Here are my Local Online Marketing 2012 Predictions, to help give small businesses marketers out there a heads up. Some of these are not only for the local business marketer, but do affect them:
Adapt or die in order for small businesses to survive and grow, they are no longer just competing with the sole proprietor next door, but the corporate chains and franchise owners that have marketing teams helping them. I think small business owners will have to hire a full-time person to build online partnerships and keep on top of the rapid changes that affect your marketing and bottom line or outsource their online presence to someone with already established partnerships to market your business online. Think about how many changes will come about in technology along with consumer behaviors in the up and coming year alone.
Merging Online and Offline. Forrester Research predicts that almost 50% of Brick and Mortar purchases are influenced by online activities. That means even if you do not purchase your product or service on the web, you will use the web to make your decision as to who you will buy from offline. Which leads me to my next prediction.
Practical Websites, we have all seen these flashy websites with blinking spinning things and bright colors that are almost impossible to find anything on, along with sites that business owners have paid for just to find out that when the company they purchased the site from decides to pack up and close, the site they purchased cannot be updated by them or for that matter anyone else because of the way it was created, and they have to start all over again. My prediction is that you will be seeing more WordPress based websites, as WordPress has matured to the point where you can do just about everything with it a small business would need.
Content is becoming more important in getting your website ranked by the search engines. In the past Google and the other search engines have used inbound links as proof your website is worth moving up the ranks to page one, making it easy for more people to find your websites, and purchase your products and services. Now with all the online marketers using automated systems to point millions of inbound links to their websites just to gain rank with the search engines, Google and other search engines are changing the way they rank your website. Wishing to give their searchers a better experience, search engines are using what’s called “Social Rank”, they look at the way people are viewing and sharing your websites content, if you have quality content then people will share it, telling their friends and colleagues about the great content they have found, all the while the search engines like Google are tracking this sharing and using it to move your website closer to page one on their search engine.
Mobile Devices are becoming a way of life, no longer are you stuck behind a desk to reach the world, Smart Phones, iPad’s, Android Pads, Google Tablets, just to name a few are everywhere. Less than 10 years ago not many people could have predicted the growth and wide-spread use of these mobile devices we see today. Just think how rapidly technology is changing daily, what’s in store for the next 5 to 10 years, and how will this effect your business and the way you market it.
Social Media Advertising is growing on every social site like Facebook, LinkedIn and others. Sites like these give businesses a great opportunity to target their advertising to a specific market, unlike the shotgun approach of yester-year (a few years back) like phone books, radio, television, magazines, and newspapers.
Location Based Search (LBS) will become a staple for people on the go, looking for something for lunch, just click a button on your mobile device and Bam you get a list of places to eat at right next to you, with ratings and reviews of that restaurant. Location Based Search are expected to reach 1.4 billion users by 2014. No matter what type of business you are (unless you’re a top-secret government laboratory) you can take part in local search and get found by people looking for what you have.
Mobile Payment Systems are growing rapidly just like paying with plastic did when it replace the use of cash. Everyday new mobile payment applications like Google Wallet are being created for Mobile Smart Devices, you have seen this with the large corporate chains being the first adapters allowing consumers to pay with their smart phones at their registers. Forrester Research has stated in their June report that they expect mobile commerce to grow to a $31 billion business by the year 2016.
Mobile Video Communication to connect with family for fun has been around for a while, but with providers such as Google with their Google+ and its capability of easy video conferencing using a “Google Hangout” with the ability to meet online with a group of people and share YouTube videos simultaneously, I predict that more small businesses will start using this technology to conduct training, customer support and more in the upcoming year.
Email. I know you thought Email was on its way out, but with the growing Smartphone use adoption of mobile Email through enhancements enabling low-cost mobile extensions to existing Email services. Gartner’s stats put mobile Email users worldwide to grow from 354 million users in 2009 to over 713 million users by 2014, accounting for 10.6 percent of the world-wide mobile user base.
Daily Deals have grown throughout the 2011 year, with companies like Groupon, Living Social and others the daily deal has become a way for some businesses to bump up their cash flow for the moment. I see a better way growing in 2012 with the use of sites like Mob Manager that help by following up with consumers that have purchased a daily deal using multiple emails that build a future relationship with the buyer.
Video Marketing will grow because video is Engaging, Trackable, and Sharable, making it a wonderful tool for marketers looking to get their message across rapidly. Another great thing about video is the fact it has the potential to go viral, which will boost your backlinks and sharing of your website.
Internet Law will grow in 2012, making it more difficult for business owners to make sure they don’t get banned from sites like Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and others. What used was OK for most services such as using a popular song in the background of your family picture slide show, or placing a picture of Mickey Mouse on the Title of your video made during your trip to Disney Land, is now a no-no under some of the increasing Internet laws, not to mention the rules for the social media sites.
I hope this will get you off to a good start for 2012 in marketing your small business online, these are by far not everything I would like to predict, but I need to leave some for you to add your predictions in the comments below if you would like.
Until next time,