If you want to stay ahead of your competitors, you must constantly search for innovations to grow your business even more. It's always a good thing to start testing ideas. There's just one problem: Many of these new technologies will flop, costing you time and money.
When something works, though, you'll gain the unfair advantage of being the leader — the first — in your industry. What if you could skip through the noise, learn what's working for companies in different industries, and implement those tactics in your business?
These five trends might not all work for you, but they're definitely worth a look. They're trending now, which means you should consider adding them to your toolkit before they become standard operating procedure and you're the one left behind.
1. Facebook bots.
This is the hottest topic in the industry right now. Facebook bots are becoming more popular, especially now that we've entered the era of artificial intelligence. Many companies have incorporated some form of Facebook bots in their processes. Others focus the bots' capabilities on their email lists, though I would question the wisdom of such a move in many cases.
DigitalMarketer CEO Ryan Deiss predicted Facebook bots will be the industry trend in 2017, ramping up to compete with email. The best part: It's become easier for people to develop sophisticated bots without the need to code. ChatMatic, Chattypeople and ManyChat all are doing great work in this area, and I expect more competitors to enter the market in the near future.
Related: Facebook Teaches Its Bots New Tricks
2. Business texting.
Business texting made a big splash years ago, but it faded. New technologies have fueled its strong return. The average person carries his or her phone 90 percent of the time. And people respond more readily to texts than calls.
If you want to keep connected with customers and get higher response rates, consider making business texting part of your strategy — even if it's a small portion to start. Text Request and other services make it easy to launch and test your messages.
Related: Skip the Emojis: You Small Business' Text-Messaging Campaign Should Be All About the Deals
3. Smart segmenting.
Your customers don't want to receive the same message everyone else does. They want specific, highly tailored messages that speak to their experiences and needs. You need to build your business on that demand.
Quizzes and gamified info-gathering content will get you only so far. It's what happens next that matters. Show your potential customers how you're working to learn about them and their challenges. Segmenting involves a lot of moving parts, so it's best to start learning now about this powerful technique.
One service provider is creating a program to help make it easier. So far, it's available only by invitation.
4. Recurring revenue.
Netflix's success has other leaders rethinking their approach. Instead of offering a product or service at a larger, one-time fee, many business owners are seeing the benefits of swtiching to a smaller, monthly fee. Recurring revenue is an asset that can drive your growth for years to come.
Related: How to Improve Your Subscription Business Churn Rate
Videos seemed to enter a bit of a dormant state when podcasts took off, but Facebook Live, Instagram Stories and Snapchat are swinging the balance back. Savvy, cost-conscious marketers can do a great deal without an overly fancy setup. If you're thinking long-term, you'll need to invest in a few decent tools to make your videos polished and professional-looking.
Related: How to Shoot High-Quality Video on Your Phone
Trends exist because of increased demand, and that means new opportunities for enterprising business owners. Do a bit of research to decide which of these five options makes the most sense for your business. Then take action to put them into use and track your results. That's how you stay ahead of the curve — and your competition.