Ways Small Businesses Can Use Big Data Analytics

If you frequently shop from a particular online store, you surely notice the “recommended products” or the like on one side or at the bottom of the site. And the products listed are suited to your liking or needs as if the online store knows exactly what you came there for.

That’s how businesses retain customers and earn their loyalty. They get to know their customers, memorize their buying patterns so that they can offer them the right products and services.

But how do businesses get to know their customers, if they never interact?

Well, they don’t interact physically. Instead, businesses collect their customers’ data. They use technologies that capture customer behavior and perform predictive analytics. From there, businesses can analyze large amounts of quantitative and qualitative data on their customer base every day. This process is referred to as big data analytics.

Understanding Big Data Analytics

Businesses use big data analytics to aid them in making data-driven decisions. Its benefits include stronger marketing strategies, new revenue opportunities, customer personalization, and improved operational efficiency.

Here’s a simple step-by-step process on how big data analytics work:

  • Data professionals will collect data from different sources, such as social media, survey responses, and internet clickstream data, to name a few.
  • The collected data will be stored and processed in a data warehouse or data lake.
  • The data professionals will “cleanse” the data. They will spot errors, inconsistencies, duplication, and other issues.
  • The analytics software will start analyzing the “cleansed” data.

Big data analytics improve customer acquisition and retention. When your business has saved the data of a particular customer, you can increase their satisfaction because you’re able to predict their behavior. As stated in the example above, your customer can see the recommended products on your website. Those products appear differently per customer. As such, you’re giving them bespoke services in a way.

Ways to Collect Customer Data

You may consider ServiceNow, a prestigious data collection tool, for your small business. To adopt it for your marketing strategy, you need a streamlined ServiceNow implementation project plan.

Businesses may collect data in three ways: by directly asking their customers, indirectly tracking customers, or using other systems and tools, such as ServiceNow. If your budget is limited and you can only do the first two, ask yourself these questions:

  1. What types of personal and transactional data should I collect?
  2. Where do I organize and store their data?
  3. How will I secure their sensitive data?

man looking at his computer

The personal data you may collect are the basics: name, address, email address, and mobile number. As you build trust with your customers, you may start asking them more personal questions to find out their lifestyles, behaviors, and personalities. That’s how you’d tailor your marketing campaigns to their preferences.

For transactional data, you can collect it by recording your customers’ transaction histories. List down what each customer buys, when, and how often. Through this, you can find out which products or services to offer them in the future.

Organizing and storing data doesn’t need expensive software. But an Excel spreadsheet isn’t good enough either. Instead, use inexpensive CRM software, preferably those that allow a 15- or 30-day trial.

Encrypt your customers’ data to secure it. You may enlist a third-party provider that specializes in data encryption to take on this task for you.

If your business mainly operates on social media or e-commerce platforms, then collecting customer data is simpler for you. Track which posts do a particular customer often Likes. For example, if they frequently Like a photo of home decor items, then recommend them to your best-sellers and new releases in the home decor category. You may also post an Instagram Story asking what your customers would like to see more from your business. The new features in Instagram Stories allow people to directly message individual and business accounts.

If you’re a brick-and-mortar shop, dig deep into your customer service records. See how your customers have interacted with your sales or service associates. Scour phone call recordings as well to find out what questions, concerns, or complaints your business often receives. Browse customer reviews and feedback too, because it may contain suggestions on how you can improve your offers.

Collecting data isn’t really rocket science. The moment you ask for your customers’ credentials, you’re already starting. So even if you’re just a startup with no dedicated website or location yet, start treating your customer data with care. Record them in an Excel spreadsheet, and secure that file. True, spreadsheets aren’t efficient enough, but they do the job for small retail store owners. Make it a goal to invest in proper CRM or big data analytics tools once your customer base grows, and your business prospers.