Data analytics are not so hard for small businesses

- September 1, 2016 3 MIN READ

By learning to analyse their data, small businesses can help improve their sales and customer engagement opportunities. While data analytics often sounds like a complex process, SMB owners will be pleasantly surprised to find out just how simple – and affordable – it can be. With just a bit of interest and some ongoing experimentation, SMBs can use data from their websites, social media channels, and e-commerce gateways to help optimise almost every aspect of their online operations and can even impact their ongoing business decisions.

Here are three ways to improve the optimisation of your online presence:

#1. Build a better website

Many SMBs believe that once they’ve set up their website, they can leave it as is for perpetuity. However, the most effective business websites constantly adapt and evolve based on how customers interact with them. The most commonly-used tool for understanding website data is Google Analytics, which serves up a range of website metrics ranging from the simple to the extremely complex. To identify what topics customers are most interested in, for example, investigate metrics like most popular pages, blog posts, and search terms which bring in traffic.

It takes ongoing trial and error to understand exactly why users behave in a certain way. Small business owners should frequently update or tweak elements of their website based on their analytics data, at least for the first few months of their site’s operation. Using a website platform that makes it simple to edit site elements without coding – like WordPress or GoDaddy’s Website Builder – can save SMBs hours during this optimisation process.

#2. Fine-tune social media marketing

Social media platforms can contain comprehensive customer data making them a good tool for market analysis. The simplest way for SMBs to use social media data is to analyse what happens on their own properties. The number of Likes or Retweets of social media postings, combined with the topics and times of these postings, can help business owners work out what and when to post in order to maximise audience engagement.

SMBs should also use social media data to develop a more precise approach to marketing. Facebook’s Audience Insights tool, for example, allows business owners to discover what their target audiences tend to be interested in, including the pages they Like and engage with. This can help SMBs not only improve the performance of their Facebook advertising by targeting people who Like specific pages, but also identify potential influencers and opinion leaders to partner with. That’s far more effective than simply buying ads or pitching for PR based on loose assumptions about what’s “trending”.

#3. Tighten the e-commerce funnel

Every SMB’s ultimate goal is to generate more sales, which is where e-commerce data comes into play. By tracking when potential customers click “Buy”, what products they opt for, and how often they actually complete their purchases, SMB owners can gain a clearer picture of what sells and what doesn’t. Some insights will allow them to improve the sales channel itself: high drop-off rates by mobile users, for example, may indicate that the e-commerce site doesn’t load well on smartphones. Others, like the types and volumes of items bought, can directly inform an SMB’s product development or retailing strategy: frequent high-volume orders of a certain item may, for example, highlight demand for larger packaging options or new sales tactics like bulk discounts.

Most e-commerce channels either include their own analytics platforms or can be integrated with website analytics. GoDaddy’s own Online Store, for example, offers both its own basic traffic reports as well as full integration with Google Analytics, providing SMBs with useful information about conversions and customer demographics no matter their technical level.

Any small business owner can, and should, gain a basic proficiency in data and analytics to help guide their marketing and product decisions. A good grasp of analytics can help business owners optimise their investment and even find new markets that are ripe for selling to. There are numerous free tutorials, guides, and tools available online to help you better understand the role of data to help guide your small business – it’s often a case of just getting started.

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