There’s a wide world of data out there, and it can be intimidating, especially if you don’t consider yourself analytical. Fortunately, if you know how to break it down to produce helpful insights, data can be your new best friend. Here’s your guide to taming the data beast.
Only Pay Attention to What’s Important
It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the data you could track, but feeling inundated with data can lead you to ignore it, and then there’s no point in having data at all. Instead, pick out a few things that really matter, like:
● How many visitors come to your website, and where they found you
● How many opens and clicks your emails get
● Business expenses for each department
● Actual sales vs. sales goals
● Pertinent customer demographics, such as age, sex, location, preferred social media
When you focus on what matters to your business, that data becomes exponentially more useful and easier to analyze.
Set a Benchmark
If you don’t know your past numbers, you can’t properly analyze current ones. Start with a benchmark of today’s numbers, then set goals for where you’d like them to be in a month, three months, six months, and a year.
Over time, you can compare sets of data and make informed decisions. If most of your traffic is coming from an ad you placed on LinkedIn, for example, you might decide to invest more in advertising there.
Know Your Dashboards
Many software platforms offer built-in analytics. Hootsuite is a good example. You can view your most popular social updates as well as how many clicks each post earns. MailChimp tells you how many people subscribe to your list, as well as how many recipients open each email.
You can save time over individual reporting tools by using a single dashboard that allows you to analyze data across accounts. DataHero makes data analysis easy—it allows you to combine data from all your channels (like Salesforce, HubSpot, Highrise, and Stripe) and create slick reports with the click of a button, so you can more easily connect the dots to see the bigger picture.
In small business, each individual should be responsible for owning the data pertinent to their responsibilities. If data owners manage, analyze, and deliver reports, it will help your business make smarter, more effective marketing choices. This maximizes the potential for everyone to make their own data-driven decisions.
In a larger business, you might want to build a team, including people from Marketing, Sales, Accounting, and Management to access the data and make informed decisions based on what they see.
Keep a regular schedule for digging into your data and create action items based on what you find. At an absolute minimum, check in monthly and decide if anything needs to change to achieve your goals based on what you’re seeing.
Working with Your Data
Once you have the tools to access and interpret customer information, you’ll need to figure out what to do with it. Establishing which metrics best reflect your goal progress is an important step in the data analysis process. Decide what metrics will reflect success or failure before you start any new campaigns or change anything within an app. Once you know which metrics to track, test hypotheses, analyze results, modify if necessary, then do it all again.
For instance, before you launch an email campaign, you can send out test emails to small, segmented groups, each with a different subject line. Check your data to see which subject line was most successful and which call-to-action (CTA) attracted the most clicks, and send them to the bulk of your email marketing campaign. Then, notice what worked well and what didn’t within your metrics you’re tracking, improve if possible, and do it all over again.
Data is a wonderful resource for helping your small business run more efficiently. Don’t be afraid of it! Own the process and take action on that data.