When I started designing websites professionally in 2010, businesses were generally either physical stores or online stores, and there wasn't a lot of overlap. But in 2018, the two concepts cannot be separated. In order for your business to thrive, no matter what kinds of work you do, it must be deeply connected online, yet have the credibility and personality of a brick-and-mortar store.
Here are 3 important trends I have seen recently that your business should think about in 2018 in order to grow stronger this year.
1. You can no longer afford to ignore the importance of branding, blogging & collecting testimonials.
Anonymous brands and websites are not trustworthy. In the early years of the internet, people were not savvy about researching products online, and most people didn't make purchases through the internet. Today, it's the first place people go to research products and services. My clients who used to do postcards, brochures, and magazine ads no longer see high conversion rates. In 2018, trust is established on the internet, which means people need to see your face, hear your thoughts on important topics, and see that real people engage with you on the internet through testimonials, comments and publicized feedback.
2. Brick-and-mortar stores must rely on continual online marketing. And online businesses must think like a small brick-and-mortar store.
If your store is in a high-density, walkable spot like New York City or San Francisco, you can likely get away with no internet presence. But for everyone else, the internet is still the place where people are going to initially interact with your brand on places like Yelp, Social Media, or a Google Search. And your ongoing marketing will rely on collecting email addresses, sending out regular email, and engaging customers elsewhere on the internet. Brick and mortar stores will only thrive if they fully engage with online marketing as a way to draw in new customers and retain existing customers. In the same way, purely online businesses need to establish a "local-feeling" presence online that treats their customers as if they were part of a small community through personalized customer service and conveying themselves in a vulnerable, honest and personable way.
3. Your website will need to be mobile responsive, secure, helpful and ever-growing.
In 2017, dramatic changes were established by Google and other leaders online. Most importantly, online security is more crucial than ever. More websites are being hacked every day, and online scams are more sophisticated than ever. Google has now established that secure websites with SSL certificates and the HTTPS:// designation will be bumped up in Search Results on Google, and websites that are un-secure will be pushed down. A couple years ago, Google did the same thing with Mobile Responsive websites. Some of my clients have even thrived online solely because their website was Mobile Responsive, while their competition has stayed stuck in the 1990s and early 2000s. And lastly, websites that provide valuable, thoughtful and helpful information are also prioritized by Google. Search results can now determine if your website is junk or if it is helpful, simply by analyzing the kinds of words you use on your website. Every year, it is more and more crucial to have a website that is mobile responsive, secure, and contains regularly updated blog posts and content.
Because the internet is so engrained into most people's lives, businesses must fully adapt and embrace best-practices in order to fully thrive and dominate competition.
Fortunately, the techniques of how to do each of these things are not hard to do. It's simply a matter of putting together a simple plan, and implementing that plan just a couple times per week.