Everyone writes and blogs about trends and predictions for the coming year, so we’ll join the crowd. John Arnold wrote about ten online marketing trends on Entrepreneur.com years back. We’d like to list them here and debate whether or not we agree with his assessment to “test, invest or rest” the tactics in the modern era of marketing. Many we agree on but there are a few we disagree with so here’s our small business marketing advice for 2018.
Search Engine Optimization: SEO is useful because it’s all based on specially placed keywords that help your blog or Web site rank in Google and other search engines. People and businesses are going to continue flocking to Google to find everything that’s on their minds. But small businesses are still fuzzy on what makes a good keyword and how to use it to rank higher in searches. Add in the importance of long-tail keywords and you’ve got a situation ripe with confusion. Despite all of this, SEO is going to continue to be one of the biggest drivers of online marketing success for small business – and many know it. Plus, there are lots of places on the Web to help small business learn how to do SEO successfully (ahem, you’re at one of those places).
Paid Search: Also known as Pay Per Click (PPC), paid search is the sister of SEO. You still rely on specially selected keywords to drive traffic to your site, but instead of natural placement in Google, you’re competing for the paid placements and ads on the Google pages. PPC works but only if you’re spot on with your keyword selection. Although the prices will continue to come down, those little costs can certainly add up if you’re not on target with your keywords. Because there’s an investment where we’re not as bullish as John, but we still feel you should test it out.
Email Marketing: This is one area we both agree on. Email marketing is a great way for a small business to reach out to customers, existing and new ones, because of two primary reasons: 1) most people still prefer email as their number one source of information, and 2) it’s a relatively inexpensive way to do marketing. These two reasons, coupled with the big opportunities in newsletters for even stronger conversions, make us very high on this tactic in 2018.
Social Marketing: Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and a host of other social networking tools came on strong since 2009, especially for small business. Every time I went to a small business in the last six months the owner not only told me he/she was highly interested in social marketing, but many of them were already using one or two tools. Look for social marketing to be even bigger in 2018 for small business because of it’s very inexpensive cost for marketing as well as it’s strength in local marketing focus.
Blogging: More small businesses now have blogs either to complement their existing Web site or actually to replace their Web site. Small business online marketing advice says either one can be an effective strategy, even for events promotions. But John makes a good point in saying blogging to drive traffic is different than blogging to drive sales. Using a blog to drive traffic is still a good idea. But even we’re not sold on the notion that you can set up a blog and all of a sudden turn your blog into a cash register. Add in the fact that a blog is most successful when it’s a community and you may want to consider putting on the brakes if you want your blog to be a sales machine.
Web Presence: This one is a bit interesting since it may not be what you think. Yes, having a Web presence is an important fact. John’s not debating this, nor will we. Where you place emphasis on your Web presence is the discussion here. In 2018, small business will have to change its way of thinking in that it’s all about getting traffic to your Web presence. Rather it’s more important now to place your Web presence where the traffic is. Do paid search on others’ Web sites or even places like YouTube.com, for example. If you know lots of eyeballs will be on other Web sites, you’ll want to consider placing your Web presence there as well.
Mobile Marketing: An interesting marketing platform that will get more looks in 2018 is mobile marketing. Some companies now have the technology to beam messages to your cell phone from wherever you may be headed. For example, if you are walking through the doors of a Best Buy, imagine if you all of a sudden get a text message on your phone that includes a Best Buy coupon. “Small business can take advantage of this kind of technology as well. It deserves more look, though, adding to responsive web design” says, web design Leeds team, Harrison Mann.
Podcasting: Ask yourself if you can name five podcasts or Internet-based radio shows/stations? If you failed to do so you’re probably in the majority. We like blog talk radio and we also like podcasting. But is it something you’ll want to focus heavily on for marketing as a small business this year? Probably not. Podcasting is a technology that has struggled to get on its feet and will most likely continue to struggle in 2018, and it doesn’t help that many small businesses are often intimidated about doing their own podcast. It may still be in its infancy with a bright future, but just not right now. There are some really fantastic shows on blog talk radio and you should put on your PR hat to take advantage of these.
Online Video: Not only are videos fun and easy to watch but with YouTube also a part of Google, videos are very searchable with keywords and tags. Small businesses should definitely be running to purchase video cameras like the Flip to easily produce videos they can post online. 2018 will be a big year for videos and online marketing.
Coupons: The use of tools like social media marketing and mobile marketing will make coupon offerings pretty innovative, intuitive and exciting for small business. Technology even makes it easy to utilize coupon marketing for local audiences, too. Even some “older” marketing tools like landing pages, which have proven their worth in providing great ROI for incentives like coupons, will continue in 2018. We’re bullish.
What are some of your marketing predictions for small business this year? We’d love for you to chime in here.
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