Bye-bye 2014 – you were pretty good to me overall. For many small businesses it was a challenging but exciting year. Here’s my review of the main talking points and a look ahead to what we can expect in 2015.
There was no slow-down in the pace of change in Social Media.
Instagram grew massively and is now a serious player for small businesses – especially those targeting younger consumers (although it’s becoming ever more popular among over 35s).
Facebook continued to push businesses towards paid advertising by reducing visibility of page posts.
In Google Adwords, Shopping replaced Product Listing Ads giving online retailers better control over their campaigns. This still represents one of the best ways independent retailers can compete with the big boys.
In search, Google finally got their act together over local search and started sorting out the mess they created with Maps, Local and Google+ Business.
We didn’t see any massive changes in SEO – just more of the same with regular algorithm updates as Google aims to keep one step ahead of the spammers. The end result however, was small businesses getting squeezed from the search results as big brands dominated page 1.
There was a bit of panic early in 2014 when Google appeared to outlaw guest blogging as a tactic. They backtracked a little but the battle against artificial link building and poor content continued.
What will 2015 bring?
I’m predicting more of the same is what we will get in 2015.
More emphasis on paid advertising for business in social media. The other players have all been watching Facebook’s journey towards making real money from their user base. Twitter advertising is now available to all while Pinterest is testing promoted pins with selected companies and we can expect these to roll out in 2015.
More competition from big brands with the time and budget to create the type of content Google rewards.
Your business in 2015
For small businesses the challenge will be to stand out from the crowd to attract attention – and then to make every lead count.
Get creative with social media (and stop thinking of it as free advertising) and start working on a strategy that includes some paid promotions. Facebook advertising has some very powerful targeting options (we’ll be looking at these on this blog shortly).
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, email will be a vital marketing tool for every small business. Moving your social media fans and followers onto your email list will be an important strategy – and then ensuring you create great emails to keep them engaged until they are ready to buy.
And, of course, there’s always the chance that a brand new player (or an existing one) will come up with a game changing idea to keep us on our toes.
Here’s to a fabulous and successful 2015!