When it comes to marketing in 2017, one early trend is becoming clear: if you want attention, you’re going to have to earn it.

That’s particularly true in the digital world, where more and more people are hanging out and advertisements are increasingly getting ignored. Banner ad click-through rates continue to decline, your organic reach via social media is almost non-existent, and many consumers now use ad-blockers that keep your message from getting through.

To be successful next year, you’ll have to rely on Permission Marketing, First described by marketing guru Seth Godin, permission marketing is essentially the concept of anti-spam—it means that marketing to others is a privilege, not a right. In order to market to customers, old and new, you’ll need their permission to send them content and then have to follow up by giving them relevant material that is personal and useful.

Here are some of the more reliable forms:

Email Marketing
Email marketing is still very affordable and represents a tremendous Return On Investment (ROI).

The key is to create marketing campaigns that provide valued, relevant information to customers; your emails can’t be a continual sales pitch. You want it to engage your customers build trust and strengthen relationships—that will lead to more conversions. Make sure they are well-written, too. Poor grammar, spelling and organization will hurt your business.

Paid social media
More than 80 percent of small businesses see Facebook is an effective business to consumer vehicle. But 70 percent of companies do not actively collecting social media data.

Focus on the analytics next year; all channels provide some form of insights into visitor traffic from which you can determine the efficacy of your content. Clearly, companies aren’t getting the most out of social media marketing. This info can help optimize your interactions and increase sales—and it will most likely help you make your social media channels a more inviting place to visit.

Local influencers
Nobody tells your story better than….somebody else. Well, that’s not exactly true. You may think you can successfully tell people why to come to your shop or use your service, and that may be true, but the fact is that customers will trust your message more if it comes from someone else.

Word-of-mouth advertising is even more important (and effective) in the digital age because it’s easier for customers to find people who provide that message. Online review boards or community forums are great things that  small businesses can capitalize on. It’s called Influencer Marketing—using the influential individuals in your field and community to push your brand’s message.

Look for individuals that have strong relationships in your industry or with a large local network that trusts them enough to take action.

All these channels have one thing in common: they rely on the customer to buy into your marketing plan. Ask them when they’re in your store or shop to sign up for a eNewsletter, or give them a discount for liking your business page—make it worth their while to sign up, and then follow up with personal, relevant content.

Did we skip any? Let us know in the comments!