The Perfect Martech Setup for Early Stage Startups
Martech setup and marketing, in general, are often just an afterthought once a startup is being created. In many cases, founders are focussed first on the product, then on Sales and only after that on Marketing. And this is often a high price to pay down the road.
As things in life go, there is no perfect setup for all startup. Depending on your stage, budget, resources and many other things you would need to mix and match. The important thing is for you to build a strong base; you can further expand while your startup grows. And this is how I am writing this guide.
Table of Content – Startup Martech Setup
- Independent Customer Database
- User Privacy Management
- Email Marketing Platform
- Social Media
- Paid Search
- Payment Platforms
- Last Words
Your website is the centre of everything you do online and your startup martech setup. This is where your product is. And as far as you are selling something, this is the one you need to give your love to the most and bring it to a level where it will serve the user better than it does you. You need to showcase your product, service or whatever else you are offering to your target group.
HTML vs CMS
When you are building an MVP (Minimum Viable Product), everything is about the speed and getting the first customers. Also, you want to have your website crawled by search engines as soon as possible (investors will certainly google you ;)). In this case, your choice is a simple but visually appealing HTML website. You can code it yourself, have someone help you or use services like Unbounce, Instapage, Leadpages or any other service that brings websites to live in minutes – Squarespace, Wix, WordPress.com. However, Unbounce, Leadpage and Instapage might be out of your budget starting at 72 USD/month on an annual subscription base.
After all, bootstrapping an MVP is about developing the product to a consumable stage. This is not a stage to spend much time on laying down the ground for future expansion and spend too much on your martech setup.
Suppose you have proven already that your idea is marketable and now you need to go into a product-market fit mode. In that case, you need a solution that will allow you to build landing pages quickly, run A/B tests and a constant flow of new content that will enable you to expand your presence on search.
In this case, a combination of a contentment management system (CMS) like a self-hosted WordPress installation and a landing page builder like Unbounce, Leadpage or Instapage is your best option.
One thing to keep in mind here is that you need reliable hosting for your WordPress installation. One that has close to zero downtime offers a bundle of goodies like CDN (Content Delivery Network), SSL, live and staging environment, generous support (you will need it!), backups, etc. Depending on your budget, you can go from GoDaddy or Siteground all the way up to WPEngine and Kinsta. There are thousands of hosting services just a few clicks away. But do choose wisely.
Google Tag Manager
Once you have your website set, you will need to deploy multiple analytics services, track performance and conversions and so on. This is a bit of daunting task if you put everything in the code yourself.
Google’s Google Tag Manager allows you to dig into the code only once to place the container and from there on operating in a much friendlier browser environment. There you can build your cookie consent, your Google Analytics code, your Facebook pixel or user onboarding software.
Couple of things to have in mind here:
- Watch out for your page loading speed. Too many tags will have an impact on how fast your website page is loaded, and this respectively will have an effect on your SEO, especially if you have eyes only for Google.
- If you run a cookie consent, make sure no tracking is fired before the visitor gives their explicit permission.
- When using and previewing Google Tag Manager, use Google Chrome browser. The preview does not work in any other browser.
Do you need a blog?
For the MVP, the answer is No. For growing and attracting more web visitors, signups or customers, the answer is yes. But if you have longterm plans, you’d better start thinking about it now and ideally begin writing.
Your blog is where you will share content on how to use your product or service, give ideas, inspiration and genuine advice to your web visitors, share news and product updates. And this all needs to be done consistently, always having in mind search engine optimisation.
If you don’t have a content strategy in place or the budget to run it, you can always resort to writing articles on Medium or LinkedIn from time to time. A blog on your website is about regularity, but if you cannot manage it for the moment, just head to Medium, LinkedIn or some other platform with a large user base and publish there.
Independent Customer Database
Once you start generating user information, you would need to keep it safe, clean, organised and getting the insights you need to get your product or service offering to the best level.
And since the startup world is a firm believer of the brighter future, you would want your customer database to be on a separate and secure self-hosted environment. My advice is not to keep it in a Customer Relationship Management platform like HubSpot, Salesforce or others. Of course, you can use these platforms, but they should not be your source of truth, but rather an extension of your customer database.
