How Small Businesses Can Leverage Big Data
Big data is what businesses have started to call the gargantuan quantities of information on both existing and target markets they collect. It’s a potential treasure trove of new revenue if a system is in place that enables methodical analysis of all of it.
Conversations about analytics and intelligence have always seemed like the domain of corporations with the budget and talent to handle such complicated things. One of the worst mistakes that a small business can make, however, is assume that they don’t have the means to drive greater growth by leveraging big data too.
Does It Really Work?
Once upon a time, companies used advertising to build brand recognition. They offered discounts and ran sales to boost customer engagement. Analyzing why customers bought some of their products and not others was close to guesswork. Sales forecasting was basically wishful thinking. Along came big data, an idea that goes back to the 40s when a math professor shed light on how the future could be predicted.
Thanks to the fact that computers and an array of software that enables storing data are now commonplace to even the most barebone startups, capturing and analyzing pertinent data is relatively simple. Regarding small businesses specifically, it’s just a matter of deploying the techniques and tools that work best.
Don’t be intimidated by Google Analytics. It’s not something you can log into and master in a few clicks. There’s a learning curve. Watching the tutorial videos are the fastest way to get the hang of it. Put some time into figuring this incredibly useful big data tool out, and you’ll be able to thoroughly analyze who you’re selling to.
Google Analytics gives information on such things as the geographic location of those who have visited your website most or have recently bought your products. Data can drill down to their age, gender and the language they speak. It can give you an idea of how long visitors to your site stayed and what they found most engaging. The more professional your website, the better chance of having visitors stay longer.
You’re on the major social media sites. Followers and visitors to your page are engaging with your posts and images. Are you tracking and measuring that activity though? A number of platforms such as Kurrently and Twilert crawl social media capturing mentions about your brand and services, which allows you to identify brand ambassadors and future customers.
Use tools like these and you can actually read what people out there are saying about you. There’s no better way to find out what you’re doing right and not so right. Sentiment analysis apps such as Engenuity let you search news sites for articles in which your company was mentioned, which gives you access to buzz about your brand that you might otherwise miss.
Customer relationship management software is nothing new. Sales and customer service reps, however, have to be motivated to log information on buyers and prospects in fuller detail. It’s not CRM that lets a small business down.
The problem is that few take the time that’s necessary to engage with resources like Salesforce, Goldine, and Zoho meaningfully. Details about deals that were closed often don’t disclose enough of the story behind what led to the sale. CRM can be a fountain of inspiration for a business that has the patience to use it to create truly descriptive profiles of customers that better facilitate repeat purchases.
Small businesses are small because they don’t have the spending power that large companies have to direct funds toward cloud-based data management solutions and SaaS. Data mining software can be a major expenditure. Having a budget to invest in the most effective products and hire the smartest talent to interpret the data is ideal. Still, companies that are in their early growth stage but have the stomach for more aggressive approaches to better understanding their customers can take advantage of some of a wide variety of open source tools out there.
RapidMiner has a commercial version, but it also has a free and open-source software (FOSS) that can be used to do predictive analysis on your customer’s future behavior. If you’d like to visualize your data, which can make it easier to process, that’s not out of reach either. Charted creates line graphs and bar charts from CSV files and spreadsheets. Excel has the potential to be more than cells and formulas when it’s transformed into images that you can make sense of more intuitively. Google Studio and Candela are just two of the many programs that can give your team the power to leverage big data for free.
Interested in growing your small business? Reach out to us at JG Media LLC to learn more about how we can build your website grow your business.