LightArrow Technology Series:
Tap into Big Data to Supercharge Your Startup
Guest post from freelance contributor, Lindsey Patterson, who specializes in business technology, customer relationship management, and lead management.
Big data is becoming a big buzzword. It pops up in all kinds of business areas, and it’s typically associated with massive projects and large corporations. Big data comes up frequently in discussions of the ways big businesses determine their marketing strategy.
In short, it seems out of reach for small businesses or startups. In reality, however, the proliferation of data-collection and analysis tools has made using big data a genuine option for startups. The potential benefits are quite large, because big data can simply deliver more insight than you have ever had before. In this post, we will talk about some new ways to start using big data as a startup.
Cheap, Accessible Tools
The first key point is that it is much easier to get into big data than you might expect. Many of the most important sources of customer data are actually free to use, and others are cheap and scalable. For example, Google Analytics provides quite detailed data about website traffic. This information alone can guide SEO and online marketing strategy, because it involves learning how people arrive at your startup’s site and what they do once they get there.
There are a multitude of tools that can gather information from other sources, like social media discussions or customer interactions with a mobile app. The information is there, and it is easier than ever to access it. The rise of cloud computing also means small business have access to vast stores of computing power for storage and analysis. The availability of sales and customer-behavior data opens the door to the no data movement and other approaches to learn the story within the data and then drawing insight from that story.
Today’s globalized business world doesn’t seem to leave much room for the local picture, but the opposite is actually true. Location still plays an extremely important role in where people shop and what they like to buy. For a startup, especially a tech or mobile app-based startup, it can be easy to lose the little picture and only examine aggregate statistics. However, there are major rewards for anyone willing to drill down to the local level.
First of all, anything to do with retail or any other industry that has physical stores will clearly need detailed and advanced analysis of local market conditions and outcomes. Startups that live online can benefit from knowing where their best customers are, which markets might become valuable in the future, and which are under-performing, and big data can tell you why these facts are true.
A local emphasis is also a huge boost to your SEO efforts- in the last year Google has overhauled its algorithm to strongly prefer sites with good local presence. That means establishing a local connection can really boost traffic and sales. The rewards to going local are significant even without big data- the data tools just increase the rewards and make them easier to reach.
While the most striking feature of big data is the size of the datasets, the increase in precision is secondary to the improvement in resolution, or the ability to get finer details. Product-level transaction data paired with consumer-level demographic data and customer-level histories of engagement with the brand paint the most complete picture possible of who likes your product and why. Big data doesn’t have to mean more data- it should really mean better data.
As a startup, you don’t need to try to invest resources in collecting vast troves of data you will never use. Focus on getting a more detailed look at the solid, obvious data you already have. Learn about transactions at the level of the customer and try to find out what you can do to increase conversions. Better, more detailed data helps you do that.
The world of the startup can be cutthroat, but that is part of what makes it so exciting. For now, the world of big data is just starting to become available to smaller businesses. As a result, using big data well is still a major competitive advantage can that mean the difference between success and failure.
Used and implemented properly, its essentially business insurance that any startup could benefit from. It’s not clear how long this will last, though, because more and more people are becoming aware of how much easier big data has become to use. Don’t miss the opportunity- mull over these three ideas and think about how you can apply them to your startup.
Please let us know in the comments below if you have any questions or comments.
Lindsey Patterson is a freelance writer and entrepreneur who specializes in business technology, customer relationship management, and lead management. She also writes about the latest social trends, specifically involving social media. Find her on Twitter: @LindseyPatter19