All companies start somewhere, and start-ups build from the ground up — especially when it comes to their marketing strategy. To drive immediate results, start-up 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, start-ups 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. Start-up marketers: Keep an eye out for these marketing trends in 2022:
1. Rapid Experimentation
Looking to scale? With rapid experimentation, quick learnings are key to scaling and positioning. With lofty goals and little time, start-ups hit the ground running with little to no stopping. Start-ups should adopt a rapid experimentation mindset in terms of marketing, as it’s crucial for fast growth and quick customer acquisition.
Experimentation can be implemented via any channel, to any audience, and at any point in a customer journey. Rapid experimentation offers a unique opportunity for start-ups, as it’s a fast-tracked way to unlock efficient, sustainable growth. A growth-focused start-up should constantly look for new ways to reach their target market, as there are an unlimited number of opportunities to increase customer acquisition pace and validate product and value propositions.
2. Audio & Podcast Advertising
The audio industry continues to grow with each passing year, and both podcasting and podcast advertising have become massive opportunities for marketers. According to Nielsen, 78% of the consumers surveyed don’t mind hearing podcast ads, and 62% would consider buying a product after hearing an ad. Podcast ads offer four key things to marketers in the start-up space: content-based targeting, growth, brand trust, and ad recall. Let’s break it down:
- Targeting: This year, platforms like Spotify are all-in when it comes to providing advertisers with audio-advertising capabilities. In fact, Spotify boasts its unique targeting options, including context and behavior-based targeting. As Spotify puts it, “When people immerse themselves in music and podcasts on Spotify, they trust us to know their taste and get their algorithm just right. The same holds true for the ads they experience on our platform. Our audience targeting tools get your message to people in moments relevant for them—and for your business.” Not only are podcasts targeting options a great way for advertisers to reach users relevant to their business, but it also offers unique target capabilities in a post-iOS 14 world.
- Growth: There are more podcast listeners than there ever have been, approximately 116 million monthly listeners. Given the rising number of users, spending on podcast advertising continues to increase as the global podcast spend is predicted to reach $1.6 billion this year.
- Building Trust: Give that listeners are highly engaged with their podcasts and the hosts of the podcast, they’re more likely to trust a product advertised on a podcast. In fact, 60% of podcast listeners have bought something from a podcast ad.
Recall: Because users are more engaged with the audio they’re listening to, they’re more likely to engage with an ad. 69% of users say podcast ads increase their awareness of products, brands, and services.
3. Generating Personalized Content With AI Tools
Artificial intelligence should be a significant consideration for start-up marketers looking to create a personalized user experience. Content personalization is when you serve site visitors with content personalized to their preferences, and many marketers have already enlisted in AI to ensure this content is as relevant as possible. The need for AI-generated content is simple: Marketers cannot create one piece of content for everyone, as content is not a one size fits all strategy. In fact, 45% of consumers said they would seek other options if a company failed to provide a personalized experience.
If feasible, start-ups should consider integrating content-oriented tools into the marketing mix to better appeal to various customer segments in various places on the funnel.
4. Interactive Content
Simply put, interactive content is dynamic content that engages a user and encourages them to spend more time with the product or service. With that being said, there are a world of benefits that come along with interactive content, as it improves key metrics in terms of content throughout the funnel. It’s more effective due to the fact that users are more inclined to interact with this type of content, especially knowing these experiences are generally rewarding to them. Interactive content comes in a variety of forms, with some of the most popular including:
- Gamification: Onsite content that incorporates gaming elements into a non-gaming context to improve engagement levels and encourage users to take specific actions. The way the game is created is based on the type of activity, but most involve points, levels, badges, leaderboards, challenges, rewards, and/or achievements. (Ex: Spin To Win!)
- Quizzes: Engage users by allowing them to answer questions about their concerns, and subsequently offer solutions via products or services post-submission. (Ex: Find the right shampoo for your hair type).
- Calculators: Personalized solutions to users willing to provide a specific data point. (Ex: Users looking to get a mortgage based on their income and monthly expenses).
- Surveys: Unlike polls, surveys relay quantitative data-based responses by allowing customers to give their feedback regarding your brand, products, services, etc. anonymously (Typically on a 1-10 scale). Notably, this also plays well with AI, as a survey can help start-ups better adjust to the constantly-changing consumer landscape.
- Live chat: Live chats provide a real-time, onsite opportunity to solve consumer challenges and quickly build relationships while strengthening brand trust. Not only do session times increase, but so do conversion rates, as live chat capabilities actively work to close the gap between stages of the conversion funnel.
There’s absolutely no downside to integrating interactive content, as it only boosts site engagement and provides additional insight into customer behavior and values.
5. Value-Based Marketing
Aligning with user values is not a new concept by any means, but is absolutely necessary as society evolves in terms of values, beliefs, and the idea of “putting their money where their mouth is.” In short, consumers want to feel good about their purchases and look for meaningful relationships with brands, as value-based marketing is a way to appeal to a customer’s values and ethics, shifting marketing away from a typical product-centric approach to instead a customer-centric one (Chron).
