Small Business. Big Data.

July 24th, 2013

How small business can leverage data to improve their business.

For years, large companies have had dedicated business intelligence departments to crunch data and glean insights that can help them maximize sales and optimize operations. But, for small businesses, working with big data has been out of reach, because it was simply too complex and too costly. However, the growth of cloud-based technology, better and faster data processing, and easier access to online information means there are now a variety of affordable tools available for small businesses.

The problem is figuring out where to start. We suggest starting with collecting and analyzing your own customer data.

Each and every time a customer interacts with your business, he or she leaves behind a vast amount of data. By capturing this information, you can use it to better understand your customers, put those insights to work and improve your business.

Here are three basic sets of data you can capture and use to analyze your customers.

 

Who are your customers

You can use data tools to capture and understand your best or ideal customers, including gender, age, income, purchase patterns, lifestyle and more. Create a list of your frequent customers and try to identify shared commonalities, such as geography, business size, or perhaps day of purchase. This can help you identify traits and help you target your marketing more effectively.

Tip: Once you have identified your key customers, use Experian’s Clone My Customer tool to build a list of top prospects based on the traits of your best customers. You simply upload a spreadsheet with information about your top 100 customers (address, gender, business, etc.) and the geo-location you wish to target. Experian will return a list of names and addresses of prospects that look like these top 100 customers.

What your customers say

Sentiment tracking is a popular tool used to examine the online, social activity involving your company. It allows you to analyze public conversations about your business by harvesting data from social sources, such as Twitter and Facebook. This is important because it helps you uncover the aspects of services, products or operations that can be improved.

Tip: Sprout Social is a paid subscription with an online tool that lets you listen and analyze social sentiment. It also allows you to monitor your competitors and target new customers through the discovery tools. If you require less analysis, Social Mention is a free tool that tracks mentions of your business, and emails you the results. Also make use of platform-specific tools, such as Facebook’s Insights platform and Twitalyzer for Twitter. Both provide details on engagement, comments and interactions between you and your customers.

What your customers do

By tracking how customers interact with your website, you can determine most frequently accessed pages, least visited pages, and what drives the most traffic to your site, as well as determine if you have any bottlenecks—components or resources that are limiting the capabilities and success of your company.

Tip: Sprout Social is a paid subscription with an online tool that lets you listen and analyze social sentiment. It also allows you to monitor your competitors and target new customers through the discovery tools. If you require less analysis, Social Mention is a free tool that tracks mentions of your business, and emails you the results. Also make use of platform-specific tools, such as Facebook’s Insights platform and Twitalyzer for Twitter. Both provide details on engagement, comments and interactions between you and your customers.

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