Thursday, March 14, 2013

Information is Power

There is a new phrase in the marketing world, Big Data.  Seminars are being presented on big data.  Additional degrees in statistics are being added to various masters degree programs. Companies are buying layers of programs to add to their websites and social media to generate more data about customers.

The promise - better insights, better decisions and (of course) business growth. 

How does this apply to your business?

Information is power. Always has been. Always will be. 

While "big data" may be beyond many small businesses' reach, there are a vast number of available ways to learn more about your customers. Here are a few on-line options:
- Do you have a Facebook page? Facebook offers information about how far various posts "reach" and it offers information about those who like your page such as gender and age.
- Do you have a LinkedIN company page? Basic tools include "follower insights" - learn what information about your company is being shared and if your followers share commonalities like where they work or on-line interest groups.
- Do you have a website? Enable Google Analytics on it. Free tools include insights into how  people find you (sources), which pages they visit most, etc.

What to do with what you know?
- If you know age and gender, you know what kind of language to use in your advertising. You also know where to advertise (example: most women over 65 do not listen to top 40 stations. Even if that station has excellent coverage and ad pricing, it is not worth your money if it doesn't reach your target).
- If you know many of your followers belong to a certain group on LinkedIN, it would be a great idea to join that group and participate, increasing your reach among those already interested in your product or service.
- If you know people find you via search engines as opposed to direct (typing in or bookmarking your web address), you need to make sure your site is search engine friendly. You may want to consider adding your web address to your stationery, signage, etc. to increase awareness of the site.

To think about...
There is always a gap between what you think you know about your customers and what is true about them. Closing that gap is crucial. Never have more tools been available to help you do so. 

(If it all seems too technical, remember there is no substitute for listening to your customers. And you could always hire a consultant to do a bit of research for you.)