By Andrew Gazdecki

Markets can change at a rapid pace. Your marketing tactics need to evolve with them, or your company and brand will get left behind. Change has never been truer than it is online- especially in the mobile space this year. 2017 is set to be a revolutionary year for mobile developers, marketers, and businesses that have chosen to take advantage of this far-reaching technology.

Here are the top 8 trends for 2017 you must follow along with several different ways to implement them if you want to stay ahead of the curve as the new year unfolds.

Let Psychology Influence Your Design

It can be the design of your websites, advertisements, and apps, or even the design of your products. Some businesses have come out with reports revealing strong consumer preferences for certain practices.

  • Get to the Point – Many of your readers won’t get past the headline. Give them what they need by formatting your posts for skimmers and those with short attention spans. There are plenty of ways to do it without forsaking any of your in-depth readers.
  • Use Better ImagesImages and infographics can be used to explain complex topics to readers, help them visualize benefits, or walk them through a complicated process (with a flowchart.) These images can also be used to market your business (see below.)
  • Don’t Forget Gamification – Making your apps more fun to use by employing the same principles that make slot machines addicting can leave your customers with a positive brand impression and make them more likely to use your app again shortly.

Maximize Local Traffic

Any business that has a physical presence should make sure to max out any potential local traffic sources they can. With the recent developments and popularity of geofencing and tracking, getting your business on as many maps as possible has become an excellent thing (and much easier to do.)

  • Start with Directories – It might seem annoying, but when people type “X service near ZIPCODE” you want your business name to be at the top of that list (if they live near you.) Google and Yelp are great places to start but don’t neglect the less well known.
  • Connect with the Community – Get as many links as you can from local websites. This can mean a nearby reviewer, your city’s official site, even the local news.
  • Use Location to Reward Your Customers – Want to reward the customers that visit your business on a regular basis just for stopping by? Now you can. With mobile apps, it’s possible to set up location based promotions very quickly- and in 2017 many businesses are doing just that.

Review How You Test and Track

This is something any marketer should be familiar with but in the last year (and the near future), plenty of new, better tools have become available or been improved. With proof of ROI being a challenge for most marketing campaigns until well after they have run their course, updating to the latest tools and methods can help show what’s working while it’s working.

  • Master A/B Tests – If you haven’t gotten the hang of this already for your websites and apps, there couldn’t be a better time. Clear, well-documented A/B tests are standard practice.
  • Look at Sessions, Not Just Numbers – Many tools allow you to watch a playback of a user’s session in your app. They can also provide “heat maps” that allow you to see trends in a very visual way quickly. This should make it easier to see where some customers jump off and offer clues to fixing it.
  • Remember Surveys? – Getting feedback from new users can help you uncover gaps in your user experience and reduce bounce rate overall.

Get Exposure from New Sources

Remember those images we told you to start using above? This is where they come in handy. The web is a fabulous visual medium, and most people are visual learners. To optimize on that fact, market your company with standout images. Beyond that, it might be time to get creative or join up with other businesses.

  • Use Visual Social Media – This is where Pinterest, Instagram, and Snapchat come into play. These platforms are only growing in popularity and make an excellent way to connect with helpful graphics or inspiring images.
  • Connect with Influencers – Want a big boost in sales or audience size? Find an influencer with interests in your market and reach out to them. Better, find someone who is already in love with your brand and ask to work with them.
  • Meet a New Audience – In most markets, it shouldn’t be hard to find a business with a product that is a perfect complement to yours without being in direct competition. Arranging for an introduction to their audience in exchange for introducing them to yours shouldn’t be too hard to do- and it’s mutually beneficial.

Embrace New Platforms

2017 is set to be a dominant year of innovation for a lot of major brands. In the mobile space, this means an even bigger push into VR, a host of new Google technologies, and a potentially revolutionary new device from Microsoft. What that means is you need to be flexible. Be prepared to modify your apps to fit more hardware setups and stay ahead of the curve.

  • Have a Backup – With new technologies ready to launch it’s important to have a backup of your content, of course, but it’s also important to have an alternate way to view your website, etc.
  • Keep Your Website and Apps Current – Now might be the time to a better CMS or a well-supported app builder rather try to DIY things or go through a series of developers. Choosing something stable with a reliable team behind it will help keep your business, especially it’s the web and mobile facets, up to date and functional in the year to come.
  • Use the Right Tools – If you don’t have a mobile version of your website or an app yet, make that that one marketing tool you adopt this year. Apps are 2017’s “right tool.” In fact, by year’s end, it’s estimated that over half of all businesses will have one available or will be learning how to create a mobile app. The mobile market isn’t showing any signs of slowing and this year might be your business’s last chance to get ahead of the curve on this one.

Mobile loyalty programs, push notifications,  and geofencing capabilities are great assets to any small business.  When combined with a robust mobile marketing plan, they are the ideal tool for small business owner.

Cater to Your Ideal Customer

If you don’t know already, figure out who that is. Down to their age, gender, and the time they check their email. It’s possible, and that information will come in handy more times than you might think. It’s a lot easier to market to a avatar than to a general crowd.

  • Use A/B Tactics to Customize Experience – That’s right, it’s possible to change the way your technology appears to various customers depending on their preferences (or groups). Targeted apps that display a favorite category first emails that only include the topics about that individual: those are all things you can do, with the right tools.
  • Reward Loyalty Correctly – Some loyalty programs fail because they offer incentives that the customer just isn’t interested in (or that they aren’t sure how to redeem.) Your loyalty program can be an asset- just make sure it’s what your customers want.
  • Ask Your Community What They Want – The easiest way to find out what your audience wants is to ask. Is there something they wish was different? What would make them use your app more? Asking, in any way, can be very revealing and your customers would love the chance to voice their opinions.

VR is No Longer a Novelty

Even if you don’t implement VR anything this year, do recognize that unlike previous iterations it is unlikely to be swept away anytime soon. Most major players have come out with some form of VR- be it cardboard (and affordable) or room-scale and high end.

  • Try on Augmented Reality (AR) – There are existing apps and services that allow you to incentive customers by adding a checkpoint at your business location or writing a promo code on the wall (digitally). These don’t take long but any AR fans will appreciate the effort.
  • Opt into Other VR Projects – Like the AR options, some VR projects use physical locations for incentives. They might also offer opportunities for partnerships. Though it might not be a priority now, it’s something to keep in mind as the technology grows.

Use Personality and Cohesion to Enhance User Experience

Personality is becoming a vital tool in attracting and holding on to customers. Having a bland, flat presence doesn’t cut it anymore. A simple, static website isn’t nearly as powerful as a responsive one- and that can easily be outdone by any business with a useful app.

  • Empathize with Your Customers – As mentioned above, know your customer and tailor your business to meet their needs.
  • Enhance Convenience – Take full advantage of mobile apps that allow you to implement a shop, enable customers to place orders, send messages directly to a support team, or offer directions with the touch of a button. Convenience and simplicity add up to a cohesive and positive user experience.
  • Keep Your Brand Together – Don’t have contradictory messages across all of your social media accounts. Keep the same voice and tone. A super casual Twitter account and a formal website coupled with an incredibly sales-y Facebook page can lead to a confused customer overall.

Andrew Gazdecki is the founder and CEO of Bizness Apps — making mobile apps affordable and simple for small businesses. We’re a do-it-yourself iPhone, iPad, Android & HTML5 app platform that allows any small business to simultaneously create, edit, and manage mobile apps without any programming knowledge needed. Think of us as “WordPress for mobile app creation.” Many of our customers are white label mobile app resellers — marketing or design agencies that use our platform to cost effectively build mobile apps for small business clients.