Businesses are built on data and numbers. It’s what makes a company tick and what makes the world go round. But as it gets more and more difficult to attract and retain customers, companies need to recognise that the seemingly unimportant data that they hold could actually be incredibly valuable to their future development. It’s all about knowing how to use it.
Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, once said: “The goal is to turn data into information, and information into insight.” She was correct. And we’re here to teach you how to put this theory into practice.
If you’ve never used the data at your fingertips, now is the time to start doing so. An average company will generate raw data from numerous channels and this can be used to identify any inefficiencies within an organisation. In short, data analysis can help you to make significant cost savings, and ultimately inform decisions and strategies that drive your enterprise forward.
Here are some top tips on putting those numbers to good use and transforming your business from the inside out.
The best way to beat the competition is to know exactly what they are doing and then use that data to improve your own business. Now, we’re not talking about turning up as a mystery shopper to their stores. In the modern world, you can do all the competitor analysis you need from the comfort of your own office.
Online traffic - while there isn’t a way to uncover fully every detail of your competitor’s website analytics, there are tools out there to help you access basic information. This can include how high up they rank when searching for a product or service on Google, tracking where their referrals come from and even estimates of their average number of visitors. From there, you can tweak your own website to make it bigger and better. A couple of examples of these tools include Quick Sprout, which uses information from your Google Analytics, and SEMrush, which gives you a comprehensive overview of any website domain you enter.
Social media - love it or hate it, social media has become one of the most important marketing and advertising tools out there. Take a look at your main competitor’s social media pages and analyse the kind of material they are putting out there, then correlate this with the number of followers to see if it’s attracting people. This will help you determine what kind of material your target audience likes and then you can start to tweak your own strategy to find what suits you.
Ensuring that your employees are working at their very best is incredibly important and it can help save you a tremendous amount of money. Use data to your advantage to identify where productivity may be lacking.
While we’re not suggesting you track your employees’ every move, which can end up causing feelings of resentment, if you suspect that changes can be made that make you more efficient, suggest that people keep track of their time. Once you identify where time is going, you can make adjustments or introduce processes that make the experience a lot smoother for everyone.
In addition to tracking the amount of time spent on certain tasks, data can also help business owners to identify where time is being wasted just by pure circumstance. Just how efficient and functional is your workspace? Is there one team which spends more time near the printer or the scanner or one which is on the phone more often? As we explain here, changing your office layout can have a drastic effect on productivity and can save you money in the long run.
Cut back on energy bills
One of the biggest expenditures for businesses will often be energy. Even if you only have a handful of people working for your company, that means extra heating expenses and extra electricity to power the lights and all the necessary equipment. While we always recommend taking steps within the office to reduce your energy consumption, from switching to LED lightbulbs to ensuring all plugs are switched off, you need to know exactly where your energy is going.
A solution is on its way. By the end of 2020, the government aims to have a smart meter installed in every home and small business across the country. This means that, in just under four years, SMEs in the UK will be able to access an accurate picture of where their energy is going. The benefits of this are tremendous - business owners will be able to see what causes their energy outgoings to fluctuate and they can use this data to take steps to reduce their consumption.
More targeted marketing campaigns
Businesses that work directly with people, especially retailers, will always be searching for ways to communicate more effectively with their customers. Companies of all shapes and sizes will undoubtedly spend a large amount of their budget on marketing efforts, whether that’s postal, email campaigns or retargeting advertisements on social media. One of the best ways both to cut costs and potentially increase the number of sales is to create more relevant and targeted marketing.
By using purchase history, you can create unique marketing campaigns to target each of your individual customers. This can range from sending them emails with wardrobe suggestions to complement that pair of shoes they just bought, to sending out coupons for money off the food they buy the most.
Who wouldn’t enjoy walking into their favourite shop and being instantly recognised? The feeling of being welcomed and treated as a unique individual is more likely to have you returning to that store than one who doesn’t remember you at all. By figuring out exactly what makes your customers tick, you’ll work to improve your customer satisfaction and reduce the amount you spend on targeted marketing simultaneously.