The Value Of Content Marketing For Startups

Suzanne Wentley
Casey Horgan
Published: Apr 28, 2024
Last Updated:
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Business growth is an objective for every company, but especially so if you're a new startup struggling to get a foothold in the marketplace. Entrepreneurs are always looking for strategies that will put them on the positive side of the statistic that one in five small businesses close in the first year.

Today's marketplace no longer just exists in brick-and-mortar stores. Consumer behavior has changed so dramatically in the last few decades that now it's more important than ever for small- and medium-sized businesses to focus on digital marketing to find and retain loyal customers.

That’s where content marketing for startups comes in. Content marketing is a type of outreach strategy in which businesses will create and share a variety of written materials online in an effort to share their brand, rather than directly make sales. Content includes everything from the shortest social media post to the longest white paper or ebook. It's a creative approach to getting attention and having an impact in a fast-paced, online world.

Many established businesses have found success with a digital content strategy, and it works for early-stage startups, too. A content marketing strategy for startups is an investment in your company that will pay compounding interest with each quarter. 

How Content Marketing Can Help Your Startup Grow Quickly

Content marketing goes against traditional outreach strategies, which once focused solely on sales conversions. With content marketing, you're instead building brand awareness and positioning your business and its team as leaders — or even disruptors — within the industry.

Understanding this fundamental shift can help you more easily recognize the benefits of content marketing for startups. This is a long-term digital strategy to attract organic traffic to a website with actionable steps that are affordable and effective. 

Build Your Brand’s Presence

High-quality content is a deliverable for your startup that works to demonstrate the values, tone, style, and trustworthiness of your brand. Indeed, all startups should have a unique logo, font guidelines, and color palette to stand out — but that’s just the start to building a brand presence.

Your brand identity must clearly include the message of how your startup is first, better, or different from your competitors within the industry, and this is where content creation really shines. In essence, by investing in a content strategy, your business is offering its potential customers a structure through which they can learn exactly why they want and need these new products and services.

Years ago, startups had to work with newspapers to get a small article that featured their new company. Today, you can write the article yourself and publish it simply by following the same content distribution strategy tips that other marketing professionals use. Startup content marketing simply puts the power of brand identity directly in the hands of business owners.

Establish Expertise and Authority

With content marketing, your startup team can establish a level of authority that once could only be built on years of business within an industry. Customers today are looking for brands that meet their needs and answer their questions; they’re less interested in researching how long your company has been around. If a brand is helpful, that’s all they need to know.

The trick, then, is explaining how giving potential customers information and resources for free is a business driver. It might seem like you’re just giving away what people ought to spend money on. The reality is that prospects want to do business with a company that knows what it's talking about. Prove it with valuable content and they will come.

Obtain Impressive Results From Affordable Marketing Efforts

It’s all about the bottom line for startups, just like with any business, so it’s also worth noting that content marketing efforts also have a better return on investment (ROI) compared to digital paid advertising. That’s because consumers are savvier than in years past.

A study published on found that 70% of internet users would rather learn about products through content than traditional advertisements. That underscores how consumers now decide on brands: 90% of people trust word-of-mouth recommendations over advertisements created by brands, according to 2021 statistics.

Even a successful content marketing strategy may require longer to see results, but that build-up is how the ROI beats pay-per-click advertisement. One study in Search Engine Journal reports that pay-per-click ads cost an average of $2.32 for each interaction on search engines. Once you stop paying for the ad, the opportunity goes away. 

Meanwhile, content on relevant topics created with the right keyword research can last for years. That $100 blog could bring in thousands of clicks to your website, all thanks to search engine optimization and a thoughtful plan.

10 Types of Content To Boost Business Growth

As you begin to plan a content marketing calendar for a new startup, your team will likely come up with plenty of interesting topics. To have a truly effective content marketing strategy, however, each of these topics needs to clearly educate your target audience. Make sure all content explains not only why your startup exists but also how it solves a problem or alleviates a pain point.

Deciding which of the following types of content makes the most sense for your startup may be very easy — or possibly tricky. For example, if you have plenty of examples of success even in the early days of business, then case studies would be a great place to start. If you have personable and articulate employees, maybe a podcast would be successful. If your products or services lend themselves to visual content or instructive videos, add that media into your strategy.

Whichever you choose, work on the deliverables for a set time frame before analyzing any content marketing metrics to determine success. The best strategies are constantly evolving as you learn what works best as you communicate and connect with potential customers. 

1. Blog Posts

A common and effective way to begin a content strategy for startups is by producing a series of blog posts. A blog is a written article, normally ranging in length from 500 to 2,000 words, designed to share your expertise with a specific audience. Blogs are published and hosted on your own website, and there’s rarely a need to remove them. Once a blog is posted on a website, customers can read and learn from it for years.

The best blog articles educate a reader about a topic that they’ve been searching for, and these pieces of content must be written in a way that skillfully includes keywords. Keywords are used to optimize all content to make the information more easy to find when someone searches on the topic using a search engine like Google. This is why most content marketing tips include spending time doing keyword research with free online tools.

