No more ‘easy’ marketing; The end of an era for small and mid size businesses

November 9, 2023

written by
Barbara O Stephenson

We recently met with a client who wants to increase their sales. Not a problem, all our clients want that. It’s what we do here at 300FeetOut. But when we went to review their operations for opportunities to increase customer engagement, we hit a roadblock. Their internal processes were not created with the consumer in mind, it was just to make revenue.  There was no tracking of a user across internal silos, there was no requirement to input accurate and complete customer information, down to a break in between collecting the information in one database and then actually using it. The low-hanging fruit had been picked and now that it was time to start really doing engagement marketing, they didn’t have the data to proceed. With new privacy laws coming into effect, it’s going to mean doing a bit more work to get your product to market. 

Historically when we first started using web to track people with cookies, we marketing folk were super excited because we could finally see if people were coming back to our site with the click of a button. Going from reading log files to seeing the first version of google analytics blew my ever loving mind at how much time I was going to save. Next it evolved to being able to use that information to remarket on my own site. Then it evolved to being able to track them not only on our site but across the web. And now, there are warehouses of user data collected across billions of data points that are used for a myriad of purposes.

Originally most people didn’t think “oh, someone could use that to exploit me”. Instead it was “I’d love to see ads targeted at me. I don’t need infant diapers, I need a new outfit for that hot date” But what happened was we also got politicians and countries and companies using that data to raise your insurance rate if you do suddenly buy infant diapers or show you misinformation memes if you posted your location at a Trump rally. Right now, google is currently in a battle for selling your incognito data 

We need privacy and therefore we’re moving away from cookies and identifying information. It’s not about having nothing to hide, it’s about who has the power. Make no mistake about it, this is being forced by laws in the EU and other functioning governments who believe consumers are more than just their wallets. There is a reason Google removed it’s tagline “do no evil” and is now undergoing investigation for unfair business practices. Google analytics has long been putting the throttle on information via their ‘free’ services in the hopes you’ll use their paid services for data gathering.  It’s not in their best interest to give anyone privacy when what you measure is revenue.

So how do we circle back around to the premise of this? Because consumers want privacy and if a business is lucky enough to have customers, that business needs to invest in internal people and systems that track those customers. They need to invest in operations and processes instead of harvesting data via lists or external databases.  Creating marketing operations that gather data for the people who actually come to your business and then looking for opportunities to target them as people. Create a loyalty program that they WANT to sign up for. Look for targeted messages in your own data. You don’t like to eat meat? Come look at our new plant based menu options! You live in Lodi, CA? We have a roadshow coming to your area and we’ll give you lunch. You went to our conference? Get in on our pre-release stage. You got 6 pairs of black shirts? Do you want to see the new one in stock? 

Yes I know that large companies, or companies with money to burn, can always sign up for enterprise systems that mine data. People will always be ignorantly sharing and for many of us, the data is already out there. The cat is out of the bag so to speak. But that is going to become more and more expensive and we’re going to return to doing things the old fashioned way- with sales and marketing departments who humanize and personalize connections.