2018 Trends

 

There are three pivotal trends you may want to watch in 2018 as a small business owner. Cryptocurrency, voice search for SEO, and chatbots, trends which focus on the customer and how small business owners can enhance their experience, have been gaining momentum in 2017 to become more widely accepted and utilized in the mainstream in the future.

Ysmay Walsh, a business coach, says that our usual way of doing business is shifting because consumers are getting smarter and small business owners will have to get more creative to keep a business growing.

Customized experiences for your customers is becoming more critical. Bonnie Annis, a business owner/educator in the spa and wellness industry, suggests that making the digital experiences personal by using live videos such as Insta stories and Facebook Live will bring that extra touch.

From consumer buying research found in the Harvard Business Review, it appears customers who perceived content tailored to their specific needs were 40 percent more willing to buy from the place that tailored its sales approach that the one that did not.

Chatbots will become more prevalent

 

The technology for chatbots is not a new concept. With the Turning test and artificial intelligence programs developed in 1950, chatbots have been emerging as more relevant to the consumer market within the last 10 years.

Millions of people use Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa every day; we are comfortable with the idea of digital assistants to help us get information.

The difference with chatbots is that they are specifically designed to replicate human interaction. It is a mini interface within a messaging app such as Facebook Messenger where the user can interact with a chatbot the same way they could someone on the phone with a two-sided conversation beyond just a question and answer format.

The goal is the user will feel like they are talking to a human being rather than a faceless brand.

Voice search for SEO will increase

 

The shift to mobile continues. There is an increasingly critical movement toward marketing to consumers using mobile devices instead of on desktop computers. Mobile search surpassed desktop search in 2015. According to ComScore, users spend on average 69 percent of their media time on smartphones.

Siri receives over a billion requests daily. Tamara MacDuff, NOW Digital Marketing and a speaker on SEO, Social Media and Content Strategy, point out that voice search is taking over faster than predicted. She says the “think conversation” needs to happen when small businesses are creating content and doing keyword research.

What the means is when you are developing your SEO program, you need to think about how people speak naturally. For example, most people will ask, “What’s the weather in New York today?” not “Weather in New York.” Think about how your customers would ask for services and products.

Cryptocurrency competition will grow

 

Cryptocurrency has been behind the curtains since 2008 and often known as the domain of geeks. Most people have insufficient knowledge about cryptocurrencies.

Satoshi Nakamoto created cryptocurrency widely known as Bitcoin, a new electronic cash system that uses a peer-to-peer network to prevent double-spending. It is an entirely decentralized system with no server or central authority.

The simple definition of cryptocurrency is limited entries in a database no one can change without fulfilling specific conditions. Take your bank account as an example. Money is all about a verified entry in some database of accounts, balances, and transactions.

It is a new way to pay for goods and services with lower transaction fees than credit cards.

Being open to and adapting to new technologies and systems can develop your business faster than your competitors in 2018.

 

This column was originally published in the Lexington Herald-Leader on December 24, 2017, and nationally distributed to over 300 media outlets through the Tribune Content Agency.