To determine good topics for blogs, start with the most common questions customers ask about the products and services you offer. When you write a blog to answer these questions, you’re also creating a tool that sales staff can use to help overcome obstacles to sales conversions in the future. They can just send a link to save time and meet your customer’s needs immediately. 

2. Email Marketing

Direct email marketing is another powerful practice that falls within content marketing. While you can certainly add links to blog posts in an email, there’s plenty more that can be done to connect directly with people who sign up for an email list. 

This work becomes more valuable as the email list increases but be sure as you add names and addresses that you segment the list into smaller groups. This helps to target your recipients and personalize the message in a refined manner.

Try using a template to create email newsletters that can be sent once a month. Consistency is one of the most important email marketing best practices. Stay realistic with the timetable and expectations of your content calendar. So, if a robust monthly e-newsletter seems too challenging with your available resources, send more frequent, yet simpler emails.

3. Social Media Posts

Social media content creation for startups is an important part of any digital marketing plan, if only because it’s likely that the target audience will already be scrolling. Avoid two common mistakes: Either never posting online because social media content feels overwhelming or always posting the wrong content. 

Think about your target audience. Given their behaviors and demographics, which social media platforms are they most likely to engage with? Pick one or two to start so you can devote the time and effort they deserve.

Then, create a campaign for the next month on a certain topic to gain brand awareness for your startup. Have fun but keep your brand identity top-of-mind. Social media content marketing for startups is especially effective when you take the opportunity to position your brand as a thought leader in the industry. The more wisdom shared with followers, the more they will look to your startup as the brand that can solve their problems in the future.

4. Video Content

If you’ve watched the music videos for "Despacito," "Shape of You," or "Uptown Funk," you know the power of video for connecting with an audience. In 2023, there were 239 million regular YouTube users in America, highlighting how much people love to watch videos. Facebook and Instagram Reels, which are shorter videos, are extremely popular, too. It’s fun to watch vlogs, behind-the-scenes shots, and quick takes.

Startups can adopt video as a content type early, but you’ll have to create a plan to make it happen. Pick topics and write either scripts or outlines of discussion points. Optimize the video description and profile sections with keywords and hashtags so viewers can learn more about your startup and its offerings.

You don’t need fancy equipment to produce a video series, but you do need to have good lighting and sound when you record using a smartphone. Editing software, like iMovie, can be free, so spend time before uploading the best quality videos on your channel.

5. Infographics

If you want to simplify a complex process or service that may take some thinking out, infographics are a visually appealing way to do it. This content mixes images to illustrate statistics, flow charts, and topics. The clarity of design makes it easy and fast for followers to digest. The style feels cutting edge — which is often on-brand for startups.

To make numbers or statistics clearer, consider creating an infographic using free software like Canva or working with a graphic designer. Integrate the color palette, font, and style of the website and other marketing materials to create a consistent look and feel for the viewer.

6. Podcasts

Podcasts are popular, so your target audience likely listens to them. A 2023 Pew Research survey found that 75% of American adults have listened to a podcast, or online radio, in the past month. You can expand your startup’s audience through a new podcast. 

To start a podcast, you’ll want to first plan out the full season. You can choose how many episodes are in your season, but it’s wise to think in terms of a series rather than just one show. Once edited, you can upload the audio on Apple, Spotify, YouTube, or a host of other apps.

7. Case Studies

Think of a case study as a very focused and specific kind of blog, as it should run around the same length (between 500 and 1,500 words). It's designed to provide peer support, so provide an in-depth description of an example of a person or business that had an excellent experience with your company. A case study is the finest testimonial written from an objective perspective.

8. Ebooks

Ebooks have the longest length of all content types, as they can be as long as makes sense. Ebooks are written on complex topics or processes for an audience that’s interested in reading and learning. This kind of content is often at the top of online sales funnels that offer a free resource in exchange for signing up for an email list.

Ebooks take time to produce, but they are a clear example of how to show prospective customers the wisdom of a thought leader within the industry. When you promote content with this depth, your startup can get noticed quickly.

9. White Papers

For some industries, a technical white paper is the ideal kind of content. While other content is more entertaining, white papers are designed to teach and document the clear-cut methods or science used in a startup. When writing this kind of content, every fact must be supported and double-checked for accuracy. The result? Trust and respect — and likely improvements in key performance indicators, too.

10. User Generated Content (UGC)

The last style to consider when creating a plan for content marketing for startups is the kind of content that your startup doesn’t pay for. User-generated content is created by followers, but they must be invited to share through a structured and targeted content campaign.

UGC could be a photo contest, a month-long daily challenge, or a deliverable needed to enter a raffle. Be creative! Sometimes, you can include an influencer to help draw in followers.

7 Steps To Create a Content Marketing Strategy for a Startup

Content marketing strategy mirrors most marketing plans, all of which start by focusing on what you hope to achieve at the end of the campaign for your company.

1. Define Goals and Metrics To Measure Results

Adopt what are known as SMART goals. That acronym stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Whatever you choose for your content marketing goals, make sure you can measure them with appropriate metrics at the end of a certain period. Ensure your goals are realistic with the resources available.

Examples of a SMART goal include gaining 1,000 new followers on social media by the end of the quarter or increasing sales conversions online by 10% over the last quarter. 

