With the advent of the new year, now is a great time to look ahead and see what important trends small businesses need to be aware of in 2014:
As smart phones and tablets become increasingly popular, it’s becoming more and more important for small businesses to have sites that are optimized for mobile, including mobile-optimized checkout. Offering a well-designed mobile site to appeal to your customers will become necessary to keep up with your competitors as the number of smart phone and tablet users continues to rise in 2014.
Expanded Use of a Virtual Workforce
By 2015, it’s anticipated that 1.3 billion people will work virtually. Couple that with the growth of freelancing websites like Elance and oDesk, and small businesses are expected to turn to freelancers more frequently in the future. Hiring freelancers offers small businesses the opportunity to reduce health care costs while using a pay-as-you-go model for work, ultimately lowering expenses.
Increase in Content Marketing
Content marketing—a strategy that focuses on producing creative content to drive sales—is expected to become more popular in 2014. In fact, a recent study shows that 82% of companies plan to invest more in content marketing this year. To take advantage of this trend, you may want to consider attracting new customers with content that drives traffic and interest—think blogs, webcasts, podcasts, social media, etc.
Digital Divide Grows
Research suggests a performance gap between small businesses that use technology successfully and their competitors who don’t. This indicates that small businesses that fail to use technologies well—particularly cloud, analytics, and mobile—will be disadvantaged in 2014. On the other hand, businesses that display technical savvy are expected to be able to use technology to cut costs while gaining market share.