smb-tech-trendsKnowing your small business customer has never been easier. Today’s buyers are online searching and engaging with social media networks anywhere and anytime through mobile devices as well as desktop systems. The result is that there are vast amounts of available data – big data as it’s called –indicating what customers and prospects like and their buying habits

In “How a Small Business Can Use Big Data,” on Small Business Trends, Megan Totka, chief editor for Chamber of Commerce, points out that until recently, mining big data was expensive and required considerable computing power, making it out of the reach of most small businesses. However, technology has both advanced in power and in affordability though such free tools as Google Analytics and low-cost customer relationship management (CRM) software so that it now is feasible for small businesses to take advantage of big data to get a competitive edge and boost the customer experience.

Totka advises that key data channels to explore, in addition to your website include

  • Social media using tools that provide an alert or notification when key words you set – your company name, products or services you offer, your competition – are mentioned.
  • Customized data using CRM tools to track your company’s customers.
  • Customer call logs to help identify common problems, customer demographics and inbound calling trends.

Tips to get the most from big data

Big dataWith all this data available, it can be daunting to know where to begin and how best to take advantage of it to engage and retain customers.  Here are some tips for getting the most from big data:

Identify and set goals: Set goals for your data tracking objectives and create initiatives for each. For example, you may want to boost conversion rates — the number of people who take action when they get to your website – deepen customer loyalty and /or improve the customer experience at your site. Have a plan for each.

Organize a team: Your big data tracking team should include members of marketing and sales and your web developer or IT manager. You may be in charge of the team or assign someone else to be; just be sure that the goals are clear so everyone is on board since some historical processes may need to change to make the most of data tracking.

Identify critical data sources. Based on your objectives, certain types of data will be more valuable than others, whether its social media posts, online transactions or user navigation – clickstreams – through your site. Once you know what data is most critical, employ the best  web analytics and social media monitoring tools or CRM dashboards appropriate for tracking it.

Big data can be a big deal for your small business in terms of customer satisfaction, repeat sales and bottom lines results. However, it’s not about quantity of data.  It’s about getting the data you need, collecting it through the right technology and channels, and analyzing it properly to make an impact on your small business.