The world of small business in the online space is loaded with constant change and different opportunities. These opportunities are evolving at a rate where every year there are great new tools that your business can use to get to the next level.

If you can take advantage of these trends, you can build a more efficient and stronger system around your business, and be more specific in what you’re creating. It’s not a race — but it is a call for making good use of the opportunities and also using them to develop your business. Below are the online trends for small businesses in 2018.

Websites

In 2018 we expect to see increases in website function with a focus on usability and minimalist website design.

Based on last year’s statistics, 50% of small-scale businesses still don’t have a website. We’re hoping that this year, small businesses will see the benefit of having a website and catch up with the unlimited opportunities. It is interesting to know that most small businesses have developed their presences on social media platforms. However, it is essential to understand that the ownership of your social media platforms belongs to the social media company. What happens to your business when these social media platforms change direction or go out of business? A website belongs to your business and not to others.

Social Media

In 2018 we will see more short-lived content that’s only available for a fixed period of time before it disappears. This is namely referring to Snapchat and Instagram stories. Small business must start strategizing and developing ways to maximize the reach and usefulness of temporary content as well as design ways to make the content viral. Online users are now looking for proof of activity. If you can show the day to day operation of your business online, you will have an easier time drawing in customers.

Social media analytics, management solutions, and measuring tools will become more sophisticated in 2018 with a keen interest in social marketing that integrates all platforms for better reach.

Content Marketing Will Become More Crucial

Due to the fact that search engines can evaluate a website and determine if it’s really worthy of a viewer’s consideration, outstanding and quality content is turning out to be the essential aspect of a marketing strategy. According to Smart Insights, most marketers know that content marketing will stand out as the only activity that will be needed by small-scale businesses to stand out in 2018.

Quality content such as: informative articles, blogs, infographics, and videos developed by your business for your target market will increasingly become more and more vital. Search engines make use of the quality material on your website as a way to determine if you’re an authority in that particular business. Creating continuous, informative and quality content that span through different topics in your business and your areas of expertise is key, not only to capture search engines’ attention, but also to engage the consumer.

SEO Algorithms Are Becoming More Complex

Search algorithms are getting more complex and as a result more focused and effective. Small businesses with inaccurate website SEO tactics will become less useful in 2018. Search engines like Google are searching for a website with great content and relevant topics, and the way they search for such relevant sites is becoming increasingly sophisticated.

For instance, search engines are becoming more locally based, since mobile searches can easily determine where a person is presently located online. Optimizing your small-scale business so that it will be noticed and pick up at a local level is gaining importance. This is because according to Google, mobile local searches are growing 50% faster than mobile search as a whole.

Mobile-Centered Website Design

More than half of all website visitors are from mobile devices such as cellphones and tablets. Anyone who is visiting your mobile website is at risk for not having the optimal website experience presented to them.

Having a website that uses responsive design, which rearranges and scales down your site components to look more presentable and eye-catching is crucial for maintaining and even improving conversion rates. We have implemented these tools and design patterns here at KeyDigital using WordPress and an array of incredible plugins.

The Google’s mobile-friendly test is a great tool for confirming that your business’ website has a good responsive mobile design implemented.

Personalization

Customers are getting bored of the one-size-fits-all solutions. They are generally looking for ways to businesses willing to go out on a limb and present their offerings in a unique way.

While they might have valued price and conformity in the past, they are continually going for more adaptable, higher-priced solutions in favor of buying products from businesses who are showing an edge.

Of course, personalization doesn’t need to be high-priced in 2018. It can be amazingly scalable and easy to access. And these can be seen in the rise of membership and community sites. These types of products give the customer the needed power to operate and allow them to adapt the experience to suit their unique needs. They choose what they need and leave what they don’t need.

Gina Bianchini and the team at Mighty Networks have developed a software platform that permits business owners to create highly personalized user experiences in the form of deep interest networks. This seems to be the growing trend in building communities in the coming years.

Artificial Intelligence

There is the need for small business to take advantage of the growing trend in Artificial Intelligence. Artificial intelligence is simply the development of computer systems to take up tasks that typically require human time. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are now being utilized by small business to cater to their audience’s actual needs and wants. Tools are emerging that help small business and brands in predicting their needs and wants before they can, thereby creating crucial personalized experiences.

Good examples of AI typically using human intelligence are Siri and Alexa. E-commerce giant Amazon and big box stores like Target rely majorly on AI to market. And, it can also work for small businesses.

Of course it’s not in your budget to make use of the same solutions that these companies are experimenting with, but you can easily find more affordable tools to assist you and your business to save time, make smarter decisions, and personalize content for your audience. Check out some small business use cases for AI below.

Here are 3 AI-based use cases you can integrate into your business in 2018:

  • Chatbots (or Facebook Messenger Chat)
  • Dynamic Email Marketing
  • Email and Content Optimization

The online small business trends of 2018 reflect natural cycles in the market — a constant change that all enterprises and industries experience in one way or another.

This should be encouraging for most individuals. The biggest movement in the industry in 2018 won’t be a specific formula or tactic, but instead a return to conversion-oriented business principles using personalization.

In short, 2018 trends show more opportunity to grow for small businesses and take them to the next level, which makes us incredibly excited.

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