What to expect from this year and beyond.
Being a small business owner is rewarding—but it isn’t always easy. With so many plates to juggle and such little time, covering all the bases can be an uphill struggle at the best of times.
Whatever your niche or sector, standing out from the crowd means offering consistent value to your audience while delivering a quality brand experience across the board (from your website and landing pages to your social media channels, your email newsletter, blog, and mobile).
Here are seven essential small business marketing trends you need to know to deliver an excellent brand experience this year.
1. Thought-leadership will become the heart of content marketing
Sixty-six percent of marketing experts see thought leadership as a “top priority” for their business. Plus, 77% of people agree that industry thought leaders don’t need to have a big social media following (great news for small to medium-sized businesses!).
In 2022, brands and businesses will start to use their content to inspire and educate their audience. By developing original, stand-out thought-leadership content, you will improve your brand awareness while establishing trust and authority in your niche.
Here are some practical thought-leadership tips:
- Don’t focus on selling services—prioritize telling a strong story and aim to share thought-provoking ideas with your audience.
- Always double-check your stats and content sources to ensure they are 100% valid, legitimate, and accurate.
- Offer information or insights that offer practical value and genuinely enlighten your audience in ways that your competitors’ content doesn’t (do your research!).
- Work through our essential guide to creating thought-leading blog content for your business.
2. Data analytics will rise in retail & eCommerce
While data analytics isn’t exactly a brand new concept in retail or eCommerce marketing, in 2022, a rising number of brands will invest more in developing promotional campaigns using a balanced mix of digital data and insights.
By 2027, the adoption of eCommerce or marketing platforms with in-built data analytics is expected to skyrocket to $12 billion. As an increasing number of marketers and business owners look to earn a healthier return on investment (ROI) from their marketing efforts, using data to understand customer preferences and behaviors will become standard practice.
To get into a data-driven mindset for increased small business marketing success in 2022, check out these helpful resources:
- A step-by-step guide to creating effective buyer personas
- A guide to using data to improve your business’s eCommerce strategy
3. Local search engine optimization (SEO) will give small businesses a brighter promotional platform
Local SEO is the art of attracting more customers in a particular geographical area by ranking well for regional internet searches on the likes of Google.
These days, around 97% of people who use online search look for local businesses. By creating marketing messaging or content for local customers, you will make your business more visible to the right people—those who are more likely to engage with your brand and invest in your products.
Local SEO is picking up serious momentum in the small business marketing world—and it will help you cut through the noise. Here are some top tips to help you get started:
- Set up a Google My Business profile to make yourself more accessible and visible to local prospects and customers.
- Encourage customers to leave more online reviews by incentivizing them with discount codes or providing opportunities to click a link and provide feedback after visiting your business or checking out online. The more positive online reviews you earn, the better your chances of ranking for local search terms.
- Create regional product pages, landing pages, and blog articles with information, insights, and keywords directly related to your region or locale.
4. Businesses with a mobile-first mindset will get ahead of the pack
If your online store, website, and marketing content aren’t optimized for the mobile experience, your retail or eCommerce business will suffer significant setbacks.
In addition to investing in an eCommerce platform with built-in mobile optimization features, adopting a mobile-first mindset (creating content with the mobile experience in mind) will help you connect with more customers in 2022.
Launching a functional mobile app through an application-building platform is an effective (and reasonably budget-friendly) way to attract a wider audience to your business while building a rapport with your customers.
A simple loyalty scheme and exclusive in-app content will help you improve your brand’s mobile experience.
SMS marketing is also worth leveraging in 2022 and beyond. Beauty brand Pür, for example, weathered the COVID-19 storm by sending its customers conversational, uplifting SMS content.
This innovative yet simple take on SMS marketing earned Pür a 20% increase in fresh subscribers.
5. Sustainability will continue to sway customer investment and loyalty
As more consumers continue to make more eco-conscious and ethical shopping choices, small business owners must meet the needs of their customers head-on.
In addition to making your business greener and publishing a sustainability policy on your online store or website, you should also consider additional business models, services, or products that tap into today’s sustainable shopping behaviors.
To grab more consumer attention by showcasing your commitment to sustainability, you could:
- Offer a part exchange service for used goods if it’s feasible for your niche or business.
- Provide products or rentals in addition to selling brand new products.
- Pick up used items from your consumers’ homes and commit to disposing of them sustainably (this model will prove effective if you sell furniture, mattresses, or electronics).
- Create content that answers burning sustainability questions related to your business (“What’s the most ethical material for men’s jackets?” or “Are electric vehicles really greener?”). This will boost your brand awareness while helping you establish authority as a sustainable business.
6. Micro-influencers and communities will become all the more powerful
While working with big influencers and celebrity names was the best way to grow your business’s social media following just a few years ago, today’s consumers are more likely to connect with brands they feel are authentic and approachable through social media.
From Facebook to TikTok, today’s users love to connect with like-minded peers through groups or communities. In fact, over one billion Facebook users frequently engage within themed Groups. Almost every social media platform has a topic filter or community-based option—and it’s in these spaces you can partner with brands or “micro-influencers” (smaller, more niche social media influencers) to connect with more prospective customers.
To win lucrative brand partnerships and tap into a wider target audience, you should:
- Research the existing social media groups or communities (not direct competitors) that are performing well in your niche
- Join these relevant groups to monitor conversations and gain an understanding of which content resonates most within each group or community
- Once you’ve built some authority, approach the creator or admin about a possible content collaboration or cross-promotion within the group or community
Building trust and authority within these groups or communities takes a little time, but it’s an activity you can tap into at your leisure—you will also learn so much about your target audience in the process.
This definitive guide on how to work with influencers to boost your eCommerce business will also help you develop brand-boosting social media relationships.
7. A shift towards user-generated content (UGC) for email marketing
User-generated content is one of the most potent retail and eCommerce marketing tools available today. UGC will not only give your business a more authentic voice but also serves as social proof, confirming your brand’s value to consumers who might be looking to invest in your services or products.
While UGC typically comes in the form of customer testimonials or in social media posts, in 2022, more brands will leverage their customers’ stories, reviews, insights, and opinions in their marketing emails.
There are many ways you can weave relevant UGC into your email marketing content—including these three creative methods:
- Add your best customer reviews to your email content in the form of eye-grabbing graphics, GIFs, or animations
- Incentivize existing customers to offer tips on getting the most from one of your products or services and include them in your email content
- Add testimonials and customer stories to your cart abandonment emails to make them personal yet persuasive
The retail and eCommerce arena is becoming more competitive, but with so many channels and touchpoints to explore, the opportunities to grow your business are almost endless.
Follow these essential small business marketing trends to grow your audience in 2022. For more business-boosting insights, explore these seven essential copywriting principles for the modern age.