4 ways small businesses can gather data

Small businesses need to gather their own data in order to have a better idea of what their customers are responding too. Not just big businesses can find insights from data to help them deliver a better product or promotion.

By implementing these methods, businesses can optimize their online presence to use more of the tools that work and less of those that don't. Online tracking doesn't have to be complicated or expensive either, there are several key (and free!) tools businesses can can set up easy tracking methods:

1. Google Analytics

For every $92 dollars spent acquiring customers, only $1 is spent converting them.
— Econsultancy

Make sure your website is using some kind of web traffic tracking so that you can optimize your landing page and customer interface. One way to do this is with Google Analytics, it's is easy to set up and can let you know: where your visitors are coming from, what they like, and how they navigate the site.

Knowledge is power to increase your online conversion rate. By knowing how many are coming from Facebook or Google or Twitter, you can learn where to focus your promotional methods. It will also let you know what types of content people are finding interesting so you can work on honing your core product messaging.

Don't forget about mobile! Check to see if your site is mobile friendly since over half of people will view a website from their phone rather than a desktop.

Some helpful links:

Setting up your Google Analytics

- Conversion rate statistics

Hot Jar (free trial)

2. Email marketing

Email marketing has an ROI of 3800%.
— DMA

Gaining more customer insight from your email campaigns can be done through:

  • Surveys - Send out a questionnaire to your loyal base. They'll be happy to let you know what they think and how you can move forward. They're interested in a better customer experience and you're interested in providing one, so it should be a win/win.
  • Open and click statistics - See how many people are opening your emails. By seeing what types of emails are clicked on (using A/B testing) you can determine if you're customers are more interested in new content or deals, etc. Also, see which links they are clicking. They may prefer a header button over a content button - by learning this, you can optimize your email's performance.

Some helpful links:

Common email open rates

Email marketing statistics

Mailchimp (what I use for email marketing)

Test your subject line

- See how your emails appear in mobile and desktop interfaces

3. Talk to your customers (in store or online)

Take time to talk to your customers and gain insight into what they think about your product. If you have a physical store, try having comment cards or asking if there is any way that you can improve their experience. Companies are getting creative with how to interact with customers in store, so it can be beneficial to see what your particular customers are used to or expect.

Also, never forget to interact online. This means responding to social media comments, looking at your Google Business reviews, Yelp reviews, and other places (like Amazon) that customers may be leaving feedback about your product. You have the opportunity to give a customer a more positive, individualized experience that larger stores and companies may not. Use it to your advantage.

Some helpful links:

Tagboard - Tracking online hashtags across platforms

- Find mentions about your brand

4. Social media reporting

Look into your Facebook and Instagram insights to see how different posts are engaging your audience. This way you can learn how much they enjoy seeing behind the scenes, new products, or promotions. Understanding what people interact with can help your business focus on what matters to your customers. As a bonus, the better that you do at creating posts and content that engages, Facebook will reward you buy placing your post higher in that person's newsfeed.

Helpful links:

Facebook Insights

Instagram Insights

Social Media Analytics

Keep in mind:

  • Customers will not always tell you what they want or may not be sure what they want. By developing online tracking methods or seeing how thy interact, you can see what they actually do instead of what they say they are going to do.
  • Interacting with customers shows them you are a business focused on what they want. Demonstrating this across social networks or online reviews let's them know you're interested and care. Make sure your comments are done in a positive way as well, so they create an additional bond with your customer.
  • Online is no longer optional. Sure, there are great businesses run without social media or a website. But those are fewer and farther between. Especially since there are plenty of online, free tools to use at your disposal, don't miss out on another method of interacting with customers.
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