Using Big Data in Your Small Business

by J.B. Maverick

2 min read

Big data is a big deal, and your small business can use it to become more efficient and profitable. From information about who is visiting your website and social media channels to customer-buying patterns, there is lots of information available to help you improve your small business. In general, using big data means viewing the information you collect as a whole to uncover trends and patterns as opposed to looking at individual transactions or events one-by-one. Any large data set is considered big data, and most big data sets require computerized analysis.

Taking Traditional Data in Big Directions

Some of the most common sources of big data include traditional information you gather from your customers and employees on a daily basis. Names and email addresses of people who visit your store, inventory lists, and seasonal sales information are all data sets ripe for analysis. Use KPI software or apps to track key performance indicators, and create graphs or charts that give you an at-a-glance overview of your normal operations. Organizing information collected over months or years of operation can help you predict future sales patterns and target marketing toward the specific customers most likely to want a particular product, service, or deal. For example, analyzing visitor behavior can help a hospitality business adjust pricing to account for peak periods, while restaurants might target promotional coupons to postal codes where their most frequent return visitors reside.

Making the Most of Digital Data

Your online presence is a source of digital data, and providers of web services often make it a point to collect and present this data in a variety of ways. Search engines and social media sites typically offer analytics pages that let you see who is visiting and interacting with your pages and posts. Google, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, and Facebook all offer big data analytics for small business owners, so you can see at a glance where visitors are coming from and which social media sites are generating significant interactions. Posting images and links at specific times can lead to increased customer interaction, and big data from your social media sites lets you know exactly when to post.

Using Big Data From Unexpected Sources

Your customers and internal operations aren’t the only place to find big data that can help you succeed. When you’re operating as a small local business, your community might also be a source of big data. Demographic trends tracked by your local government and the results of community surveys conducted by local organizations are often publicly available and can help you tailor marketing and outreach to your local area. Big data collected by industry associations might provide insight into future trends, while public data sets from search engines give you the inside scoop on what people are searching for and talking about both locally and across Canada.Whether you’re focusing on a few specific data sets or accumulating and coordinating information from multiple sources, putting big data to work for your small business can give you an edge over the competition.

References & Resources

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