How Small Businesses Can Harness The Power Of Big Data

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Walmart uses big data to their advantage. Small businesses can follow the lead of Walmart and exploit big data.

If you are a small business owner, you’ve probably heard the term “big data” bandied about. And don’t you just sometimes wish you could go head to head with much larger corporations as they channel all the advantages that big data has to offer?

Actually, you can.

No business is too small to have access to big data. In fact, you may already be in possession of this kind of information and not be aware of it. Big data refers to the volume of customer information that your business accumulates on a daily basis.

While the data you do have may not be as dense and encompassing as other bigger enterprises, your business does receive and go through a respectable amount of information every day. These metrics, when harnessed correctly, could help you make sense of all the information and make smarter decisions for your business.

Data examples and how you can harness them

To name a few, their are some examples of the kinds of data you come across every day and how you can make use of them to improve your small organization:

  • Sales receipts – if you go through your sales receipts, you will find that they depict the purchase behaviors of your customers: the number of times they visit your establishment, the number of times they buy a certain product or avail of a certain service and the product or service they come back for each time. If you analyze this data over a period of time, you’ll be able to gain useful insights and tailor your marketing strategies and business decisions accordingly.
  • Social media data – look to your Facebook, Twitter and other social media networks for information. If you were to tally the number of Likes, posts and visits by your customers, you’ll be able to determine which posts your users prefer the most and what kind of content has engaged your followers the best. Put Twitter’s Analytics Dashboard to good use for analyzing the number of followers you’ve gained, their recent activity on your account, the number of clicks you’ve received on your shared links and more.
  • Chat logs, emails and browsing history – get insights from correspondence with your users and customers, as well as from activity on your site. From this information, you’ll be able to derive a better understanding of their preferences to help you improve sales and customer service.

With this kind of data at your fingertips, you’ll be able to do the following:

  1. Understand what, why, when and how your customers purchase products or services, or even what makes them leave your business.
  2. Track the results of your marketing campaigns.
  3. Improve your customer targeting efforts.
  4. Schedule your seasonal promotions around your customer’s purchasing behaviors.
  5. Select the choicest email marketing content to engage new and existing customers.
  6. Modify your social media network posts based your followers’ Likes, clicks and comments.
  7. Focus on building better relationships with your users and customers.

Size does not matter

While running a small business might mean you won’t have the kind of resources to put up a larger IT infrastructure to gather and analyze the data you receive, that doesn’t mean you can’t leverage all this information to give you better insights to run your enterprise.

Don’t be intimidated by the amount of information you receive or fear that you don’t have enough time or financial resources to go through all this data and analyze it. In fact, a number of small businesses have been doing this for years, all for free.

There are a variety of free tools online that you can utilize to do your data gathering and analysis. Look to Facebook and Twitter analysis tools, or to Google and LinkedIn for your resources. These social platforms are huge repositories of data gathered from your many users, customers and followers each day – data which you can use to your organization’s advantage.

Remember, it’s not the size of your business that matters, it’s understanding your business goals as it relates to big data, the value you put on analyzing the data you receive and keeping in mind the big picture about what’s best for your organization’s growth.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

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