Small businesses have to stay competitive in their marketing efforts in order to be relevant and able to reach the right audiences. As small businesses don’t always have a full marketing team and an unlimited budget, they need to find creative ways to market their brand. Luckily, marketing comes in all shapes and sizes, and every year new and exciting trends emerge. This article will discuss the marketing strategies gaining popularity this year, and best of all, they can all be used by small businesses too!

1. Downloadable Content

Social media might need to take a small step back in 2017. While social media platforms can be very powerful to spread brand awareness, your content often gets buried or never reaches the eyes of followers. For this reason, downloadable content (think e-books, white papers, webinars and so on) is become more popular. People can receive this useful content for free, in exchange for their name and email address. This is a great way for companies to identify and follow-up with potential clients. This type of content is a lot more time-consuming to create, though, than social media posts. But if you do have the time and resources, it is worth it.

Check out this example of our downloadable content on the Bizness Apps website:

downloadable content

2. H2H Marketing

H2H stands for Human to Human, and replaces B2C and B2B. This label represents an important shift in perspective: think of “B’s” not as an inanimate business, but a group of humans with their own emotions, personalities and challenges. As Tech.Co states, “to get them interested in what you have to offer, it helps to appeal to their emotional side.” Start by finding commonalities and let these guide your marketing efforts. Focusing on H2H will allow you to create brand stories that are personal, conversational, inspirational and speak to your audience.

Knorr, for example, was able to reach a huge audience by connecting their product with human emotion. As a result, this video was watched more than 31 million times in a single week.

3.User-generated Content

User-generated content (UGC) encourages audiences, or fans, to participate in content creation to spread your brand’s message. Note that 76% of social media users think UGC is more trustworthy than branded content and 93% of consumers find UGC to be helpful when making a purchasing decision. UGC can be anything from pictures, videos and testimonials, to poems, letters and art. People like to feel part of something big and a UGC campaign can foster this community feeling.

T-Mobile set up a user-generated campaign called “The Break Up Letter”. They made it easy for customers of their competitors to “break up” with their cell phone providers. In exchange, T-Mobile would pay for their termination fees. The campaign resulted in 100,000 people creating and downloading break up letters, with nearly 70% of them being shared on Facebook!

user generated content

4. Interactive Content

Interactive content takes reading to the next level. This type of content is a lot more engaging than simple blog posts and brochures. You can use quizzes, polls, surveys, infographics and contests to get visitors actively participating with your brand. For example, The New York Times published a quiz in 2013 called “How Y’all, Youse and You Guys Talk.” Although the quiz was only up for 11 days, it was their most read article in 2013.

Interactive content

5. Influencer Marketing

Influencer partnerships are a great way to reach your niche audiences. It is a lot more effective to sell your product if it’s coming from a real-life personality, than through ads. “Influencer marketing is on the rise, because people tend to trust recommendations from people they see as thought leaders”, says Shutterstock. Social influencers will only work with brands they genuinely believe in, so that trust is passed on to their followers.

A great example is the Naked Juice’ influencer campaign. The smoothie brand is trying to break their way into the beauty, lifestyle and health scene on Instagram with the help of key influencers.

influencer marketing

6. Video Marketing

Audiences engage with videos at higher rates than other types of content. For instance, email open rates are boosted by 19% when the word “video” is used in the subject line. Also, 4X as many people would prefer to watch a video about a product than read about it. Even more important is that mobile video views grew six times faster than desktop views in 2015. Following this, Facebook launched Facebook Live, allowing users to stream live content to their followers. According to Facebook statistics, users watch live videos three times longer than the same videos when they aren’t live. All types of video content are gaining momentum, so marketers will need to find new and exciting ways to use the video format.

Android’s “Friends Furever” video, for instance, features unlikely animal friendships. The video is very simple, incredible cute, and totally curated – and was the most-shared video ad of 2015.

7. Mobile First Strategy

Mobile internet use now surpasses desktop, proving that mobile is the future. You need to cater your content and brand experience to the mobile user, if you want to survive in this digital age. This doesn’t just mean a mobile website, “it means that marketers really need to sit down and completely rethink their customer experience and re-map out their customer journey, especially as it relates to its largest-growing demographic of new consumers and employees, the millennials”, says MarketingLand.

American Eagle Outfitters has designed a text messaging program to notify customers of sales and promotions. They include promo codes which will be tracked at the point of sale (POS) and link to their mobile-friendly website for online shopping.

mobile first