As I was working on my content audit, I came across a couple of posts on small business marketing trends for the years 2013 and 2014. As I reviewed these, I noticed something very interesting.
Every trend that was listed for both 2013 and 2014 are no longer trends. Each trend became a marketing must-have for small businesses. I’ve consolidated the content and updated the small business marketing trends to reflect the value they provide today.
8 small business marketing
1. The integrated marketing plan becomes popular again
Now: An integrated marketing plan is critical to high performance
Having a marketing plan is more important for small businesses than they realize. A marketing plan focuses your efforts and helps you avoid wasting time and money doing things that aren’t moving your business towards your goals.
Creating a marketing action plan can help you select the right activities that will make a difference in your results. And now, with all the online opportunities coming your way, you need one action plan that holds you accountable and keeps you focused on achieving your goals.
2. Content marketing dominates small business marketing strategies
Now: Inbound marketing dominates small business marketing strategies
Today’s buyers are even smarter and more savvy when it comes to purchasing products and services. We don’t want to be sold. We do our research on possible solutions to our problems before we make a purchase decision.
Consumer purchases have been made online for quite some time with the buyer controlling the purchase process. But now, even business buyers are taking control. According to Forrester:
- 60% prefer not to interact with a sales rep
- 68% prefer to research on their own online
- 62% develop their selection criteria or finalize a vendor list based on digital content.
So whether you sell to businesses or consumers, you need to position your business as an expert resource using a solid inbound marketing strategy.
- Create expert content that speaks to your audience.
- Optimize that content for better search engine visibility.
- Promote that content on your social media profiles.
This will increase your visibility with your target audience and help them determine the best route to take when making a purchase decision.
3. Case studies get reinvented into content marketing stories
Now: Online reviews are more important than ever
To position your business as an expert resource, you need to create content that speaks to your audience to help them determine the best route to take. But we know it is hard to continually produce content that is relevant to your audience.
Most small businesses have plenty of satisfied customers. These happy customer experiences are a source of rich content that will help others understand how you solve a problem better than anyone else. Well written customer testimonials are one of the most powerful trust signals you can use in all of your marketing.
Just remember that your ideal clients are willing to pay you to do what you do best because it solves a problem or fulfills a need, regardless of how simple it may seem to you. Your existing clients and customers can often provide inspiration for your most powerful and engaging content spoken in the language your customer understands.
Now add powerful online reviews to your customer stories. Positive online reviews helps to increase trust and convert visitors into leads. Whether you are selling to the consumer or a business, your online reputation matters. Incorporate reputation management marketing into your plan and your business will stand out from your competition.
4. Marketing activities evolve from mobile enabled to mobile optimized
Now: Mobile takes the lead
For 2012, mobile support was mission critical and that mobile responsive design would be the most popular small business solution.
A year later, all marketing activities began to be mobile optimized.
And now with more than 50% of online traffic coming from mobile, if your marketing doesn’t support mobile devices, you lose access to a big market.
If the first impression a buyer has of your brand on their smartphone or tablet is not the experience they expect, you can potentially lose a customer before you even know they are interested.
Review your marketing tools and determine if mobile access provides a user experience that doesn’t detract from the message you are trying to convey:
- Can your email newsletters display correctly on a smartphone?
- Does your website provide a quality user experience regardless of device?
- Can the visitor fill in your contact forms or make a purchase from their mobile device?
Going forward, design your marketing around mobile first to be sure you can reach the widest possible audience.
5. Getting and staying visible is no longer an option
Now: SEO is a mandatory marketing strategy
If I can’t find your business online, do you really exist?
Online visibility is a must if you want your business to succeed. When people search, they prefer to click on organic results rather than paid ads. Although being on the first page of the search engine results is important, being visible in the first 5 organic results accounts for 57.6% of all the clicks. Results from 6 to 10 account for only 3.73%.
Every small business needs a strategy that increases visibility when someone is in need of their products or services.
Your web presence is more than just your website. Web presence optimization helps you consistently increase the digital footprint for your business. It:
- Creates more visibility for your brand
- Enables you to network with people online in addition to offline
- Attracts your ideal client through useful information and tools that help them solve a specific problem
Start with a web presence analysis to find out how visible your business is today. Once you have your baseline visibility, then add search engine marketing activities that help increase your presence in the search results.
6. Simplicity in marketing will become the norm
Now: Make it easy to choose you over others
Many marketers feel that today’s buyers are web-savvy, mobile-enabled researchers. They are capable of sifting through the complex information about a product or service in order to make a purchase decision.
In reality, buyers are looking for trustworthy information that helps them easily and efficiently weigh their purchase options. Too many options and messages can paralyze decision making, encouraging the buyer to look at your competitors.
Keep your marketing simple. It will help both you and your prospective customer. Make your value clear, your purchase process simple and customer service awesome. Focus on creating a website that is easy to find what you are looking for. Keep your design clean and message clear to attract more people to your business.
7: No more static, boring websites
Now: Make your website a resource to educate your buyer
Your website needs to work for you. A static website that talks only about how great you are will fail. Visitors that can’t figure out what you can do for them will move on. Transform your website into a guide that helps your prospects understand:
- Who you are
- What services you offer and
- How you can help them achieve their goals.
Create quality, relevant content to attract your target market and position you as the expert in your industry.
- Educate your prospects
- Capture their attention
- Earn their respect
- Gain their trust
Whether you like to produce content or not, you must find a way to create information that helps visitors decide to choose you over your competition. How you provide this information, whether it is via your blog, white papers or cornerstone content will depend on your target audience. Just make it easy for them to find the information they are looking for.
8: Email marketing is not dead
Now: Email is the only marketing channel you own and control
79% of B2B marketers credit email as the most effective distribution channel for demand generation efforts. So if you thought email marketing was fading away, think again.
Email marketing gives visitors a way to stay in touch and enables you to reach people who have proven they are interested in you.
Build your list by creating a valuable lead magnet that your audience gets for free when they sign up for your list. It could be an ebook, whitepaper, template or tool depending on what is useful to your customer. Then execute a lead nuturing strategy to strengthen their relationship with you.
What strategies will you implement?
These former small business marketing trends are now essential marketing activities. Implementing these basic strategies can make a difference between having a good year and a great year. Review your marketing and add those that will have the greatest impact on your visibility.