With the new year soon upon us, many business owners are starting to work out their plans for growing their enterprises in 2016. One area that must not be overlooked is marketing, which is becoming ever more crucial to the small business owner.

Marketing can be a game changer for small business, and there are a few ideas most businesses should look towards if they want to see serious growth in 2016.

Relationship Marketing

Establishing and maintaining personal relationships with customers is not a new idea. But in the modern world, relationship marketing means more than just being helpful and staying in touch. Most consumers turn to their phones for reviews and advice, and your company's social imprint can direct their decision making.

Consumers are shifting their focus towards a brand's social relationships. They often look to their peers to help make the socially "correct" choice.

What is the thought process at your company? How can you go further with the relationships you've built with your customers?

Mobile Internet

If your site isn't optimized for mobile, you're going to be out of business fast. It sounds harsh, but that's the clear reality. There are more searches on mobile than on desktops now. And a huge percentage of those mobile searches are from people who are ready to buy immediately.

Even Google has taken note of this. The search engine now penalizes sites that aren't optimized for mobile, making it even harder to find your store online.

Google realizes that mobile is the starting point on the path to purchasing. Put that to work for you! Think like a shopper on the go and you'll be more successful. The old ways of online marketing circa 2001 are long dead.

Content Marketing

Content marketing has gone from buzzword to mainstream necessity. Plenty of people are still struggling to get it right, though.

You can't get away with a thrown together blog post and some links. Savvy businesses are offering more video content and in-depth infographics which are both highly effective marketing tools.

And you can't get away with cheating. Both JC Penny and Overstock have been caught exchanging financial considerations for inbound links. Both were penalized by Google as a result. The search giant is always working on ways to identify cheaters and penalize them. Don't get caught trying anything unscrupulous.

Geo-Precise Marketing

Small businesses now longer need to worry too much about how to reach the ideal customers for their products. Geo-precise marketing can identify zip codes that are the most active purchasers. You can even use IP targeting to focus on individual households.

Google Adwords and Facebook ads can help your business find the perfect consumer based on where they buyers come from. With a little fine tuning, small business can achieve higher conversion rates by tailoring their landing pages to the norms and preferences in the areas where their buyers are coming from.

Keep Testing

Whether a business is large or small, the need of continued testing and experimentation will never change.

Studying your analytics, tweaking your campaign, and testing the results is a significant part of any successful marketing plan.

It's a big commitment, and it can feel out of balance compared to actually just running your marketing plan. But if you fail to test and adjust, you're just fumbling in the dark hoping to find success.

And that kind of marketing just won't cut it in 2016.

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