What if you could add value to your efforts just by getting insight into your company’s data, including call analytics and customer payment history.
The idea of leveraging business intelligence is not exactly new, and developments in artificial intelligence, data science, and cloud computing have made collecting this information easier and more affordable than ever. As a result, small businesses are flocking toward web analytics tools but with mixed results.
According to a survey by Small Business Trends,¹ the average small business spends more than $10,000 per year on data analytics, but unfortunately, they rarely see a return on that investment. More than 86% of respondents in that same survey admitted that they are not using their business intelligence tools to their full potential.
In this guide, we’ll outline a practical data strategy showing you how you can use business analytics tools (including free ones) to your advantage.
How Small Businesses Can Use Business Intelligence
You might have heard the term “big data” thrown around in discussions and articles about business intelligence. While the idea of big data analytics might seem intimidating, you don’t have to be a Fortune 500 company to take advantage of the insight that big data can provide.
Let’s break down exactly what big data is and how it can apply to a small business. Big data refers to the practice of extracting large amounts of data to reveal patterns and trends to allow business users to gain actionable insight to solve a problem or find an edge over the competition.
The process of extracting big data is referred to as data mining, and it’s a field that used to require the skill and guidance of a data scientist and high-priced business intelligence software. Today, however, small businesses can more easily perform advanced data analysis functions.
Here are some of the things small businesses can accomplish with big data analytics:
Extract customer data: Historical data can provide valuable insights for growth. You can review the demographics of your most profitable customers to determine where you should focus your marketing budget. You can also discover information about buying habits and customer behavior to help with future planning and forecasting.
Optimize staffing: Service-based businesses often struggle with staffing needs. Not having enough staff on hand can result in not being able to serve current and potential customers. Employing too many people, on the other hand, can drain profits. Using data analysis tools can help solve this problem.
See what’s working: If you’ve ever run an advertising campaign and wondered if it “worked,” you’re not alone. It’s not unusual for small businesses to throw things at a wall and see what sticks. By having access to business intelligence tools, you’ll be able to track key metrics and learn from your success.
Social Media Analytics
Did you know that you can view big data analytics for each of your social media accounts? Whether you’re using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, etc., you have access to your performance insights.
Some platforms, including Facebook and YouTube, have a dashboard that functions much like a data visualization tool where you can customize your view based on timeframes and other variables that you want to isolate.
There are several social media analytics tools you can consider using, but you can easily track the bulk of your performance data for free.
Here are some tips:
- Analyze your monthly performance data analytics to see which posts got the most engagement. By creating more content that your audience enjoys seeing, you’ll attract more followers, which could translate into more customers for your business.
- If you create content that links back to your website, create a UTM parameter. This is a special link that you’ll see in your Google Analytics tool, and it will identify which posts got the most clicks back to your website.
- Monitor which social media channels result in the most traffic to your website. Again, with Google Analytics, you can see where your website traffic is coming from. If you get a lot of traffic to your website from YouTube but nothing from TikTok, you may want to consider refocusing your efforts.
Learn when your office gets the most calls, who answers them, and which clients need to pay.
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The Google Marketing Platform Offers Small Business Insights
Google continues to offer advanced descriptive analytics tools to small businesses, including the Google Marketing Platform. The platform serves to combine Google’s most popular free tools all in one place, including:
- Google Data Studio
- Search Ads 360
- Display & Video 360
- Tag Manager
Alone, each of these tools is incredibly powerful, but when they integrate with each other under a single platform, you get data analytics tools that rival what major corporations have under their hood.
For example, you can integrate Google Analytics with Google Data Studio to create advanced data visualization models that reveal not only historical data, but also include predictive analytics to help understand potential outcomes and prescriptive analytics to shape the future of your business.
Google Analytics for Small Business
Our favorite thing about GA as a business intelligence tool is that it’s free. All you need is a connected website, and you can take advantage of the data insights that Google offers.
In addition to being free, this bi solution (business intelligence solution) is easy to use. Here are some examples of data insights you can get with the click of a few buttons on the left-side navigation of GA:
- Visitor behavior. Discover what percentage of your website visitors are new versus returning. You can also see how they interacted with your website, including which pages they visited.
- Audience demographics. Find out the age and gender of your website visitors, where they live, and whether they came from a desktop computer or a mobile device.
- Acquisition. This section will tell how people ended up on your website. Did they type in your URL into their browser, or did they search using a specific keyword?
You already know that missed calls equal missed opportunities, but do you know how many calls you’re missing and when? You might not have a phone system to track this information, and it could be costing you a fortune.
With Weave, you have access to a dashboard that shows you several metrics related to your call volume and activity. Not only will you be able to better predict your staffing needs, but you can also track the effectiveness of an advertisement or marketing campaign by reviewing call tracking data analytics.
Understanding your small business finances can be complicated, especially if you have several different systems to keep track of or you’re trying to do it all with a closed-loop system like Microsoft Excel. If you don’t have a clear picture of your business’s finances, it will be even more difficult to make the right strategic decisions.
According to Computer Weekly, 75% of professionals say they struggle to collect data from multiple sources.² As a result, they struggle to answer questions and make decisions about what a business should do.
Further, many financial reports are riddled with errors. Having inaccurate data also renders decision-making impossible. Some of the most common errors include:³
- Failing to compare data analytics from previous periods
- Errors in percentage or whole number differences
- Not including a forecast
Often, these shortcomings are due to a lack of a bi tool (business intelligence tool) functionality or the (mistaken) belief that these items don’t need to be included in financial tracking activities.
Payment History Analytics
One of the best ways to ensure your financial tracking contains valuable insight that you can put to good use is by combining your payment processing and a business analytics solution under the same roof.
This feat is possible with Weave. Our analytics software also includes a billing history to see which bills are outstanding, what’s been paid, who’s been refunded, and what needs to be input into the system. All of this information is presented in an easy-to-interpret dashboard.
By combining the payment collection functionality with a data analytics tool, you’ll get additional insights about customer behavior that you can use to boost profitability. You’ll also ensure that outstanding bills don’t fall through the cracks!
Custom Lists that Track Client Data
Companies have been tracking client data for decades to enhance the customer experience, even before big data analysis and machine learning were household terms. For example, have you heard the story about how hotels began the practice of placing chocolates on pillows as part of their turn-down service?4 The story is somewhat salacious, but it stemmed from a hotel manager learning of a celebrity guest’s delight with a one-time event. The hotel collected that information and then implemented it as a standard practice.
Today, companies collect millions of data points about customers to improve their experience while boosting profitability. To make this task seamless (and actionable), Weave gives small businesses the power to perform their own business data collection activities, including tracking birthdays, customer visits, purchases, and more.
Still think your small business isn’t large enough to take advantage of business analytics and big data? We’ll leave you with the following statistic from the Robert H. Smith School of Business: companies that have implemented bi software (business intelligence software) earn an average of 15% more in revenue than their equally sized counterparts.
Ready to see what big data and data analytics can do for you? Schedule a Weave demo today.
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