Technology experts anticipate that certain strong trends that debuted in 2016 will gain further momentum in the New Year. Here are some of the tactics and strategies that marketers expect to see:
- Virtual reality (VR) has been around for a while, but it took its application into the gaming world to open marketers’ eyes to its potential as a sales and marketing tool. Increasing online retail business, virtual reality, and its cousin, augmented reality (AR) – the force behind the Pokémon GO phenomenon – enabled savvy marketers to provide potential customers with a novel opportunity to “try it before you buy it”. This provides an experience with which video and photography just can’t compare. VR headsets are becoming more affordable and more smart phones are becoming headset compatible. Marketers expect to see major advances and continued experimentation with both VR and AR.
- Many marketers are betting that our reliance on smart phones will continue to accelerate. Desktop users are rapidly being overtaken by mobile technology users. It is no longer sufficient to have websites that are merely mobile-friendly. Forward-thinking marketing pros are encouraging clients to make their mobile internet strategy the major element in their marketing plan, ditching mobile-friendly to become mobile-centric. If your strategy is not aligned with current search engine optimization trends and mobile marketing, you could lose clients to competitors who have recognized its importance.
- Alongside the rapid growth of mobile consumers is the consumer’s increasing acceptance of, and preference for, mobile payment options. Consumers’ demand for mobile payment options puts pressure on banks, phone companies and even large retailers to devise new solutions that are fast, convenient and secure. Some have forecasted that mobile payments will top $60 billion in 2017. Larger companies with multiple outlets and nationwide operations find themselves at a disadvantage here because they are unable to switch their IT infrastructure quickly to accept many of the newer mobile payment options. In this area, the flexibility of small businesses gives them a crucial advantage over the mega-merchants.
- The Internet of Things (IoT) marries the advantages of mobile technology with cloud-based computing to enable devices to react to surroundings without involving human beings. It may be something as basic and practical as your thermostat at home recognizing your schedule – and that it differs on weekends – or your vehicle suggesting alternate routes based on weather and traffic patterns. We are at the very beginning of the interconnectivity that will link devices to improve efficiency and cost effectiveness. Small business ventures are just as likely – if not more so – to benefit from smart IoT technology solutions as large enterprises.
Whatever the future brings, we can be sure that technology will continue to find countless ways to increase productivity and be more responsive to customer needs. Entrepreneurs – by their very nature – have a natural advantage when it comes to flexibility and willingness to embrace change. Perhaps the biggest challenge that small business owners face is staying current and able to make informed decisions amid a rapidly changing marketing environment.