Four major tactics that should be in small business 2017 marketing plans are customer experience, social media marketing, mobile optimization and video marketing. While there are a number of other areas of focus, these 4 can have a significant impact.
Increased Focus on Customer Experience and Service
Customers today expect more. They have an abundance of choices in nearly every single product category and they are firmly in control of the buying journey. They are pressed for time and with limited attention spans are seeking quick and hassle free solutions to their problems.
Leading companies will make improvements in customer service, because they must. In 2015, companies lost more than $62 billion because of poor customer service. Delivering a superior customer experience is a sustainable and cost effective way to compete and it is predicted that by 2020 customer experience will be more important than product and price as a point of difference among competitors. Further more:
- 86% of buyers will pay more for a better experience
- A customer is 4 times more likely to switch from a competitor if the problem is service related
- 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated
Clearly, the companies that provide the best customer experience at every touch point from end to end will win.
Companies that have a one size fits all customer service model will be challenged trying to accommodate all four generations of consumers in the marketplace: Matures, Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials. Each generation is different in terms of the way they expect to engage and be served by companies. Understanding the differences will allow you to develop the optimal mix of personal touch and technology needed to provide differentiated experiences among the four.
Learning as much as possible about buyers will enable you to be more efficient with your marketing efforts. Without this “customer intelligence” marketing decisions are made on a hit or miss basis. Some things will work, most won’t. In today’s hyper competitive marketplace, the business with the most insight about consumers will succeed.
Social Media – Less is More
The number of social media platform continues to grow and each appeal to distinct segments in the market. It is not practical for businesses to have a presence on every platform. So, for 2017, more companies will opt for quality over quantity, actively contributing and distributing content to a smaller more manageable number of sites. This strategic and selective use of social media will be driven by a deeper understanding of what content target customers are looking for and which social media platforms they are on. Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter are the three most widely used social media platforms for business.
The rumors of Twitter’s demise have been driven by the fact that, business usage has declined since 2014. Facebook and Linkedin have had comparatively stable usage levels over the last 5 years.
Linkedin will continue to be the platform of choice for B2B marketers and Facebook will be the preferred social media channel for B2C marketers.
Smartphones and tablets are permanent accessories for today’s consumer. These devices count for just over half of Internet use. People use the technology to stay connected, gather information and make purchases. It’s not unusual for a customer’s buying journey to start on a mobile device. That’s why the trend is toward a mobile first strategy where designing a website for smartphones, tablets and mobile devices takes priority over desktop web design. Mobile responsive websites look good on all devices, load quickly, have simple navigation and are compatible with all search engines. Being mobile optimized will improve your Google ranking and ensure a better experience for your customers.
Some B2C companies that target Millennials are forgoing websites altogether and are opting to use apps on mobile devices to engage with them. A superior mobile experience might enable customers to get bids, make appointments, make payments or resolve a customer service issue. A thorough understanding of the customer base will drive decisions on which aspect of the experience should be included on mobile
Video is King
Cisco estimates that by 2018, 84% of Internet traffic will be video. The growth in the use of mobile devices and an increase in video apps and platforms have contributed to this trend and it can only be expected to continue. Video has become the preferred way to consume online content. People online would rather watch a video about a product than read about it. Because it is an effective and efficient way to communicate more companies will incorporate video into their marketing and distribute it over multiple channels including websites, email marketing campaigns and social media platforms.
Change is a given in the marketplace and therefore marketing must change to be effective. The 4 areas discussed will continue to impact business growth plans. Customers evolving preferences and expectations will drive the direction of marketing in 2017. Companies that understand their customers and use that insight in the 4 areas will have a distinct advantage.