How Small Businesses Can Stay Competitive: Top 2017 Digital Marketing Trends

How Small Businesses Can Stay Competitive: Top 2017 Digital Marketing Trends

How Small Businesses Can Stay Competitive: Top 2017 Digital Marketing Trends

Small businesses face many more difficulties than their big-budgeted counterparts. Corporate giants can throw millions of dollars at all kinds of extravagant marketing campaigns and absorb losses much more easily. Because of these financial disparities, small businesses continue to struggle to compete in an increasingly competitive digital marketplace. Not only that, but the Internet has erased many traditional boundaries between businesses. In today’s digital world, even small businesses working on different sides of the country can be competitors.

Simply put, a business will struggle to succeed unless it takes full advantage of helpful digital marketing strategies.

Of course, not every digital marketing tool is right for your small business. Don’t waste your valuable marketing dollars on an advertising campaign that doesn’t reflect your company’s values, products, or services. A plumber probably wouldn’t benefit too much from a Snapchat ad campaign. A drug treatment center might not get too many “Likes” on Facebook. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t excellent options available to them. That same plumber could benefit from an SEO campaign making it easier for local clients to find his or her business. That same drug treatment center could implement a PPC campaign that helps connect patients to treatment.

With so many options, it’s so easy for an otherwise successful company to make a few bad marketing decisions.  These eventually result in major financial losses — or even the failure of the entire business. In 2017, it’s essential that businesses not only stay on top of what’s going on in their own industry, but also which types of marketing strategies their competitors are using.

So how does a small business know which digital marketing tools will help them grow versus those that might be a waste of their advertising dollars?

To see what marketing strategies are working today, business owners can examine how small business marketing firms are spending their advertising dollars. This data can provide valuable insight for small businesses looking to make their marketing budgets go further.


The Top Small Business Marketing Trends of 2017

monthly marketing spend

HubShout polls small business marketers about their clients’ budgets and priorities each year. And according to the company’s 2017 Small Business Online Marketing Trends survey, 50% of small business clients spend, on average, between $501 and $2,500 per month on digital marketing services. Another 36% of companies spend more than $2,500, and 10% of small business spend more than $10,000.

Of course, there are so many marketing tools available to help improve your business. To help your small business thrive in 2017 and beyond, here are some of the most popular marketing trends among small businesses this year:


Second Guessing Social Media

online marketing spend allocation

According to Silicon Valley soothsayers, social media marketing is an unstoppable juggernaut in the digital world. However, many small businesses are looking to other digital marketing tools this year. When small business marketing firms were asked to break down how they spend their clients’ marketing budgets, social media didn’t break into the top three. On average, 30% of their budgets went to SEO, 28% went to web development, and 26% went to  PPC advertising. Not only that, but 36% of respondents predicted that SEO would be the most in-demand service of 2017. Only 15% said social media marketing.

most demanded digital marketing

There’s no doubt that social media marketing can be a valuable tool for many types of local businesses. However, many smaller companies are starting to question the ROI they get from social spending.


Outsource your SEO

outsource digital marketing

Rather than attempting to crack the ever-changing and always complicated search engine algorithms yourself, let a professional team handle it. Your competition is probably outsourcing SEO already. Roughly 68% of the businesses that participated in the 2017 Online Marketing Trends survey said they outsourced their SEO campaigns. With more website traffic coming from search engines, search engine results matter more than ever. Experienced SEO companies can help you maneuver through the complicated digital marketplace, keep up with the constant updates from Google, and improve your online rankings, subsequently leading to more clients.


Focus on improving mobile access

mobile friendly website need

Chances are, if your business isn’t accessible via smartphones, you’re not going to be very competitive online. Wholly 98% of agencies reported that they advise their clients to have a mobile-friendly website, for both SEO and general business purposes.

mobile friendly websites and call to action

Despite such high levels of recommendations, only 50% of agencies state that their clients have a mobile-friendly website. Though desktops and laptops had their time at the top of the mountain, mobile now reigns supreme. Google, which sees more than half of its searches conducted by mobile devices, is even experimenting with Mobile-First indexing.

According to Search Engine Land, the Mobile-First index platform doesn’t have an exact launch date, but could be implemented as early as this year.

“We’re still experimenting,” said Gary Illyes of Google. “We don’t have a timeline. It could be a few months or quarters, but it’s definitely not weeks [away]. Don’t freak out, especially if you have a responsive site.”


Let the word-of-mouth magic happen

lead sources

While digital marketing is important, your marketing shouldn’t take place entirely online. Though a strong emphasis needs to be placed on improving your digital presence, most small businesses still see great success from a (positive) word-of-mouth campaign. Because lead generation is such an integral part of business, companies must take advantage of whatever means they have available to do so. And more than half of the survey respondents agreed: word-of-mouth is, by far, their most anticipated source of leads for this year.

Even as new digital marketing tools start trending, old fashioned word of mouth is still incredibly valuable. That means spending smarter, not spending more, is often the savvier approach for a small business. As search algorithms change and new technology emerges, only one thing remains constant: you’re going to need to remain competitive in order to succeed in both the digital and real world.

Sean Finucane
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Sean Finucane is a writer from Rochester, New York. He earned a B.A. in Communications from The College at Brockport in 2015. He current works as the Vice President of sales at Reebok.