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Last updated: 6.7.23

In the lightning-fast pace of the business world, small enterprises often grapple with staying on the cutting edge.

The quest to manage daily operations while keeping abreast of new trends can be daunting.

Indeed, even seasoned entrepreneurs can sometimes feel swamped, wondering where to best channel their energies.

Wouldn’t it be convenient if you had a guide, a compass that could cut through the cacophony and highlight the essential trends?

The ones that could boost your business, attract more clients, and help you break new ground?

Can you envision the benefits of having a clear blueprint to manoeuvre the ever-fluctuating business terrain?

You’re in luck because such a roadmap does exist.

This article will illuminate the top trends small businesses should embrace this year.

We’ll be delving into how artificial intelligence and automation are game-changers, the significance of establishing an online community and why sustainability is now a top priority. These trends are shaping the future of small businesses.

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By acknowledging and integrating these trends, you’re positioning your business for growth and paving the way for a thriving future.

Accessibility

Why Accessibility Matters

In an age that celebrates inclusivity, accessibility is not just a fringe benefit – it’s a necessity. It’s about making your business available to all, irrespective of any physical or cognitive disabilities they may possess.

That means both your physical spaces and digital platforms – like your website and social media handles – should be accessible.

Accessibility isn’t just about legal compliance; it also broadens your audience reach. After all, approximately 15% of the global population lives with some form of disability.

Overlooking accessibility means potentially missing out on this sizable demographic. Besides, an accessible business is an inclusive one, and inclusivity is a proven recipe for business success.

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence’s Impact on Small Businesses

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has shed its sci-fi cloak and is presently revolutionising how businesses function.

For small enterprises, AI can be a formidable ally, helping them compete on a level playing field with bigger rivals.

AI can automate mundane, repetitive tasks, liberating you and your team to concentrate on strategic, value-adding tasks.

It can also enhance customer service, with AI-operated chatbots providing immediate responses to customer queries round-the-clock.

Beyond that, AI can assist with data analysis, offering you invaluable insights you might otherwise overlook.

These insights can inform decision-making, enabling you to comprehend your customers better and tailor your offerings to their needs.

Mobile Marketing

The Emergence of Mobile Marketing

Given the ubiquity of smartphones and the increasing reliance on mobile devices for internet surfing, mobile marketing has become an indispensable strategy for small businesses. It’s about connecting with your customers where they are most engaged – and currently, that’s predominantly on their mobile devices.

Mobile marketing is a multifaceted discipline, encompassing everything from SMS and email marketing, to mobile-optimised websites and apps.

It’s about ensuring your marketing messages are visually appealing and function seamlessly on smaller screens, and are adapted to the fast-paced nature of mobile usage.

Keep in mind, mobile users often seek local information, so your local SEO must be up to par.

Also, consider the immediacy of mobile – if someone’s exploring your website or reading your email on their phone, they’re likely ready to engage with your brand in the moment. Facilitate that interaction.

Consider these recent statistics illustrating the growing relevance of mobile marketing:

  • The number of smartphone users increased from 3.6 million in 2016 to 6.2 million in 2021, expected to rise to 7.6 million in 2027 (1).
  • In 2022, mobile ad spending worldwide hit a record 327 billion U.S. dollars (2).
  • More than half of all web traffic is mobile-based (3).
  • Mobiles hold the largest market share at 59.02% (4).
  • Unique active mobile internet users totalled 5 billion in April 2022 (4).
  • More than 50% of small businesses have a mobile app (4).

These statistics highlight the increasing significance of mobile marketing and the necessity for businesses to adapt to this trend to effectively reach their target audience.

Related: Digital Marketing Trends for Small Businesses

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Personalising Customer Service

Unleashing the Potential of Personalisation

Personalising your customer service is a potent strategy for differentiating your small business in an era defined by mass marketing and cookie-cutter solutions.

It’s about recognising your customers as individuals rather than just entries in a database.

Personalisation can manifest in various ways, from using customers’ names in interactions to customising your offerings to satisfy their unique needs.

It’s about demonstrating that you appreciate and value your customers and are willing to exceed their expectations.

