How to Make Big Data Work for Your Small Business

As a small business owner, you’ve probably heard about “big data.”

While your data might not be as large and complex as other companies, as a small business you are surrounded by important metrics that could help you make smarter marketing and business decisions.

Here are a few examples of data that you could put to use for your business:

1. Sales receipts

Your sales receipts provide specific data about your customers’ purchase behaviors, including how often they visit your store, how frequently they purchase a particular product, and what exact product or service they prefer. Analyze these over the months and years to come, and you may just stumble upon some truly fascinating insights.

2. Email marketing metrics

There is a ton of information right at your fingertips when it comes to your email marketing. Tracking your open rate is an important metric to look at, but also clicks and forwards. Why? Clicks and forwards provide a much deeper story about your subscribers. A click shows you exactly what action your subscriber took and tells you that the reader found your content interesting enough to take that extra step. A forward is even more revealing because it tells you that the person who forwarded your email not only loved your content, but also felt it was worth sharing.

3. Social media marketing insights

Facebook Insights is a great place to start digging into your Likes, reach, visits, posts, etc. These metrics give you an understanding of what content your audience likes best and when fans are online and engaging with your brand.

Twitter’s Analytics Dashboard gives you similar information about the content you post, as you can analyze mentions, follows, your recent activity, clicks on any links you share, etc.

Now that you have all this data, it’s time to put it to use

Data is just data until you do something with it. Here are a few simple ways that you can put all of that information to use.

Tailor seasonal promotions

Based on the purchase behavior information you gathered from your sales receipts, you could consider running a few targeted seasonal promotions to capitalize on the behaviors you’ve observed. For example, if people year after year tend to buy similar products during a particular month, then consider running a promotion to further incentivize that specific product during that time of year.

Adjust email marketing content

After analyzing the content, links, design, length, opens, clicks, and forwards of your email marketing, you can adjust your emails in the future to offer your readers exactly what they like and want. Play around with this and see what works and what doesn’t. Your email marketing should be an evolution and something that constantly adapts and changes based on your customers behaviors. If you find that the shorter emails you’ve sent get the best engagement, then continue to work on cutting down the length of your emails.

Find the best time and content to post on social media

You’ve taken a look at your Facebook Insights and Twitter Analytics Dashboard, and now it’s time to make sense of all the metrics you’ve gathered. Take notice of the type of content that gets the most engagement on Facebook and Twitter and what time of day people are most likely to engage. Then, modify your posts to incorporate those findings. For instance, if you find that Facebook content posted on Monday afternoons that includes images get the most engagement, then continue to post important messages during that time of day and remember to add an image!

Looking ahead to 2014

What can you expect from big data in 2014? Here’s a closer look from Jesse Harriot, Chief Analytics Officer at Constant Contact:

“Understandably, small businesses don’t often have dedicated teams to leverage big data assets, but there will be greater attention given to how insights can be leveraged in 2014. Small businesses will benefit from the practical insights companies like Constant Contact pull from data, helping small businesses to see around the corners. And that will be a game-changer.”

At this year’s Future M Conference, analytics experts from Constant Contact and Google got together and discussed how small businesses can leverage big data. Watch the video below for more helpful tips and insights.

Can’t see the video?

Have additional questions about big data? Ask me below.

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