The number of SMEs in the UK has risen considerably since 2010, hitting a high of 5.5 million in 2016, with one million new small businesses established just last year. With all these recent new start-ups and competition at an all time high, it’s easy to recognise that data can be pivotal to success as it means that businesses can make more informed decisions from an early stage. Emma Smith, CEO of loyalty app, Memberoo, discusses the value of data for SMEs, the impact it can have and how to make the most of it.
Look at the data you already have
Unfortunately, many small businesses are under the impression that gaining access to data can be expensive or a time consuming task that easily drops down to the bottom of to do lists. However, what they may not realise is that often they have access to a lot more data than what they thought initially. For example, if you’re a B2C business, this information could potentially come from tracking customer purchases as at point of purchase, they will provide a contact email as well as a little bit of information about themselves which can help with understanding who you are selling to and their buying behaviour. Social media accounts are also something that most businesses have set up and don’t realise hold a lot of qualitative and quantitive data that can be accessed to help shape their business and communications.
The power of being more agile
Unlike larger organisations that often have several layers of bureaucracy to get through to make changes to systems and processes or a marketing strategy for example, small businesses have the capability to be agile in their decision making. Therefore, this means that if a small business gathers customer information and insights, they are able to change their focus to target certain audience behaviours in a relatively quick manner, which is certainly a major strength and something that helps give SMEs a competitive advantage.
Keeping an eye on the competition
No matter what industry you operate within, competition will always be a consideration and this is why you should look to data for assistance as it can provide you with an insight into your competitor’s activity. You can use tools such as SimilarWeb to track competitor activity, ranking and to understand how they attract customers to their website. This can help you to find out more about the journey that customers are going on with your competitors and you may find areas worth targeting. For example, if your competitor is receiving most of their website traffic through Facebook, then you might want to consider upping your Facebook activity and pushing promotions through this channel.
Using data to produce better content
To keep an audience interested in your brand and engaged through various communications channels, you most certainly need to be producing content that is relevant and useful to them. Often, this is something that can be missed or overlooked but content can be an essential way to drive traffic into your website, help influence audience decision-making and support lead generation.
For example, if you’re looking to draft a blog around a particular topic, you can use tools like Google AdWords Keyword planner to find out what words people are searching around this topic, as such, increasing the likelihood that your blog will rank higher in Google. You can then track the success of this blog through Google Analytics by looking at the number of views this piece has and where the traffic to this page derived from.
Drive the profits
By understanding audience insights from an early stage, data can help to drive business profits due to the fact that your business will understand purchasing habits and will be able to create more targeted campaigns for the audience. For example, at Memberoo we create tailored offers for businesses on specific products that can help drive overall profits margins. We recently worked with Mokoko Coffee to create an offer of a Flat White coffee for £2, which was usually valued at £2.60, to customers through the Memberoo loyalty club. From December to January, customers belonging to the Memberoo loyalty club bought 17.02 per cent more flat whites than customers who didn’t belong to this club and were left to pay full price. Monitoring these purchasing decisions can help you to decide what offers will entice your customers most.
Overall, data is a tool that can help you to drive your business forward as there’s so much information available to businesses through effective and free tools – this information just needs to be utilised. Contrary to the belief that data is just for larger businesses with bigger budgets, it can make a considerable difference to SMEs during their initial start-up period and especially due to the first few crucial years of growth. Therefore, you should be asking what data can do for you and use it to structure and grow your business.