Happy New Year! 2017 is officially underway and with the changing of the calendar comes the tradition of looking ahead and aligning your business goals with industry trends. In fact, according to the reviews site GetApp, the main goal of many small businesses is attracting and retaining customers.
Among all the different reports and marketing trends for 2017, I’ve found five that are worth noting. By focusing on these in 2017 you’ll position your business to attract and retain customers, while also boosting your marketing efforts in positive ways.
Video will continue to dominate in 2017. Facebook Live continues to capture the attention of its users, and entire ad campaigns are dedicated to getting users to go live. Instagram, another Facebook-owned platform, has followed suit. YouTube and Snapchat have both also unveiled their own live variations.
Action Items for Small Businesses: If you haven’t started creating a video strategy, it’s time. Join the 48% of marketers who plan to create a YouTube video strategy for 2017. Your efforts don’t have to be huge and you can even create high-quality video using your smartphone.
Be Authentic (and Uncover Data to Discover What Authentic Is)
There’s a move towards telling an authentic brand story about your company and the benefits that it offers to your customers. The trend of using data to uncover these unique stories and telling them across a variety of platforms to drive conversation among your customers is something that many big brand marketers plan to do more of in 2017.
Action Items for Small Businesses: The first action item here is finding out what is “authentic” for your audience. Look at your analytics and figure out what page users are viewing the most (and what users aren’t viewing). Then, craft a marketing strategy around this data, both in what people are actively searching for and the authentic experiences you can provide. Do you have any great customer reviews you can share with your wider audience? Marketing your small business by highlighting these stories is sure to resonate with future customers.
It’s no secret that Google favors sites that are optimized for mobile. That’s because since 2006 the number of queries has doubled, and most of those queries have been performed on a mobile device.
Expect to see mobile search volume continue to soar in 2017. This means that search engines will continue to respond by updating their algorithms to favor mobile responsive sites through accelerated mobile pages (AMP) and other mobile-first developments.
Action Items for Small Businesses: Begin by making sure that your site is mobile responsive. If you have a WordPress site you may consider installing the plugins to enable the AMP features. If your site is really in need of a makeover to make it more mobile friendly, 2017 may be the year to invest the time and money. And while we’re on the topic of mobile, it leads well to this next point:
Go Local (With Your SEO That Is)
Many of the searches that users are performing on their mobile devices have a local flavor. This is one marketing stragety where small local businesses have the advantage: local community members already know your name. Ensure that you’re capturing some of the often-used search terms on your websites to grab all that traffic so that when users type in your industry the location-based search can lead them right to your doors.
Action Items for Small Businesses: Incorporate a local SEO strategy into your content creation and website strategy. Be sure you’re including rich local keywords to your website pages so that they can be picked up by Google. Also take important steps to create a Google Business page and update the necessary information there. These steps will ensure that your business will show in all platforms that local customers may be searching for them.
Chatbots are a feature where you can use artificial intelligence and machine learning to create a customer experience that is helpful without being pushy. With so much communication happening on social platforms surrounding brands, chatbots can help change the conversation. You can program chatbots to answer common customer questions, and increase engagement among your customers with targeted engagement messages. Expect chatbot technology to both help marketers and advance even more in years to come.
Action Items for Small Businesses: Consider the long term possibilities that chatbots can offer your company. They can be programmed to answer many of your most common customer service questions and they can do it fast. Plus, chatbots are expected to continue to explode in popularity in the next few year.
What other trends have you seen that you think will be big in 2017? Leave your thoughts below in the comments and let’s start a conversation about important trends for small businesses!