How Can Small Business Leverage Big Data?

There is no business too small for big data.

In fact, Vice President of Information Management Technical Sales and Big Data at IBM Paul Zikopoulous tells Forward View, “Smaller companies have been analyzing their existing data for years … big data simply takes the analysis to a more advanced level.”

Many small businesses and start-ups tend to shrink away when big data is mentioned simply because of what the term implies. In fact, 35% of start-ups don’t even consider using big data, or take into account how much data they generate in a year. The term itself brings about ideas of petabytes of data just waiting to be converted into valuable information.

That could be true if you’re looking at a large corporation. However, the volume of data isn’t the sole focus of big data. “It’s about bringing data together that hasn’t been correlated in the past,” Zikopoulous states.

Small Business Leverage Big Data

So how can your small business leverage the power of big data? We’re glad you asked…

Where to look for data

Large companies have the ability to invest in large data warehouses and robust data mining tools. Small businesses aren’t as flexible with their budgets. But this doesn’t mean that small businesses miss out on data gems.

As businesses evolve from process-driven to data-driven, a growing variety of low-cost and no-cost third-party tools have become available to use.

As Suasive Consulting and Analytics suggests, using social analytics is a cost-effective way of getting valuable insights for a 360 view of your customers.

Social media platforms have grown to show you everything from initial audience acknowledgement to how the community is interacting with your posts. The following is a list of how a few common social media platforms give a deeper look into your audience:

Facebook Insights

Facebook Insights tracks how your target community is interacting with the posts your business creates. Its insights range from Post Reach to Engagement Rate.

Post Reach shows how many people have viewed your post. This is a great indicator to see how well your business’ name is getting out there and into people’s Newsfeed. However, community members seeing your post and actually taking action based on your post are two different things.

Engagement Rate goes beyond simple views. This tracks ALL clicks associated with the post, including comments, likes and shares. This is where you can see who your loyal customers are, what type of content generates the most shares, and what topic your community cares most about. As your audience engages with your posts more, your content will reach more of the people you’re targeting.

Other metrics show information like what external links are sending traffic to your Facebook page, where your Page Likes come from, and how many “hides” or “reports of spam” your content gets.

Twitter Stats

By looking into your Twitter account, you can view a number of statistics for both individual tweets and your overall account.

Twitter Stats allow you to understand your followers on a deeper level than just demographics. You can tap into their interests and locations to find the topics that matter most to the community.

You are also able to measure the engagement on various levels to learn what will make your content the most successful. This is a step up from counting favorites by showing you how many mentions, follows, and unfollows your account has, even down to the individual tweets.

LinkedIn Analytics

LinkedIn Analytics shows metrics and trends of your company’s page. The metrics are separated into three sections: Updates, Followers, and Visitors.

Updates gives you an overview of updates made to the company page and the data associated with it. This section is broken down into three areas:

  1. Updates – This shows an overview of how an update affects the traffic on your company page. It has everything from a preview of what the update involved, such as if the post was sponsored to how many followers the company gained from the update.
  2.  Reach – This is a graph that shows all the times your updates were seen both through organic search and paid campaigns.
  3.  Engagement – This shows how many times members clicked, liked, shared or commented on your content in both organic and paid campaigns.

Followers offers an overview of the LinkedIn members following your company page. Here you can see how many followers you acquired organically or through sponsored campaigns, as well as demographic information based on industry, job, company size and more. It also allows you to look into the trends that make you gain or lose followers, as well as compare your amount of followers to similar companies.

Visitors allows you to track page views, clicks on your company page, and visitor demographics. You can also view unique visitors, which is a graph similar to page views, but removes all duplicated visits to a single page.

Other Programs

Social analytics aren’t the only cost effective platforms you can use to acquire and analyze data. You can gain insights about the traffic and engagement of your own website though programs like Google Analytics, Open Web Analytics or Clicky. With programs like these, you can pull real-time data from a variety of sources including social media, sales and marketing. This in-depth knowledge allows you to make more effective business decisions.

Although your business may be small, using big data can make it mighty and stand up against the large companies in the market. Leaders in big data news and information, Datafloq suggests that teaming up with competitors in the same bracket to create combined analytics and uncover market trends that were only available to large corporations before. This relationship can span over neighboring cities, or even states, to provide a wider range on insights, allowing you to make better decisions for how to approach customers.

Benefits of using big data

Remember how big data is about bringing together information that wasn’t correlated before? This is where that idea is put into action. You don’t need huge amounts of information to gain some value, but bringing together insights from different sources can give you the upper hand against your competition. Here are some of the common benefits to using big data:

  • 360 view of customers – Through big data, you’re able to get a deeper understanding of your customers without questionnaires and focus groups. By monitoring your company’s website traffic and community engagement, along with internal data sources, you’re able to see which products and services are popular, what topics your audience is passionate about and why customers may leave. This helps you better understand which community to target and how to approach customers effectively.
  • Predict customer behavior – In addition to the 360 view of your customer, big data opens your eyes to how your customers behave at certain times of the week, month, year, as well as how they respond to different types of offers. That way, you can better predict and plan future decisions.
  • Recognize opportunities – Big data can reveal market trends that’ll help you stay a step ahead of your competition. This also allows you to recognize new opportunities to grow your business and boost profits.
  • Better decision making – It’s almost obvious, but having more data available allows higher-ups to make business decisions that align with the financial capabilities of the company.

Your company might already be analyzing its data. Why not take it to the next level? Big data isn’t just for big businesses anymore. When used correctly, small businesses can have all the advantages as a large company, no matter the volume of data.

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