7 trends to watch

7

Service providers need to offer the right mix of products and services to meet today’s small business’s needs.

Technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace, bringing to market a range of tools to help businesses run and market their business online. However, as powerful as technology can be, staying on top of trends as a business can be a difficult, costly and time-consuming endeavor.

Here we highlight some of the biggest trends in 2019 that small businesses should consider how to prepare for, invest in, and be ready to adapt to find success online.

1. Is 2019 the end of the website?

Okay, websites aren’t going away, but businesses now need to think about how to make sure their business gets found ahead of their competition online.

In 2013, less than half of small businesses (45%) had websites.[i] At the beginning of 2018, nearly two-thirds (64%) of small businesses had a website, and 58% of those that did not were planning to launch one, bringing that number up to 85%.[ii] The conversation is no longer centered on needing a website, it’s about growing their online exposure and getting found.

(i) Inc.com & (ii) Clutch

Google continues to innovate their search capabilities to monetize their advertising —but also to speed up presenting the right type of information to the person searching. Google is placing more and more content directly on the search engine results page (SERP), so users don’t have to click off Google to get the information they’re looking for.

“No-click” searches now account for 61% of mobiles searches and over a third of desktop searches[iii]. Google is referring less outgoing traffic to websites for the first time in its 17 year history (at least in the U.S., where its SERP features are most prevalent)[iv].

(iii, iv) SparkToro

What does that mean for small businesses? Business owners need to diversify their marketing strategies and look closely at their local search and maps results, online reviews, video content, social advertising and paid search. They also need to make sure their website is hitting all the points that make it useful and attractive to users and search engines.

Launch related products: Web Design, OneList Plus, Search Engine Assist

2. The explosive growth of ecommerce.

There was a  record-high rate of store closures in 2018 with Toys R Us, Gap and Walgreens among 3,800+ store closures.[x] On the flipside, ecommerce made up 10.2% of total retail sales worldwide in 2017, up from 8.6% a year prior.[xi] That percentage is much higher for certain industries like tech and apparel.

(x) Instapage & (xi) Wyzowl Survey

Small businesses are embracing ecommerce. With simple ecommerce tools and the ability to sell on popular marketplaces like Amazon, small businesses are seeing growth through online sales.  Over 60% of small businesses selling in online marketplaces receive more than half of their online sales from sites like Amazon. For small businesses focused on ecommerce, the shift is towards streamlining the purchase experience and pushes out products to multiple channels.

Checkout needs to be seamless. 37% of shoppers have abandoned an order when prompted to create an account; 28% solely due to a “too long/complicated checkout process”. Consumers also point to shipping price and options as differentiators.

Wyzowl Survey

On social, we’re finally bridging the gap between visual sharing platforms like Pinterest and Instagram and retailers, with the rise of clickable products like Instagram’s Product Tagging.

Social is proven to influence purchasing—around 39 percent of online shoppers use social networks to get inspiration for purchases.

BrightLocal

Not to worry, it’s not the end for brick and mortar. Businesses just need to evolve and merge an online and offline experience to compete. Consider: online views of in-store inventory, in-store pick-up or self checkout apps.

Launch related products: Online Store

3. Watch this.

There’s a reason search engines give value to websites with video—given the option of video versus text, 72% of people choose video to learn about a product or service.[v] The average consumers consumes 1.5 hours of video content daily.[vi]

(v) Business Insider & (vi) eMarketer

Relating to the trend of serving users content directly on the SERP, Google now includes video carousels for certain search terms and allows users to browse video-only results. Users can  watch videos directly on Google versus clicking out to a website. Video SEO has become a new and distinct tactic used by savvy mar­keters who are creating content, using text overlays, closed captions, titles and descriptions all based on video-specific keyword strategies.

Businesses also need to consider how to optimize video for different platforms, for example adding captions for Facebook where 85% of video is watched without sound.

Baymard Institute

Video could be a good influencer channel for small businesses to start to leverage. Video bloggers, or vloggers, have created a steady income stream by growing communities of viewers and participating in influencer marketing, positioning products or brands that they like or that offer them compensation. Small businesses can jump on board—some influencers will promote brands and products in exchange for free samples.

Launch related products: Video Design

Download our 2019 Trends & Product Guide to read the rest.




There’s so much more we didn’t cover here:

Augmented reality relating to ecommerce, personalization through data enrichment, chatbots and subscription-based ecommerce are some examples have all peaked our interest. Watch the Hostopia Blog for insights into trends and products making an impact in small business online marketing and communications.

As a service provider, you need to offer products that will address the growing demands of businesses, driven by continued developments in trends and technology. With a solid product foundation through Hostopia, we can help you stay ahead of the competition and launch services that deliver value.

Start by contacting learnmore@hostopia.com.

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