Data, analytics, and you

Data, and especially big data, is a big deal in business circles, with a promise to help you make smarter decisions based on hard evidence.

But can a small business also benefit from the insights that big data promises, or is it only something larger companies can leverage? Thankfully, you don’t need a big budget to access big data, and increasing numbers of businesses are using powerful analytics tools to gain insights on their customers and operations.

What data is important to your business?

Many SMBs find it overwhelming deciding what sources and types of data to use. The first step is to identify what insights you need or what metric you want to move. Start by asking the right questions about your business. Do you want to improve your service delivery or get feedback about a new product? Do you know how people interact with your website? Which is your most effective social channel? The next step is to determine how to collect this data.


Sources of data

You may not think your small business generates much actionable data, but take the time to analyze your range of activities. Some common sources of data could be your in-store sales figures, activity on your social media platforms, the performance of your weekly email newsletter or the traffic to your website over a month. Once you have collected this information, you may need to ‘clean up’ or process it, so you can analyze it and act on the results. This is where dedicated analytics tools and software come in. They can help you interpret the sales, clicks and decisions your customers make.

Big data tools

If your customers are visiting your site to interact with your products or service, you need to get insights into their activities. Here, Google Analytics is a free tool that can give you data on a range of metrics related to site performance and user behavior. You should also consider a customer relationship management (CRM) platform like Salesforce or Zoho to generate, track and manage leads more efficiently. The various social media platforms and email newsletter tools all have integrated data analytics capabilities, so you can easily understand how these marketing activities are performing.

You also need to store all your data safely. Dedicated cloud and hosting services can not only store it securely, but they can also help analyze multiple data sources at once. This is typically done via a customizable dashboard using easily digestible graphs and charts. This could help you determine the pricing of your inventory, identify new customers, and even pinpoint what content your audience likes to consume. The insights you garner from big data could help you make smarter decisions that will ultimately grow your small business. So, don’t be intimidated by the technology – embrace it.

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