Five years ago a solid email marketing strategy combined with offline marketing endeavors—like print and radio ads—would see your small business rolling along just fine in the marketing department.
Today, however, the list of small business marketing tasks is both exhaustive and overwhelming. Marketing has become a whole new world with social media, email marketing, ecommerce and search engine optimization to name a few.
In 2013, mobile optimization and creating excellent, top-notch content are the two trends that run through all types of marketing activities. Overall, mobile is this year's exceptionally big trend, and we see it deeply tied to most aspects of online marketing.
5 Online Marketing Trends Small Business Owners Need to Know
Small Business Computing spoke with marketing experts to find out what's trending in small business marketing this year. These five new trends—mobile marketing, SEO, email marketing, ecommerce and social advertising—will help you to improve your Web presence and capture new leads and customers.
1. Mobile Marketing Is Here and Now
Unless you've been living under a rock for the last year, you're probably aware of the growing number of mobile users and the resulting need for small businesses to offer mobile versions of webpages and marketing campaigns.
Massive Impact's CEO, Sephi Shapira believes that small business owners need to focus on mobile marketing this year—including mobile sites, mobile commerce and mobile apps.
Last September the Macquarie Group, a company that tracks Web searches, noted a decline for traditional desktop search as consumers warm to mobile search. There's no doubt that mobile is where consumers are and where you need to be.
Of all the marketing trends to act upon, Shapira says it's vital to make sure your business has a mobile Web presence, because more of your customers will go online with mobile devices this year. Many vendors can make your website mobile-friendly at a reasonable cost, but remember that not all sites can be copied and replicated. You might need to outsource the mobile design if you have a complex website with back-end integration for services and ecommerce.
The good news is that the entry barrier to mobile marketing has significantly lowered over the past few years. Shapira says that small businesses can create mobile marketing campaigns, have a mobile Web presence and even accept mobile payments with little to no upfront costs today.
If the budget can't handle going fully mobile, a small business can do things like create a social presence on Facebook or Twitter (which is mobile-optimized for you) and render key marketing and landing pages for mobile devices. While these are small steps toward creating your mobile Web presence, Shapira says "it's better than doing nothing at all."
2. Content and Content Promotions is the New SEO
Another important investment for small business websites is search engine optimization (SEO) and the strategies to obtain a high-ranking placement in Google and other Web search engines.
There's now a big focus on content and promotion and you may find old tactics just don't work as well in 2013, thanks in part to search engine algorithm updates rolled out by Google last year.
"This year, you're going to have to earn your Google search result," says HubShout, LLC President, Chief Editor and Co-Founder, Adam Stetzer, Ph.D. "The days of handing over a hundred bucks and getting links is over."
According to Stetzer, "earning it" means small businesses will need to produce quality website content and promote it using social media and other online channels. He says the typical breakdown for SEO success is really a combination of on and off-site factors: 30 percent of what makes your search result position (rank) is on-site SEO and 70 percent is off-site SEO factors.
"I think that's surprising to a lot of small businesses. Early on you would build a website, do occasional updates and have a great online presence," said Stetzer. "Now you need to put seventy percent of your effort into off-site promotion by creating a buzz about your content."
Stetzer says this is new territory for a lot of small businesses. To fulfill the on-site requirement for SEO, you need good content, and this is where most small businesses may have difficulty. "A carpet cleaner, a plumber or even a doctor or lawyer is smart in their own ways, but that doesn't mean they're good writers," he explained. "The answer is to outsource the content writing if you can't do it yourself."
Adam Stetzer's 4-Step Plan for Small Business SEO
To be successful in search engine optimization in 2013, Stetzer recommends this four-step SEO plan for small business owners:
- Identify demand via keyword research: This must be done first to know what phrases people search on and to find topics you know something about.
- Create great content: Use humor, How-Tos, technical information, training, controversy or politics. Videos are awesome for this, but you need at least 300 words on the page.
- Tune your page: Use industry-leading on-site SEO tactics such as titles, tags, keyword density, H1 tags, alts, onsite Links, stunning images and call-to-action phrases.
- Track and promote: All SEO should be goal-oriented. Track new pages in search results. If it doesn't come to page one (which it likely won't), apply off-site SEO (buzz, link building, syndication, social media, social bookmarking, RSS, forums and guest blog posts).