Spurring growth in a small business, or any business for that matter, is impossible without marketing. And like so many elements of the dynamic business world, what constitutes effective marketing changes over time. What worked five years ago, or even last year, might not be nearly as effective now.
Despite increased hiring and plans for more capital spending in the small-business sector toward the end of 2013, few would argue that the past 12 months have been a particularly auspicious time for small-business owners.
But each new calendar represents an opportunity to turn things around, and the advent of the new year is an excellent time to discuss ways of attracting new customers, and building more profitable businesses. So which marketing trends should small-business owners look to when marketing their businesses in 2014?
Mobile Is the New Frontier
Or more accurately, mobile has been the new frontier for some time now. But while it may not exactly be a fresh story, the popularity of mobile marketing for small business shows no signs of slowing. To some business owners, it may come as a surprise to learn that mobile Internet users were stocking the shopping carts for 17% of all online purchases during the most recent holiday season, or that a full 28% of all Internet traffic during the 3rd quarter of 2013 came from mobile devices. That’s a 67% increase, year-over-year.
During 2104, small-business owners who hope to remain competitive must focus on crafting a mobile presence that is engaging, user-friendly, and that adds value to their clients’ overall experience.
Social Media Is Still a Major Factor
While the return on social media marketing investments has been difficult for some small-business owners to quantify, that does not mean those benefits don’t exist. Social media is still one of the best ways for small businesses to connect with their clients and other members of their target market in a focused, personal way.
True, the online small-business community, Manta’s 2013 Small Business Wellness Index, indicated that 61% of small-business owners aren’t seeing much in the way of social media ROI, but as more “mom & pop” shops school themselves in what works and what doesn’t, look for that number to decrease.
Content: the Richer, the Better
Of all of the content available online, video is undoubtedly the most engaging. Current-generation mobile devices handle video with aplomb, and as mobile service providers continue to build out robust, high-speed networks reaching even those in rural areas, access to nearly instantaneous video will soon be available just about anywhere.
It doesn’t take much of an investment to be able to produce video of an acceptable quality; most high-end smartphones and tablets are more than capable. And, as a quick YouTube session will reveal, a clip needn’t have Hollywood-caliber production values to be engaging, entertaining, or useful. Other rich media that encourages sharing and interaction will continue to play an important role in driving client engagement, but in 2014, video will be way to go.
Smarter SEO Is a Must
As search engine algorithms continue to get more sophisticated, the old shortcuts that used to net excellent, if ill-gotten results become irrelevant, and in some cases, even damaging. Gone are the days when keyword stuffing, poor writing, and duplicate articles could juice up a business’s search rank. Small-business owners who want to rank well will have to focus on providing relevant, trustworthy, and useful content.
[Photo Credit: www.whandassociates.com]