BootStrap Your Start-Up's Digital Presence


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This is the full presentation deck with my notes that I presented at the Houston Technology Center's NASA-JSC Innovation Advisor's Meeting October 8th, 2013.

Learn the steps to creating a great DIY website and integrated digital marketing presence via social media, email newsletter marketing, Google Analytics and e-commerce. There's an example budget template to help you get started and my personal recommendations for tools and software to save you time, money, and frustration.

Connect with me on LinkedIn if you'd like a free evaluation of your current web marketing with my recommendations for DIY ways to improve:

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  • This presentation is really intended to be more of a “High level” hand-out that you can take home and refer to. In a 10 minute talk, there’s really no way for me to cover the in-depth strategies and list of resources that are available on the Internet and in my Brain from years of living, working, and playing on the Web.
  • The web is where businesses “get found” now. Your Website is open 24/7, 365 days a year. The right web presence will help you get discovered by more prospects for less money. Web Presence: like old school yellow pages, but there’s just 1 phone book now: the Internet, It’s how your business gets found by new customers and how existing customers can refer their friends and family to you.
  • The majority of my work has been within customer service and marketing departments where I researched and developed customer experience-driven strategies using the Web. My projects have spanned multiple industries including technology, healthcare, real estate, telecomm, nonprofit, government, and space. Websites and social media platforms are part of my work, but the projects that I’m really passionate focus on building great web tools that people love to use. I’ve been designing an integrating web systems for over 15 years – and being a forerunner on the Internet as a Super-User has given me great joy, as a creative, of getting to design my own career path along the way. My job didn’t exist before the Internet, and I’m constantly evolving my skills to match the technologies that tech startup-ups: just like you, are building.
  • This is a very simple statement - the reality of creating your web presence is much more complex when you sit down and actually try to do it. A lot of that complexity has to do with figuring out how to make all of it work together inside an ecosystem that 1 or 2 people can manage while your startup takes off. You then have to make sure the tools are easy for you to use, and easy and pleasant for your customers and prospects – plus your web presence needs to generate leads and revenue.
  • The keyto succeeding with any big project like this, is to prioritize and plan correctly early on. Keep it simple by ruthlessly cutting out any activities early on that aren’t going to directly lead to sales. Budget: “what’s the closest to free you can get within my timeframe?” time = $, picture of “you can have 2 but not 3: quality, fast, cheap” This is an INVESTMENT in your business. Meaning you have to pay for it before you can profit from it.
  • I’m going to take you through the steps I recommend, based on my 15+ years of experience teaching people how to DIY web market, so you can prioritize and be successful. There’s many different ways to develop your web presence, and you’ll get differing advice from others depending on their experiences and their level of technical expertise. So this isn’t the only way, and it certainly isn’t the full in-depth, complete Guide to all you need for web marketing.
  • Each step in the checklist includes time and cost estimates to give you an idea about what you’ll need to budget so you can start to save/prepare. Each of these steps could, potentially, have an unlimited budget, and your web presence has an ongoing cost if you want to maintain it: like gardening, or working out, you have to either tend to your online Brand or pay someone else to tend to it, daily. Research (industry/audience specific, search engine, etc) Design (colors, layout, UX), Custom Modifications, A/B Testing, Organic and Paid search advertising, content, email newsletters,There’s no such thing as “Free” anything on the web. You’re either paying with your time, your attention, or your money. DIY, Viewing Ads on “Free” platforms, and paying someone else to do it.