In good time when you Startup grows and is about to get a massive influx of cash via a Series B/C investment, and you will go after the world, you would think about adding more platforms/channels to your startup martech. To be able to do this, you would need a Customer Data Platform like Segment.
Platforms like Segment allow you to direct the right user data and behaviour to the tool you need to complete a specific task – segment your audience and send it to Facebook, deliver an app CTA, push an email to cart abandonments… The sky(read the broadness of your bank account and talent available) is the limit. And this is where you would like to have your customer database as a standalone entity and not being part of any CRM.
Also, having an independent customer database grants you the freedom to switch platforms without the high cost of being stuck in a “walled garden”.
User Privacy Management
User privacy is a growing concern in many big markets. Suppose you want to operate in the EU (GDPR), Japan, Hong Kong, Australia and California (CCPA). In that case, you will need a solution to manage consent, established process to remove users should they explicitly require you to do so, unsubscribe from promotional emails and fully automate these processes. This is one more essential part of your startup martech.
Consent Management Platform
By now, if you have not seen a cookie banner asking you to accept or reject cookies, you probably are surfing the Internet wrong.
You have two choices when it comes to the implementation of a cookie consent – do it right or doing wrong.
You would want to do it right. Every business relationship is very much dependable on mutual trust. If you offer cookie consent banner with only one option, Accept All, you won’t be building trust, but one-off visits.
You would want to offer full transparency to the web visitor. Tell them which tracking tools you are using, give them the option to select/deselect the ones they feel comfortable with, offer an Accept All and Reject All, fire those cookies only after explicit consent.
There are plenty of tools to consider out there. Just type “consent management platform” in your preferred search engine and chose the one that fits you best according to your pocket and needs.
I can recommend Cookiebot and Usercentrics, but everyone has a different need.
Procedure to remove users upon their request
This procedure is, in essence, your playbook should someone contacts you and requests their account to be deleted or removed from a newsletter list. When they ask you to do this, you would need to make sure they are removed from wherever they have to.
A well-documented checklist will do just fine at first. All you need to do it is to create it and have it at an arms reach whenever required.
Email Marketing Platform
It is never too late to start building your user database. Some people need time to convert into a paying customer or even to sign up for free. They, however, often feel more inclined to subscribe to updates delivered via email.
Email marketing is something you should think about from the start. And even if you, at first, don’t have time to start any nurturing campaigns, you still need to make sure that all your system emails reach and impress your subscribers.
Platforms like MailChimp and Sengrid let you start for free. Down the road when your database grows, you will have to start paying to continue using the platform.
Should you offer an online product behind a register/login screen, you will need system emails confirming the registration, changing password, dispatching invoices, etc.
This is a bit of a daunting groundwork, but the good news is that once you are done with it, you need to come back only from time to time – usually changing the wording, amending the design or adding a new email.
One piece of advice I can give here is to keep your emails simple and to the point. You don’t want to be marked as SPAM or have a high unsubscribe rate. Something like this will harm your email marketing effort down the road.
Everybody sends emails. Many even say that email does not work anymore. I beg to disagree. The essential truth about emails is that they can be read when one has time. I am sure that you enjoy some emails you have subscribed to and others you delete the moment they show up in your inbox.
Focus on building nurturing stretches or sending out your latest posts with the thought of your subscriber. It is vital to add value to them before you push a call to action.
And if you do not know where to start, here is an excellent service available for free and combining email copy ideas that work – Just Good Copy.
Lock your social media handles down as soon as you start working on your MVP. You don’t want to find out that they are already taken, and there is no way for you to get them.
This should be part of picking a name for your Startup. You need to create a seamless experience for your target audience – to make it easy for them to find you on their preferred channel. If they use Instagram, you need to be there with the same name and handle as you have stated on your website.
Organic social media strategy
Have a plan. It pays off to have a systematic approach. Besides, you will need to go through a trial and error period until you figure out your style, the tone that clicks with your target audience, which are the best channels leading to conversion and engagement, etc.
What you need at first is to cover the basics – LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube. It doesn’t matter if you are active there or not. You will get to learn where your target audience resides. But you need to lock down these handles early in your startup journey.