Start-ups that integrated a value-based marketing strategy are likely to reap the rewards. So how should start-ups begin to approach this? Consider answering these value-based questions to determine how they pertain to your business objectives and consumer values:
- What’s memorable about your brand?
- What’s unique about your brand?
- What’s meaningful about your brand?
- Who is your brand speaking to?
- What problem does your brand solve?
- Does your brand give back? How does it give back?
After determining where your brand falls in terms of core values, consider revisiting your target audience and redefining your competitors. Identifying how competitors speak to their customers is especially important, as it provides the unique opportunity to carve out additional space in the marketplace.
At the end of the day, value-based marketing continues to grow with the continuously-elvoving drive of wanting to do better for ourselves and those around us. Notably, 2022 has already been hailed as the year marketers build on sustainable values as organizations begin to shift, and marketers working at any mission-based organization should note the value and implications this has. As start-ups adapt value-based marketing strategies, they’ll undoubtedly attract more loyal and passionate customers along the way.
6. Social Commerce
There’s no denying that social commerce is one of the most important trends of 2022. Notably, US social commerce sales are expected to reach $45.74 billion in 2022, with more than a half of the country’s adults making a purchase on social media. When looking toward 2025, Insider Intelligence projects that social commerce will be a $79.64 billion industry in the US alone, solidifying the fact that start-ups in the eCommerce industry must integrate social commerce into their marketing strategy in one way or another.
The ever-changing social media landscape is intrinsically linked to consumer shopping behaviors, as user-generated content (UGC) and influencer ads continue to dominate the space and are highly effective when paired with a strong social commerce strategy.
UGC is a pillar in video and content marketing in 2022. 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.
6.2. Influencer Content
Obviously, influencers have the power to, well, influence, and that trend is here to stay in 2022 and should be viewed as a valuable asset to start-ups looking to create immediate movement in their social commerce strategy. On many social channels, notably Instagram, users can now purchase directly from the app, while content creators are able to tag a product directly. These updates allow these channels to become closer to the bottom of the funnel, and continue to evolve the influencer marketing space.
Unsurprisingly, the influencer marketing space leaves room for expansive growth, as the spending on influencer marketing grows. It expanded this year by 42% to $13.8 billion worldwide and is forecast to notch $15 billion by the end of 2022. A huge benefit to influencer marketing for start-ups is the fact that they’re not limited to a specific industry, as there are popular influencers in any industry, largely attributed to the rise of TikTok.
At the end of the day, “the value of influencer marketing lies in the fact that 61% of consumers trust influencers’ recommendations—more than the 38% who trust branded (and often biased) branded social media content.”
With the projected increases in social commerce, it’s evident that purchasing via social media will be here to stay, and start-ups should waste no time in taking advantage of that.
7. Utilizing A Diverse Set of Advertising Channels
Most users in the growth marketing space have been impacted by the iOS 14 update. Diversifying ad channels, or the oft-referred to “marketing mix,” is not a new concept — but diversification is arguably more important than it’s ever been in 2022. With increasingly difficult-to-close attribution data gaps and consumer privacy concerns taking center stage in 2022, marketers simply cannot risk performance by relying on one singular channel or one specific tactic. Though hopping on marketing trends is tempting for all marketers, diversification is key, especially in a start-up looking to carve its place in the market.
So, where should start-ups look to diversity? Look in both new and old places. Evergreen tactics such as Google Ads, organic search, content marketing, and referral programs continue to drive success for marketers globally and have not felt the impacts as strongly as the social space has. They’re stable and have proved their longevity time and time again. Though evergreen, it doesn’t mean advertisers cant find something new! Google recently launched performance max campaigns and have a large 2022 planned. Pairing trends with channels that have proved successful to marketers in previous years should be a strong consideration.
8. Community Lead Growth
Community-led growth is a go-to-market strategy in which companies place value beyond their product or service by providing a platform to deepen consumer and brand interactions, providing educational resources, facilitating Q&A through real-time support and feedback, and building brand loyalty, trust, and advocacy. Community-led growth tactics offer an incredible opportunity to start-ups looking to further their product based on the conversation surrounding it.
Community-led starts with a successful product and continues momentum by building on the power of its enthusiastic consumers. So how can start-ups take advantage? Simple:
- Start by identifying what motivates your audience and what values they share.
- Follow this by determining your platform – Where does your audience already live? Facebook Groups and Slack Channels are both key channels, though gaming communities communicate on platforms like Twitch and Discord, while other brands are hosting their communities on dedicated community platforms
- After setting up your community platform, start connecting and fostering a community of users who align with your brand. Encourage these community members to also subscribe to your brand-owned channels beyond social media. This includes newsletters, blogs, and podcasts.
- Gather consumer driven-data. Listen to your audience and work to understand what their interests are and what their lives look like. Once emerged, these insights can be incredibly valuable to improving your business and ideating the next steps.
- From there, you should look to expand your community’s reach via industry experts.
- Finally, your community could grow large enough to translate events offline, such as in-person events, ambassador-based sponsored events, and more. Bring your community to the next level.
2022 & Beyond
Start-ups 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 start-ups using them in their own innovative way in 2022.