  • I could spend several hours on the methodology behind how I research and create web ecosystem strategies. Since I don’t have time, I’m going to try and give you some tips to show you how to “fish for information on the web yourself” so to speak. Before you can develop a web presence, you’ve got to “translate” your marketing strategy into a digital plan. This involves identifying your key business goals and identifying which can be most effectively accomplished using web technology. During this step, you’re going to look at competitors, favorite sites, determine your domain name and the names of your social media profiles, which profiles to select... and so forth. Start with a spreadsheet: Google Docs, Excel – it doesn’t matter. I also recommend you get a screen capture tool so you can collect screenshots and make notes on what you like and don’t like about other websites as you try to create a visual of what you’re going to build later. Put everything in the spreadsheet that you research that’s worth going back to later. Make sure you demo several software platforms for each of your website, newsletter, and e-commerce needs, before you select it and keep track of your reviews of each platform so you can go back and compare. There probably won’t be a “perfect fit” so focus on your key business goals and how the tools will help you do this, how much it costs, and how easy it was for you to start using (intuitive gets used, clunky or slow tools won’t be helpful to you) Some additional thoughts: keyword research: helps you figure out how to increase the chance that a prospect finds your organization in a search engine above your competition. content strategy: this is where you create a plan for engaging with your audience to convert more sales. Online, this means developing content for your website, blog, social media, and newsletters with the goal of sending more leads to your sales team via the web. website platform: researching involves determining colors, layout, functionality you need to incorporate in order to do certain things (like selling online and pulling in social media widgets) social media strategy: how do you engage with your community, where (which channels) and without winding up overwhelmed by trying to do too much. newsletter marketing: this is probably the easiest part because most people start with Mailchimp if they don’t have any subscribers: it’s easy and free until you get over 2000 subscribers. the important thing is to go and use the software, signup for the free trial and see if you like it and can understand how to use it. domain name strategy: if you can, get a .com - especially if you’re going to sell online products. Pick a domain name that’s easy to remember and share verbally since most of your traffic early on is going to be from you telling your friends and family about it. e-commerce tools: these are going to come with upfront costs, so you’ll want to really spend time researching and evaluating the total costs involved with each. Make sure to consider what your companies growth is likely to be - if you predict you might suddenly have a large spike in sales, then you could end up with a real nightmare from a bogged down cart, orders getting jumbled or lost, customer service responses, and a large invoice for the e-commerce than you expected.
  • Here’s a few tools to help get you started with your research: all the keyword and PPC/Display advertising tools and training. If you want to be on page 1 of Google search right away, there’s only one way for that to happen: paid advertising. one option for a one-stop user profile name search across 100’s of social media and blogger/online names. Search once and see if your chosen name is available on all the sites. Techsmith’s Jing: free screen capture tool. Awesome to have – get it now, and pay for their pro Snag-it tool ($50) if you can. I use Snag-It EVERY DAY (I don’t get paid for saying this at all, I haven’t even gotten free upgrades. I just love this tool) Google – search here. Your competition isn’t the old big guys if you’re a tech startup, use the Internet and sites like Angelist and Crunchbase to find startups that are trying to do what you’re doing.
  • Website: Website is your digital marketing core, your company’s store front on the web. With your own website, you have more control over the customer experience and you’ll have more access to customer analytics data so you can make better business decisions over time. Here’s some estimates on time broken down by task: Purchase domain: 1-4 hours Select a Website platform: 2-8 hours (on-going and upfront) Select a hosting provider: 1-2 hours Select a Theme: 2-8 hours (on-going and upfront) Adapt the Theme & CMS to Your Goals: 10+ hours (more requirements for customization = more time to make the customizations so keep it simple.) Add Content that Sells Your Product: upfront: 40+ hours, over time: ~6-8 hours/week Design: There are different types of designers. I design web systems/ecosystems. I don’t do graphic design. Graphic and Print design is different. Industrial design is different... etc.
  • This slide is here for a resource after the presentation and will be skipped for now. Website platform and hosting tools to check-out. Both dreamhost and hostgator are owned by the same corporation and generally they offer similar pricing plans with slightly different configurations and options.
