“Big data” now plays a critical role in business, and it’s here to stay. The more we get online, the more data we produce. In fact, experts believe that by 2020 the amount of data created, replicated and consumed will total more than 5,200 gigabytes per person — that’s 50 times the amount of data we produced individually in 2010.
That’s a lot of data. How prepped is your small business to use it and win?
As a culture, we may be more tech-savvy than ever, but sifting through so much data can be overwhelming. Companies — especially small businesses — don’t know what to do with this flood of information, and they lack sufficient time to figure out how to manage it. But harnessing critical data isn’t as complicated as you might think.
In fact, there are plenty of sophisticated tools that specifically help smaller businesses manage data in the same ways that corporations do, but that don’t demand a corporate-sized budget. In this blog, I’ll share some key ways that you can synthesize the information you collect from buyers, analyze it and execute on it.
Step 1: Dream Big to Build Your Strategy
What do you want to do with your data this year? You might want to:
- Understand each unique customer better
- Pay attention only to the data that matters
- More easily gain insight from your data
- Build a comprehensive data management strategy
To get a handle on the deluge of information that’s pouring in from your leads, outline your goals. Write them down! It increases your likelihood for success. Then, build a plan to get there.
Step 2: Fine-Tune Your Intake Process
Your company develops leads from several means, such as intake forms, email subscription forms and social media. Every data collection point should feed into one master database — which gives you one comprehensive view of your customers’ behaviors.
Make a complete list of your channels, and then focus on what’s missing. What additional channels might you leverage to find new buyers or gather additional behavioral insights? Tweaking your intake process will optimize how and from where you gather data and prepare you to leverage that data.
Silverpop customer Legacy Publishing Company looks at each lead in the intake process before moving it to the most appropriate “bucket.” Where the lead originates determines what messages are sent to the prospect, and how often. The company also looks at profile data, such as customer purchase history, to tweak the marketing campaign at the individual level.
Step 3: Streamline Your Data Analysis
Who’s involved in data analysis at your company, and how often does that person or team analyze the information that’s been gathered?
It’s easy to get sidetracked from critical priorities when so many need attention. Such is the fabric of being a small business! To limit how often this happens to you, create a clear process for nurturing your leads.
- Designate a champion for the project, and empower him or her with simple yet robust tools. If your data lives in an unwieldy spreadsheet that’s difficult to decipher, that’s problematic; move it. CRM platforms and email marketing applications are better places to store data, because they include tools that assess information in a single snapshot.
- Consider contact scoring to separate your data wheat from the chaff. By assigning value to data types — tweets, customer phone calls, email registrations — you can prioritize what you collect, and take action faster to close sales.
- Create a system for nurturing leads as data shows them moving through your sales funnel. Clearly communicate this process to your team, and build it into your marketing automation platform.
The B2B group at premier purchasing program provider, Purchasing Power, LLC uses Silverpop technology for lead scoring. Once a lead achieves a certain score, the technology automatically passes it on to the sales team in Salesforce.
Step 4: Execute!
Gathering data is easy, and analyzing it isn’t hard. But if you don’t act on what your data tells you, the entire process fails.
To use the information you’ve gathered in powerful, strategic ways, you’ll need the appropriate tools. These might include analytics, lead scoring and other project management resources. Ultimately, using the right tools ensures that buyers won’t get stuck in your pipeline, and that the information you collect via your channels will help you provide personalized experiences to your high-potential customers at exactly the right time.
Unum, a company that offers life and financial protections benefits, first builds relationships through email and then cultivates them on other platforms, such as landing pages. With Silverpop’s versatile templates, the company has the agility to develop new landing pages quickly in response to cues from customer data.
Being a small business is no longer an excuse to avoid using big data to better understand your customers. With the tools available, there’s no reason you shouldn’t know each and every customer intimately, thanks to the data you’re processing.
1) ebook: “The Ultimate Guide to Scoring Customers and Prospects”
2) Blog: “Big Data in 2013 (Video)”
3) Marketing Automation ebook: “Best Practices for Marketing Excellence and Operational Efficiency”