Paid social media (if you have the budget)
Paid social can quickly turn into an expensive channel for you. But you do need to have it in your startup martech. Besides, you would want to be ready once that seed or series A investment comes in.
This is an excellent channel to create awareness and advertise to the world the existence of your product or service. Also, one can target in a much more precise way not only on demographics base but also on interest, owned and viewed content (topics the user is interested in).
Analytics is one of the essential parts of your startup martech. Data should back up everything you do. A hunch can get you just this far (and sometimes in the wrong direction). Data will take you all the way.
Google Analytics is free, and at the same time, comprehensive enough to let you understand a lot about your web visitors. What type of people are visiting your website, which channels bring the biggest bang for your buck, how long they stay on the website, what kind of content they consume, how they convert, etc.
Google Analytics is the bread and butter of your future success. And you need to set this playfield right:
- Filter the IP addresses of everyone working in your startup. You and your colleagues will probably the people most visiting your website and app. This data is worthless to you and can pollute the one you use to analyse user behaviour.
- Set your primary and secondary goals. Your primary goals are your conversions. Your secondary goals could be a download of a gated content ebook, number of avid readers of your blog or even newsletter subscribers
Always be testing. Google Optimize is a wonderful tool allowing you to run up to five experiments simultaneously in its free version. You can run A/B, multivariate, traffic redirect and some other tests. This is the tool that will allow you to quickly test call to actions (CTAs), images, description texts, landing pages, etc.
And since it is for free, why not have it in your startup martech setup?
Hotjar is an integral part of your startup martech setup should you be developing a platform, SaaS product, e-commerce or a website that has a multistep user journey leading to conversion. This is the UX tool that gathers usage data and pinpoints where the issues are. From here on, you can fix whatever is wrong with your funnel, your CTA or your page in general. You can also get feedback right on your website using some of Hotjar’s solutions.
Hotjar has a free version. Yes, it is limited, but it is a great start. After all, you want to test drive a car before you buy it, right?
Paid Search, just like Paid Social, is something you should look at once you have the investment flowing it.
As opposed to Paid Social where you screen at people “Hey, hey! Look at us! We exist!”, Paid Search is where people are looking for a problem to solve and find you. You want these guys more than the ones you get via paid search. These guys stand a better chance of paying the bill.
Paid search tends to have a lower cost/conversion comparing to paid social channels, especially in the case of SaaS and some B2B businesses. However, if your business is counting on generating leads, then you stand a better chance with a channel that will allow you to narrow down your ad audience as much as possible and keep the overall cost down.
Both Google Ads and Microsoft Advertising offer coupons to start your first campaign. They usually send them once you created an account but did not start a campaign. Or more often than not, you can get one at your local Startup meet and a great event. 😉
Nothing is for free, except perhaps your mother’s love. This being said, you need to think about how to get paid for your product or service early on. Your startup martech setup is, of course, influenced by your pricing strategy, but whatever it is, you need a way to generate revenue, analyse and report it.
Two payment solutions offer zero setup cost and easy to operate – Paypal and Stripe. You pay as you go and grow.
If you choose Paypal, you have to know that your users will need to have one on their own or be willing to set up one. As to Stripe, they just need a credit card.
Stripe also offers an Atlas package aiming to help you register a company in Delaware, USA and taking care of all the startup’s setup, opening a bank account and issuing stock to C Corporation founders.
At the beginning of this post, I promised you the perfect marketing technology setup for early-stage setup, and I delivered. But as long as guides go, they can just point you in the right direction. Along your journey, you will see that there is way more than just picking up the tools and implementing them.
You will need to apply the specifics of your stamp business to each one. There is an ultimate recipe for success. Every business, market, and target audience are different and need to be taken into account. And this is where you can add the most significant value to your customers.
Be bold and remember that you don’t deal with companies, you deal with people. Write your website and email copy in a solving-a-problem and straightforward way – go the extra mile for the user, not for your company. You will see that this pays off many-folds.
And if you get stuck or need more, don’t hesitate to contact me. Just hit the “Let’s talk” button on the top right. 🙂
Copyright © 2020 Borislav Kiprin. All Rights Reserved.
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