For MSPs serving the small business / mid-sized business vertical, it is critical to stay one step ahead of IT trends. SMBs (small and mid-sized businesses) often have a longer sales cycle than their larger competitors, and being able to anticipate their IT needs helps MSPs establish the kind of personalized relationship that keeps SMBs from turning to big technology providers. According to new 2013 predictions from marketing solutions vendor Constant Contact, MSPs will have an opportunity this year to help their SMB clients perform engagement marketing.

As defined by Constant Contact, engagement marketing consists of applying social media, mobile and location-based technologies to individually tailor marketing efforts. The following is a brief review of three specific IT trends Constant Contact expects SMBs to move toward in 2013 to create engagement marketing initiatives:

Email by Permission

According to Constant Contact, email usage among consumers is actually still growing, with more people expected to have email addresses in 2013 than in 2012. However, consumers now expect to only receive relevant emails they have granted the sender permission to send them, and irrelevant or unwelcome emails will pose a serious threat to SMBs’ brand image. MSPs should deliver email management solutions and services that effectively obtain and track recipient preferences to ensure maximum return on email campaigns with minimal brand damage.

Searching for Mobile

The continuing growth of mobile web access, search and app usage means SMBs must make their marketing information available via mobile search and provide mobile-optimized web experiences. Truly creating a mobile-centric customer experience, whether through responsive design or creating separate mobile sites and apps, is a time-consuming task requiring specialized knowledge – in short the perfect service for an MSP to offer.

Social Media Comes of Age

Once thought of as an extra feature that was nice to have but not necessary, social media has become a business-critical “must have” for any company’s marketing efforts. Larger organizations have realized this fact in the last couple of years, and Constant Contact expects SMBs to catch on in a big way during 2013. As with the mobile customer experience, the social customer experience is a unique environment requiring careful design and execution by trained experts.

In addition, collecting and measuring social performance data is a notoriously difficult task that even eludes many large organizations. Developing social media expertise is a must for any MSP that wants to fully meet the marketing needs of SMB clients, or for that matter clients of any size, this year and in the years to come.