21 Biggest Small Business Trends for 2018

22 December 2017

There have been many shifts in how businesses promote and market themselves. Technological advancements mean that SME’s have the potential to reap rewards that were once only accessible to larger companies.

Stay ahead of the crowd by using the latest ideas, trends and predictions to consider when developing your plans for 2018 and beyond. We’ve selected 21 trends that businesses of all sizes can get behind.

 

1 Customer-centric

Let customers know they’re appreciated by structuring your marketing strategy to create personalised journeys. Businesses that provide bespoke journeys from start to finish will gain customer loyalty and drive company growth.

Personalised journeys are achieved using dynamic data to provide relevant, consistent experiences to your customers. This includes:

 

 

As a result, this creates content to suit your various identified demographic groups. Regular audits will also keep your data fresh and up-to-date.

At CaptureHub, you can build and maintain relationships with a custom customer relationship management system.

 

 

2 Mobile

The use of mobile has impacted the way consumers research and shop for goods online. In fact, mobile overtook desktop for the first time in 2016, and that’s just the beginning.

Customers are expecting streamlined websites that are optimised for mobile. Sites need to automatically adjust to a multitude of screens, such as desktop, mobile and tablet. If yours doesn’t do this, creating a responsive site should be a priority.

 

 

3 Crowdfunding

If you want to establish a small business but are cautious of what the banks might say, you aren’t alone. Banks are warier of lending to smaller businesses, which is why many entrepreneurs are turning to crowdfunding.

If you have a business idea that you want to get off the ground but need financial aid, consider one of these crowdfunding platforms.

 

 

4 Freelancing

business freelancer

Reducing overheads will be a priority for businesses looking to save money in 2018.

Thanks to mobile and easier lines of communication, remote working is easier than ever. Many businesses are choosing to use an agency or hire a freelancer over another full-time person. This takes the strain off company finances.

Read our money-saving tips for small businesses article for more information.

 

 

5 B2B on demand

On-demand platforms bring the online and offline worlds together through technology. Many businesses are keeping up with the demand that is accumulated online by servicing consumers offline, either instantly or at a scheduled time.

Uber is a perfect example of an on-demand B2C service, though more platforms are now becoming available for B2B.

These on-demand services help businesses to share a clean, easy transition of products, services or information to other companies without being there 24/7. Shyp and ezCater are notable on-demand B2B companies.

 

 

6 Leveraging tech

The rising demand for technology has made creating websites and apps much easier. Leveraging technology is important for any business looking to keep up with the latest trends. Keeping up-to-date with technology will make it easier to reach customers.

Websites and apps can be made using sites like WordPress and app creators. This is a great way for smaller businesses with low budgets to get their ideas off the ground.

If you’re looking for a more professional site, Jungle specialises in website design and cater to businesses of all sizes and budgets. Sign up to CaptureHub and get in touch with our team to find out more.

 

 

7 eCommerce

Thanks to advances in technology, eCommerce will continue to grow in 2018. More big data and sharper analytics will help turn every user action into data. This will help eCommerce businesses understand their customers better and create more tailored experiences.

Mobile devices are now responsible for over half of online sales, and this figure is expected to grow significantly over the coming years.

 

 

8 Go green

Green office recycling

Products and services are becoming greener to meet the needs of environmentally conscious customers. Newer, mostly millennial-owned businesses are more likely to turn to green alternatives.

Consider how your company could be more environmentally conscious. You could:

 

Your customers will appreciate your thoughtfulness.

 

 

9 Chatbots

Virtual assistants and chatbots will continue to advance in 2018. Virtual assistants work using natural and machine-learning algorithms and are there to meet the high demands of our fast-paced digital world. They can complete a diverse range of tasks and respond to your customers in real time.

Not only are they fast and efficient, but they’re also cost-effective as you won’t need workers to answer your customer’s queries.

Sign up to CaptureHub and in touch with our team for more information on installing a chatbot service onto your site.

 

 

10 Social media

 

Many businesses already use social media, though you can do more than just share content. 2018 will see a rise of businesses using social media as a publishing outlet. LinkedIn, for example, allows businesses to publish articles as part of their marketing plan.

Instagram also allows businesses to add a swipe-up link to posts to allow users to read content without having to leave the platform.

 

 

11 Live videos

If you’re a Facebook user, you’ve probably aware of live streaming. They create an instant connection with your audience, and more brands are hopping onto this promotional method.

Live videos allow customers to connect with a support agent to help them answer queries or to showcase any exciting new products. Your audience can type in real time as your video airs, and enhances your relationship with your customers.

