Here’s What Your Small Business Can Get from Big Data

Data analytics is one of the biggest trends for small businesses, with 67 percent of small businesses each year investing more than $10,000 in analytics. It’s not hard to see the appeal. We’re creating 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day, whenever we browse the internet, tweet or post on social media, shop, and consume media or send texts and make phone calls. Big Data offers almost unimaginable potential to better know your customers, recognize market trends, and identify buying habits.

Even if you’re running a small business, you can benefit from tapping into Big Data. Even small businesses generate data in the form of databases, customer relationship management tools, and spreadsheets. That data can help you better manage your customer relationships, track your competition, maximize the use of your existing platforms, and more.

Deliver Personalized Promotions

Have you ever had a conversation about something with your spouse or partner, or a friend, and then opened Facebook on your phone to find advertisements for that very thing? Okay, maybe you searched for cat strollers recently and forgot about it, or maybe your phone is listening to you for advertising purposes. You don’t have to spy on anyone, but this is one way Big Data can target customers for hyper-personalized promotions.

Machine learning tools can analyze large amounts of customer data to offer up insights previously undreamed of by the Mad Men-esque marketing gurus of yore. Recommendation algorithms, like the ones used by Netflix and Amazon, are just the beginning. Machine learning tools can help you predict trends and make decisions using tools like time series forecasting. You can create detailed user models to help you understand customer behavior. And you can decipher keys to patterns in your data.

Improve Customer Service

Customer relationship management is at the core of any successful small business. And in any customer relationship, there are so many disparate info streams that you really need a tool that can help you bring them all together and distill them in one place. You’ll need to keep track of contact information, service history, customer interaction records, and even which marketing campaigns are targeted at which customers.

You can’t keep track of all that information in a useful way without a data analytics tool. And today’s big data tools are finally grasping at the power of dark data — all that data companies collect, but never use. It’s the sleeping giant of Big Data, and it consists of things like old customer support tickets, undeleted email attachments, emails, customer support logs, and any customer data that is gathered but isn’t used. By plumbing its depths, you can glean insights that can help you substantially improve your service.

Spot Trends and Patterns

Overarching patterns and trends in how customers interact with your business can tell you a lot about what you need to change to better serve their needs. If customers consistently buy out a specific product, for example, maybe they need more of that product in-store. If they’re usually calling to ask about one thing, maybe you need to make that information more prominent on your marketing materials and website. While you can notice some customer trends without the need for algorithms, you can’t get more than a vague sense of them without seeing them quantified — and you should have as clear a picture as possible in order to make the right decisions for your business.

Make the Most of the Data You Have Access To

As a small business, you can harness the power of Big Data without investing in tons of new software tools or other equipment. Just start gathering data from the platforms you already use. Social media, emails, websites, and online contact forms are all great sources of data for analysis.

You might be surprised at just how much customer data you already have lying around, in old documents, emails, customer support tickets, spreadsheets, and more. And that data is far from useless. The more you know about your customers, the more your small business can grow. Data analytics can give you the valuable insights you need to take your company to the next level.

Ryan Kh