This is a guest post from our friends at valuerai.com:
The startup ecosystem is constantly evolving: dominant trends are replaced as market players continue to innovate. In 2018, startups concentrated on strengthening the digital core of their business and marketing functions. State of the art technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) was influential in the startup scene last year.
The focus has shifted for 2019 to an increase in customer satisfaction enabled by the integration of these technologies. Experts have also predicted a surge in the adoption of mobile-based business approaches, with higher numbers of collaboration and a surge in remote working culture.
The post below offers insights on the six fascinating startups and small business trends to look out for in 2019.
One of the biggest trends in startup growth in 2019 is a higher degree of focus on customer satisfaction and retention.
Startups are moving towards a customer-centric model, and this is influencing their marketing significantly. Marketing campaigns are now designed strategically to create unique, innovative avenues to draw in and engage with customers. Hyper-personalized marketing is one of the most prominent trends we can expect to observe in 2019.
Hyper-personalized marketing takes personalized marketing to a new level with a deeper reach. A narrower focus on personalization efforts facilitated by the higher degree of targeting now possible using technology. For example, an accessory brand for both men and women can offer personalization using customized displays of separate offers for men and women, or teen girls and 35+ women. Hyper-personalization and customization are fuelled by a greater ability to segment a target audience using innovative tech.
Focus on voice search
Voice search is now beginning to disrupt the long since stable search engine market and will account for 50% of searches by 2020. With voice search on the rise, startups are increasingly looking to adapt their SEO strategies to stay ahead of this trend.
One way in which voice is affecting search is the average length of the search. Typed search is typically short, but when people speak, it’s generally in full sentences. For example, searching for the weather forecast in Texas in March, you might type: “Texas weather March 2019”, but a voice search would more likely be worded as: “What weather should I expect in Texas in March this year?”
As such, a feature of the voice search trend is an increase in long-tail queries over the 3-4 word queries of typed search. Startups are therefore focusing on incorporating long-tail queries into their SEO strategy to actively accommodate this growing trend.
Focus on influencer marketing
Influencer marketing is based on the concept that purchase decisions are made based on influencers having ‘influence’ over online consumers. Interestingly, one of the greatest factors observed in this regard is reviews and testimonials from previous customers which represent social proof to the consumer. Customers today gauge the credibility of a brand largely based on previous customer opinions. A higher number of positive reviews are crucial in increasing customer acquisition rate for a business.
According to stats on influencer marketing, 39% of marketers need to increase their budget for influencer marketing. With influencer marketing remaining a strong trend, 2019 will see more startups leveraging influencer marketing as suitable for their business. The creation of review forums for customers to post reviews, communicate and exchange views with other consumers is becoming commonplace.
These forums aid startups in identifying strengths and weaknesses in their offerings. This data allows startups the opportunity to provide a better user experience, honing their strengths. Improving the product or service to be more in line with customer preferences translate to a rise in customer acquisition, satisfaction, and retention.
B2B startups focus more on mobile
2019 will see more B2B startups investing in mobile applications. Smart mobile devices are now an indispensable and constant aspect of life, and this is especially true for millennials who champion the portability and on-the-go connectivity offered by mobile devices.
Major decision makers in B2B startups are now mostly millennials, and they acknowledge the benefits of the personalized, intuitive experience offered by mobile applications. While conducting business operations, they desire the option for communication services to be optimized for mobile devices. As such, it is now mandatory for B2B startups to make a serious investment in a mobile-friendly experience for their client companies.
Increase in remote work culture
The acceleration in communication technology has facilitated remote working as a viable option, and 2019 will see further growth in the trend as it continues to be preferred by many employers.
This increase in flexibility drives improvements in efficiency and time management, and a reduction in travel expenses. Startups have embraced the trend and are encouraging it as a way of offsetting the costs of renting office space to accommodate larger teams. Improvement in telecommunication technologies allows startup CEOs to stay in touch with staff constantly, despite any physical distance between them.
A startup encouraging remote working culture can claim that they care about work-life balance and the marked increase in morale associated with it. The consequent increase in employee acquisition and retention rates are another bonus.
Focus on 24/7 customer support
As previously mentioned, startups will focus on customer support in 2019, but this can be seen to extend to 24/7 customer care in the coming year. Round the clock customer support may not be a new concept, but this year it is expected to become commonplace with the advent of AI-powered chatbots credited for a surge in the trend this year.
Incorporating chatbots into customer support gives customers greater access to information. Chatbots are capable of answering common customer queries in the same way a human customer service executive would. Unlike humans, these bots do not tire, enabling them to cater to customers at any time, be it at midnight or midday.
Previously, the costs associated with offering 24/7 customer care prevented startups from offering this service and affected their customer acquisition and retention rates. As chatbot technology changes the landscape of customer service startups now have access to constant and seamless customer support on their websites or apps.
Adoption of new technologies to ease financial distress
One in three startups suffer from capital shortage, but interestingly one-third of startups also begin with less than $5,000 in capital. This year will witness steady growth in the trend of startups operating with limited cash flow. These dynamic small businesses are adopting new technologies to offset some of their operational costs. For example, the aforementioned implementation of chatbots in their customer service department. The cost of implementing a chatbot is less than the cost of employing a team customer care executives.
Advancement in technology such as this are significantly reducing the barriers to entry for startups, and an initial capital below $5,000 is no longer the limiting factor it once was.
Focus on business collaboration
2019 will witness an increase in large corporate units entering into collaboration with startups. Major players in banking were some of the first corporations to enter into collaborations with startups in Fintech, but this year will show higher growth in the trend.
Startups are typically led by dynamic, talented and ambitious individuals, and these kinds of people are of great interest to corporates. Big firms are therefore beginning to partner with promising startups on a large scale. Startups supply innovative ideas and talent to corporate firms with substantial financial muscle to co-create breakthrough products. Startups represent flexibility and ability within the market that is not afforded in the structured organization of most corporations and as such the collaboration is mutually beneficial.
The word “phygital” is an amalgamation of the physical world with the digital one, and it’s one of the booming trends to be seen with startups in 2019. The phrase implies a desire among customers for an experience beyond the digital space.
When considering the rise of e-commerce, consumers can now shop from home in just a few clicks, but this robs them of the ability to touch or feel a product before buying. Such issues facing customers online often lead to dissatisfaction with purchasing decisions.
To increase convenience for customers, startups (especially in retail) are increasingly adopting phygital practices. Establishing a physical outlet to add to their e-commerce functionality, customers can visit a physical store to check products before proceeding to order online from the comfort of their home.