  • Social Media - what social media does is give you a way to scale your word of mouth marketing, times a thousand. You can upload and embed a video on your website and visitors can click one button and share your Brand and products with hundreds, if not thousands, of people in a minute. Entrepreneurs: #1 thing to do today: go update your personal LinkedIn bio. Make sure your personal social media accounts link to your website or your LinkedIn bio. People will research you before they buy or invest. You need to demonstrate instant credibility and expertise. Other Reference Notes, not in the presentation: When you can afford it, I recommend prioritizing a social media management dashboard tool. Hootsuite, Sprout Social, and other tools have very low monthly fees and provide a lot of automation that can save you hours every month. When evaluating cost vs time, you’ll save a lot of time for a very small cost if you’re able to find a social media dashboard tool that fits your work flow and Brand’s web channels. Search for a good unified profile name, pick the name that’s available on all the social media channels ( If you can’t have the same name on all channels, be careful how you select variations. (ie worthytech on twitter and worthytechnology on facebook is probably ok. worthytech, techworthy will confuse people) Now: Reserve as many as you have time for in 2 hours or pay (if you have a budget) to have a service like knowem do it for you. (as example of how you might equate time with money and show the cost/hour versus paying up to $300 for someone to do it.) Once you’ve reserved as many channels as you can/want, use your research to pick 1 or 2 that you’ll start with, and think “on a piece of paper” about a short list of the top 5 you think are most important. Most tech industries will want to go with YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus. Your audience might prefer pinterest and you’ll need to research this: survey your current clients and community, google research, refer to your analytics You are only going to focus on 1 or 2 now, the rest you just add a logo, a link to your website, and a short pitch about what your company does for your clients.
  • Email Newsletters: Highest ROI --> according to the latest report; email marketing returns around $28 for every $1 you spend when done correctly. Plus, email marketing is like a little “push”, a gentle reminder to your subscribers that you’re there when they’re ready to buy or when they know someone who’s ready. this sends people to your other online platforms (social, web) where you can engage and convert, push to them. mailchimp or campaign monitor (costs, time to set up, your experience with sending newsletters) * Highest ROI * great way to “push” your messaging so you stay top o’ mind with an audience that opted in CAN SPAM laws are serious business
  • We’re going to skip this slide, it’s here for you to refer back to later. examples from Mailchimp showing form options and templates to help you become familiar with the interfaces. My top newsletter software programs: and
  • Google analytics is crucial because it’s the best way to measure how effective your online activities are at generating value and revenue. Even if you don’t have the time and desire to learn how to use Google analytics in-depth... make sure you at least get your website and other online assets integrated with your tracking ID so you are collecting the data. Outside of the presentation: Time Intensive: can take anywhere from 1-2 hours to create account and integrate with your site to several hours for customizing social media profiles, goals and conversion options, customized dashboard etc., Cost: $0 Prioritize: start tracking data across your online channels. Worry about what to do with that data once you’ve started collecting it and taken time learn more about it. There’s so much you can do with analytics tools to measure your digital marketing and customer engagement online and use it to improve. I love this! (Admittedly, I’m a data “geek”)
  • It takes time to develop and maintain a great web presence, and you’ll want to account for ongoing costs and time in your planning. This isn’t a project with a beginning and end, and there’s no “set-it and forget it” option. Updating shows visitors you’re doing cool stuff and are relevant (and search engines love new content)
  • E-commerce: are you going to be selling products through your website? Because if you are, that’s going to add another layer of complexity to your web marketing strategy because you’re incorporating online payments/transactions that involve taxes, credit card processing, additional security protocols, online shipping and returns management, customer service and online sales, etc. E-commerce also automatically comes with higher upfront and ongoing costs that can more than double your initial investment. Just things to keep in mind when you’re doing your research and planning – spend a little extra time evaluating e-commerce solutions before committing to one. It’s really hard to switch and migrate all of your product and customer data to a new platform if you don’t like this one. Additional resources not included in presentation: Costs: upfront, you’re probably looking at around $100-150 plus there’s a monthly fee for the e-commerce solutions. A note about merchant accounts: there are different types of merchant accounts that work with these services and even if you already have a merchant account to accept credit cards at a store, you might not have the right type to sell through a website. It’s important to write down all the different ways you’re going to accept credit cards (online through a website, through a 3rd party online merchant (paypal/google wallet), in person at a store, at events) and share this with your merchant account provider rep to ensure you get the right type. Depending on your merchant account and storefront software, you might also need to signup for a merchant account gateway. Products: images, videos, SKU, Google has a ton of information about how to best create product pages and descriptions for SEO optimization. Here’s a good presentation to get started: Here’s a great article about mistakes to avoid with search engine optimization:
  • In addition to stand alone storefront and shopping cart software, you can find custom plugins that integrate into your website, or go with a service provider like or For startups just learning web technologies, I recommend you go with the e-commerce option that has the best phone support so call them and talk to them before you become a client.
