for as little or as much time as you need. You might want somebody on board for a couple of weeks to create a bank of evergreen content, or somebody on board for six months to research, plan and execute an entire content strategy.

Whatever your startup’s goals, Passionfruit has the content marketing resource to help you achieve them.

Professor Passionfruit Illustration
Table of Contents

Think of a brand you love. Chances are, a big part of their appeal is the unique voice they’ve created for themselves through their content marketing strategy.

Content marketing is one of *the* most powerful ways a brand can differentiate themselves from their competition – and that’s especially true for startups. 

Establishing your startup as a subject matter expert with unique industry insights will help you build and maintain that all-important brand loyalty from customers and prospects.

But here’s the catch: getting it right takes some serious effort. And if you’re just starting out with your marketing strategy, it’s hard to know where to begin. Do you aim for volume? Engagement? Originality? 

In this post, we’re rounding up the best tips for honing your content marketing strategy and achieving killer results for your startup.

What is content marketing?

First things first: what do we actually mean when we talk about a content marketing strategy?

According to the experts at the Content Marketing Institute, the term refers to:

creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience – and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.

Rather than simply pitching your products or services as you might in a traditional marketing plan, content marketing is all about delivering useful information in a way that builds trust and loyalty.

Let’s say your startup is in the business of selling software to hotels. Rather than cold emailing and calling every General Manager in the country in the hope of getting a sale, a content marketing strategy would allow you to position yourself as a trusted expert in the hotel industry – and encourage prospects to come to you. 

You might achieve this by publishing blogs on topics like ‘how Google is changing hotel booking habits,’ or ‘how to attract more business travel to your hotel.’

With a bank of compelling, useful information on hand, your sales and marketing teams can engage potential customers at different stages of the buying journey.

Is content marketing for startups important?

Simple answer? Yes.

For the vast majority of startups, content marketing is a cost-effective way to attract new business and encourage customer loyalty. It’s estimated that content marketing generates three times as many leads as traditional outbound marketing – and costs 62% less.

According to HubSpot, 82% of businesses surveyed actively invest in content marketing. Of course, the quality of that marketing will vary widely – so it’s your job to make sure your startup stands out from the crowd.

Why is it important to have a content marketing strategy in place?

The best content marketing consists of more than the occasional blog or video. When deployed correctly, a content marketing strategy can become the bedrock of a successful marketing plan. 

Rather than having siloed email, search, and social campaigns, a well-planned content marketing calendar provides you with multipurpose assets that can be packaged up in different ways across your channels. 

And of course, regularly updating your site with high-quality content is a sure-fire way to improve your SEO (search engine optimization).

9 content marketing tips for startups

So, we know that content marketing is important. But what do you do if you’re a fast-growing startup with limited time and resources at your disposal?

Keep reading for top tips and insider advice from our content marketing specialists.

Tip #1 - Crowdsource your research

It might sound simple, but understanding your target audience – and what they want from the content they consume – is a crucial part of content strategy that many startups forget. 

In order to position your content in a way that reaches the right customers at the right time, you need to take a step back and see things from their point of view. 

And who knows your customers better than anyone else? Your customer-facing teams.

Reach out to your Sales and Customer Success teams to take a quick poll of the topics that come up time and again on their client calls. Often you’ll discover common issues and frustrations that might not be directly solved by your product, but which you can position yourself as a trusted expert on nonetheless.

You don’t have to create content related to every single topic mentioned, but if you see the same thing coming up repeatedly, it’s probably a good idea to have a blog or video on hand to answer that need.

Unsurprisingly, marketing tech companies like HubSpot and Mailchimp are experts at this. They offer all sorts of templates and guides that don’t necessarily relate to their product directly, but which emphasise their reputation as experts in their field.

And the best part about this approach? By working closely with your Sales and CS teams to produce your content plan, you’ll end up with a bank of resources for them to have at their fingertips when engaging clients and prospects. 

Tip #2 - Set achievable goals

Before you steam ahead into producing a tonne of content, think carefully about why you’re putting this plan in place. How can your content marketing strategy’s goals ladder up to your startup’s overall business objectives

Consider what’s going to be most important to your startup for the next couple of quarters. It might be growing new signups, improving user retention, or increasing engagement with your product. 

It can be tempting to try to do everything at once, but having a hero goal for your content strategy will help you focus your efforts and keep your team aligned with the rest of the business.

If you need some inspiration for goal-setting, check out this list of content strategy goals from the team at Search Engine Land. 

Tip #3 - Plan your publishing cadence

With your goals in place, it’s time to plan your output.

Taking into account your available resource, sketch out a rough calendar for the content you want to deliver over the next quarter. Make sure you build in important dates like product launches and industry events to ensure you have capacity to consistently deliver on your plan.

If you need a hand, the content experts over at Superpath have shared a handy example of a content publishing cadence for a startup just getting started with their marketing strategy:

​​

Tip #4 - Get measurement in place early

It might sound obvious, but you can’t judge how successful a strategy is unless you have a way to measure its results.

