Running a small business is darn hard. You don’t have infinite resources like multi-million dollar corporations, you’re working super long hours, and you often struggle to balance work and personal commitments — and that’s just the beginning.
Then there are the external factors to worry about: your customers and their expectations. Your customers don’t just want a product; they also want a unique business experience and a streamlined, convenient process to get their hands on your product.
In today’s fast-paced world, marketing trends can change in the blink of an eye. Marketing strategies that were incredibly popular in previous years are now being pushed aside (telemarketing, anyone?).
Now with marketing automation, personalization, voice search, and content marketing dominating the digital marketing space, it’s crucial for your small business to prepare for shifts in marketing trends in 2022.
Given that there are currently 32.5 million small businesses in the United States (SBA Office of Advocacy), the competition is fierce. But if you pay attention to the latest marketing trends, you’ll hold a distinct advantage over your competitors — and it’ll be easier for your small business to drive sales, offer better customer service, and operate more efficiently.
Here are 7 marketing trends your small business should anticipate for 2022.
Artificial intelligence (AI) and related automation technologies were once considered not compatible or too expensive for small businesses to implement. In many industries, there was also the perception that marketing automation software was only for big brands because it was too complicated for small-to-medium (SMB) owners to understand.
Ortto is the perfect example here, offering plans for every business type and price. If you’re just getting started with marketing automation, try out our Free plan. For small businesses, our Campaign tier starts at $29 a month, with 2,000 contacts and 8,000 emails a month. Our Business plan offers 20,000 contacts and 80,000 monthly email sends.
As a result, marketing automation software has become a viable option for small businesses wanting to save time on menial tasks and day-to-day processes such as customer service, omnichannel marketing and data analytics.
In 2022, small businesses that are quick to climb on board AI-enabled apps and software will be better equipped against their competitors - big or small. Additionally, the growth of automation is likely to create new business opportunities that will interest solo entrepreneurs and agencies that exist to solve problems for customers.
Content will continue to be king
We’ve all heard the phrase “content is king” a tad too many times now, but the reality is that content will continue to reign in 2022. The key difference is that quality will take precedence over quantity.
If your small business is regularly churning out content by posting blog posts for the sake of posting or sending meaningless emails every single day, your audience engagement rate is likely to nosedive.
It’s completely fine if you don’t have something to post every day — the whole point of having a content strategy is to attract, inform, and engage your audience with quality content, not to annoy them with space-filling junk content.
Additionally, your customers will be keeping an eye out for more diverse content. While it’s important not to lose sight of regular blogging cadences, you should also consider producing other forms of written material such as thought leadership pieces or white papers — they are excellent ways to boost brand visibility and keep the SEO gods happy. You should also think about creating more interactive content assets such as quizzes and videos, if appropriate to your brand and audience.
Despite the rising prevalence of automation software in this ever-expanding digital landscape, customers still want to be able to relate to a brand. As automation continues to grow well into 2022, it’s vital that you don’t forget to connect with your customers.
In recent years, content personalization has been an essential part of any marketing strategy — and it will be more relevant in 2022. Generic email blasts to your entire subscriber list won’t cut it in 2022. Instead, highly personalized communications based on your audience segments will outperform generic mass email blasts by a long way.
We suggest segmenting your email lists into categories (for example, demographic factors such as age, income, location) and studying their past behaviors (for example, previous purchasing history) to help you personalize each message. Remember, your goal here is to make your customers feel like they’re being treated as an individual.
Prepare for the rise of mobile commerce
According to Statista, global ecommerce sales will grow to about $5 trillion within the next 4 years. And with ecommerce growing at rapid speeds each year, the rise of mobile commerce is imminent.
In 2019, mobile commerce sales accounted for 44.7% of all ecommerce sales in the United States — that’s an increase of 10% from 2017. If this trend continues to hold, it’s expected that 54% of all e-commerce sales in the United States will come from mobile devices.
If you run a small ecommerce business, what this means is that customers no longer need to be on their computers to buy something from your store — they are just as likely to be on the go, on the sofa or at work. It’s time for your ecommerce business to take advantage of this.
If you haven't already, ensure that your website is optimized for mobile. That's table stakes in 2022. Going hand in hand with mobile commerce is the rise of social commerce.
According to Insider Intelligence, the social commerce sales in the United States surpassed $36 billion in 2021, which equated to over 35% growth. Our mobile devices are more connected and entwined in our daily life - checking on work emails, watching funny cat videos, paying bills - it was only the next natural step that social commerce would be on the rise.
