Top trends in 2020
1. Sustainable Business Models
2. Remote Work
3. Maximizing on the Gig Economy
4. Personalized Customer Support and Experience
5. Advances in AI Technology
6. Influencers on Mobile Apps
7. Customer Reviews Still Dominate
8. Voice-Optimized Content

The new decade has brought with it a number of surprises nobody could have foreseen. However, when it comes to current and upcoming business trends, there are a few things you can be sure of.

New technologies emerge all the time, and if your small business doesn’t stay on top of the changes, you’ll be lagging behind your competition. While technological trends often grow or change at the speed of light, there are also some others that will be here to stay long-term.

There are a number of ways to adapt your business for the new decade and beyond, and none of them involve the same tired yearly plan you might be used to. 

The most important thing a business can adopt this year, and every year going forward, is the ability to be agile and adaptable. With the regular changes and upgrades, we’ve become accustomed to seeing in all business fields, learning how to adapt your small business to new trends will ensure you thrive and grow year after year.

Here are the main trends for small businesses to be aware of in 2020. Perhaps not all of them apply to your business specifically, but these trends should help guide you on what changes your customers are expecting.

1. Sustainable Business Models

With Generation Z paving the way, consumers are looking to shop more and more at sustainable businesses. Sustainability practices are more than just committing to becoming more eco-friendly in your offices by recycling or reusing. 

House covered in green plants

These days, consumers expect businesses to be not only eco-friendly but also socially responsible. Small businesses that adopt a combination of these two ideals are considered to be more sustainable, and thus more appealing to consumers, especially those in the younger generations.

Becoming more sustainable is not without its costs, though. For example, consumers are looking for products that are ethically sourced and come in environmentally-friendly packaging. In general, it will cost businesses a little more to meet these targets. However, trends have shown that younger consumers are actually willing to pay more for these items.

If you’ve recently adopted more sustainable practices, don’t be afraid to show it! Let your customers know how you’re changing your methods to become more eco-friendly. You can send out a newsletter, or even use WiseStamp to include information in your email signature about your business’s commitment to being green.

2. Remote Work

Workers love having the option of working from home. This doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t be coming into your office at all, but the possibility of working remotely when needed is a great perk. Many candidates looking for employment will look for companies that allow remote work, so if your business isn’t set up for this yet, it’s time to establish this now.

video conference on zoom

Alternatively, some companies are set up entirely remotely. Overhead costs of renting an office space can be costly, and if you have employees who are happy to work from home or other remote locations, then transitioning to a remote-only work model can be beneficial for everyone. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of companies have been forced to transition to a work-from-home model for all employees. It’s estimated that once the pandemic is mostly over and business returns to normal, that many businesses will integrate more remote work opportunities as employees request more flexible schedules. 

A good way to shift to remote work is to use different software programs that help your employees communicate and manage their time and tasks. 

3. Maximizing on the Gig Economy

The Gig Economy has been growing exponentially over the last decade as millennials seek out more flexible and fulfilling work. If you haven’t already tapped into this bottomless resource, 2020 is the time to do it.

A big problem that many small businesses face is not having enough employees to cover different projects. Additionally, as your business’s workflow changes, your employees may also experience a surge in their workload. Tapping into the gig economy is a great way to maintain your service levels, your employee’s happiness, and also to grow your business. 

We saw as employees want more flexibility with remote work, but some workers prefer to be independent and set their own terms. This can work out in your favor since hiring a full-time employee will cost you more than hiring a contractor.

Other advantages include hiring outside of your local area. If you’re in a location where there’s a shortage of workers, then searching for freelancers outside your area will lead you to more skilled workers.

4. Personalized Customer Support and Experience

Offering standard customer service is no longer enough. Many clients now expect 24/7 support. Additionally, consumers also have the expectation that support should be personalized and authentic.

Statistics show that 90% of consumers find marketing personalization to be a positive thing. With the data that many companies gather on their customers, your clients expect to have a more tailored experience with your brand. 

five stars for customer service

Personalization can be achieved in a number of ways, such as segmenting your mailing list, displaying different ads to different demographics, personalizing communications, or recommending relevant products.

In addition to this personalized shopping experience, consumers are also looking for companies that have exceptional customer service. While traditional means of support are still commonly used, like phone and email, businesses should be where their customers are. Adding support options to your social media channels or adding a 24/7 live chat on your website shows your clients you’re always readily available to help whenever and wherever they need.

5. Advances in AI Technology

Artificial Intelligence is not the stuff of movies. Robots are not about to take over, but AI is definitely here to stay.

Many consumers interact with AI on a regular basis, perhaps without even realizing it. Whether it’s asking Alexa what the weather is outside or listening to a Spotify playlist made just for you, AI is here to make our lives easier.

