There’s no denying that marketing is a huge part of business nowadays. And for small- to medium-sized enterprises, marketing is more important than ever. A successful marketing strategy can mean the difference between being successful and getting lost in a vast sea of competitors.
So what specific areas of marketing should businesses be paying attention to in order to stay ahead of the pack? Let’s take a look at the top five marketing trends that are impacting small- to medium-sized businesses in 2016.
1. Content Marketing
Gone are the days where ‘marketing’ and ‘advertising’ were basically synonymous terms. Marketing is no longer all about billboards, flyers and TV commercials – nor is it about simply shoving your brand, products and services in people’s faces. Modern marketing is all about one thing: content.
Content marketing is a term you’ve probably heard a lot lately, and for good reason. It refers to a marketing approach focused on providing content that is both valuable and relevant to your customers or clients.
So what type of content are we talking about here? Well, it’s basically anything that will be useful, interesting or entertaining for your audience: articles, blog posts, videos, email newsletters and so on. If you can create and distribute this kind of content on a regular basis, you’ll increase awareness of (and engagement with) your brand and business – and isn’t that what marketing is all about?
2. Mobile Marketing
This one is pretty self-explanatory. The vast majority of people own a smartphone nowadays, and as a business, you can use this to your advantage when it comes to marketing.
What kinds of marketing tools are available exclusively to mobile? Well, apps are obviously the first thing that comes to mind, as well as mobile-optimised websites. Plus, you’ve probably seen things like QR codes (barcodes that can be scanned by a smartphone to reveal promotional content). But mobile marketing isn’t restricted to this kind of dedicated app-based strategy: social media comes into play here as well.
We’ll talk more about social media marketing below, but some social media platforms like Snapchat, which are exclusively available on mobile devices, are important to note here. Many companies have huge marketing success using Snapchat – and let’s not forget the advertising that’s now available for primarily mobile apps, such as Instagram.
3. Social Media
There’s no getting around it: in this day and age, your business should have an active social media presence. Once you embrace this fact and really start to make an effort, you’ll likely find that social media marketing becomes one of your more enjoyable business activities.
There’s a multitude of social media platforms out there, but your business should have a presence on at least two or three of the main players: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – even YouTube and Pinterest, which are proving to be useful marketing tools.
A key thing to remember when it comes to social media marketing is that it’s not just all about the likes, shares and follows. The key to true social media success is fostering engagement with your customers. Respond to queries, incite conversations and ask for feedback to connect with your audience on a deeper level.
4. Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO)
So you’ve got a social media presence and a website – that’s all well and good. But in truth, what you want to be doing is increasing the number of online visitors who turn into actual customers. This is called Conversion Rate Optimisation.
CRO involves analysing website data and user feedback to improve your customers’ online user experience. It means identifying what exactly causes browsers to become customers, and capitalising on it.
5. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Search Engine Optimisation is a slightly different concept – it’s essentially what will help drive people to your website in the first place. Basically, SEO is something you employ to ensure you rank as high as possible in search engine results.
SEO involves employing specially chosen keywords in a natural, ‘organic’ way throughout your website content to ensure search engines pick up on them – and, in turn, ensure that more people visit your website.