There are many ways to sell on social media, to name a few;
- Create an end-to-end retail shopping experiences through your Instagram feed
- Set up your Facebook & Instagram Shop
- Customer updates on product availability
- Sell products through livestream
- TikTok Shopping Account (when it launches #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt)
Voice search is becoming a thing
The voice search revolution is set to alter how customers engage with businesses. We’re not surprised to see how web searching has evolved to this — after all, it’s much easier to conduct a search with voice activation when driving or feeding a wailing baby.
A PwC study found that 65% of 25-49-year-olds already speak to their voice-enabled devices at least once per day. Additionally, up to 43% of voice-enabled device owners are currently using their device to shop — a staggering 41% increase in 2018 alone (Narvar).
It’s no surprise that experts are predicting that 2022 will be the year of voice search; more and more customers will be using voice to run search engine queries, find local businesses, make purchase decisions, and much more.
This means that your small business will need to create a “voice” presence on your online channels. Doing this sooner rather than later will put your small business ahead of the curve while voice search is still in its growth stage.
How many Zoom meetings could 2020 and 2021 throw at us? Probably too many… but the necessary use of this tech went way beyond morning pow-wows. Businesses and organizations were able to utilize Zoom and other similar applications to hold conferences, exhibitions, and myriad other virtual events. And why not?
The ability to showcase your product or service, bring customers and members from all over the world into your very own event, show them the inner workings of your business and deliver a unique experience is pretty cool. We’re positive that virtual events will remain a big part of marketing in 2022, for businesses of all sizes.
Video marketing is even more important
Video marketing has been soaring in popularity (and effectiveness) in the past few years, and 2022 will see that trend continue. In fact, it’s widely considered that video marketing will be even more important for businesses in five years.
During widespread lockdowns, video became a critical marketing tool for businesses, as people were spending more time online and on social media. Research shows that this trend will continue despite the world gearing to open up this year and that consumers have more confidence in video marketing than other methods.
Small business growth ideas
Now you’ve been updated with small business marketing trends, now it’s time to implement! We want to help you get started on the right path, here are 7 inexpensive and user-friendly ways to ensure that your small business stays ahead of the game:
Add automation (but keep personalization)
Your customers demand quick service when shopping or contacting a business. At the same time, they also expect to receive content that is tailored to them. How is it possible for small businesses to deliver both? The short answer is marketing automation.
Understandably, many people think that automating removes the personal element behind their marketing, but this is not true. In fact, automation allows you to personalize your marketing activities at scale, so you can focus your time on other tasks. Ortto allows you to personalize as much of your marketing as you want; it can be as simple as sending personalized emails to your customers or designing entire customer journeys that give you control over their decision-making process.
Adding a chatbot to your website allows your customer to connect with you almost instantly, expediting customer service while saving your business time and money. The artificial intelligence involved in chatbots is constantly developing and getting smarter, meaning your chatbot will sound more like a human customer service agent, and action solutions the same way.
Finding new customers
Finding customers comes with many challenges, including how to get them interested in the first place and which channels to focus your efforts on.
A good starting place is finding out who your ideal customer is. While it’s true that defining your ideal customer can feel like you’re excluding other audiences who might buy from you, narrowing your focus on the right people will bring clarity to your small business marketing efforts, which will eventually lead to more customers and more money.
Understanding who your ideal customer is will change everything for your small business, from your overall marketing strategy right down to your value proposition, tone of voice, and pricing structure. Ultimately, knowing your ideal customer will help you create winning products, powerful messages, and compelling customer journeys, thus steering your small business to success.
Lead generation requires a lot of thought, energy, and resources into your sales and marketing strategies. An effective lead generation strategy is the reason why your website visitors will convert into solid leads (and paying customers) — and keep your sales funnel filled with quality sales prospects while you sleep at night.
Your website will be one of the most important tools for converting leads into paying customers. Therefore, a good place to start is to optimize your website for lead generation. Conduct a quick audit of your website, asking yourself the following questions:
Do your pages compel your readers to take further action? If not, your potential leads may be wondering what they should do next — or they might simply leave your website.
For every campaign you run, do you have custom landing pages and a way to track visitors (for example, via UTMs)?