  • I’ve put this budget estimate together for you all to save you time. You can use this budget as a template/guide. These are estimates based on my experience consulting and training startups and nonprofits on how to DIY their digital marketing and website design. You may spend more or less money/time during your project. Some of these items, like content creation, will take about the same time if you do it as a professional, other tasks, like Google analytics integration and website/hosting set-up will take a professional far less time than you. Be sure to measure your time and expenses actually spent during each step. The key to success as an entrepreneur is going to rely heavily on your ability to understand how you’re spending your time and money and relate it to revenue earned. That way, you’ll be able to prioritize how to spend your time and money on future investments more wisely.  most awesome time tracking tool for online time tracking, free, open source, has an API
  • We’re going to stop here for questions, and if you go online after the presentation today, you can download my full deck with my notes plus links and additional slides full of resources, examples, and tips to help you with your DIY web presence on a startup budget! Also: connect with me on LinkedIn: and feel free to schedule a meeting if you need a little advice or guidance. I’m really excited to be one of HTC’s innovation advisory mentors and I want to encourage you to take advantage of my 15+ years of experience living, working, and playing on the Web.
  • BootStrap Your Start-Up's Digital Presence

    1. 1. A Step by Step Guide for DIY Digital Marketing BootStrap Your Start-Up’s Digital Presence Presented by Sarah M Worthy @sarahmworthy
    2. 2. Why Your Startup Needs a Website
    3. 3. "Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works..." - Steve Jobs I design technology solutions for organizations that help them grow to the next level. @SarahMWorthy
    4. 4. Web Presence = All the ways your company interacts with customers on the Internet
    5. 5. Budget = Balancing Act between Your Time and Money
    6. 6. Create Your Budget Research to Make a Plan Website First Social Media Strategy Email Newsletter Marketing Google Analytics Prepare for the “Never Ending” Story E-Commerce Your Basic Web Presence Checklist
    7. 7. Budget for Upfront Costs Budget for Ongoing Costs & Time Budget for Upfront Time Step 1: Create Your Budget
    8. 8. domain name content strategy website platform keyword research Step 2: Research and Plan e-commerce tools social media strategy newsletter tools $0 4+ hours KPIs/Analyti cs customer service security and data protection
    9. 9. Tools to Save Time and $$
    10. 10. Purchase Your Domain Select Hosting Provider Select Your Website Platform (CMS) Select a Theme Adapt Theme & CMS to Your Goals Add Content that Sells Your Product Step 3: The Website $10-50+ 40+ hours
    11. 11. Website CMS and Hosting
    12. 12. Select Your Startup’s Profile Names Register and Create Accounts Identify Top Social Media Platforms Add Logo, Website URL, and Pitch Integrate with your Website Focus on the top 1 or 2 platforms Step 4: Social Media $0 2+ hours
    13. 13. Select Newsletter Software Integrate Sign-Up form with your site Create a Sign-Up List and Form Create a Newsletter Template Learn CAN-SPAM Laws! Create and Send out Newsletters Step 5: Email Marketing 2+ hours $0-100
    14. 14. Pick newsletter software that has easy ways to integrate the sign-up form with your website. Save time by selecting a pre-built newsletter template that you personalize with your Logo and Brand colors.
    15. 15. Create a Google Analytics Account Connect your social and email tools Add your analytics ID to your website Set-up Goals to track conversion rates Customize your Analytics Dashboard Spend 5-10 minutes daily to watch/read Google Analytics tutorials. Step 6: Google Analytics 2+ hours $0
    16. 16. Social Media Engagement Website Content Development Email Marketing Google Analytics Monitoring Step 7: Ongoing ToDos 15+ hours/month $15- 100+/month Hosting, CMS and maintenance fees
    17. 17. Select Shopping Cart Software Design your storefront Obtain an online merchant account Add your products Integrate Analytics, Social, and Website Security, Customer Service, Shipping... E-Commerce: It’s more complicated than you think $25+ 8+ Hours
    18. 18. Top DIY E-Commerce Tools
    19. 19. Your Estimated Budget:
    20. 20. Thank you Download this Presentation: