The Future of Digital Marketing: Five Trends to Leverage a Small Business Opportunity

The Jameson General Store was a historic treasure in a small North Carolina community. Owner Jim Jameson had been part of a family legacy of more than 100 years. The company had seen bad times, including The Great Depression. However, their hard work and customer loyalty had sustained the company’s success.

Even though the neighboring community got their Walmart’s Marketplace Store, their customers remained loyal. Jim did not believe in utilizing online advertising and social media platforms. He believed that these actions were just a fad. Still, their customers gradually began to shop online because Jameson General Store was limited in its product offerings.

In fact, most of the business Jameson Store lost was not to local competitors, but to online sellers. Jim had resolutely resisted the temptation to shop online. Still, when he saw his own 10-year-old grandson buying a hard-to-find item online at considerable cost, Jim had to rethink his current marketing strategy with the country’s changing landscape.

Today’s customers can buy a variety of products online with little effort. Due to this scenario, brick-and-mortar businesses are fighting to stay alive in the fierce internet competition. According to a 2017 survey of 1,164 US business owners by Square and Mercury Analytics, the following findings were made:

  • 96% of Americans with Internet access have made a purchase online in their lifetime, 80% in the last month alone.

  • 51% of Americans prefer to shop online.

  • 67% of Millennials and 56% of Gen Xers would rather shop online than in-store.

  • Millennials and Gen Xers spend nearly 50% more time shopping online each week (six hours) than their older counterparts (four hours).

  • 51% of seniors have shopped at markets, 66% at large retailers, 30% at online stores or independent boutiques, and 44% at category-specific online stores.

Marketing professionals understand the importance of the Internet and how to use this power effectively. According to, 90 percent of marketers use social media for their business. Unfortunately, many small businesses fail to recognize this fact. Many companies had decided to bury their heads in the sand, hoping that this “internet thing” would go away. Was not!

In fact, e-commerce is growing at over 23% annually; However, according to research by Square and Mercury Analytics, 46 percent of American small businesses do not have a website. This article focuses on how small businesses can leverage digital marketing to achieve greater success and improve their market opportunities.

Digital marketing should be a tool that every serious small business should utilize. Digital marketing has many names such as e-commerce marketing, online marketing and online marketing. Digital marketing can be defined as “the marketing of products or services using digital channels to reach consumers”. The main goal is to promote brands’ use of the Internet.

Digital marketing extends beyond online marketing to channels that do not require the use of the Internet. Some digital marketing channels include websites, social media platforms, email marketing, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), blogs, podcasts, and online advertising. In addition to technological tricks, companies must know their customers and their core competencies. Digital marketing is not a silver bullet. Digital marketing is a tool for a skilled business professional.

Catherine Juan, Donnie Greiling, and Catherine Buerkle, authors Internet Marketing: Start to Finish, suggest that effective digital marketing requires a lot of careful planning. They add, “The core of getting real traction from an Internet marketing program is to combine marketing and sales data with metrics. Track what you’re doing, track impact, and track resulting sales.” Looking at the landscape of technology and Internet innovation, small businesses should think strategically about the following five digital marketing trends:

Artificial intelligence – Some people develop elaborate doomsday scenarios about machines to rule the world. However, artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming a way of life in marketing. Artificial intelligence can be defined as “the theory and development of computer systems capable of performing tasks that normally require human intelligence”. Voice activation technology like Amazon’s Echo brings artificial intelligence to the public. By 2020, customers will make 85% of their purchases without interacting with people.

internet search – Buyers are more aware than ever when it comes to using the Internet. In fact, 81% of shoppers do online research before making a big purchase. Therefore, researching the use of search engine optimization and getting your business to the top of searches is an invaluable step.

Mobile communications – Most Americans are used to instant gratification and easy access to technology. The value of mobile and tablet online shopping will reach $293 billion by 2018. Smartphones and tablets are part of this wave of innovation. Mobile will account for 72% of US digital advertising spending by 2019. Marketers understand that mobile marketing is an unused business tool.

Social media – Social media platforms like Facebook allow shoppers to connect with each other virtually. 65% of B2B companies have acquired customers through LinkedIn ads. Marketers understand this value.

Online Content – Good content attracts customers. In fact, customers are more likely to buy from sellers who have good, relevant videos/photos on their website. 52% of marketing professionals worldwide cite video as the content type with the best ROI.

In the face of competing tenants, small businesses must utilize digital marketing. Some small businesses may hesitate to explore digital marketing because they lack the confidence and understanding of the Internet. Philip Kotler and Kevin Keller, authors Marketing managementnote “Top companies are using technology to improve the way they do business with their business-to-business customers.”

This article showed that today’s small businesses can use digital marketing to improve their market opportunities. Hopefully, having this knowledge will help entrepreneurs stop burying their heads in the sand. The Internet is here to stay. Pray that you will listen to this message.

© 2017 by DD Green

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