All companies start somewhere, and startups build from the ground up — especially when it comes to their marketing strategy. To drive immediate results, startup marketing must be innovative, testing and result-driven, and ever-changing to keep up with an always shifting market. Despite limited budgets, marketing should never be swept under the rug when it comes to budgeting and planning for growth. Marketing is an absolute must for companies looking to drive brand awareness, a follower base, trust. With big goals, startups are consistently bringing new trends or a refreshed version of an existing trend to the table, and we couldn’t be more excited to break them down. Startup marketers: Keep an eye out for these trends in 2022:
All The Testing, All The Time
Startups must be fearless in many ways, and their marketing strategy must be the most fearless of them all. With lofty goals and little time, startups hit the ground running with little to no stopping. Continuous testing is crucial for fast growth and quick customer acquisition. There are two ways startups are doing this:
Startups stay on track with their growth with conversion rate optimization. Think about it: no new company knows exactly what their website visitors want, which is why CRO is so essential in terms of establishing baseline tactics and kickstarting growth. Sure, paid media can drive as many users as you want to the website, but it’s essential to have best practices in place based on definitive A/B testing amongst other CRO tactics. Driving traffic is one piece of the puzzle, while a data-driven UX experience is just as important.
“Growth hacking” might be a popular buzzword in today’s marketing world, but it’s also one of the most effective ways for a new business to carve its niche in its market space. In its simplest form, growth hacking solely focuses on growth through data-driven and experiment-based marketing processes. Growth hacking is especially important for startups looking to reach mass audiences in a small amount of time. Though growth hacking is an umbrella term that encompasses multiple marketing strategies, it should be noted how essential this tactic is for quick growth and success.
A strong content marketing strategy is an absolute must for startups looking to break into the marketspace or further establish their brand presence. After all, behind every brand is a strong content strategy that successfully connects them to their audience. Content marketing has the ability showcase thought leadership while building trust and reliability to both search engines and readers. Content marketing is a broad term, so let’s take a look at some of the top trending methods used by startups today:
Another trend? User-generated content. Startups (that are lucky enough to have loyal and engaged customers who are ready to go to bat for their product) are leveraging it. UGC can be leveraged in a variety of ways, and we’ve seen it used on almost every channel possible.
So, is UGC really that important for startup marketing? Absolutely. Brand trust is everything and leveraging UGC is one of the most efficient ways to establish it. Don’t believe us? Take a look at the stats:
- On average, 60 percent of people (and 70 percent of Millennials) said social media content from friends and family impacts their purchasing decisions, while only 23 percent said celebrity influencer content was impactful.
- According to a Comscore study, customer engagement is around 28% higher with user-generated content than with content that is professionally created.
- 79% of customers say user-generated content has a strong influence on their purchasing decisions.
Thought leadership matters, and any good startup knows this. Content marketing brings thought leadership to the forefront and inspires sharing amongst industry professionals, further establishing a company’s place among its peers and potential customers. Here are the top content marketing strategies we’ll continue to see startups utilize into 2022:
- Creating content communities via:
- Slack channels
- Blog posts
- Shareable Infographics & Imagery
- Viral sounds
- Videos & Webinars
Okay, this may be the most obvious in terms of marketing, but TikTok is the most significant platform to enter the startup marketing space in recent years. Why? Simple — absolutely anyone (really, anyone!) can go viral or build a strong follower base on TikTok. Why? The TikTok algorithm is unlike any other in the social space, giving less weight to virality and more to a user’s interests, searches, and engagements.
So how are startups using TikTok? Easy- like everyone else! Thousands of companies have successfully carved out a space for themselves by offering unique content — not always relevant to their bottom line, but relevant to trends or simply by providing engaging content that peaks interest enough for users to follow. We’re continuously seeing this trend in real time, as companies like Duolingo have gained a significant following through content that doesn’t sell their product directly but has increased their brand awareness and visibility significantly.
On top of organic content, TikTok’s paid opportunities offer unlimited growth potential, and it doesn’t require a large budget to drive success. Paid advertising on TikTok is a great way for startups to combine UGC with their paid media and growth hacking strategy.
💡 Tip: The more paid content with an organic appearance serves to users on TikTok, the more likely a user is to engage with the video for a much longer period. We’re seeing more and more companies turn to this option because a) consumers regard this type of content much more highly than regular brand posts or promotions, and b) it’s also much cheaper and more convenient to share and produce than other video content. Marketers should not be reliant on paid content, as in order to have an effective paid strategy that builds brand awareness and content engagement, there must be a strong organic presence as well.
