Every startup born in India in the past ten years is cradled with the endless opportunities that come with the internet market-place. Vibrant pamphlets distributed across the neighbourhood to attract local clients is a time-worn marketing technique that is replaced by minimalistic and aesthetically designed Instagram posts that have the potential to reach a global clientele. Similarly, personal savings or loans to provide for brick and mortar office rent is no more a prerequisite to launch your startup. With the provision of digital meeting spaces, and softwares that build a conducive environment of an online workspace, the world is your oyster.
As of 2020, over 500 million Indians use smartphones, 77% of whom are also internet users. Additionally, as per a report on “Digital India Technology” by McKinsey Global Institute, India is estimated to have between 750–800 million Internet users by 2023. To simplify the initial process of digitization, we have put together a list of tactics that can be used to introduce your startup to the Indian digital landscape and access its growing clientele.
1. Get a Website
The first and foremost step towards establishing a strong digital presence for your startup is to build a website. Platforms like Wix, Wordpress and Squarespace have replaced the tedious coding process with simple drag and drop mechanisms.
However, there are still certain guidelines that must be followed while designing the website. User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) are two terms thrown around most frequently about the online ecosystem. This is because the success of any website depends on its ability to attract, delight and retain users.
A good place to start would be to read this article on best practices for UI Design. Remember, a good User Interface serves to delight users, both aesthetically and experientially. This translates to good UX, which is integral to online success.
Allow your website to stand out by creating content that tells the story of your journey and showcases you as the much-needed problem solver. Gain insight into the working of your audience’s mind — and find ways to empathize with their sentiments, relate to their pain-points and grab their attention — for these are the new currencies of the modern digital space. Cater your website to an Indian audience by including frequently-used, region-specific Search Engine Optimization (SEO) keywords to your website content.
Remember, when a user first stumbles upon your website- they are window-shopping. Their continued interest depends, to a great extent on aspects such as the nature of user scrolling, page loading speed, placement of links and call-to-action buttons. Know that a good UI incorporates UX Design Tips that go beyond picking the right images and typing the right words.
2. Pitch Your Story Everywhere
Make the most of the expanding Indian internet market-place by pitching your website link across Facebook groups, answers to Quora questions, blog post comment sections, Linkedin status’ etc. You never know which comment section you might find your next customer at.
Of all, the most used social media channels in India are Facebook and Youtube — both video-friendly platforms that are a great place to float a three-minute captivating video pitch explaining what makes your startup click.
You might also want to consider investing in some native advertising to spread the word about the startup. Go one step further by posing yourself as a thought leader who has the intellect, experience and insight to provide customers with tangible value. With thousands of options available at users’ fingertips (literally), put some thought into how your startup can make a difference.
3. Advertise Efficiently
Advertisements do not require investments worth lacs of rupees anymore. Effective ads have moved from billboards hovering over highways to interactive posts delivered personally to your target audience’s smartphone. For instance, you can spend as little as Rs. 500 to reach a defined set of 1,000 users on Instagram.
Furthermore, with the advent of the digital era, we are now able to reach potential customers by streamlining our advertising campaigns based on customers’ defining factors such as age, profession, hobby, gender, location etc. The more specific and defined our audience, the more likely we are to convert them to paying customers.
A few examples of digital advertising that actually work would be Pay-Per-Click Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, Social Media Optimization and a great blog. To know more about each of these techniques consider reading through this quick summary of ad strategies that can help your startup.
4. Co-Brand, Collaborate and Co-Grow
The only marketing technique with which we might have come full-circle is co-branding. Digital users are constantly looking to share, repost and collaborate. As Guy Kawaski puts it “sharing good stuff is 90 percent of the battle of getting more followers. Almost everything else is merely optimization. End of discussion.”
Working much like a barter-system, digital co-branding involves reaching out to other startups with a collaboration deal. For instance, a local bakery startup and a group of young event planners, may be attracting a very similar audience — and thus can do a promotional shout-out for each other to multiply their digital audience reach. Similarly budding influencers with followers under 5k and 10k will be happy to help you expand your user-base in exchange of a complimentary product/service.
5. Be Mobile-Friendly
Whatever the nature of your startup, its website needs to be mobile friendly. Now, while the reason for this may seem obvious since “everyone’s glued to their phones,” there are other reasons to consider:
- Google uses mobile-friendliness as a ranking factor. This means that if your website is not mobile-friendly, it will show up lower in Google search results.
- Mobile commerce sales are projected to reach $2.91 trillion in 2020. You can be sure that the exploding Indian digital landscape will participate in this growth. Whatever product you are offering needs to be accessible via mobile. Otherwise, you will lose easy money.
- A person spends an average of 162 minutes on their smartphone everyday. If your startup does not have a solid digital presence, how else will they discover your existence?
The Internet has the immense power to penetrate into the lives of the masses — to communicate our message faster, efficiently and more effectively. Hence, to succeed as a businessman/woman in the twenty-first century, it is essential that we optimally digitize our startups and derive full potential towards their growth.
Written by Aradhita Saraf. Edited by Shreya Bose.
Eximius Ventures is a micro venture capital fund investing in young and dynamic Indian Entrepreneurs with a precedence for female founders. You can reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.