Data collection is not just for big businesses. If you have a business that’s been around for at least a year, chances are, you already have plenty of data to use and from which to learn. Intentional data collection gives you more, so you can build your base of clues and indicators to the health and direction of your business.
But why bother with data collection if you don’t think you’ll have massive amounts of it with which to work? What if your operations aren’t that big? The truth is, even a modest amount of data can be analyzed and used to build your business, no matter the size. Data is about how you put it to work. And making the most of data is not relative to size. Helpful information is helpful information—whether that’s to improve a mega-corporation or a small operation. Here’s how it works.
You already have data coming your way, and some of it you’re collecting intentionally. Take stock of what you’re receiving, and where this information resides.
Again, if you’ve been in business for a year or more, you have been collecting a lot of information along the way, and you have usable data.
There are many useful and high-impact kinds of information that flow from this data. They include:
With data, you do much less guessing. Less guessing improves your leadership. Big visions need facts to back them up, or processes get frustrated. No matter where you want this company to head, you need to know concretely how it’s doing, on the ground. What kind of social media seems to be getting traction? Are people responding to your CTAs? Where is the most traffic on your website? If you get a realistic picture of progress, you can make better decisions and more accurate predictions. Leading from your gut can be important, but make it as informed a gut as possible.
Know what customers actually think, or at least what they’re actually doing. This means improvement in customer service, user experience, and advertising. You can find clues in your marketing data about whether you’re reaching or attracting your target audiences, and how. If you don’t seem to be reaching them, you can watch for signals that you need to change your targeting tactics—or adjust your target audience. When you do ask for feedback, it can be more specific, based on what you already know. Data clarifies your vision of your clients and helps you reach them more effectively.
Understand problems and head them off next time. Data helps you see where things got snarled in operations, specific departments, even specific employees. In other words, by using data to locate the problem areas, you can also figure out where the buck stopped, and address problems more efficiently and waste less time.
Find new customers and keep the ones you have. In business, “what works” means what gains you new clients. If data starts to show you what seems to be working and what doesn’t, this is going to help you push into your areas of success more accurately and garner more business. You’ll also be able to spot weaknesses and warning signs in order to head off problems and keep from losing the clients you do have. And as you finesse your ability to read your data, collect better data, and turn what you know into action, you can better and better tailor your customer experience to build those solid relationships that last.
Take advice with your own grain of salt. Not every market or industry trend is for you. Not every colleague or collaborator will be able to see what you see about your company. Outside perspectives and advice are always helpful when trying to grow a business. But when you have good data at your fingertips, it gives you a tool for sorting through what kind of feedback, partnerships, and wisdom are right for you, and which aren’t going to pan out.
Finally, you need to make a plan (if you haven’t already) for how your business will handle GDPR requirements (General Data Protection Regulations) which have gone live in the EU. European companies must comply, but U.S.-based companies are not exempt if they carry any EU citizen in their database. And regulations are serious: If you have even one person in your database who is from the EU, you are liable. One breach can result in a fine of up to 4% of your global revenue.
GDPR will require different specific measures from different industries, and for larger companies, regulations will be more complex. GDPR affects:
And though large companies are making the most public strides toward compliance, they might also have the capital to pay fees for noncompliance. In that sense, it may be even more crucial for small operations to play by the book. Do your research, and hire an advisor and/or a Data Protection Officer (DPO) if needed. Here is an example of what you will need to achieve:
Data collection can be a game changer for your business. But data is personal, and it can be sensitive. So where do you start? Fontis Solutions is a trusted partner for some of the world’s largest companies in operations, marketing, and collecting data to find solutions. Speak to a consultant today and learn how you can begin using data to empower the future of your business.
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