The internet has come ahead as the key selling channel for businesses today. Unless you have a good online presence, you cannot think about growing your sales and revenues and achieving your targets. Moreover, it is important to keep you ahead of the competitors. Digital marketing, therefore, becomes an essential requirement for businesses of all sizes because it establishes your presence online. Even if you run a small business, you should still invest in it.

However, the best approach for small ones is to invest your money smartly so that you get more with less. It is important to think beyond the conventional elements like SEO, paid advertising, social media marketing, and content marketing. Though each of them has its own advantages, you cannot rely completely on them. The secret to success lies in embracing the latest trends in the online landscape. Here are some popular digital marketing trends that no small business can ignore today.

Voice search has come to the forefront

The growing popularity of voice searches is changing the digital landscape to a significant extent. In fact, it has been estimated that nearly half of the online searches will be via voice by the end of the decade. Users love to search this way because it gives them the ease of hands-free experience. Since this is such a major trend, you need to adopt it by optimizing your website for voice searches.

This involves the usage of conversational keywords in the content because people who search via voice speak up questions rather than keywords. The idea is to have answers to all the questions they may ask so that Google fetches your website every time a related search is made. Voice optimization can be the key to reach the customers even if you are not a renowned brand but just a small business.

Artificial Intelligence is real now

Another trending technology that is taking over the digital landscape is Artificial Intelligence (AI). It would not be wrong to say that AI is becoming more real than ever, both for businesses and users. The most prevalent form of AI is chatbots, the smart software programs that are capable of understanding the human language and interacting with them. As a small business, you need to embrace chatbots with the aim of delivering better customer experiences.

Beyond just streamlining customer interactions, there is much more that AI can do for business. It can gather customer data and use it to analyze their search patterns and shopping behavior. The analysis offers rich insights about consumers and their expectations. You can use these insights to tweak your products and marketing strategies for matching the expectations of the customers. This is the single most important parameter that can drive comprehensive business growth.

Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality are getting bigger

AR and VR are the game-changing technologies that can propel the digital presence of your small business. These technologies create exceptional user experiences that boost sales. For instance, you can use them to create immersive and interactive advertisements and shopping experiences for potential customers. The idea behind using them is to make things life-like rather than just keep them virtual.

E-commerce sellers, in particular, can leverage them to convince the shoppers about their products with “try before you buy” experiences. You can have AR and VR integrated into your website, mobile app or wearable app, depending on your requirements and target audience. Even though investing in these advanced technologies can spell a considerable expense, every single penny spent is worthwhile.

Influencer marketing is highly influential

A digital marketing trend that is making it big for small businesses today is influencer marketing. As the name suggests, it refers to the use of a niche influencer to reach your target audience and promote your products. Influencers are the domain leaders with huge following and trustworthy reputation. They empower your business with greater reach and credibility, all because of your collaboration with them.

Even though partnering with an influencer can be a major expense for your business, it can generate amazing results. Don’t let the budget worry you because you can have micro-influencers endorse your brand without burning a hole in your pocket. The best part is that this is a form of word-of-mouth marketing that gives you a wider reach with lesser effort.

Video marketing is a rage

Including video marketing into your digital strategy is no longer a choice, whether you are a big brand or a small business. Obviously, this tactic works because videos have a high engagement value and keep the buyers stuck with your brand. Moreover, videos appear more genuine as compared to textual content because they include real visuals rather than only claims with words.

If you plan to embrace this strategy and get great results, the best way to do it is by following video marketing trends closely. Rather than just using YouTube for sharing videos, create live posts on other channels such as Facebook, Instagram, and Linkedin. With videos, creativity matters the most; you can use product demos, customer testimonials, interviews and even the ones showcasing your workplace culture.

Visual searches are winning the game

Besides voice searches and video marketing, visual searches are also breaking the conventions today. Visual searches have the potential to take the user experiences a notch higher. Imagine the convenience of just uploading an image of a product to search it and get an exactly similar product! The shopper does not even have to know the name and specifications but can find something perfect in just a few seconds.

Since visual searches are trending these days, make sure that you are ready to use the trend to your advantage. Businesses in niches such as fashion, home décor, lifestyle, food, art, and vehicles should specifically gear up for image-based searches. The idea is to entice shoppers with easy, hands-free searches while they also get perfect products.

Personalization is the key

If you want your small business to have a distinctive presence, you need to prioritize the personalization of the user experiences. Whether it is products, services, content or emails, everything you offer them should match their expectations. To start with, you need to build a buyer persona so that you have a clear understanding of the audience. Buyer persona essentially includes parameters such as audience demographics, preferences and search behavior.

Once you know your target audience well enough, you can easily create personalized offerings from them. With this approach, you have greater chances to convert. Further, personalization indicates your intention to value your customers and builds their loyalty for your brand. As a result, you get them back and also have them bring more people through referrals.

Micro-moments are major now

Micro-moments refer to the moments when people make instant decisions and just go ahead to buy a product or service. Getting ready to capitalize on these moments is essential for small businesses because these can be big opportunities. Winning the micro-moment game is all about being at the right place at the right time, even before your competitors are there.

This can be challenging, considering that marketers need to rethink the buyer funnel. Also, understanding the user journey from the awareness to the decision stage is equally important. Finally, the entire process must be optimized for mobile devices because this is the platform where micro-moments usually occur. Quality, relevance, and usefulness make the winning mix for the marketers who want to ace the digital game.

User-generated content gives an extra edge

Another key digital marketing trend that small businesses must absolutely embrace is user-generated content (UGC). As the name implies, this is the content that comes from the user rather than from professional content writers. Since it is contributed by real buyers, UGC is likely to be more authentic and trustworthy. Buyers trust people more than the brands, which is the reason that this type of content strengthens your reputation.

Customer reviews and testimonials are the most common form of UGC. Similarly, customer stories are important because they have the potential to engage the real audience. The best way to empower your business with UGC is by encouraging the customers to share it socially. You can even showcase it on your website’s home page to catch the eye of prospective buyers.

Geo-fencing is a game-changer

Even though the concept of location-based marketing has been around for years, the geo-fencing technology has taken it a notch higher. The innovative technology enables real-time targeting on the basis of the user’s location. Simply speaking, you get to know where the customers are and can target the ones who are nearby.

Targeting is done through personalized text messages and pushes notifications. Since you are able to reach out to the potential customers who are nearby, the chances of conversion are usually higher. The best thing about geofencing technology is its accuracy because it gives you exact locations in real-time.

These are the trends that you cannot miss to have in your digital marketing strategy, even if you run a small or mid-sized business. Consider these technologies a smart investment rather than a compulsory expense because they open huge opportunities for your business.