While it’s easy in today’s highly connected society to get inundated with data and become overwhelmed, all this data also represents an incredible opportunity to make data-driven decisions.
Data is everywhere in our lives, from social media, retail stores, and sports to the apps that you use every day on your mobile device. Unless you live in the middle of the jungle, there’s some way you are a part of the every growing “Big Data” that you hear so much about.
Large B2C companies such as Google, Amazon, and Domino’s make data-driven decisions every single day. They have teams of analyst pouring over the data yielded by search and other online interactions for user patterns that will help them service their customers better.
- Years ago, Domino’s changed the recipe of their pizza based on data from customers and they are still at the forefront of making decisions based on the data they collect.
- Google uses what they refer to as People Analytics to make HR decisions to keep employees happy and productive.
- Amazon uses purchasing habits of their customers to recommend products based on other users’ purchasing habits.
These are only a few examples of companies making data-driven decisions to achieve better customer experiences, happier employees, and higher revenue.
The good news is, you don’t need to be a B2C company to be able to leverage data. If you’re a B2B and new to the idea, there are four key steps you can take to start making sensible data-driven decisions.
If you aren’t collecting data on your customers or prospects, you need to get caught up quickly. Something as simple as installing Google Analytics on your website to track users’ behavior on your site would be a good first step.
Google Analytics is free and can answer basic questions such as:
- When are visitors coming to your site?
- What page is converting them into leads?
- Are users finding what they need?
- What’s their level of engagement?
- What portion of users are visiting the site on mobile?
The answers to these questions can help you make informed decisions about how to evolve your website with the aim or creating a better user experience that can turn more of those visitors into customers.
The most important aspect of analyzing data is making sure that the data you are collecting is accurate. Inaccurate, old, or inconsistent data can be disastrous if you are trying to make business decisions based on data. Imagine spending more money on a campaign that isn’t working or completely cutting off a revenue source because your data was corrupt.
But you can’t rush verification. Time is needed to test the data that you are collecting. The verify step can be cumbersome and frustrating — especially if you find that there are holes in your data — but it’s absolutely necessary.
Once you’ve collected your data and verified that it is valid, it’s easy to get quickly overwhelmed.
As mentioned previously, large corporations have teams of analyst that take the numbers they collect and present them in a way that makes sense for their respective business.
When looking at data, you need to have a goal in mind. Conversions, for example, would be goals that you could orient around for your website. Let’s say you want to drive users to fill out a form to contact you or request more information. In looking over your analytics, you notice that a majority of your conversions are coming from the Widgets page where users can complete a form. Knowing your users are interested in Widgets, you might be motivated to make those products more prominent on your site.
Truly informed data-driven decisions can be made once you’ve collected, verified, and analyzed your data. To follow the Widgets example, once you know that Widgets need to be more prominent on the website, you can start making implementing tactical changes to drive more traffic to those page.
Some changes you could make include:
- Spending more on PPC targeting Widgets
- Sending targeted emails that speak to the products your users are looking for (which in this case is Widgets)
- Creating a campaign-specific landing page for Widgets
- Using marketing automation to send marketing messages about Widgets based on the actions users take on the site
Data-Driven Decisions Require Commitment
Collect, verify, analyze, adapt: These four steps are a continual process. Once you commit to trying to make data-driven decisions, one of the worst things you could do is get complacent with your analytics and fail to follow the process on a regular schedule. Collect, verify, analyze, adapt — repeat! Print that up and put in on the wall. Get into that data and you’ll get to know your business and your customers better than you ever have before.
Having solid data gives you a solid foundation to start building other aspects of your business. In today’s data driven society, if you are making business decisions based on guesses or hunches, you may be in for tough times.
That may sound like a harsh statement, but it’s the reality of the business world today, whether it be B2C or B2B. We are even seeing sports teams — such as the Golden State Warriors — dive deeper into the data analytics game by making strategic roster and playing-time decisions based on sophisticated data analysis.
Whether you dive into the data yourself or hire someone to help guide you through the process, the time is now to get into the game.