Small Business, Big Data?


There’s a lot of hype about “Big Data” and how it’s answer for big companies trying to use their massive data stores to find hidden gems of insight.  The truth is that even in big companies with millions of customers generating Petabytes of data, front line managers still rely more on gut instinct than hard data.

The truth is, you can get a lot of value from data for even a small website.

So where to start?  It starts with connecting the dots between digital marketing, your website, and what you want them to do for your business.

Let’s take your website.  You spend money on advertising to bring in visitors, but wouldn’t you love to know how many new visitors stick around and actually browse your site?  And does your website do a good job selling what you have to offer so visitors actually “convert” by making a purchase or providing an email so you can follow up?

These are all questions you can answer with hard data using totally free tools like Google Analytics that are painless to set up and really powerful.  If you really want to get into this, there’s a great post by Avinash Kaushik, that’s worth a read.

OK, so what do you do once you have data?  Well, now is where it gets fun – you get to be a scientist!

There are simple plug-ins that let you run web experiments with zero technical knowledge.  If lots of visitors are leaving your home page immediately, you can try to change the copy, style or layout to see if it gets more visitors to stick around.  In my experience working on big e-commerce sites, the big winners end up being the trivial little tweaks — a bigger font, a larger image, or different copy.

The key is to just start, keep it simple, and keep doing it.  The more you test, the more chances you have to find winners.

The bottom line is that all businesses have so much to gain by using data.  And it doesn’t have to be “big data” to be really powerful.

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