How Small Businesses Can Benefit From Big Data

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Big data has gotten quite a bit of press lately. The very term seems to suggest that it's something for major companies and other large institutions to use. However, as technology advances, it's actually feasible for smaller businesses to benefit from big data as well. The following are some of the ways that you, as a small or mid-sized business owner or manager, can take advantage of the latest trends in big data. 

Understand Your Visitors and Customers

Aside from tracking vital stats such as traffic, bounce rates, and conversion rates you can use several tools to collect valuable insights about your visitors.  

  • Analyze traffic sources. Using the Acquisitions function on Google Analytics or other analytics software, you can learn where your traffic comes from. This helps you go beyond basic demographics and learn more about your customer's interests and preferences. You can find out, for example, what social media sites they use, what websites they visit, and where they shop online. 
  • Use heat maps. Heat maps provide you with color-coded visual data showing you exactly what your visitors are doing on your web pages. You can identify the features that attract the most attention and generate the most clicks.
  • Surveys and polls. Using tools like Google Forms and Survey Monkey, it's easy to poll your visitors and find out what they think about your products, websites, or anything you want to collect data about. You can use surveys on your website, social media pages, and emails. 
  • Map the customer journey. The customer journey tells you the stages people pass through before they actually purchase your product. When you create a customer journey map, you want to identify all of the touchpoints where people connect with you. This may include email, social media, videos, online reviews, advertising, and other channels. 

Better Business Practices

You can use data to hire the best help, save money on equipment and improve overall efficiency for your business. 

  • Use data to hire the best help. A data-driven recruitment strategy provides several benefits. Analyzing data can help you identify the most effective recruitment channels for your industry and learn the most important qualifications for candidates for different positions. 
  • Cut costs by identifying areas where your business can be streamlined and run more efficiently. You might, for example, gain insights on what software or new processes can help you to operate at greater efficiency. 
  • Find ways to expand and increase revenue. You can draw on customer and industry data to come up with ideas for scaling up your business and building additional income streams. 

Data Helps You Grasp the Big Picture

While it's important to learn as much as possible about your customers, that's far from the only reason to collect data. You can also gain a great deal by expanding your view and turning your view upon the wider world. With social monitoring and following trending topics and products on Google, Facebook, and other popular sites you can often predict what the future holds for your industry. Keep up with the latest hashtags on Twitter and Instagram and track popular products on Amazon (even if you're not doing e-commerce). Even general news and trends regarding politics, the economy, and society give you clues about people's preferences and spending patterns.  

It's also crucial to track data related to your competitors. There are many analytics tools to help you gauge your competition in the marketplace and on social media. Facebook Insights, for example, can provide you with data on any Facebook page. You can use link tracking tools to identify competitors' backlinks and free social media monitoring tools to find out what people are saying about them (and you as well). 

Everyone Can Benefit From Big Data 

There are innumerable ways to benefit from data. The first step is to identify your needs and decide what kind of data will help you the most. Keep an open mind and always look for new ways to learn more about your business, customers, competitors, and the world at large. As technology progresses, big data will become more and more accessible to everyone. It's up to you to make the most of this knowledge.  

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