 

 

12 Direct & digital marketing

Business office marketing

Direct mail still gets the best response, according to research. This rings especially true for local businesses. If you want to create a strong marketing campaign, combine both direct and digital marketing methods.

“Sending customers direct mail sends them directly to your websites and social media”, according to The Royal Mail.  “You’ll not only meet customers’ needs, you’ll maximise the effectiveness of your communication”.

 

 

13 Purpose-driven

Purpose-driven marketing allows businesses to connect with prospects based on their shared needs and interests.

More people are willing to pay for items that they can connect with, so companies must find the touchpoints that resonate with their demographic.

For example, McVitie’s had huge success with their kittens’ advert from 2014. This campaign was built to connect with their customers emotionally, and are now working on a purpose-driven project for 2018.

 

 

14 Influencer marketing

With adblockers installed on web browsers, many companies are left wondering how to share their content with new prospects in 2018.

The answer? Influencers.

Sought after on social media platforms, influencers who resonate with your audience can promote your products on their channels. This allows you to bypass the adblockers, and a report from 2017 shows that influencers can be very effective.

But influencer marketing isn’t just for larger brands – a rising trend for 2018 is for smaller businesses to use micro-influencers. Do your research to ensure that the influencer is right for your demographic and that their past metrics are reputable.

 

 

15 Cloud services

One of the trends SMEs can get behind is cloud computing. Servers can be expensive to install and maintain. The cloud, however, is constantly evolving and now offers small businesses the services that once only larger companies were able to afford.

Cloud computing provides cheap, easy and reliable services, including:

92% of small businesses in the US use cloud services and is constantly increasing as a popular option amongst small businesses.

 

 

16 Data savvy

The more data you gather per consumer, the better you can tailor their personal journeys. We’re now able to store more data about individuals than ever before, but it doesn’t come without its risks.

The Equifax hack in 2017 brought data protection fears into the spotlight and showed us that even big corporations are vulnerable to data cyber-attacks. Small businesses are vulnerable if they’re not equipped with the right tools, though many are relatively unsure of how to protect their data.

Customers are also aware of this, so you need to build a trusting relationship with your customer to assure them that their data is in safe hands. Here is a quick guide to protecting customer data and information.

 

 

17 Search Marketing

In 2018, businesses will need to adapt to cater to the rising trend of voice searches and mobile-first indexing.

A study by Stone Temple Consulting showed that 55% of traffic is coming from mobile, and will continue to grow in 2018 and beyond. To rank higher on the search results page, you need to restructure how you write your content.

Google will also begin to rank websites based on how mobile-friendly your content is. Google will accomplish this with its mobile-first index, which is set to be released at some point in 2018.

This will be the first time that Google’s index will be prioritised for mobile over desktop, and will help boost local SEO too.

Long-tail keywords are needed as voice searches become more popular. Creating content that’s more casual will help match the natural language of a user.

Read this guide on how to write mobile-first content to get you up to speed.

 

 

18 Topic clustering

Content used to be structured around one keyword or phrase attached to individual pages. Now, however, pages are given more depth by formatting them into topic clusters.

These are when subtopic content, or ‘clusters’, are attached to a ‘pillar’ page, which covers a broad overview of a specific topic. These clusters focus on long-tail keywords. The pillar is linked to each cluster page and vice versa with the same hyperlinked keyword.

The idea behind topic clustering is to make your content all connected. It creates an effective information architecture. This makes it easier for Google to crawl through your content, giving you more online authority as an expert on that topic.

 

 

19 Website design

A strong website will do wonders for your business. Many website designs from 2017 are spilling over into the new year. If your site needs an update, now’s the time.

The biggest priority is making your website responsive to mobile and tablets.

 

 

20 AR & Interaction 

Remember Pokémon Go? Released in July 2016, this location-based game was many people’s first taste of augmented reality.

One trend for 2018 and onwards will see AR apps developed for businesses. In fact, many businesses are jumping on board with this idea already. Those working in the real estate sector can take clients on virtual tours of properties, providing vital information as the user explores the site at their own leisure.

In the future, the aim for many businesses will be to replace the static webpage with interactive technology, and pair AR with artificial intelligence to personalise the shopping experience.

AR trends are great indicators of where the market is headed, so keep an eye on them. In the meantime, invest in visual content such as interactive graphics and videos.

 

 

21 Personal brand

With customers now savvy at searching online for services and goods that fit their price range and ethics, brand loyalty is lower. Building on your personal brand is a must for 2018.

There are plenty of ways to instil trust and create an authentic brand voice. For instance, check out these 12 ways to elevate your personal brand.

 

Back to Posts