Big Data 'Escapes the Lab': Tips for Small Businesses Credit: Big Data image via Shutterstock

In the business world, there's no such thing as being too small for Big Data. The term Big Data refers to the vast amount of customer information gathered from social networks, chat and email correspondences, browsing history and other online and offline sources. And it has offered businesses unparalleled insights into consumer behaviors and preferences, making it easier than ever to improve sales and service.

Unfortunately, many small businesses feel that they don't have the time or resources to sift through Big Data and analyze it in ways that will help their operations. The sheer volume of data can overwhelm small organizations, and they often don't know where to begin when trying to make sense of it. But Evan Greenberg, CEO of marketing and communications firm Allscope Media, reminds business owners that they already have access to the basic tools for Big Data analysis.

"Small businesses are intimidated by the language and scope of Big Data, and may perceive that it's too expensive or too difficult to manage," Greenberg told Business News Daily. "Yet many have been doing it for free for years. Tools provided by Facebook, Google, LinkedIn and Twitter are a good start, as they offer low startup investments. Social platforms gather data from millions of users each day that are relevant to any business. These tools can help small businesses make better media decisions by learning more about the media behaviors and passions of their target consumers." [How Big Data Can Help Your Business Think Outside the Box]

Lisbeth McNabb, CEO and founder of predictive marketing data science company DigiWorks, agreed. "Small businesses may not realize they're already using Big Data for some key business functions," she said. "Those that are using cloud-based email, Web analytics services or email service providers are already leveraging some of the power Big Data has to offer."

If you want to use Big Data to boost your business, here are three tips to help you get started:

  • Know your options. Prior to the creation of analytics programs, businesses were more or less on their own when figuring out how to use the data they collected. McNabb noted that Big Data has now "escaped the lab," and small businesses no longer have to build their own solutions to analyze this information. Keeping up with the latest technologies, software and data providers will allow you to make an informed decision about the right solutions for your business.
     
  • Track your campaign results. Overlaying customer data with media can not only help brands buy advertising more efficiently, but also help them evaluate campaign effectiveness more precisely, Greenberg said. Overlaying purchase behaviors with campaign exposure shows you which channels are most effective, what frequency levels drive behavior and how long those behaviors persist. Through Google Analytics and Google Adwords platforms, for example, small businesses can learn what drives leads and sales by tracking traffic patterns and the sources of referrals to the business' site.  
     
  • Focus on building better customer relationships. Advertising no longer means sending the same message to every consumer. In today's marketing environment, businesses need to send out the right message to the right person at the right time, McNabb explained. Big Data has become an important tool in figuring out which of the myriad marketing channels is best for reaching particular customers and niches.

    "Small businesses that use Big Data services to listen to and learn from their customers through a variety of channels are seeing great returns very early on," she said. "One of the things we're most excited about is seeing our clients successfully integrate one-to-one [customer] relationships through mobile, online, email and on-site that ultimately drive incremental revenue."

Originally published on Business News Daily.

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that DigiWorks was a Web design firm, as per an incorrect website link. This has been updated with the correct URL to reflect that the company is a predictive marketing data science company.