2. Research Your Target Audience

All content must be written to a specific audience, so brainstorm to gain clarity on the target demographics and personalities for this strategic campaign. When you understand a person’s pain points, habits, and preferences, your content will resonate better.

3. Conduct a Content Audit

Before you decide on the content type for your startup’s new campaign, conduct a content audit. This will show you what, if any, content has been produced, and you can analyze the return on the investment using data found on the backend of many platforms including the website and social media. The audit may show you where your company has room for improvement, making the decision of what to compose next obvious.

4. Choose Your Content Types

If you’re not sure which content type makes the most sense, go back to the goals. Usually, big goals can be broken into measurable objectives with action steps that move progress toward the goal. If it’s still unclear, just pick one that seems manageable and fun. These marketing plans should be exciting, as you'll have the content for years.

5. Create Your Content Plan

As you set out the publication dates, writers, platforms, and topics for your content, consider adopting what is known as a pillar content strategy. This is when a blog or other long-form content offers a complete answer to a question someone may search for. The search engine algorithm often organically ranks this content higher.

Also, find ways to repurpose your content as much as possible. Host blogs on the website, post links on social media platforms, or use the writing as a foundation for videos or podcasts. There’s a lot a small team can do, even with a limited budget.

6. Develop a Process for Content Creation and Distribution

The more details a strategy has written out in terms of process, the smoother everything goes. Include the steps needed for both content creation and distribution. These tasks take time, but it’s possible to have great success when your team can plan and schedule. The method will vary by industry, as marketing for tech startups will look different for the platforms used by fashion and beauty brands.

7. Measure the Success of Your Content and Optimize

To know if the strategy worked, set time aside to measure your metrics. Gather a baseline to compare such quantitative measurements like number of followers, cost per customer, customer retention rate, and many other data analyses for customer relationship management. 

If you’re not getting the results expected, it’s OK to try a different strategy. Often, marketing involves constant refinement as you learn what works best for your startup.

Examples of Great Content Marketing Campaigns for Startups

Startups seek to disrupt the market, and some established brands also disrupt the regularly scheduled programming with noteworthy content marketing campaigns. A few worth highlighting are:

  • Airbnb: Its Instagram has 5.4 million followers broken into new main audiences, those who rent out homes, and those who are dreaming of a trip to those same rooms. The content is inspirational and targeted.
  • Blinkist: This startup, an app that condenses and reviews books, used content marketing with a business blog to grow to more than 26 million users.
  • ActiveCampaign: Leveraging it's partner network, ActiveCampaign made the most of leap year and launched a continuous, 29-hour Leap Day Extravaganza bringing together thousands of marketers, SEOs, and thoughts leaders. This is a great example of content marketing to drive both brand and demand.

These are just a few creative examples of how startups are using content campaigns to create a competitive mote for their brand. Content marketing for startups requires a lot of decisions and strategy to not just keep the business afloat, but help it thrive. While budgets and resources are often limited, startups doing have to get stuck in a lot of internal bureaucracy.

Don't let perfect stand in the way of good. It's better to try and learn, then keep to the status quo.


How can startups effectively measure the ROI of content marketing efforts?

First, clarify the business metrics you will be accountable for — customer acquisition, lead generation, audience growth, etc.

Then, identify the metrics related to your content efforts and demonstrate how these data points align with the larger business objectives. Examples of these metrics include website traffic, clicks, conversion rates, and lead generation. These metrics can be monitored using tools like GA4, Google Search Console, and your CRM.

What are some best practices for scaling content production as our startup grows?

Create a content calendar that aligns with your marketing goals and customer needs. Make sure there are clear deadlines and stakeholders for each content piece so there aren’t blockers as you execute. 

As the volume of content increases, look for workflow efficiencies using ai tools or a content management system. Eventually, you may consider partnering with a third-party content writing service like to scale your content production while your team focuses on other growth-oriented work.

How should startups integrate content marketing with the overall marketing strategy?

Content should be at the center of your marketing strategy. Regardless of the distribution channel, content should fuel your customer journey. 

Be sure to use a consistent brand voice and tone across all channels and enable your teams on how and when to use the voice appropriately. You should also regularly check-in with your sales and customer success teams to understand common customer questions and objectives to help inform your content.

What emerging content marketing trends should startups consider incorporating into their strategy?

We’ve seen an uptick in interactive content. Assets like quizzes, polls, and infographics engage users more deeply and can also help you better position your brand to your customers.

Video continues to be an important element of a brand’s content strategy. Specifically, live streaming and short-form videos have become highly effective ways to capture an audience’s attention and tell a compelling story. 

It is becoming more important to create more personalized content tailored to individual user preferences and behaviors. With the advances in AI and machine learning, marketers can quickly repurpose great content to better target their audience segments without requiring hours of manual time.

Learn how to work with AI tools, not against them. 

Download our free guide to AI content creation and discover: 

✅ The benefits and limitations of generative AI
✅ When to use AI tools and when you still need human assistance
✅ Tips for writing effective ChatGPT prompts
✅ 6 ways to leverage ChatGPT for content creation
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