There’s no better time than the beginning of the year to find out what the expected trends will be when it comes to doing business in the months to come.

As you know, 2013 saw some significant changes to online marketing in the way social media platforms were used; including greater advertising options and better visual marketing capabilities; how search engines were determining valuable content; and how mobile devices started playing a major role in viewing and sharing content.

As a VA it can be difficult a) finding the time to do our own marketing, b) having the budget to do our own marketing, and c) knowing what the most effective marketing strategies for our business are.

If that sounds familiar, believe me, you’re not alone.

You’ve probably all heard of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). Workout at maximum effort for 4 minutes to achieve the same results as jogging for 30 minutes.

It’s the latest craze when it comes to exercising. Why? Because it seems that everyone lives busier lives these days. And whilst they still want to look and feel good, they don’t have the time to hit the gym for an hour 4 times a week, so instead they do HIIT and get the same, if not better, results.

Well the same goes for business.

We want to be able to stay on top of our marketing strategy, get our service in front of the right people as often as possible, without having to spend hours doing so.

So what are the marketing trends that we should concentrate our efforts on in 2014?

1. Google+

It’s predicted that Google+ will be the fastest growing social network this year. Being owned by Google it’s the best way of getting you and your business to rank better in search engines. Join groups, get involved in discussions, distribute your own content, and more, to connect and build relationships with relevant business owners.

Another thing is that Google will soon be launching their own promoted posts – presumably similar to Facebook’s promoted posts – but being Google, it’s likely to get your content to a much larger audience.

Advice from the experts is to get familiar with it now, so you start seeing results quicker as it grows.

For more information on Google+, see one of our earlier articles on this subject here.

2. Blogging, Guest blogging & Reverse Guest Blogging

Creating valuable content has been around for some time now. So this isn’t exactly ‘new’ news. But it’s important to reiterate the importance of having your own business blog (and maintaining it) as well as finding other blogs that you can create a guest article for.

The latter is particularly important as it will help broaden your audience reach and puts your content in front of people who wouldn’t ordinarily have seen it. Find blogs within your niche industry or specialism, write an article for a few of them, get involved in the conversations, leave comments, and you should see a surge in your followers, mailing list, and hopefully client base.

Reverse guest blogging is also a fantastic way to broaden your reach. By approaching relevant bloggers (or if you’re lucky, having them approach you) to write an article that you think your readers would enjoy, is a way to get your business in front of their readership base.

3. Content Marketing

We’re not just talking about blogging here, although obviously that’s part of it. This is more about building relationships with those who have already connected with you, and encouraging others to do the same.

So try engaging with business owners, your clients, people within your niche, etc. using these techniques that are set to grow in 2014:

  • Social Media
  • eNewsletters
  • Blogs
  • Case studies
  • Videos
  • Offline networking
  • Webinars

4. Mobile Friendly

Making sure your website is mobile friendly should no longer be a passing thought.

It’s estimated that one in five people use their smartphone or tablet to view content online. If your blog or website isn’t responsive then you could miss out on growing your valuable readership base, and even on potential clients searching for business support via their mobile device.

So if your site isn’t already mobile friendly, 2014 is the time to action that passing thought.

5. Visual Content Marketing

Video marketing (and the use of visuals within regular social media marketing) is expected to grow this year.

Partly because Google has made it much easier for video content to be SEO friendly, so businesses are seeing it as a better way of engaging with their audiences more. But also because video content is now so easy to view on mobile devices. And as the point before highlights, more and more people will be viewing content via their mobile devices in 2014.

Okay, so this isn’t necessarily a big one for Virtual Assistants in terms of our own businesses, but it’s probably worth mentioning to your clients to help connect with their customers better. Or why not try it as a change from your regular written blog posts!