Honolulu’s digital marketing ecosystem has grown at a faster pace than anywhere else in the world, but some of the biggest players in the field are struggling to keep pace.
Honolulu Digital Marketing, a marketing consulting company, has just completed a study that found Honolulu’s startup community has more than doubled over the past year.
And there are still a few big hurdles to overcome before it can even reach the lofty heights of a big-time marketing firm.
Honolulu’s Digital Marketing Summit will take place this month at the Hawaii Convention Center.
The event will include more than 20 startups, as well as a panel of experts on how to scale the market.
The digital marketing world has evolved over the last few years, but there are some major differences.
For starters, Hawaii is one of the first places in the country to require a minimum amount of time to start up, said Chris Muehlenberg, Honolulu Digital Marketers president.
“The way we’ve built this ecosystem and where we’re at is very different from any other place in the U.S.,” he said.
“It’s really about how you get people to connect with you.”
Hawaii is a pretty new market for digital marketing, and the state’s startup ecosystem is still in its infancy.
“There’s still a lot of room for growth,” Muehlberg said.
The digital marketing landscape in Hawaii has exploded since the launch of Hawaii Digital Marketing in March 2016.
Muehnberg said his company, which focuses on digital marketing for small businesses, has already seen a spike in activity.
“We’re seeing more and more startups popping up in Hawaii and there’s been a lot more activity over the years,” he said, adding that his team is “overwhelmed” with new startups.
That growth has come from a lot different places.
Hawaii Digital Marketings cofounder and CEO Nick Jelinski said the biggest challenge for Hawaii’s startups has been connecting with customers and getting them to share their business ideas.
“In general, I think we have a pretty small team in Hawaii, which is kind of a bit of a shame because we’re trying to scale,” he explained.
Jelinsky said the challenge of scaling is being able to connect and build a robust customer base.
The most popular topics in Hawaii’s startup communities have included “bounceback” campaigns, social media marketing, mobile apps, and social media influencer programs.
Mueshnberg noted that the number of active social media accounts in Hawaii had been growing since the beginning of the year, but he said that as more startups have come out of obscurity, the number is beginning to drop.
The top 3 social media platforms in Hawaii are Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook, according to Hawaii Digital Markets annual survey.
And while Jelinksi said the company has been working on a few different strategies to keep up with these companies’ updates, the most popular one right now is “recycled emails.”
“The more you get them, the more they’re getting back to you,” he pointed out.
“The most important thing is that they’re being delivered to your inbox.”
The best way to connect to a new customer, he said was to send them a “thank you” email and then share that email with other members of your team.
That way, you’re also engaging with your customers and keeping their interest.
“I think we’re really doing well with it right now,” he added.
Muteshberg also noted that when Hawaii’s founders were looking for a way to grow, they found it was helpful to get a sense of what other states are doing.
“When we were looking to grow in the state of Hawaii, we kind of wanted to go to New York,” he noted.
“But New York was kind of out of the question because they didn’t have a digital market.”
The digital market in Hawaii also differs from the one that’s in New York.
“You’ve got to be a real tech guy to come up here,” said Mueshlberg.
Hawaii’s digital market has been largely built on social media, and when the state launched its digital marketing initiative in March, they focused on mobile apps.
“For us, mobile is a bigger opportunity than social media,” he continued.
Mutshberg noted the digital marketing industry is more open than in other states, and there are plenty of opportunities to connect.
“A lot of times, we’re doing a lot in Hawaii,” he observed.
“So when we get an opportunity to get to work, we want to take advantage of it.”
Mueshberg said the key is to build relationships with your current customers.
“If we can have an opportunity for them to connect, that’s great,” he stressed.
“Then we can grow in a different way.”
The biggest challenge that digital marketing has faced is keeping up with the times.
“Technology is changing the way that people communicate,” Mueshinberg said, and so are the ways that they interact.