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Use data to sell cupcakesThe new buzzword on the block seems to be ‘big data’. However, small businesses can easily feel overwhelmed by big data. But there are numerous ways by which small business can benefit from information gathered by big data. Here is an extract from an article by Seshu Edala, published by Forbes:

“Granted, weblog data and the social networks are not the only ‘big data’ assets that big enterprises leverage, but it is a great start for small businesses nonetheless.

Here’s how a small business can leverage big data:

Consider the case of a bakery that experiences a sudden spike in its sales of strawberry shortcakes. The baker’s website, which averaged 50 visits a day saw a 10x spike in the page views to their strawberry shortcake page. Closer inspection of the log file and the Facebook insights report reveal that the jump can be attributed to a direct link posted by a loyal customer on their Facebook profile – along with a comment “Love the strawberry shortcake and the tiramisu but the tiramisu is pricey.”

Armed with this information, the baker can increase sales by (a) launching a home-page promotion that maintains the higher level of interest in the strawberry shortcake, and (b) creating a coupon that lowers the price of the tiramisu to attract frequent customers.

It’s that simple. Clearly, there is no reason why every small business can’t take advantage of big data without getting overwhelmed.

Here are some tips for making a small start with big data:

  • Establish a bidirectional digital channel – interactive website and social media presence — to get the data points you need to start accessing big data.
  • The goal is to capture, sort and analyze relevant data from as many sources, and in as close to real time as possible.
  • There is power in knowing what data not to track. Avoid getting distracted or buried in data by keeping a laser focus on gathering the customer intelligence that will help your business grow.
  • Don’t assume! Gather information directly from your customers by engaging with them via social media. Don’t make guesses about what they want. There is power to the “Like” button. It promotes your Net Promoter Score – a customer loyalty metric, while also providing insights into the demographics and the purchase pulse of your customers.
  • Google Analytics, Alexa, Facebook Insights and Quantcastcan capture relevant data from digital media and generate a wealth of valuable information – and you don’t need a data expert to use them. You learn what search queries customers most often use, which images and pages visitors click on first – and what paths they take from there – and use this information to optimize your site and increase sales.

The Web has always been a great leveler, and new Web-enabled technologies are putting more and more big data capabilities into small businesses’ hands. Products and services currently under development in the new social startup realm will mine social media posts and other unstructured data for opinions, affinities and associations – information that not only concerns your business, but your industry and competition in general. Be receptive to this information. Such intelligence can be used to forge better relationships with partners, suppliers, employees and customers to ultimately help build a more profitable business. The opportunities are endless.”

So it is clear no matter what business you are in, you should find a way to use the data that is already available at your fingertips to understand your market and grow your business.

*Picture used from Crumbs Bake Store

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