Top five small-business marketing trends for 2017

Building a business takes hard work, resiliency, resourcefulness, and perseverance. And even once you’ve found your niche in the marketplace and built a loyal customer base, there’s no sitting back and relaxing. Small business owners must constantly strive to earn and maintain customers and remain relevant in their industry.

A strong marketing game is an essential part of the equation, so staying on top of current trends and strategies is important. Dan Hinckley, co-founder and partner at Go Fish Digital, a digital marketing agency specializing in SEO and online reputation management, suggests five essential marketing tips for small business in 2017.

1. Effective emails

Email marketing certainly isn’t new, but businesses shouldn’t overlook its efficacy. Recent research suggests that the majority of customers — up to 91% of adults — actually do want to receive promotional email. The key is understanding your customers’ email preferences, namely what they want to receive and how often.

“Make your email content engaging, informative and interesting by containing insights that you personally would like to know and receive about your product offering. If you wouldn't want to read the email you're sending to your customers, don't send it,” says Hinckley.

2. Mobilize your marketing

If you’ve been responsive to the impact of mobile technology in recent years, you have likely already optimized your website experience for mobile browsing and possibly experimented with mobile social media platforms. This year, according to Hinckley, text message marketing is picking up steam. Most North Americans own a mobile device and up to 98% of received text messages are opened. This has prompted an influx of SMS marketing services that provide “software that will allow you to create lists, draft messages and send them to your customers.”

3. When it comes to website content, value quality over quantity

For years now, the catchphrase “content is king” has pushed businesses to come up with content marketing plans, typically blogs, to help boost search engine optimization and draw attention to their brand.

This is still a valuable strategy, however, in an effort to get as much content out there as possible, quality and optimization often take a hit. Whether you’re crafting the content in-house or contracting it out to a marketing firm or freelance writer, it can be a costly undertaking in terms of both time and money, so you want to make sure you’re getting a good return on your investment.

“You can post a blog with keywords every week, but unless the content is valuable, you will lose the interest of your readers. The effectiveness of your blogging is going to be based on exciting and informative content. Accomplishing this might mean hiring an expert in your industry or scheduling your own time to draft a quality post each month,” explains Hinckley.

4. Targeted social media marketing

Social media marketing is another area that really delivers the best results when it is specific, personalized, and targeted. Current trends in social media marketing are focused on tracking consumer behaviours and customizing messaging based on their specific interests.

For example, says Hinckley, “personalized marketing techniques can be as simple as using your customer's name in the bulk email messages you send out or as complex as targeting individuals that work at a specific company you'd like to sell your services to with Facebook or LinkedIn ads. Social media sites like Facebook have improved their advertising platforms to let you be very specific to the audiences ads are shown to.”

5. Engage with video and graphics

Visual marketing elements, such as video, live streaming, and infographics are some of the best ways to engage with an audience that is content weary and short on time. According to CEO Mark Zuckerberg, users watch 100 million hours of video per day on Facebook.

If you aren’t already, incorporate live streaming or create eye-catching videos and graphics “that highlight you and your product offering” as a means of standing out, connecting with customers, and building a dynamic brand.

The key to staying relevant in a quick-changing business landscape is to be nimble and adaptive to changing trends. Staying current with today’s top marketing strategies is an important way to encourage engagement with your customers and maintain consistent demand for your product.

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