5 ways startup marketing has changed in the past 5 years

Rapid technological development has ‘fast-forwarded’ the way marketing has developed over the past 5 years. In just one year, digital transformation is far ahead where everyone thought it would be before COVID-19. This has forged the need for businesses to quickly and decisively adapt their marketing strategies at the speed of changing technologies, markets, and consumer behaviour. The ‘new normal’ for marketing now includes making constant strategy adjustments to optimise results. 

Although the list is long, below you’ll find some highlights of the major ways marketing developments are helping startup growth right now.

  1. Agile marketing

As the world moves forward at a fast pace, marketers have become more prepared than ever to approach the challenges with agility. They are not just years ahead in terms of digital fluency but are also ready to react quickly and efficiently to the changing customer needs by taking advantage of all technological advancements including big data. 

In just a few years, the creation of month-long marketing campaigns have been replaced by day-to-day insights mirroring and continuous strategies improvements and adaptations. 

Instead of following plans and statistics predictions, marketing teams have become more prone to studying the customers and responding as they go. They employ various experiments and growth hacking techniques in order to improve the processes for growth and scalability. 

2. Advanced social networks 

Five years isn’t that long, but in ‘Social Media years’, it might as well be decades, especially when 2020 is included in the count. The social media landscape has changed a lot since creating a content calendar and posting regularly was good enough. Today, along with creating visually strong and high-quality content, businesses have to continually find ways to communicate with the audience and build communities around the brand. 

In short: the passive approach no longer works. 

Now, the number and types of social media platforms is significantly higher than it used to be 5 years ago. Furthermore, it became easier for businesses to target specific audiences and measure the results more accurately. What’s even more interesting, is that audiences have clustered to different platforms and although a decent presence on platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter is inevitable, TikTok may be the place where some businesses should spend more time engaging if they are targeting the Z generation, for example. And, as the need for dialogue and connection is transcending the ‘likes and followers’ models, social networks such as ClubHouse may soon be the next major thing in Social Media. 

3. Conversational AI 

Gone are the days when customers were searching websites to find an email address, only to be reverted with a ‘we will get back to you soon’ reply. Through the use of chatbots, live chat, and targeted messaging, conversational marketing has become one of the most exciting trends that have significantly transformed the digital marketing landscape over the past 5 years. 

With its feedback-oriented approach, conversational marketing fosters genuine conversations and delivers value across multiple channels. Moreover, it helps marketing teams to automate the processes that were once heavily dependent on human effort. 

Conversational marketing helps brands to enhance customer experience and develop customer loyalty. Still, more importantly, it helps them to generate more qualified leads, send personalised email marketing campaigns based on the behaviour of the user, conduct social media outreach and support various other tasks while saving time and resources.

4. Trustworthiness and greater purpose

Trustworthiness, transparency, empathy, solidarity, on one hand; sustainability, inclusivity, diversity, giving back to the startup community, on the other. We have been hearing about all of this for quite a while but many tech companies have been making empty promises for years. It was not until 2020 happened to the world when a turning point was reached. The trend of talking about making a positive change became a necessity after we all felt the need for it in our own lives.  

Building trust and showing empathy have never been more relevant than it is now. The pandemic accelerated the digital transformation and forever changed the workplace making ‘remote’ the new normal. Demonstrations against racism and violence have shaken the world. All of this resulted in making products less ‘racist’ and hiring more diverse teams. Additionally, new laws and metrics made the lack of diversity more transparent. 

As a result, marketing has become more about being human, being inclusive, and giving back rather than just making a profit and speaking about inclusivity. And, what’s even more interesting, startups have taken the lead. 

5. Product-led marketing and better user experience

The idea behind the concept of product-led growth (PLG) is not new. It is associated with ‘viral’, ‘freemium’, ‘try-before-you-buy’, ‘SaaS 2.0’, and other similar terms. And, many argue that all the hype around it resembles adding a new coat of paint to an existing practice. However, since the actual term ‘Product-led Growth’ was first coined in 2016 it has been creating quite a buzz among tech companies, especially SaaS startups. Great effort has been put into creating cohesive teams where marketers and salespeople work along with everybody else to make sure the product fits the customer who, by all means, is at the centre of the entire business. 

Product-led growth is defined as “instances where product usage serves as the primary driver of user acquisition, retention, and expansion”. Great examples of brands who rose to success by using this strategy are Slack and Calendly. Here the entire marketing efforts are directed to creating a great product experience that will drive growth in the customer base. 

Product-led marketing is not a simple go-to-market approach, though. It often involves many other marketing strategies, such as storytelling, but here the focus would be on creating helpful stories that show how the user can overcome obstacles by using your product. The end goal is to make the product sell itself while you keep your focus on continually improving the experience.