Data is valuable to small business owners because it provides a reliable, objective assessment of what’s working and what’s not. Data can be captured in many different ways: you can keep track of what’s happening in your physical location using your POS system and other tools. Google Analytics provides robust data relevant to your business website. Every social media platform has its own set of tools used to measure engagement rates, reach and more.
The challenge data presents is two-fold: first, there’s the question of taking in the sheer volume of information and discerning what is relevant to your business right now. The second challenge is translating the relevant data into insights that lead to action steps you can take to build your business.
If you’re not familiar with working with your business data, the process can seem really intimidating. It helps to begin with a question in mind. Let’s say you’re curious about why one line of merchandise sells really well on your e-commerce site, but another line, with similar quality, appeal and pricing, just isn’t moving at all.
Delving into Google Analytics makes it possible to determine how much traffic the respective product pages receive, along with the routes website visitors take to reach those pages. Data can reveal problems and potential areas of improvement. It may be that both merchandise lines aren’t being promoted with equally engaging content – website visitors are reading articles & watching videos relevant to the performing line, but are not engaging with content relevant to the other line. Something as simple as changing the position of content on your website and using social media posts to point viewer’s eyes at that content can lead to increased sales for the second brand.
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Data allows us to test the effectiveness of changes. Let’s say you did change content position and use social media to increase attention toward your non-performing line. After a period of time has elapsed – a few days up to a month or more – you can look at your data again and see if there are changes. This is objective, verifiable information. Having good data means you never have to rely solely on your gut instinct when making business decisions.
Being able to identify where problems exist and accurately track the results of your efforts to address these issues is one important way data can help you grow your business. The more often you work with your data, you’ll be able to see problems developing sooner and take corrective steps faster. Viewing data as a performance monitoring tool is something top performing companies do, and it’s something you can learn to do too.