Big Data for Small Businesses

by J.B. Maverick

3 min read

Advances in technology now allow small businesses to have access to big data mining, allowing them to analyze data about customers, inventory management, returns on investment, and marketing effectiveness. With important advancements in software programs capable of collecting, sifting through, and analyzing big data from multiple information sources, mining big data has become easier, more fruitful, and most importantly – much more affordable. If your small business isn’t already utilizing big data mining, you may want to consider trying it out. The potential financial benefits for your company are huge.

Understanding Big Data Mining

Big data refers to large sets of information, such as government census data, that can be collected, analyzed, and used to identify characteristics, trends, patterns, and relationships. For businesses, big data can include government and industry databases, information gathered from social media networks, website visitor behavior patterns, and even usage patterns on mobile phones. The amount of available big data has exploded since the turn of the century. It’s projected that, by 2020, more than 35 sextillion bytes of information will be sitting on computers scattered around the globe. With the massive increase in available data, there’s also improved technology for sifting through and analyzing data. You can integrate and analyze the information in your company’s databases, such as numbers of website visitors or records of customer service interactions, in light of available big data. The truly significant advancement has come in the form of making big data analysis affordable and accessible through readily available services, such as Google Analytics.

Using Big Data

To understand how your small business can benefit from using big data analysis, consider this example: Twiddy & Company, a family-owned realty company that rents and manages vacation rental properties, improved its profitability through the intelligent use of big data. By using business analytics tools from software company SAS, Twiddy could mine a vast amount of data that revealed valuable information about fluctuating demand levels for vacation rentals. By pinpointing periods of relatively higher or lower demand, Twiddy could adjust its rental rates throughout the year to maintain higher occupancy levels during low demand periods and command premium rental rates during high demand periods. By comparing its service costs with those of 1,200 vendors, Twiddy could reduce its maintenance costs by 15%. Using information identified with other data analysis, Twiddy realized a savings of approximately $50,000 over a two-year period.

Available Big Data Analysis Services

Your small business can glean big data analysis from companies that specialize in offering such services, but plenty of big data analytics are available right at your fingertips. One of the most commonly used big data analytics services is Google Analytics, which offers information about visitors to your business website, such as what sites they came from (giving you the ability to identify your best online lead sources), what pages they spent the most time on, how many visitors accessed your site through mobile devices, and predictive information about what website visitor behaviors indicate the highest potential for converting visitors into customers. You can also seek out the services of data analytics firms, such as ClearStory Data and InsightSquared. If your small business has its own Facebook page, you can use Facebook’s Page Insights to access information about visitors to your page, such as their likes and dislikes, comments, and other data that can help you analyze how effectively you are reaching and engaging an audience. For a monthly fee, SumAll collates data from all of your social media accounts, along with Google Analytics data, and creates reports that provide insights into ways to make your social media marketing more effective – such as identifying the times of day when you have the largest active social media audience. Kissmetrics is one of the most popular business data analytics companies for helping businesses increase conversion rates and sales. Kissmetrics goes beyond tracking basic data such as website visitor demographics, utilizing complex formulas for analyzing visitor behavior to help businesses identify buying triggers for potential customers and then craft their advertising and marketing campaigns to trigger sales and increase conversion rates. The company also offers educational resources for creating more effective marketing campaigns. Your small business can increase sales and profitability by utilizing big data to obtain key insights into your existing and potential customer base. Some good number-crunching can improve the results of your marketing efforts.

References & Resources

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