Remember, customers love to feel cherished and understood. Tailoring your customer service can foster stronger relationships, boost customer loyalty, and ultimately spur repeat business.

Nurturing an Online Community

Crafting a Cohesive Brand Community

In today’s digital era, cultivating an online community around your brand can be an effective strategy for forging deeper connections with your customers.

It transcends mere product or service sales; it’s about creating a sense of belonging and engendering brand loyalty.

An online community can take various shapes, from a dedicated forum on your website to a Facebook group or a trending hashtag on Instagram.

It’s about offering a platform where your customers can engage with your brand and each other, exchange ideas, share experiences, and feel a part of something bigger.

So, are you ready to turn these trends into your competitive advantage?

Remember, staying ahead of the curve in business is not about blindly chasing every new trend, but about discerning which trends align best with your business goals and leveraging them effectively.

Your journey towards a more innovative, sustainable, and successful future starts now.

Building a brand community can have numerous benefits. It can provide valuable insights into your customer’s needs and preferences, help spread the word about your brand, and create a loyal customer base that will keep returning for more.

Plus, it shows that you value your customers’ input and are willing to listen and engage with them personally.

Data Transparency

Trust through Transparency

In the digital age, data is a valuable commodity. But with this comes a responsibility for businesses to handle customer data with care.

Being transparent about collecting, using, and storing customer data can help build trust and strengthen relationships.

storing customer data

Transparency means being open about your data practices and ensuring customers understand what data you’re collecting, why you’re collecting it, and how it’s being used.

This can be achieved through clear, concise privacy policies and direct communication with customers.

Remember, customers appreciate honesty, and they value their privacy. Being transparent can foster trust and reassure customers that their data is safe.

Sustainability: Embracing the Green Business Trend

With the increasing awareness of environmental issues, businesses that prioritise sustainability can tap into a growing market. It’s not just about being green; it’s about demonstrating responsibility and care for the planet.

Sustainability can be incorporated into various aspects of a business, from products and services to operations and supply chains.

This can include using eco-friendly materials, reducing waste, or supporting fair trade practices.

This could mean using eco-friendly materials, reducing waste, or supporting fair trade practices.

eco friendly materials

By prioritising sustainability, you can not only appeal to environmentally conscious consumers but also make a positive impact on the environment. It’s a win-win situation.

Here are some of the latest statistics on the green business trend:

  • Globally, a report from 2014 says that 55% of consumers across 60 countries are willing to pay higher prices for goods from environmentally conscious companies (1).
  • The global green technology and sustainability market size was valued at $10.32 billion in 2020 and is projected to reach $74.64 billion by 2030, growing at a CAGR of 21.9% from 2021 to 2030 (2).
  • 87% of American consumers will purchase because a company advocated for an issue they care about, and 76% of Americans expect companies to take action against climate change (3).
  • 73% of Americans would stop purchasing from a company that doesn’t care about climate change (3).
  • Companies with green values are eager to showcase them because people view sustainability as a plus. Going green shows the world you care more than just making money (3).
  • In 2023, sustainability trends will focus on business results rather than greenwashing (4).

These statistics demonstrate the growing importance of sustainability in business and the need for companies to prioritise environmentally conscious practices to meet consumer demand and stay competitive.

Generative AI: Harnessing the Power of Artificial Intelligence

Generative AI, a subset of artificial intelligence, is making significant strides in the business world. It has the ability to automate tasks, generate content, and even design products, thereby enhancing business operations.

By leveraging generative AI, businesses can streamline processes, improve efficiency, and foster innovation. For example, generative AI can automate content creation for marketing campaigns or generate design ideas for new products.

In essence, generative AI empowers businesses to harness technological advancements to drive growth and innovation.

Automation: Unlocking Efficiency

Automation is all about efficiency. By automating routine tasks, businesses can save time, reduce errors, and focus on more strategic and value-adding activities.

Automation can be applied to various aspects of a business, from customer service with the help of chatbots to marketing through email automation, and even operations such as inventory management.

It’s important to note that automation is not about replacing humans but augmenting their capabilities. It enables businesses to achieve more with fewer resources and concentrate on what truly matters.

