‘Tis the season for end of year lists and content that’s looking to trends in the New Year. Rather than run through all of the ins and outs of what I see coming up on the marketing horizon, I’ve decided to focus on what I see as the four most important marketing trends for 2019.
If you’re a small business owner or a marketing consultant who works with small business teams, these are the trends you can’t afford to ignore.
1. Get Up to Speed on Google My Business
Google has been trying to crack the social media and small business ad platform code for a while. Some attempts, like Google Plus, have not worked, but it seems like they may have finally found their sweet spot with Google My Business. This is a tool where local businesses can advertise and consumers can find nearby businesses on mobile devices.
Over the past few months, Google has been more and more focused on the Google My Business platform. It’s become more feature-rich and useful for business owners, and I think it’s likely that it will become a sort of social CRM tool in the near future.
What do I mean by that? In addition to the features like leaving reviews, finding directions, and making suggestions to edit the page, Google has recently added a feature where people can follow a Google My Business page. Not only that, Google’s recently introduced an app just for their Google My Business product.
These changes lead me to believe that they’re aiming to make Google My Business like a social network for businesses. This serves local business owners well. When someone starts to follow your company on Google My Business, that’s obviously a strong indicator that they’re interested in what you have to offer. This provides yet another channel for you to identify hot leads and connect with your fans.
If you’re running marketing efforts for a small business, then you should be paying close attention to all of these developments and additions to the platform and keeping pace with them accordingly.
Eventually, I anticipate that a business’s Google My Business platform will become a ranking factor in Google searches. The more followers you have on your page, the higher you’ll rank in search results. The quality of your business’s online assets and reviews are already ranking factors, so it’s not a leap to think that Google My Business will affect ranking in the future.
2. Focus on Retention
There’s an awful lot of work that goes into generating leads. It’s time, it’s money, it’s effort. This means that retaining leads is really where a business’s bread and butter lies. Research has shown time and again that it’s cheaper to sell to an existing customer than to go out and find a new one.
So what does that mean for your marketing efforts? It means you need to focus on your basic online presence. Existing customers will only stick around if their experience in interacting with you is one that builds trust. When you have a shoddy online presence that’s inconsistent or has big gaps in information, you make your customers doubt you. Have you ever thought twice about using a particular service provider because they had a bare bones website or they weren’t anywhere to be found on Yelp?
Retention is also about focusing on building a robust on-boarding process for existing customers. This needs to be a process that’s clear-cut and allows you to monitor results and make changes and improvements based on the data you’re seeing.
Finally, you need to make sure you’re creating real value for your existing customers. Build campaigns that really train them, events that are experiences that surprise and delight, and a referral process that provides true incentive for them to pass your name along to others.
CRM and marketing automation tools can help you manage these processes. These tools allow you to segment your audience so that you can easily guide, train, and over-communicate with the customers you already have so that retention stays high.
3. Embrace the Cloud
In recent years, the Cloud has become a bigger and bigger part of doing business. And small business owners have already begun to use cloud-based technology to improve their internal systems and processes. Cloud-based storage and communication systems have made it easier for distributed teams to collaborate and get things done.
However, the future lies in harnessing cloud technology to provide an even better customer experience. It’s not just about convenience or lowering cost, it’s become a part of the customer’s expectation that cloud technology is used to enhance the customer experience.
As you begin 2019, think about how you can use cloud-based tools that help with payment collection, online collaboration, and other customer service features to make your customer experience even more seamless.
4. Use Video Content Everywhere
We’ve been talking about content and we’ve been talking about video separately for years, but I think 2019 is going to be all about video content. Short form video content, in particular, is an important marketing trend. Studies continue to show that video content gets the most engagement and highest return on investment.
Developers and tech companies have caught wind of the trend as well. They continue to come out with new tools and products that make it easier for anyone to produce short and engaging videos that can be used for any and all marketing efforts.
Video isn’t just something splashy to put on your website’s homepage anymore. It can and should be used to provide meaningful content all throughout the customer journey. You may use it during the early phases to introduce the brand story and team members, but it can also be employed further along the journey to share content that establishes you as a thought leader in your industry (building trust with prospects), and later to provide in-depth tutorials for customers so that they can get the most out of their recent purchases.
You should be using video across channels, too. Video on your website is great, but also put your video content to use in ads, social media posts, and as a way to introduce your blog posts. When video is used in this way, it goes beyond being just a tool to becoming something that produces deep, meaningful content all along the customer journey.
I hope taking a look at these trends gets you excited about all of the wonderful marketing possibilities ahead in the New Year!
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