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Four ways big data can help your small business

Four ways big data can help your small business

Many will tell you otherwise, but big data isn't just for big businesses. By wielding the right tools, small businesses can also glean valuable insights about their online and offline data, leading to informed decisions that help drive business growth. The term itself – big data – also leads many people astray, because the datasets don't always have to be big. It's really about data analytics, which can be done on almost any budget.

Here are four ways you can use data to improve business performance.

Website marketing

Your website might look appealing, but is it attracting the right people? Google Analytics is free for most users, yet it can still provide a wealth of information about your website's visitors, such as their location, the search terms they used, what they clicked and purchased, and if they are browsing on a mobile device. This allows you to optimise your website for customers and achieve a better marketing ROI.

Premium analytics tools, such as Clicky and Mixpanel, can provide even deeper insights about who is visiting your site, and the former is free for up to 3000 page views a day.

Customer relationships

Often, the issue isn't getting the data – it's making the most of the data you already own. When your customer data is locked away in your emails, POS systems and CRM database, a customer analytics tool like Canopy Labs comes in handy.

Canopy merges data from sources such as those listed above to build a comprehensive profile of each customer. The app then analyses the data to reveal each customer's value to the business – their level of engagement, loyalty, purchase history and so on. This allows you to compare different sales channels, such as email, web and in-store visits, and optimise the customer's experience based on these findings.

Sales optimisation

Optimising the sales pipeline in a growing business can become an arduous exercise, and sometimes it involves many hours poring over spreadsheets, emails and customer surveys.

Understanding your sales data can give you the confidence to try different sales strategies – for example, by adjusting the prices of products, or changing the time of day you promote them. InsightSquared is a tool that can perform all the calculations required to turn your mountains of sales data into actionable sales intelligence, and it can offer you sales trends and forecasts, lead tracking, win rates for each employee and must-win opportunities. Designed to work in conjunction with Salesforce CRM, it starts at $65 per user per month.

Brand integrity

The way customers and employees actually feel about your business can have huge impact on its overall success, especially in an age when just one negative experience can quickly go viral on social media.

This makes it imperative that businesses are able to gather and respond to important feedback in real time. The simplest approach is to set up a brand monitoring service such as Google Alerts, which will notify you every time your business is mentioned online. You can then reach out personally and limit negative comments or perceptions before they get out of hand.

Voice of the customer (VoC) software goes a step further by directly measuring customer sentiment through customised surveys, social media and other channels. One example is the online insight platform Qualtrics, which you can also use for market research and measuring levels of employee engagement.

Big data doesn't need a big budget

The plethora of free data available on the web, coupled with the relative cheapness of powerful cloud-based computing, means that big data is no longer the sole privilege of large corporations. With a small upfront investment, it's now easier than ever to leverage your data for better business results.

Choosing a big data solution is certainly a big decision, but one that will be much easier to make when you know exactly how to decide what marketing automation software is right for your business.

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