Augmented Reality: Elevating the Customer Experience

Augmented reality (AR) is a technology that enriches the user’s real-world experience by overlaying digital information.

For businesses, AR offers a new and innovative way to showcase products and engage with customers.

For instance, a furniture business can use AR to allow customers to virtually place furniture in their homes before making a purchase, while a clothing retailer can enable customers to virtually try on clothes.

By enhancing the customer experience with AR, businesses can deliver more value, differentiate themselves from competitors, and create engaging and interactive shopping experiences that blend the virtual and real worlds.

Social Media and User-Generated Content

The Power of User-Generated Content

In the age of social media, user-generated content (UGC) has become a powerful tool for businesses.

UGC is any form of content, such as images, videos, text, and audio, posted by users on online platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Encouraging UGC can help businesses build trust and credibility. After all, customers are more likely to trust other customers. It’s about letting your customers tell your story, share their experiences, and advocate for your brand.

UGC can also provide valuable insights into your customer’s needs and preferences, helping you to improve your products and services. Plus, it’s a great way to engage with your customers and build a community around your brand.

User-generated content (UGC) campaigns are an excellent way for companies to increase brand awareness, build customer relationships, and improve their website’s SEO. 

Here are some examples of companies successfully using UGC:

  1. Adobe: Adobe launched a UGC campaign called “Make It on Mobile” to showcase the creative work of its users. The company used the content to create user suggestions, product marketing, and other specialist endorsements (1).
  2. Coca-Cola: Coca-Cola launched a UGC campaign, “Share a Coke, ” encouraging customers to share photos of themselves with personalised Coke bottles. The campaign generated over 500,000 photos and increased sales by 2% (2).
  3. Starbucks: Starbucks launched a UGC campaign called “White Cup Contest” that encouraged customers to decorate their Starbucks cups and share photos of their designs on social media. The winning design was turned into a limited edition Starbucks cup (3).
  4. GoPro: GoPro launched a UGC campaign called “Photo of the Day” that encouraged customers to share their best GoPro photos on social media. The company selected a daily winner and featured their photo on its website and social media channels (2).
  5. Airbnb: Airbnb launched a UGC campaign called “Wish List” that encouraged customers to create and share lists of their dream travel destinations. The campaign generated over 2 million views and increased website traffic by 30% (4).

These examples demonstrate the versatility of UGC campaigns and how they can be used to engage customers, increase brand awareness, and drive sales.

Entertainment

Engaging Customers through Entertainment

Incorporating entertainment into your marketing strategy can help engage customers and create memorable experiences.

This could mean creating entertaining content for your social media channels, hosting events, or gamifying your customer experience.

Entertainment can make your brand fun and relatable, helping to build a strong brand personality. It can also make your marketing more engaging, increasing the chances of sharing your content and reaching a wider audience.

Remember, people love to be entertained. You can create a deeper emotional connection with your brand by making customers smile, laugh, or even cry.

Inflation and Supply Chain Issues

Navigating Economic Challenges

Inflation and supply chain issues are expected to impact small businesses. These economic challenges can increase costs and disrupt operations, making it more difficult for businesses to thrive.

However, by being prepared and adaptable, businesses can navigate these challenges. This could mean reducing costs, diversifying suppliers to reduce supply chain risk, or adjusting prices to account for inflation.

Communicating with customers about these challenges and how you address them is also essential. Customers appreciate transparency and may be more understanding if they know what’s happening.

Seamless Customer Experiences

The Importance of Seamless Experiences

In today’s digital age, customers expect seamless experiences across all touchpoints. Whether they interact with your business online, in-store, or over the phone, they expect a consistent and smooth experience.

Businesses that prioritise seamless experiences can improve customer satisfaction and loyalty. This could mean ensuring your website is easy to navigate, responsive and helpful customer service or your physical and digital experiences are well-integrated.

Remember, every customer interaction with your business is an opportunity to impress them and build a stronger relationship. Make every interaction count.

The Rise of Remote Work

Embracing Remote Work

The way we work is changing. Remote work, once a perk offered by a few forward-thinking companies, is now becoming the norm.

