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Mobile First: 4 Must-Know Marketing Trends for Small Business

By Margarita Hakobyan
Business.com / marketing strategy / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Heed the mobile, small business owner. The future is here. Trends are all digital and they skew hard to mobile. Learn more inside!

When the business gods of 2015 offered up their annual marketing trend predictions, they warned that April would bring “Mobilegeddon” and dire consequences for businesses that failed to “mobile-optimize” their websites.

And as the prediction came to pass, Google did indeed penalize those non-mobile friendly sites with less traffic.

Last year also saw the announcement from Google that mobile search queries now happen more often on mobile devices than on desktop.

Heed the mobile, small business owner. The future is here.

Related Article: 5 Critical Content Marketing Tips for Small Businesses

Trends are all digital and they skew hard to mobile. For those of you still dragging your marketing knuckles on the ground in favor of non-digital messaging, try searching for a marketing trend that includes traditional channels. You’ll find that SEO is standard practice and e-mail is for list-builders.  Then put your attention on these trends:

Social Commerce

If your small business is not on social media, it looks as though you are out of alignment. 74 percent of adults in the United States are on social media sites and even police officers. Some are predicting that 2016 will be the year social commerce finally takes off. Social commerce, whether the shop happens from a direct sale, like a “buy it” button on a social post, or by referrals to a merchant site or app, is growing at a faster rate than e-commerce.

Here’s why. You know that thing you do when you’re hungry and tired of the same old restaurants or traveling and want to try the best burger in the area? You search for “burgers near me” or something like it, right? You’re not the only one doing it. According to Think with Google, Google’s data and stats blog, “Google search interest in "near me" has increased 34 times since 2011 and nearly doubled since 2013. The vast majority come from mobile—80 percent in Q4 2014.”

Add to that the fact that social media platforms, including Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, all now have options for users to search, find, locate, review—and sometimes buy—without ever leaving the platform. In 2015, Pinterest launched a “buy it” button and all of the major engines are now offering or testing direct-sale merchant social selling options.

Facebook dominates currently and according to a 2015 Social Commerce report from BI Intelligence that looked at social retail referrals and sales, it accounts for 50 percent of total social referrals and 64 percent of total social revenue. Facebook makes it easy to for merchants to DIY their direct sales through online search; watch for other platforms to follow suit.

Related Article: Post Like a Pro: Social Media Tips for Every Small Business


Digital video advertising increases sales and brand recognition—and a growing number of consumers prefer it.  According to the 2015 Cisco Visual Networking Index white paper, video will account for 80 percent of global Internet traffic by 2019.

Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have all introduced digital video advertising. Click-through rates are higher for video than for static display ads.

If your business hasn’t yet jumped on the video train, it’s not too late, but the train is picking up speed and you don’t want to miss it. If you’re not sure how or why video can work for your brand, start here.


Geo-targeting and geo-fencing are fancy terms for hyper-localized targeting of highly qualified prospective sales.

For example, suppose you were browsing in your favorite shoe warehouse app for some red sandals and fell in love but didn’t buy because they’re too expensive. So you click the, “notify me when these go on sale” button. A few weeks later, you’re in the neighborhood of said local shoe warehouse and a text or mobile push (that you agreed to receive) pops up and says, “Come on in and get those sandals for 50% off today.” You’ve just been geo-targeted and geo-fenced.

Add in-store beacon technology—it’s hot and getting hotter—which the store uses to send specials customized for you while you’re picking up the sandals. Reports predicted $44 billion in beacon-influenced sales in 2015, and look for an added ten-fold this year.

Hey Siri. Or Cortana. Or M?

Siri (Apple’s iPhone assistant) and Cortana (Microsoft’s personal assistant) will soon be joined by M, Facebook’s messenger based assistant. Facebook started testing M in August.

According to a report from Thrive Analytics, 56 percent of smartphone owners have used a digital assistant to look up local information rather than using a search engine. Why should you—a small business owner—care about Siri, Cortana and M? Because they won’t just find you automatically. It’s up to you to make sure your business is in the mix and can be found by them.

Related Article: Inspiration Station: 6 Killer Marketing Tips from Actual Business Owners

For example, Siri doesn’t search on Google. She uses Bing, so you need to be concerned with your BING SEO as well as your Google SEO. You can setup your own Siri on Google, but it doesn’t mean it’ll do the same for you. Now would be a good time to invest in resources to be sure all of the personal assistants can find you.

As you’re thinking ahead to where you’ll put your marketing dollars, investigate what works best for your customers, and then put your money on mobile.

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