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Integrating SEO into your product GTM as a startup

Integrating SEO into your product GTM as a startup

In previous articles, we learned why SEO should be a consideration for early stage startups as well as SEO strategies to help you be competitive in the SERPs early.

Now we’re looking at another key phase in the business life cycle for a start at an early stage – developing your go-to-market strategy and the first product launch.

As Sean Ellis said, scaling growth before product / market alignment is the fastest way to kill your startup.

In your early days and when planning your first product launch, there are many risks. You are under pressure to meet deadlines from various stakeholders and reach milestones that can be linked to investment.

Without a robust go-to-market strategy, blindly investing in growth can do more harm than good.

What you are looking for is product market adaptation, which means that your product / solution effectively meets a specific market segment. Getting this adjustment is crucial for short- and long-term growth as well as short- and long-term monthly recurring revenue (MRR).

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Developing a Go-To-Market Strategy

There is no shortage of blog posts on how to develop a sustainable GTM strategy, but the most successful ones I have seen contain all the elements of:

Customer interaction and interview-like interactions with both leading and open-ended questions to help identify specific issues of use and to identify the timing of your solution. A form of A / B testing with a group of potential users to validate the product and highlight any usage issues (for edge cases or compatibility with other systems used by the target market). A feedback method from both of the above groups to determine exactly how your potential audience sees your product, the value it brings them, and their willingness to pay for that value.

From these three activities you can better inform:

Your pricing strategy. Your core market message. An understanding of who your competitors are. An idea of ​​how your audience will use your product, and in relation to what other products.

More importantly, this process helps you do something that is crucial to your success, but which other business stakeholders may hate – it helps you reduce your original audience and market so you know who to target first.

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Targeting a narrower audience with SEO

Depending on your niche, trying to do SEO for a narrower audience can sometimes mean that third-party keyword research tools start to fall down.

This is especially true in emerging technology markets, as search volumes will be lower or phrases may not even be picked up by tools due to low / non-existent PPC usage and advertising data.

This is where your GTM strategy (and common sense) can help you develop a targeted SEO strategy for your target audience audience.

It can help you take your SEO strategy from whack-a-mole keyword targeting to developing content and user journeys that create value propositions.

It helps users better predict their experience of your product / service.

1. SEO helps you understand your real competitors

Everyone who sells products online competes with Amazon and eBay, at least in theory.

However, in reality, only a few companies really compete with them.

Everyone with a SaaS product has a narrow set of competitors, but they are also likely to overlap with other SaaS products. This is something you need to factor in your marketing as your potential customers will consider them as options when comparing.

There is a good example of this recognition on Gitlab’s website. The various product features are divided and categorized, allowing visitors to make quick comparisons with other larger tool suites and multiple niche options:

Taking this approach also helps disprove an assumption I hear a lot from some product markets in SaaS, and that is, “People who want our product would not be interested in Brand X.”

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In fact, we control very few variables in the customer’s decision – making process, so we can not say that at all.

2. Stay focused with keyword research

As mentioned, when targeting a new market segment or addressing issues from a different angle, the market may not be mature in terms of “search”, so there may be some data to go after.

This means that you need to look at other sources to identify keywords. But more importantly, this will force you to look for the message your audience is looking for around the issues they are facing.

You need to focus on the solutions your product offers to determine the issues your audience will be looking with and then where to look.

For most tech / SaaS products, places like Quora and StackOverflow are good places to start. This is especially true if your audience is more systems, infrastructure and engineering focused.

If your audience is a more general marketer, sites like Facebook groups, Slack communities, Reddit and even product specific forums are great places to go and my data.

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However, it is important to remember not to go into these open forums and communities with a sales-first message. You will probably damage your brand before you even launch.

Experience Forecasting informs conversion and retention

A lot of marketing strategies focus heavily on the initial user acquisition, and I’m not saying this is a bad thing.

But when you need to market with a new product or service that you hope to build your business – and future products and services on the back of – you also need to consider retention strategies.

Retention is often condemned to post-conversion activities and elements such as customer service.

Once done, retent storage starts during the discovery, consideration, and conversion phases.

This is something I call experience prediction. In essence, there are a number of variables in the customer buying process that we do not control. In addition, all customers will be exposed to a number of personal experiences, their own expectations and estimates of “good” as well as a number of other allegedly irrelevant factors.

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Our messages must emphasize that the product / service can meet the user’s needs. And it is necessary to do so in a way that best allows the user to accurately estimate how closely the delivery of service lives up to their expectations.

Once the predicted experience is met (or carefully met), the user will be happy and likely either convert their trial period to a subscription or extend their subscription with you.

Get Granular with an SEO-Informed Go-To-Market Strategy

SEO gives you insight into developing your most successful go-to-market strategy.

In the long run, it also supports the life of the product and the brand as a whole.

More resources:

Image credit

Screenshot taken by the author, July 2021

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