This shift has been driven by technological advances, changing attitudes towards work-life balance, and, more recently, the global pandemic.

For businesses, embracing remote work can bring numerous benefits. It can help attract and retain top talent, as many workers now value remote work’s flexibility.

It can also reduce overheads, as less office space is required.

However, remote work requires businesses to adapt their management practices and invest in the right technology. It’s about finding ways to keep remote workers engaged, connected, and productive.

H2: Financial Coaching

The Value of Financial Coaching

Running a small business can be financially challenging. Financial management is key to business success, from managing cash flow to making investment decisions.

Investing in financial coaching can help small business owners navigate these challenges. A financial coach can provide advice, share knowledge, and offer support, helping business owners make informed financial decisions.

Financial coaching can also help business owners plan for the future, setting financial goals and developing strategies to achieve them. It’s about being financially savvy and future-ready.

Short-Form Video Content

The Popularity of Short-Form Content

In the fast-paced world of social media, short-form video content is king. From TikTok videos to Instagram Reels, short-form video is becoming increasingly popular.

For businesses, incorporating short-form videos into their marketing strategy can help increase engagement with their audience.

These videos are often more casual and authentic than traditional advertising, helping to build a stronger connection with viewers.

Plus, short-form video is visually appealing and easily digestible, making it perfect for the on-the-go nature of social media. It’s about capturing attention and telling your story concisely and engagingly.

Related: The Crucial Role of UGC Tags in Modern SEO Practices

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Using Free Social Platforms

Maximising Social Media Reach

Social media offers a cost-effective way for businesses to reach a wider audience. Many social platforms are free, and even paid advertising options are often cheaper than traditional ones.

Social media can help businesses increase their visibility, engage with their audience, and drive traffic to their website. It’s also a great way to showcase your brand personality and share behind-the-scenes content.

However, choosing the right platforms for your business and posting relevant and engaging content is essential. It’s about being smart with your resources and making the most of social media.

Looking for External Talent

The Benefits of External Talent

In today’s fast-paced business environment, having the right skills on your team is crucial. However, hiring full-time employees is not always the best solution.

More and more businesses are turning to external talents, such as freelancers and contractors, to fill skill gaps and increase flexibility. This can be a cost-effective way to access specialist skills as needed.

External talent can bring fresh ideas and perspectives, helping drive innovation. It’s about leveraging the gig economy and building a flexible, agile workforce.

In Summary

Staying ahead of the curve is crucial for small businesses in the ever-changing business landscape.

By embracing the top trends outlined in this article, businesses can navigate the challenges they face and seize the opportunities that lie ahead.

Whether it’s making your business more accessible, leveraging artificial intelligence, or building an online community, these trends are shaping the future of small businesses.

Adopting these trends may require effort and investment, but the potential rewards are significant.

From improved customer engagement to increased efficiency and a stronger brand, these trends offer a pathway to success in today’s competitive business environment.

In conclusion, the future of small businesses is bright for those willing to adapt and innovate. Following these top trends ensures your business survives and thrives in the new normal.

Remember, the key to success is effectively understanding and implementing these trends in your business. So, why wait?

Start embracing these trends today and set your business on the path to a prosperous future.

FAQs

What is the importance of accessibility in business?

Accessibility is crucial as it allows businesses to reach a wider audience, including those with disabilities. It promotes inclusivity and is suitable for business.

How can AI benefit small businesses?

AI can automate mundane tasks, improve customer service, and aid in data analytics, making it a game-changer for small businesses.

Why is personalisation important in customer service?

Personalisation in customer service helps build stronger relationships with customers and increases loyalty. It makes customers feel valued and understood.

What is the role of user-generated content in business?

User-generated content helps businesses build trust and credibility. It allows customers to share their experiences and tell the brand’s story.

How can small businesses navigate economic challenges like inflation and supply chain issues?

Small businesses can navigate these challenges by being prepared, adaptable, and closely monitoring economic trends and forecasts.

About the Author

Des Dreckett

Des Dreckett is the eCommerce and growth Marketing Director of XenMediamarketing.co.uk: a writer, blogger and a paid media specialist.

Writing content to help you grow and build your business.

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