I think the best word to describe 2016 is “unprecedented.” From politics, to technology, business strategies, and even the way we consume information has changed dramatically in the past twelve months. 2017 is not likely to be different.

In the field of marketing, we’ve seen some interesting developments: some that we expected, and others – well – we’re still not quite sure how they happened.

For small business owner, 2017 is going to be the year of inbound. However, it doesn’t stop at selling products online. The theme of 2017’s inbound marketing trends will be all about taking care of that customer.

Trend #1: Live Video

Video is rapidly becoming the preferred way audiences want to consume information. If you are going to be successful on social media in 2017, you’re going to have to give the people what they want.

Facebook recently rolled out their new Facebook Live feed, just for videos. While video ads aren’t going away, video marketing in 2017 will be focused on interacting with and engaging your audience one-on-one.

Trend #2: Higher Optimization through Niche Content

Content is about to get really competitive in the small business sector. Recent statistics suggest a 40% increase in small businesses that are implementing a strategy specifically for their content in the new year. Personalization will be key in 2017.

This will be a challenge for small businesses because scalable personalization requires data about prospects. The more accurate your research, the more effective your campaigns will be. The days of getting away with “winging it” are gone.

Also, you’re going to find better success with content marketers that specialize in your industry. If you’re working with an agency or a freelancer, ask how they handle different businesses. Do they have one content marketer, or are they ready with a team that can handle the needs of your unique audience? Who is doing the actual writing, and what qualifies that individual to speak for your business? It’s time to get selective about your content developers.

Trend #3: Marketing Automation

Automation was a big theme in 2016, and it will continue to be an asset in 2017. Small business owners are short on time, and likely lean on budgets. An effective automation system, like a CRM, can help you streamline your process. This type of technology can also help with collecting data and personalizing your marketing outreach. From email marketing, web personalization, and customer management systems, you can create a better experience for each of your customers.

Contributor: Erika is the founder of Heeren Content & Strategy and serves as Project Manager for Wright Stuff Radio. A 14-year marketing and public relations veteran, she has a professional focus on integrated media spanning 16 different industries. She works with small businesses and non-profit organizations to provide affordable, professional-quality content development, marketing, and public relations services. Her clients include local small business owners, marketing agencies, public universities, media outlets, Huffington Post-published authors, IT firms, and non-profit organizations.

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