Do your blog posts have clear calls-to-action to encourage your visitors to do more than just read? (for example, “subscribe to our newsletter” or “try our product for free today”)
Be sure to also take advantage of lead generation tools to make your job a lot easier. Sophisticated marketing automation software such as Ortto will help you design multi-channel lead generation strategies with your website landing pages and forms along with emails, SMS, Facebook and Google ads.
Maybe the last few years forced you into the ecommerce world, and it worked out quite well. Now it’s time to optimize and fine tune your online business to drive those sales.
It’s imperative that you are reaching your target audience in channels and devices where they are likely to be. There’s no point in running an ad campaign on the side of a bus if no one is out on the streets looking at them (a small 2020 throwback), the same thinking applies online.
Leverage your first-party customer data and other ecommerce metrics to understand your audience. Know their preferences towards receiving SMS, clicking through to emails, purchasing patterns on desktop vs mobile. Ortto can help collate all this information, and segment your different audiences, meaning you can then create tailored messages on the channel and/or device that will likely convert your audience.
Driving brand awareness
When you’re ordering a drink at a fast-food restaurant, do you ask for a cola or a Coke? When you accidentally cut your finger while furiously chopping some carrots on the chopping board, do you frantically look for a plastic bandage or a Band-Aid? And when you’ve cooked way too much dinner and need to store the leftovers to take to work the following day, do you look for a plastic container or Tupperware?
The terms we’ve used above are known as proprietary eponyms; they’re also great examples of brand awareness. Essentially, these brands have become so famous that they’ve pretty much replaced the generic terms for similar products (sorry, Pepsi).
Getting the word out about your brand is one of the best things you can do to promote your small business. We’re not saying that you’ll become as famous as Coca-Cola, but it certainly won’t hurt to try. And while there’s no quick fix for becoming a household name, here are some brand-building strategies that can help launch your brand awareness efforts:
Blogs are great because they help drive traffic to your website and create brand authority in your industry. By curating a high-quality blog filled with interesting, engaging, and useful articles, you’re developing trust among your leads — and driving brand awareness along the way.
Have you ever purchased something because one of the people you follow on social media used the product? Influencer marketing works because it combines tactics such as Word-of-Mouth (WOM) marketing and social proof, both of which are critical aspects of a successful marketing strategy. Partnering with the right influencers can help your brand inherit some of their credibility and trust while raising brand awareness.
The likes of Dropbox, Uber, and Airbnb all used referral programs to grow their brand. Referral programs reward existing customers for spreading the word about your brand and incentivizing new customers to give your product a go. Referral programs are effective because customers are more likely to spread the word about your brand when they know they’ll receive an added perk. We know how hard it is to acquire new customers, so why not let a happy team of satisfied customers do some of the legwork for you?
78% of customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations (Review42). In other words, it’s great if you have one happy customer telling their neighbor how amazing your product is, but that isn’t enough. You must also encourage that customer to leave that feedback on Google, review channels (for example, Zomato or TripAdvisor), social media, or your website — ideally all of the above!
Help! A customer left a bad review, what should I do?
No small business owner likes receiving bad feedback but, like death and taxes, they are a part of life. What matters is how you deal with the feedback. The worst thing you can do is to ignore the negative reviews — ignoring feedback is harmful to your business’ reputation and shows that you don’t care about your customers.
In reality, most customers don’t care if your small business did something wrong — they are actually more interested in seeing how you fix the problem. Reply to the customer who left the feedback; clarify any misunderstanding with humility before offering them a discount or refund, or letting them know they can speak to you directly. There will be times when your response may not be enough to change a stubborn customer’s mind, but at the very least it may change the minds of other customers reading the review.
Keep an Eye on the Next Trend
It’s not enough to be on top of today’s trendS and say that your job is done. Trends come and go regularly, and it’s crucial that you are looking out for the next one so you don’t get caught out. Here are some things you can do to ensure you stay ahead of the game:
- Read the latest business news and marketing blogs daily
- Monitor what your competitors are doing (you know what they say about keeping your enemies closer…)
- Regularly ask your customers for feedback — you can do this via live chat, email surveys or Ortto’s handy powerful pop-ups and surveys.
Is your small business ready for 2022?
Marketing trends for small businesses continue to evolve at warp speed. It is, therefore, imperative to adapt and evolve with new marketing trends to stay competitive and retain high-quality customers.
It’s time to shift your 2022 vision towards the trends discussed in this article to ensure your small business remains ahead of the game.