Walking through farmer’s markets over the past few weeks, I noticed something new about the familiar fruit stands and food carts. My meal options at places like this are usually limited not only by my preferences for food, but also by payment methods. As a potential customer who rarely carries cash, I was glad to see more vendors embracing mobile point of sale systems like Square.
From a business perspective, it was good to see people catering to customer behavior rather than the other way around. The result: the vendors who adapted earned my business, and likely that of many other cash-shunning customers.
What if these businesses took the same innovative approach to promoting themselves? Just as with cost-prohibitive point of sale systems and pricey enterprise software, the barriers of entry to sophisticated and profitable online marketing are crashing down. Tools that were available only to larger companies who could afford the massive licensing fees are increasingly free to use.
Web analytics, remarketing to website visitors and cloud-based customer relationship management are a few examples of marketing tools that have become readily and cheaply available to the savvy small business owner. Want to display a special offer to website visitors who abandoned shopping cart purchases? No problem. Pay only for ads clicked by customers matching a specific behavioral profile? Straightforward to accomplish.
This is all possible via free tools like Google Analytics, Tag Manager and the Display Network. Analytics & Tag Manager are completely free to use. With a demand-side platform like SiteScout, advertisers pay for the ads they run, but there are no licensing costs or other fees.
The level of self-serve customization available to marketers is getting to be pretty incredible. For small business owners, the great news is that billions of audience impressions and the corresponding data/targeting is available without a five-figure investment for the technology.
Of course, there are barriers of entry like the time investment and the semi-technical aspects of creating audiences, capturing website behavior, etc. Fortunately there are people like me who enjoy this sort of thing, allowing you to focus on the dozens of other considerations that come with running a business.