AI bubbles with a hand drawing

AI can be used in business in a number of ways. It can help you optimize your workforce. For example, chatbots are often the first way customers interact with customer support. If you have a small team, this can be a great way to pinpoint a client’s needs so that when they reach a person, they are better equipped to offer a specific solution without wasting time.

It can also help your business become more efficient. AI can automate certain procedures that are otherwise redundant, such as gathering and sorting data. It can also bolster your company’s cybersecurity by spotting threats earlier.

6. Influencers on Mobile Apps

Interacting with your clients via mobile is not a new concept. Nevertheless, it’s clear that it’s still a dominating platform for younger generations.

Millennials grew up with cellphones in their hands, and those quickly changed into smartphones. Now, Gen Z has a whole new set of apps they use regularly. Take Tik Tok, for example, the new video-focused app currently has 800 million users worldwide

Statistics show that Gen Z spends 4 hours and 15 minutes a day on average on their phones, which is higher than previous generations. They also tend to use social media more, go on YouTube more, and watch more vlogs.

automation of a man holding a phone with people standing on top of them

In order to capture their attention, it’s necessary for small businesses to also use these social platforms. However, that’s not always enough. Businesses need to create regular engaging content to get the younger generations to interact with their brand.

One of the best ways to do this is through influencer marketing. If you think this approach is financially out of reach for your small business, think again. In 2020, you can expect the spotlight to shift to nano and micro-influencers, that is, social personalities with a smaller yet more highly engaged following. Micro-influencers tend to be more affordable and more niche, so you can find someone who fits your brand’s message and image.

Since consumers like Gen Z and Millenials use video-centric apps like Tik Tok, Instagram, and YouTube, influencers that use video content get 135% more organic reach and produce the highest ROI. If you have a product or service that can be promoted through a video platform, jumping on the influencer marketing train will pretty much guarantee your brand is seen by potential consumers who are truly interested in what you’re offering.

7. Customer Reviews Still Dominate

If there’s anything we’ve learned over the last few years about customer reviews, it’s that they are incredibly important to a consumer’s purchase decision. 72% of consumers won’t convert until they read some form of online reviews.

You may already be gathering online reviews for your product, services, or your small business in general. While this is good, there are a few changes in store for 2020 and beyond.

Customer review matter with people dancing and five starts on top of them with a phone in the back round.

The service industry has been largely reliant on reviews from platforms like Tripadvisor and Yelp, and while these aren’t likely to go away any time soon, they’re no longer the dominating review platform. Google is now one of the fastest-growing review platforms, which is unsurprising considering it’s the largest search engine on the internet.

Additionally, consumers look for a company’s response to their reviews. While a lot of negative reviews will surely drive customers away, a simple reply from the company can do wonders. Reviews are no longer just a way for brands to show off their positive feedback, but consumers see it as a way to interact with businesses. Whether the review was positive or negative, your clients will still expect a response.

Social media is another avenue where consumers are going to leave reviews. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are becoming more popular for client reviews. While there are dedicated areas on Facebook to leave a review about a business, clients will not hesitate to leave comments on your recent posts as well. 

Reviews on social media are highly visible, which can work in your favor. Positive comments on your recent posts will garner more interested customers. On the other hand, if you get negative reviews in your comments and use it as an opportunity to respond and rectify the situation, potential customers will see that you’re committed and trustworthy.

8. Voice-Optimized Content

“Alexa, read my last email.” Whether it’s on a smartphone or a home smart speaker, more and more people are turning to voice search. While this may seem the same as a traditional internet search, businesses need to fine-tune their content in order to optimize for voice searches.

Google device for voice animation

Consumers are using their voice search for a wide variety of things, such as checking the news, adding something to their calendar, checking emails, ordering groceries, and making online purchases. In fact, it’s estimated that in 2020, 50% of all internet searches will be voice-based.

What does this mean for your small business? A focus on clear, concise, and readable content is key. For example, emails need to be created with a voice search in mind. Your email campaign may work great for mobile or desktop users, but it’s also important to consider how it would sound on a smart speaker. 

Webpages that rank high on search engines will likely also rank highly for voice searches, however, it’s now more important than ever to ensure that your content uses a natural and conversational tone. As consumers are usually asking a straightforward question, your content should aim to offer concise and simple answers.

WiseStamp Can Help You Jump on the 2020 Trends

These new trends may seem like a lot of information to take in, but don’t panic. 2020 is not overly-different from trends we’ve seen in previous years. Essentially, businesses, consumers, and employees are all always looking for ways to make things simpler and more efficient. 

WiseStamp allows you to create personalized signatures with tons of widget options. You can easily optimize your marketing strategy for the 2020 trends by adding social media icons or links for your customers to leave reviews. 

Wisestamp signature

We may be a few months into the new decade already, but it’s never too late to try out new strategies and grow your business this year.