Is your small business ready for 2022 and eager to know how to finish the year strong? Whether you’re preparing for the holiday rush or organizing your end-of-the-year celebrations, the close of the year is the perfect time to start making marketing strategy plans and looking at business tips for the new year.

That’s why we’ve put together a list of 2022 small business marketing trends to consider during your annual business review so that you can stay up-to-date on where small business marketing efforts are headed next year.

From online consumer chat services to automated marketing initiatives, the marketing trend forecast for 2022 includes promising opportunities for you to grow your small business. If you are a business owner ready to discover the best marketing efforts to put your small business in the fast lane for success, read on.

#1 Connect with your customers via live chat

Interfacing one-on-one with your existing customers is nothing new for business, but with online chat options and machine learning, you can talk, answer questions, and solve problems instantly. Email marketing may get lost or left unread, and phone calls may feel like a heavy lift, but live chat services make it easier for customers to find the solutions they need while feeling like personalized content.

There are plenty of out-of-the-box services to fulfill all of your online chat needs, so it’s feasible for a business of any size to start using the marketing strategy of live chats without costly investments.

Some of the major uses for online chat services include:

  • Instant response – There’s no hold music, and no waiting for a message in your inbox—live chat is all about quick answers to a mobile device that answers your customers’ questions.
  • Direct messaging – Build your brand’s voice by implementing specific personalized content and messaging points directly into your live chat. Design a script that hits all of your business value propositions and effectively shows your customers why you stand out from the competition in customer experience.
  • Increase sales –  A recent survey showed that 77% of online shoppers want to talk to a real person before making a purchase. As a marketer, give your existing customers what they want with a direct line to a sales representative. By meeting the needs of consumers, your live chat service has the potential to offer a serious return on investment.

Need more proof that conversational marketing through live chat can help your business pave the way for success in 2022? A digital marketing specialist recently conducted a study on a real estate partner’s live chat feature. In fact, they tinkered with the marketing automation feature to allow bots to chat with customers and help them find the answers they were looking for. The results? The engagement through the bot booked three condominium tours that led to sales in just ten days.

Show that your company means business when it comes to customer experience and service with an online chat service. Customers are frequently looking for a reason to support small businesses and quickly giving them the answers to their questions is another reason.

#2 Harness the power of social network marketing

Most customers are no strangers to social media apps. In 2022, the same social media platform we use to communicate with friends and family can be used for building strategic marketing plans. The marketing trend of social media is one of the most cost-effective ways to reach customers and make long-lasting connections online and in the real world.

Tampa Bay jewelry shop owner Patti Bradfield saw the direct results of using social media to promote her store. Bradfield explains how a local social media network, curated to bring Bay Area businesses to center stage, helped to increase foot traffic in her brick-and-mortar shop.

There are several ways to implement social media marketing in 2022, including:

  • Building your brand – Social media is a fantastic place to show off your brand’s personality, goals, and ideas. A well-curated post can implement your brand messaging effectively and appeal to a wide customer base.
  • Connecting locally – While social media can bring your business to a national audience, it can also be a way to connect locally with your community. Consider claiming a free Business Page with Nextdoor to interact with your network and the local community.

Your social media marketing should highlight every aspect of your company that you want to share with your audience in order to increase your visibility, generate leads, and promote your business.

#3 Focus on customer reviews

One of the best ways to build up trust and show off your sterling reputation is with online reviews. Many consumers look to reviews before interacting with a company, trusting the first-hand experience and unbiased views of previous customers.

No matter what your small business does, you can benefit from using reviews in your marketing materials and prioritizing the positive word-of-mouth recommendations generated by your offerings.

Bring reviews into your marketing materials through the following processes:

  • Request reviews – While some customers may be happy to share their opinions without being prompted, others might not think to share their experiences. Create a review prompt to send to customers after their purchases and consider developing an open-ended survey for those interested in sharing more details about their experience.
  • Use testimonials – With a plethora of customer reviews, pick and choose the best ones to implement in your marketing materials. You can place testimonials front and center on your website, or use them in a variety of social media posts to let the world know what everyone thinks of your business.
  • Respond to your reviews – Reviews can be a two-way street. Customers often offer questions, concerns, or critiques about your business, so don’t let their messages go unanswered. Respond to your reviews to show your customers that you take their opinions seriously.

Testimonials and reviews aren’t unique to 2022, but as the world of small-business marketing expands, quality testimonials remain something that can’t be faked. Show your audience what separates you from the competition by sharing the uncompromised opinions of your many happy customers.

#4 Find ways to automate your internal marketing

Have you been staying up late trying to perfect your messaging? While crafting a message that captures your business’s many layers in only a handful of words can be difficult, what’s even more difficult is keeping your marketing materials consistent and reliable.

That’s where marketing automation comes in.

While email service providers offer an easy way to send out your digital materials, today, there are plenty of options to use a more powerful automated marketing software. Now you can create and automate every aspect of your email marketing, with top-notch SEO and customer-focused messaging to make the biggest possible impact.

There are a plethora of possibilities when it comes to automated marketing, and your business can see benefits including:

  • Strong nurture strategy – Start showing potential customers you’re paying attention by tracking how they’re interacting with your products and following up in the form of an automatically generated email. If someone clicks on a product but doesn’t complete the purchase, an automated follow-up email can help complete the sale.
  • Refine your materials – Unsure when the best time to send an email is or about what terms specifically appeal to your customer base? Automated marketing is all about using the data to back up your email campaigns, making it easy to track what’s working and explore ways to improve your marketing materials.
  • Personalized messaging – Automated marketing services can interact with your customers’ existing social media profiles to generate messages that appeal directly to their interests. Forget about spam—these are thoughtful messages looking to fulfill individual needs.

It doesn’t take a computer whiz to implement automated marketing. Whether you’re interested in learning the ropes yourself, hiring a team member, or consulting with an outside marketing service, your business can leap into the future with automation.

#5 Offer cashless payments

Let your customers know that in 2022, they can pay any way they please. While standard methods of payment aren’t going anywhere, it certainly pays to update your tech for the multitude of cashless transactions consumers are going to be completing.

If your small business is based online, you’re probably intimately familiar with advertising your cashless payment options. But if you’re operating a brick-and-mortar business, it could be time for a payment system upgrade.

Consider adding the following cashless payment options to your business:

  • Modern card readers – Credit and debit payments have come a long way from the simple “swipe.” Today, with security chips and tap functions, modern card payments can be processed faster and more securely. What’s more, you can even implement mobile card readers to take payments anywhere—increasing convenience both for you and your customers.
  • Payment apps – Another contactless option, payment apps can be an easy way for your small business to collect payments without investing in complex hardware or software. While this payment method may not be as quick or seamless as others, it is cost-effective and easily implemented.
  • Mobile wallets – Customers no longer need a physical wallet or card to make purchases. With mobile wallets, all their information can be stored on their phone and easily scanned with a designated mobile wallet reader.

After you’ve implemented these options, let your customers know that you’re taking cashless payments with clear messaging on all of your physical and digital marketing materials.

Cheryl Hisey, the owner of Texas-based bakery, Cheryl’s Confections, found unexpected success when implementing cashless payments, saying, “I had my menu printed out, and the QR code was just right there on it for customers to scan while they decided what they wanted”

Simplicity and convenience are the names of the game when it comes to purchases, so by encouraging your customers to pay how they want, they can feel free to make more purchases with you in 2022.