I don’t pretend to know the future. That’s why I try not to take part in the “my predictions for next year” type posts that run rampant in December.

However, I do know that a lot of marketers and small business owners are looking for ways to stay ahead of the pack as they go into the New Year. They need to set their budgets and outline a strategy that will give them the best chance of success.

Regardless of how you fared in 2015, here are 5 areas to put your focus into next year:

  1. The Mobile User Experience – everyone is finally starting to realize that the mobile user is a different type of user than his desktop brethren. Mobile users want and need different things. They are at a different stage of the buying cycle. It’s time we stop trying to treat everyone the same and really focus on giving the mobile user exactly what he or she is looking for in a friendly, easy to use format, both on the web and in our advertising and email campaigns.
  2. Market Segmentation – just like mobile users, we want to stop treating everyone in the market the same way. People are different. They have different problems that they’re looking to solve, and the same solution doesn’t work for everyone. Our ability to review data and learn about our customers should help us begin to segment them in meaningful ways. That could be based on where they live, the products they buy, when they buy, etc. The more we can segment the market and customize our marketing to each group, the better our results will be.
  3. Customer Service as Marketing – how can I help? Those four little words should be at the heart of how you serve the marketplace. Customer service is a more public activity than ever before. And the companies that get customer service right use it to their advantage. By going out of your way to make customers happy, you increase goodwill and build brand advocates. Rather than negative and hurtful reviews, you’ll start to see positive reviews and strong word of mouth marketing. Invest in service and you should see the rewards on the marketing side.
  4. Measurement and Analytics – make 2016 the year you commit real manpower to understanding your data. Technology has allowed us the ability to study and learn how our users and customers behave like never before. The companies that will succeed in the coming years are the ones that will take the time to understand how that data can help their business. Ignoring the data is no longer an option.
  5. Product or Service Expansion – if you really want to grow your business, you need to find the one or two things you’re not doing right now that are a natural complement to whatever you are doing. Are there related products that your customers are buying from other places you might offer? Are there other uses to your product you haven’t thought of or marketed yet? You don’t always need to find new customers to grow. It’s often easier to invest in selling more to the people you already reach.