Management, Hints and tips
10 Ways that Data Can Help Your Small Business
Posted on by Ben Buckton
Estimated read time: 7 mins
We’ve all heard of ‘Big Data’, and we can probably think of several ways that data has helped to improve our own lives. We get up and put on our activity tracker so we can calculate our activity for the day. We get in the car and set the Satnav for our desired destination. We don’t have time to go to the supermarket this week so we hop online, click to our favourites and hey presto, the week’s shopping is done in a matter of minutes!
It’s fairly clear to see that data can and does help us in our daily lives. But are we taking full advantage of data when it comes to our businesses?
Here are 10 ways that data could be helping you in your business – see how many you’re making use of right now.
1) Data Helps You to be Proactive Rather than Reactive
Do you feel like you’re constantly putting out fires? It can be so frustrating. You have all these plans, you have a strategy, but it never quite happens because other stuff keeps cropping up.
Wouldn’t it be great to be able to prevent those fires from happening at all so you can spend your time doing what you actually planned to do in the first place?
Data can help you do that! Predictive analytics helps you identify potential problem areas and fix them before they become an issue.
2) Data Makes Your Marketing More Effective
Any marketer will tell you that one of the key fundamentals of marketing is knowing your ideal customer. Once you understand who they are, you can focus your messaging on those people or businesses. Without this key information, you may as well stand on top of a big hill with a megaphone and howl at the moon!
With data, your business can not only refine your ideal customer definitions, but you can identify where they are, both online and offline. You can understand what drives them and what motivates them to buy. You can communicate with them in the manner that they are most likely to respond to and you can build a relationship with them that will be long lasting.
3) You Can Make Better Decisions
Cognitive analytics is a new, automated way of using data to learn and make better decisions. Learnings are fed back into the analytic process and applied to future situations. As the process is automated, much larger data sets can be analysed than by any human user.
4) You Can Make Faster Decisions
The sheer volume of data that is processed currently means that it has become much more perishable. Consumers expect things to be done quickly these days. They expect results now, not next week. Tomorrow, not in a few days. To meet this challenge, we have seen more mainstream growth of interconnected Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). These allow businesses to connect their own systems with third party applications in order to access and use data more easily and to communicate more effectively.
5) You Can Personalise Your Customer Experience
Until recently, ‘personalisation’ just meant adding your customers’ names to the correspondence that you sent them.
Now, personalisation has become much more sophisticated. It is no longer enough to provide a ‘one size fits all’ service. Consumers expect something tailored to them as individuals.
Your emails should be sent at the most convenient time, on their preferred device, to tell them about something of interest and relevant to them.
When they visit your website they want to be taken to the pages that are most appropriate for their situation and to be given options according to their preferences.
The good news is that by making use of your customers’ behavioural data, that’s absolutely possible!
6) You Can Improve Customer Experience
Using a combination of predictive analysis and behavioural data, you can start to have a really powerful impact on your customer experience.
For example, a customer pressing the start button of a new device five times in a row might indicate they’re having trouble operating it, and so you might offer them real-time support or an instructional video via their mobile device.
7) You Can Give Your Customers What They Want – Convenience
A recent Experian survey found that 69% of people were happy for brands to use their personal information to send them discounts on products and services that they really want. This reflects the recent trend that more and more, we don’t mind handing over our data in return for convenience.
How can your business use data to make your customers’ lives more convenient? Perhaps you could save them time with pre-filled online forms, or perhaps you could send them timely and appropriate special offers?
8) You Can Identify Problems Before Your Customers Do
Nothing makes a business look (or feel) quite so inept as receiving a customer complaint or query about a problem that they didn’t even know existed.
By using predictive analytics, you can spot potential issues before they reach and impact your customers.
9) You Can Strengthen Your Brand (by being ahead of the game when it comes to data security & ethics)
While customers are certainly getting more comfortable when it comes to handing over their data if they can see it will be of mutual benefit, there is still a lot of work to be done when it comes to building real trust in this area.
Shockingly, only 14% of people say they have a good understanding of how data is used by businesses. By being transparent about how you will use a customer’s data, making it easy for them to query anything they feel may be incorrect and only using it for ethical purposes, you can truly build a reputation that will strengthen your brand.
10) Build a Single Customer View
The Single Customer View – the holy grail of Customer Relationship Management!
By collating the data that you get first hand from your customers along with the behavioural data that you glean from your dealings with them and adding that to third party data that they have given consent to another company to use (such as web usage, etc.), you can create a 360 view of your customers that will allow you to massively improve their experience.
How many did you get?
We hope that we’ve helped you to see the huge opportunities there are for your business when it comes to data and that you’ll be inspired to go and take a look at your data strategy to see where you can start to reap the rewards…
Are looking to grow your customer data this year, or to ensure the data you have on them is up to date? Speak to our B2B Prospector team at Experian for Small Business today, and let us help you get ahead in 2017.