To say 2021 has been another turbulent year for many businesses is probably stating the obvious. If you’ve managed to survive the year, hopefully you will be looking forward to 2022.  
 
Much of 2020 and 2021 has been about online marketing and digital channels; if you’ve mastered this small business marketing strategy, studied search engine optimisation, hired professional web designers and rebuilt your website, you might be thinking, what’s next? 
 
Having ‘gone digital’ in 2021, adapting to Google changing their algorithm and adding the mobile page experience to their ranking criteria, where do small businesses go from here? What else can they do to make sure their business grows and 2022 is a successful year? Let’s find out what the forecast for online marketing is for next year; what’s going to be the latest trends that will help boost engagement for small businesses websites? 
 

Social responsibility 

It’s been a long time coming but consumers want the companies they purchase from to be socially responsible and ‘green’. Led primarily by Gen Z – 73% of Gen Z purchasers are happy to pay more for products that are sustainable – businesses now have to think responsibly and ethically; where are their products or raw materials sourced? Is there packaging ‘green’? Are their delivery methods sustainable? 
 

Content, content, content 

Content has been a big factor in any small business marketing strategy over the past couple of years, and 2022 is going to be no different. But that doesn’t mean any type of content; there are several types of content that are going to be leading the way next year. 
 
Interactive content is top of the list and the user experience is central to just about any online marketing or digital marketing strategy. Straight forward video is no longer good enough; consumers want live video to feel they are directly connecting your brand and your business. Indeed, live streaming videos have driven bigger returns on investment compared to other social media formats. 
 
User-generated content has become a significant element of a small business marketing strategy. Consumers really do take note of past customer’s reviews and recommendations about a product or service before they hit the buy button. The use of review platforms, like Trustpilot and Feefo, has increased exponentially over the past couple of years. Linking your positive reviews to your website is an excellent way to drive traffic to your product and service pages. 
 

The impact of the influencer 

Largely considered a ‘big corporation’ marketing strategy in the past, it’s time for the small business to jump on the influencer bandwagon. While Gen Z has always been led by influencers, more and more consumers are starting to base their buying decisions on recommendations. 
 
Partnering with an influencer is no longer elitist and that’s where the micro-influencer can help small businesses create brand awareness and promote their products. In fact, over 38% of marketers put 10% to 20% of their marketing budget towards influencer marketing
 
With the rise in use of Instagram and most recently TikTok, many influencers choose to engage with their followers through video so, get ready to work on creating great video content. 
 

Mobile optimisation 

We hear you; you’ve done all that; but you can’t stop now. The use of mobile devices and smartphones is increasing all the time and consumers are demanding faster, better, more integrated and optimised experiences via mobile. Small businesses and major corporations got caught out with the massive rise in demand for digital mobile services. Problem is, not a lot has changed – a staggering 91% of small business websites are not mobile optimised; but they’re not alone, 24% of the top one million, most popular websites worldwide are not mobile-friendly – ouch! 
 
Website speed is the first benchmark for a consumer – if your web page doesn’t load in 3-5 seconds, don’t expect the user to keep waiting; they won’t. Second is whether the website is mobile-friendly, i.e. does the consumer get the same, and best, experience on their mobile as they would on a desktop? 
 
The internet is now your storefront and the mobile device is the consumer’s weapon of choice; your website’s performance is critical to growing your small business in 2022. 
 

Personalisation 

Engaging with your customers has always been high on the list but 2022 is predicted to be the year of website personalisation to help small businesses not only compete with the big corporations, but actually stand out from the crowd. Using website data to add value to a user’s experience and offer a personalised service based on their preferences is becoming a more favourable option than ‘cold’ emails. Whether it’s through interactive videos, podcasts, infographics, articles or blogs, and with the help of AI and the latest in CRMs, small businesses will be able to create user-specific content for their customers. 
 

Hello artificial intelligence (AI) 

AI has been with us for a while and you’ve probably experienced its power without realising it; and marketers are predicting that 2022 is the year of the A-led marketing strategy. With more and more automation of a business’s processes, AI could be seen as the answer to improving a user’s experience on your website, becoming more responsive to customer enquiries and powering chatbots (we’ll come to them later). 
 
Content planning solutions that are AI-based are on the rise, enabling marketers to streamline their digital marketing strategies and keep up with Google’s constant algorithm chances, as well as their ‘smart’ tools. 
 
 

Chatbots 

Finally, we come to chatbots and without doubt, many of us have used them but these AI-powered, online virtual customer assistants are set to revolutionise how small businesses are able to operate the customer service ‘department’. It is reported that almost 80% of businesses are planning on integrating a chatbot system, in some form, next year to improve their customer’s experience. Not only will they be able to answer customer’s queries, they could also be used to manage the payment process when integrated into websites. 
 
Despite the latest 2022 trends which, we agree, are eye-catching, the fundamental basics of website design and the user experience wins out every time. The smart approach is adopting the trends that will enhance your website to deliver a better experience for your customers. 
 
At it’seeze Knutsford, we are bespoke web design professionals providing affordable website packages. We ensure that every website we design and build is WCAG compliant and meets web accessibility regulations. As well as offering ongoing expert support, we offer a free Website Health Check that will decipher the areas where improvements can be made.  
 
Contact us today to create the website of your dreams and turn your business into a success. 
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