This doesn’t have to mean investing in a lot of expensive marketing software. Google Analytics is still one of the most versatile and powerful ways to track how your content is performing. 

For example, if your goal is to generate inbound leads for your startup’s sales team, you can go ahead and set up a GA event which tracks every time a user requests a demo from your site. With this in place, you can see which topics generate the greatest number of leads – and iterate your output accordingly.

Or, if you have an existing martech stack that allows for more sophisticated tracking of leads and prospects, you may want to set up a way to measure which pieces of content are popular with different segments of your audience.  

Tip #5 - Bring everyone along for the ride

The ultimate goal of a content marketing strategy is to drive profitable customer action. That means it’s crucial to ensure your marketing team isn’t working in a silo.

We’ve already discussed the value of Sales and Customer Success teams when it comes to researching your content’s intended audience, but it’s also vital to ensure they’re bought into your strategy’s goals. Getting your colleagues on board with the aims and value of your content marketing will make the world of difference to your end results.

Consider where you can remove friction from your internal comms and processes. For example, you could set up a quick integration that immediately alerts a sales rep when a prospect in their region downloads a piece of content. (Your CRM may have this functionality built in, or you can build a quick workaround with tools such as Zapier.) If you don’t have gated content on your site, another option is to set up a notification for when a prospect opens an email containing your content piece (just make sure this won’t overwhelm your team with hundreds of notifications!). 

Make life even easier by providing a template follow-up email that builds on the content’s theme and starts a conversation about your startup’s offering.

And the same technique can be used if the goal of your content is to improve customer retention, or increase lifetime customer value (LTV). You can automate an alert that informs an account owner if their client downloads certain content, or navigates to specific FAQs within your platform – giving them the opportunity to open a conversation and keep the customer engaged.

Tip #6 - Choose your channels wisely

Content marketing for startups can take many forms, from quickfire blogs to informational videos. What’s more, you’ve got a vast array of distribution options too.

But before you commit yourself to a monthly podcast, weekly newsletter, and daily TikTok updates, take a step back and consider (a) what’s feasible and (b) what’s appropriate.

As a startup, you’re unlikely to have a billion-dollar marketing budget at your disposal. To begin with at least, you’ll need to use a combination of organic and paid channels to get your content out there – and those channels will vary depending on your audience and goals.

Take stock of your current resource and choose your initial distribution channels wisely. Remember, you can always add more! 

Tip #7 - Focus on building a niche

An important element of content marketing strategy for startups is identifying and building on your company’s specific niche.

On a limited budget, you’re not going to be able to be all things to all people. What you can do is develop a clear and coherent voice within your market, one that potential customers can instantly associate with your brand.

Are you an upstart disruptor, taking the side of the downtrodden customer against established industry players? Or maybe you’re a helpful voice of reason, providing handy explainers and how-to guides? Whatever it may be, make sure your content plan reflects how you want to position yourself to your customers. 

And that brings us on to…  

Tip #8 - Set your tone of voice

Even if you’re currently a team of one, having a set of editorial guidelines in place for your content marketing strategy will help you to produce consistent, quality content that reflects your brand positioning.

Ask yourself how you want your audience to feel when they engage with your content. Do you want them to feel like they’re being reassured by a trusted advisor? Or maybe like they’re having a good-natured conversation with a friend? 

With this established, work backwards to get a style guide in place that ensures your content will always hit the right tone.

If you need some inspiration, there’s no shortage of example style guides available from leading players in the content marketing arena. Slack, Mailchimp, and Intuit have all made their editorial guidelines publicly available to interested marketeers. 

Tip #9 - Don’t skimp on backlinks

Finally, one of the most powerful content marketing tips for startups in any industry is to put a backlink strategy in place for your site.

Backlinks are exactly what they say on the tin: links back to your site from another source. The higher the domain authority of the site linking back to you, the better it is for your SEO.

And aside from the SEO benefits, the appeal of backlinks is obvious: it’s a way to attract qualified traffic from high-value sources.

Sites such as Help a B2B Writer are a fantastic way to secure links on high-authority websites. This is where B2B content writers can request expert insight from professionals in specific industries – so for example, a content writer for an event planning company may want a quote for a blog on conference A/V from a specialist in the industry. If your company offers A/V services for large corporate events, this would be the perfect opportunity to showcase your brand in front of your target audience.

What can a content marketing expert from Passionfruit do for your startup?

At Passionfruit, we match the very best freelance content marketing specialists with startups across multiple industries. 

Whether you’re just starting out or revamping an existing brand identity to hit new goals, our carefully-vetted freelancers can help you build a successful content marketing strategy at any stage. 

With no long-term contracts, you can engage a specialist for as little or as much time as you need. You might want somebody on board for a couple of weeks to create a bank of evergreen content, or somebody on board for six months to research, plan and execute an entire content strategy.

Whatever your startup’s goals, Passionfruit has the content marketing resource to help you achieve them.

Written by
Lily McIIwain
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Professor Passionfruit Illustration

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