In 2020, many of the same platforms and tools used by the largest companies will also be available to smaller entrepreneurs. If used correctly, they can help grow your business. On the downside, because these platforms are sophisticated, they can also complicate the customer experience, says,Marc Pickren,CEO, OutboundEngine.
Since people began using martech as a term to describe the blending of marketing and technology, the field has grown astronomically. Only about 150 companies were operating in that space back in 2011, and now there’s more than 7,000.
Until recently, though, most of the attention around martech has focused on larger brands and enterprise-level companies. That’s left America’s 30.2 million small and medium businesses—the ones that make up 99.9% of the country’s businesses and are responsible for 47.9% of jobs—dramatically underserved.
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But in 2020, many of the same platforms and tools used by the largest companies will also be available to smaller entrepreneurs. If used correctly, they can help grow your business. On the downside, because these platforms are sophisticated, they can also complicate the customer experience.
To make smart decisions, small and medium business owners have to keep an eye on what’s ahead. Here are my predictions for marketing technology in the coming year.
1. Self-Serve Programmatic Opportunities for Buying Advertising
It’s always been a bit of a puzzle to buy effective ads through the big players at Facebook, Instagram and Google. A number of middleware providers have emerged that make it easy for individual businesses to manage campaigns or work with agencies.
Facebook recently pushed page admins toward using those tools when it turned off the ability to schedule posts directly from the page itself. Now, admins must use third-party scheduling tools or Facebook’s built-in functionality.
Self-serve buying is a trend I expect to continue in 2020, with more martech vendors offering tools for that purpose. That does bring up a challenge, however. These platforms will have to make the costs clear to a small business owner. SMBs need to know if they’re getting a good deal or they won’t take full advantage of the service.
2. Specializing Your Service to Better Know Your Customers
With the continued rise of mega-platforms like Amazon, those businesses that strive to develop a relationship with a customer will have to lean much harder into building customer intimacy. To make that happen, they’ll have to rely on more specialization for their particular audiences.
Making the most of the human connections between you and your customer is really your only advantage in staving off Amazon. A handwritten thank-you note or a personalized email can go a long way. No amount of advanced technology can deliver the personal touch of a small business. Look at ways to specialize your product or service to match the values of your customer.
3. A Return to Common Sense and Practicality
It’s more important than ever to not to be taken in by the newest shiny marketing attractions. As a small business owner, your time is the most valuable asset you have, so you’ve got to be mindful of avoiding the latest fad.
Instead, stick to the program. Be persistent about staying top of mind and looking great online. Over time, that will get you results (and those results will last longer).
Learn More: AI: The Magic Ingredient for Customer Experience in 2020
An analogy I like to use to illustrate this point is boiling water. You use a certain amount of energy (heat) to boil a pot of water. Turning up the heat doesn’t make it more boiling. It’s wasted energy.
For the martech space in 2020, I encourage small and medium business owners to use the right amount of energy to get the results they’re after.