Leveraging Paid Google Campaigns
At this point, Google will always play a role in a successful marketing strategy — especially a startup strategy. Cross-channel optimization is essential in terms of increasing brand awareness and overall conversion rate. For early-stage startups, launching a solid Google-based strategy is likely to be a hit in terms of paid advertising. Why? Google campaigns can drive quality leads, and they’re not necessarily expensive as marketers have control over budgets and bids. Google campaigns will continue to be popular amongst startups as they unlock a powerful way to boost traffic and recapture sales, regardless of where users are on the web. A few campaign types Google offers that are almost always used by startups:
- Search: Great for startups that are looking to increase their brand presence on the SERP, especially if their site isn’t ranking organically yet.
- YouTube: Commonly used in a commercial format, but it’s refreshing to see startups get creative with this. YouTube campaigns offer a unique opportunity to reach target audiences in video format.
- Display: One of the most popular ways to maintain brand awareness. Startups often use this campaign format to begin building brand awareness or to retarget site users.
- Shopping (For eCommerce): When shopping ads do appear on the SERP, they always appear first. Startups selling products often utilize smart shopping campaigns paired with feed and product optimization tactics.
💡 With the launch of Performance Max campaigns, cross-channel optimization has never been easier for google advertisers.
A marketing staple that isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Why? It can be low-cost and makes one of the most significant impacts in terms of increasing brand awareness and driving leads or conversions at a steady rate. Startups with a solid SEO strategy are making the right investment, as SEO is typically the lowest-risk and, depending on the industry, returns the highest ROI of all marketing channels.
A strong keyword strategy paired with a strong technical strategy is an easy win for startups looking to break through to searchers and search engines. Optimizing for search is one of the best ways to maintain an online presence for those searching for a service or product, with little cost involved.
It’s no secret that word of mouth is an extremely valuable tool when it comes to company growth. With that being said, it’s a no-brainer that startups continue to leverage referral programs. Referral programs often offer incentives for both the referrer and the referral recipient, making “word of mouth” advertising in reach, controlled, and affordable. So how are startups using referral programs to drive success? A quick look:
- Commissions based on their referrals purchase or engagement
- Cashback on their next purchase
Referral Recipient Receives:
- For % discount off their next purchase
- For a free trial or sample
Common Value Props:
- Give $XX, Get $XX
- Invite Your Friends For XX off your next purchase
Startups know garnering interest, acquiring customers, and recapturing sales all require strong communication, which is why the communication piece of marketing is so vital to their success. A few ways startups are staying in touch with their customers:
Startups incorporating email into their marketing mix are more likely to have a higher ROI, as email is one of the most cost-effective strategies. Not only does email serve as a great way to improve brand recognition, drive additional traffic, and communicate priority messaging, but also is extremely effective when it comes to customer retention. Overall, startups that build out a full-funnel strategy that works to communicate with the customer at any point in their journey, are the startups that will continue to see the most success here.
SMS & App Messaging Marketing
Much like email, SMS and app messaging are personalized touchpoints startups use to stay in contact with users. Over the years, both tactics have become more prevalent as more companies add them to their marketing mix. Both SMS & app messaging are great ways to quickly communicate with customers about discounts, sales, and other significant value props being offered. Often, these users are already customers or lower on the funnel in their marketing journey, so an extra message highlighting a promotion is likely to jumpstart their next conversion.
💡 Note: When using communication channels like email, SMS, and app messaging, make sure to utilize the strength of each touchpoint and coordinate between channels accordingly. If not, you run the risk of fatiguing your audience.
Installing A Customer Feedback System
Though not marketing at its core, customer feedback is essential for any successful marketing strategy, meaning this is a crucial piece for constantly-evolving startups. Installing a customer feedback system helps quickly improve conversion rate and overall customer experience. Customer feedback should be measured in a few ways, likely through interviews, surveys, digital analytics, and general product reviews. If startups aren’t open to listening to their customers, they likely won’t effectively communicate with their target audience. With that being said, startup marketers must know their audience’s wants and needs, which is why we’re including this trend on our marketing strategy list.
2022 & Beyond
Startups must be innovative, resilient, experimental, and open to challenging traditional systems that once worked. As we move into 2022, we know everything listed above will continue to play a huge role in the growth space. With that being said, we know marketing is a constantly evolving space that will never have one singular best practice. With new channel opportunities launching frequently, we’ll be keeping our eyes peeled for startups using them in their own innovative way in 2022.