5 Small Business Trends to Look Out For in 2018
Technology continues to change our lives, both professionally and personally, in ways we’d never have predicted in decades past. To provide you with insights about the future of small business trends, we’ve compiled this list of initiatives that you should consider pursuing.
Social Media Marketing
Numerous sources cite small business marketing as an area in which many entrepreneurs plan to spend time and money next year. But, as a specific marketing strategy, social media seems to be leading the pack.
This has been apparent throughout 2017, and will continue into next year. As social media channels continue to become more accessible, small business owners will be demanding more and more space on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and other platforms. In fact, in 2017, over three-quarters of small business owners said social media was part of their overall marketing strategy.
At Business 2 Community, experts say that social media as a “publishing platform” will continue to grow in 2018. This comes as no surprise to the marketing industry. Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and others are in an arms race, to become the most lucrative social media publishing platform.
Cloud computing and IoT
In many ways, cloud computing and the Internet of Things (IoT) are linked. For example, you’ll require accessible storage to accommodate the large amount of data and communications IoT applications require.
Cloud computing and the Internet of Things (IoT) have been popular for some time now, but surprisingly, it wasn’t until recently that they have become more available to business owners. Now, entrepreneurs can take advantage of flexible pricing models for cloud storage, reducing infrastructure and IT costs.
According to NetworkWorld, business owners in 2018 will benefit from increased storage capacity, growth in cloud services, more applications of IoT, and better Internet quality, thanks to cloud computing.
Making Better-Informed Decisions
“Big data” has become a popular buzzword, but like cloud computing, it wasn’t exactly relevant for small business owners until the past decade or so.
According to SiriusDecisions’s data cited by Salesmate, 43.9 percent of CMOs cited both business and customer intelligence among their top five technology investment priorities for 2017. This mirrors what technology research firm, Gartner, reported; that over half of large organizations will rely on advanced analytics in 2018.
Of course, just because large companies are doing it, doesn’t mean small businesses are. However, combined with the investment data from Salesmate, it’s fair to say that the use of analytics is on the rise for all businesses.
Web browsing and shopping patterns are a couple data points among hundreds (even thousands) that savvy entrepreneurs are utilizing to make better-informed decisions. Plus, if you’re using social media marketing at any scale, you’re profiting from the power of analytics-backed targeting.
When leveraged properly, these types of insights help small business owners improve on their hallmark: customer service.
According to a 2017 study from Vistaprint, “27 percent of consumers say that they’re likely to shop at small businesses more often in 2017 than they did in 2018.”
The study also found that, “69 percent [of consumers] said they would want to shop with a small business more if the owner knew them by name.”
In a world that is increasingly dominated by a few, huge companies, these are exciting statistics for small business owners. Small businesses might not be able compete against big companies on price, but great customer service and a personal approach resonate with more consumers.
Based on these statistics, small business owners should improve their customer service and personalize the customer experience. By getting to know their customers, they’ll be able to attract more sales.
Automation has taken some time to significantly unfold, but it’s beginning to establish a strong foothold among small business owners. Whether it’s for accounting, data entry, email marketing, customer experience management, or any number of business processes, entrepreneurs are achieving more with less, thanks to automation. And there’s data to back it up.
According to a Salesforce report on small and medium-sized business trends, growing small businesses were “1.6 times as likely as their stagnant counterparts to say they’re using technology to automate business processes.”
Beyond 2018: Trends in Small Business
As technology gets more affordable and advantageous, tech solutions will continue to dominate the small business landscape. But even with the rise of technology, the fundamentals of small businesses remain. Customer service with a personal touch will never go out of style.
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.