Breaking down numbers can be daunting for most small businesses. That’s why so many prefer to rely on gut instinct for their competitive advantage instead. And while that strategy may have worked to date, it’s important to note that big businesses are taking full advantage of big data to gain valuable customer insights. The message is clear—if you don’t adapt and grow, you could be left behind. But fear not, there’s good news ahead for small businesses.
Corralling vast amounts of complex customer data and making data-driven decisions isn’t just for large corporations with deep pockets and sizeable IT departments anymore. Thanks to the proliferation of cloud-based services, social media, mobile applications and analytics tools, small businesses can now harness custom insights to strengthen customer relationships, improve marketing efforts and enhance products or develop new ones—just like, or even better than, their larger counterparts.
Here are four ideas to help you make big data work for your small business:
1) Find a partner that understands you.
It’s no secret that big data marketing automation solutions are usually developed for large enterprises. So it’s no surprise those solutions providers aren’t accustomed to implementing or customizing their technology for the needs of small business. However, it’s also true that most big data companies were built by entrepreneurs who started out small and built their business on being nimble—just like you. Seek out partners who understand small business and offer turnkey solutions that are just right for you, or are willing to right-size their solutions to meet your specific needs.
2) Get insight on your site.
Yes, there are plenty of pay-for-play website analytics tools available. But Google Analytics is free. And their web performance monitoring tools can be implemented right away simply by adding a tracking code to your site. Once added, they provide a wealth of insight into your customers’ behavior, how they interact with your site, and short- and long-term trends. Learning the full suite can take a little bit of time, but there are extensive tutorials available online. You’ll soon find the insights gleaned will be well worth your investment of time and effort.
Google Analytics can show you:
· How much traffic your site generates and where visitors go when they get there
· What social media channels are performing and referring visitors to your site
· How many visitors are using mobile devices—even the specific device type
· What your visitors are interested in, their age, and gender
· How much revenue your e-commerce site generates, and how long it takes for customers to make a purchase decision
3) Don’t go one and done.
Typically, big data solution providers have one solution designed for big corporations that come with a high price tag and are complex to run and manage, leaving little to no flexibility for smaller operations. That’s why small businesses often do better with multiple solutions that work with specific business systems and applications already in place for sales, marketing, human resources, and accounts payable. Starting from scratch would be too costly and time-consuming for most small businesses.
4) Do business from anywhere.
One of the distinct values of the cloud and big data is that they eliminate geographic boundaries for your business. Through the cloud, you can share information and connect with customers—anywhere, anytime—no matter where you are located. With data that tells you where you customers are and what products or services interest them regionally or even locally, you can target your marketing more precisely and uncover new opportunities to grow.
These are four quick thoughts on ways you can help your small business use big data to drive competitive advantage. If you need more thoughts or have any questions, don’t be afraid to hit us up. We’re always happy to help small businesses just like yours find new ways to be successful.[image Goal Conversions in Google Analytics by 30 Lines on flickr]