Monday, February 24, 2014

Small Business Gets Serious: Digital Trends for Small Business in 2014






With each new year, we all have hopes and aspirations for what the new year will bring us. With small businesses it becomes essential to address these new goals. One of the most important steps towards success is evaluation. With this, we want to look back on the last year and make a list of what worked and what didn’t quite work out as planned. Make this list as in-depth as possible. 

One reason businesses remain unsuccessful is because they skip this crucial step. It is here that you decide how to stay on top of the trends and find fresh ways to bring in new customers. Otherwise, any mistakes you had made in the past are just being recycled into the new year.  Understanding potential opportunities that will present themselves in the coming year is something that can make or break any business. David Brown, CEO of Web.com has generated a list of tips to help maximize any business.  By acknowledging the following areas your company will surely prosper: 


Going digital: This is crucial for any business. In a recent study conducted by Web.com, it was found that only 4 out of 10 businesses utilize and maintain an online website. Living in era that is dedicated to the internet, it seems silly not to indulge in this area. In doing so, you are given a FREE opportunity to connect and engage with potential customers. More and more companies are picking up on this trend and at last recognizing the strong demand for online interaction. In 2014, expect to see an increase in small business internet presences. 
    • Tip: Now more than ever, customers want to know that their voices are being heard. Respond to them by utilizing social media channels and responding to their comments and concerns. 
Local is where it’s at: The percentage of online search queries focused on local businesses continues to accelerate, with an even greater growth in local search via mobile devices. Small businesses should stake their claim on basic local channels such as Google Places, and populate those sites with information your consumers most likely would want to know. Products and services, hours of operation, contact information, physical address, etc., are just a few examples of what a majority of customers search for. With the right search engine optimization (SEO) in place, information for a small business can easily appear highly ranked on local search results.          
It’s time to partner up: As a small business owner, focus should be on the business — not on IT and online marketing. To better increase business results this year, small business owners should look for a partner, whether that be a nephew or neighbor down the street, that fully understands the digital demands of the company. This will help save time and aide in achieving online success. With the help of an experienced online marketing partner, owners can focus on what should be their primary goal — making the business successful. 

•Mobile use on the increase: Did you know that nearly 30% of all web traffic is generated via mobile devices? As this technology popularity begins to expand, this percentage is only going to rise. If you have a smart phone and regularly utilize the web on it, you know the frustration with web pages that give limited content and clunky navigation. Make sure your company web page is mobile user friendly. 


•E-commerce will boom: As we begin to move towards a digital era, we should continue to recognize the growing demand for businesses to deliver online services such as online shopping and electronic billing. Begin to make a more digital transition with your 
business and you will be sure to see happier customers.

Paid marketing and social networking to generate awareness and drive sales: 2014 will see small businesses increase paid marketing efforts for both advertising and social networks. Facebook has recently moved towards a more ‘pay-to-play’ model with their advertisements, meaning a paid campaign will get posts and pages more visibility. According to a Pew Research Center study, one-third of U.S. adults are now receiving their news from social media channels; some of which include Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, etc. This research reinforces the need to create and maintain a personal and interactive relationship with consumers. 

Talk about TLDs: New Top Level Domains (TLDs), have created more choices for companies when registering domain names. The benefits to this include: added visibility and increased search results online. TLDs are the very last section of an internet domain name, located after the last dot: .com, .net, .gov.  

Understanding these trends for the 2014 year will help establish personal relationships with consumers and help to keep your company’s image fresh and up-to-date. Keeping up with these ever changing demands is what separates your company from the next. Make 2014 a year to establish your online presence and success!