SMB marketing in 2016 was about driving sales, bringing brand recognition through social media and acquiring new customers. Almost 51 percent of the SMBs invested more in building and optimizing their websites and increasing online marketing.
Social media and search engine marketing hit an all-time high. Forty-five percent of marketers focusing on B2B customers noted that content marketing was a success. Marketers spent more of their budgets on social media marketing than email marketing. There was also a massive increase in the number of marketing technology companies–from 2,000 to almost 4,000.
SMBs found new opportunities to expand their social media reach and sought out marketing automation tools. Pokemon Go was a game changer, and it took everyone by storm. Facebook, Google and Instagram changed their algorithms in a big way and videos rose to prominence.
But enough about 2016; let’s look at SMB marketing trends we expect for 2017.
- Video on the Rise
Video is huge, and brands are rapidly trying to adapt to its importance. With the changing algorithms of social media, this feature is here to stay. For SMBs, videos–especially live videos–can be a powerful way to engage with your target audience. It helps get the news out about your upcoming events, your product/service and interacting with the audience.
Video marketing is encompassing wider field than just social media. Sending emails with videos tends to increase click-through rate from between 200 and 300 percent. Videos on landing pages increase conversion by 80 percent, and they boost engagement by 22 percent. Marketers working with SMBs should focus more on this part of digital marketing than anything else.
- Content Remains King
Content marketing will stay on top through 2017. With Google algorithm updates, it’s clear that search engine marketing is now dependent on content (apart from quality backlinks). However, it can’t be any type of content. The content that you are putting out for your target audience needs to be unique.
Your audience gets impatient very easily. Grabbing their attention and keeping it intact is what matters. Focus should be on engaging content that is simple but interesting and interactive. It should also have a consistent brand voice.
- Mobile Marketing Gets Bigger
Fifty-one percent of people spend more time on their mobile or smart devices than on desktops. Your website, landing pages, blogs, social posts, emails and newsletters need to be optimized for mobile use.
Almost 70 percent of your audience is consuming your content through mobile devices. Focus on improving your mobile marketing and using elements that will look good on them. Consider adding buy buttons that will allow customers to purchase products directly from social media platforms or apps for easier and faster engagement.
- Engage Better with AI-type Services
Artificial intelligence is gaining popularity because that’s where the future is. It’s a system that will think like a human and cater to your customers 24/7.Bringing this type of technology to your marketing will take it to the next level. The approach needs to be more proactive than reactive.
- Marketing Spend Will Go Up
Seventy percent of SMBs are planning to spend more on marketing activities in 2017. In 2016, many SMBs started investing in marketing areas, but the percentage gap is closing. More SMBs are learning the advantages of having a planned marketing strategy for the brand.
Website marketing will shift to other marketing areas like social media, SEM, email and more. Adding analytics and reporting to your marketing efforts will be useful to better understand ROI generation.
- Social Media > Loyalty Programs > Email
These marketing channels will be the most useful, and in that order. Social media has exploded over the years. Advertisement and interactions on such platforms matter greatly for businesses. There are 2.3 billion social media users, which makes capturing new leads easier. Customer loyalty programs will give your customers opportunities to do something more with your business. Loyalty programs for referrals and partnerships will allow you to interact with your customers above the purchase level.
Email marketing seems to be going out of fashion, but that’s inaccurate. Email still works well as a marketing tool. Make emails more personalized and interactive. Add more than just text and a call to action. Engross your audience with visual content or use a minimalist design. Email is not dead, it just isn’t used very well.
- Visualized Data Marketing
Data, in any form and every form, is what every marketer needs to understand and measure the marketing plan’s success or failure. The traditional way of showcasing data is hard to process and your audience might get lost.
The presentation of data will change in 2017. Enter data visualization. Visual analysis will make data easier to understand and consume, and it will give a clearer picture of who is doing what, when, why and how. Almost 11.7 percent of businesses will allot their marketing budget to this. Visualized data will help both marketers and their audience as it can be used for analytics and research. With data mining tools, it will be easy to convert such data into a visual form.
SMBs in particular will see some of the interesting changes with regards to marketing in 2017. You need to start planning your marketing strategies based on these trends and get on board to help your brand and product grow. Complete audience engagement will be the core focus, so look for platforms and strategies in that area. Use as many automation tools as possible, and try to ease the process through platforms like Agile CRM.