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How Small Businesses can use Big Data

Big data. It’s a term that has grown in popularity in the past couple of years to the point that, these days, you can hardly type ‘technology’ into Google without big data showing high in the results somewhere.

Many assume that big data is just for large corporations, who produce such a huge amount of data it’s created a skills gap in the people who can disseminate it. However, SMBs can benefit from big data too and this puts them, potentially, on a level playing field with the big boys.

This doesn’t mean that you have to have a computer scientist or statistician on hand though, big data can be utilised as a part of a company’s marketing efforts with great effect.

Look at the big picture

When it comes to measuring the effectiveness of online advertising, big data is extremely useful to the smaller business. However, the mistake that many make is that they measure clicks and nothing else, such as how long a visitor might stay on their site.

By keeping tabs on everything website visitors get up to, businesses can really target their audience and lead to more conversions.

This should include:

  • Time spent on site, as well as page
  • Time spent between steps going from one page to another
  • Where traffic is coming from and how this can be optimised
  • What appears to make people follow through and buy once they have landed on the site and had a look around

There’s no reason any business can’t carry out the above, just by using all of the data they glean from various sources, such as Google Analytics, social media and PPC campaigns etc. The most important thing is to ensure that you measure the action after the click; this can be anything from signing up for a newsletter to making a purchase.

Of course, it goes the other way too, so if a landing page is proving to be ineffective, then it needs changing and examining your data should allow this to be transparent. This means it’s important to measure click, action and outcome.

Start small and adopt early

Like many technologies, the earlier a small business adopts big data, the more likely it is to have a competitive edge. To begin with big data, it’s important not to attempt too much too soon though. Do this by starting with a small amount of ads through different mediums and carefully measuring their impact.

It’s important to start small in order not to become intimidated by the sheer amount of information that gets thrown up. Small businesses have the advantage, to some extent, over large corporations, as they can afford to build and scale slowly, testing markets thoroughly as they go.

This means that SMBs can use new platforms as soon as they become available in order to test their marketing value.

Whilst many small businesses have already begun to accept the importance of big data and how it can be used in business analytics, some find the term (and that’s all it is, a name) to be off-putting.

However, there’s no real mystery to it and whilst SMBs can start small, there’s no reason why they can’t quickly scale to be using technology such as Hadoop in order to help them process large amounts of unstructured data.

Big data analytics can help SMBs to:

  • Give insights into business operations
  • Understand the landscape and drive informed decision processes
  • Use predictive analytics that allow them to cut down on costs and improve productivity, using the data their business already generates

At the moment, there is a lack of information on how much of a ROI big data analytics can provide, as it’s such a new technology. However, there’s little doubt that it has plenty of benefits, especially for the marketing department.

If you’re the owner of a small business and you don’t have a clue about how you could use big data as a driver to growth, then it really is time to find out, before all of your competitors do.

Kerry is the Content Manager for MySocialAgency, a UK based Social Media Agency.

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