In today’s society, everything is done through the internet whether it is communicating, reading the news, or even shopping. However, what most people don’t know is that everything and anything we do online is being collected and studied. Whether we like it or not, we are leaving so many digital footprints, that when collected it can depict an accurate representation of our digital life. Many businesses are now realizing that they can use this data to their advantage by interpreting its meaning through the utilization of predictive and behavioral analytics and then reinforcing the interpretations through an effective marketing strategy. Predictive analytics is the extraction of information from data that is then used to predict future trends and identify behavioral patterns. Behavioral analytics uses data about people’s behavior to understand intent and predict future actions. For example, Apple collects data from its users and has its IT department and marketing analysts to interpret the data of their users’ behaviors to see who will upgrade to the new iPhone.
Effective Ways to Help You Collect the Data You Need
For large, established corporations it is easy to do this because they have the technology and the qualified departments to do so. However, the question lies in how can small businesses that do not have a strong IT infrastructure obtain the same results through these analytics? Small businesses have one advantage they can utilize that large corporations cannot, and that is a small business’s ability to be personable and create a family-like community. In establishing this type of relationship between a business and its customers, a business can directly ask their customers and prospects questions or surveys, gather data online or offline, or utilize third-party data. A small business can directly ask their customers or prospects questions by gathering their e-mail, name, phone number, postal code, etc. A small business can gather data online or offline through the simple act of observation. For example, if the small business is a floral business they can observe what kind of customers come in, what flowers do they usually buy, the reason behind buying the flowers, and how often do they buy flowers. These simple observations can lead to predicting future outcomes and strategies for the business and its potential growth. Utilizing a third-party data provider can help small businesses through better target marketing, decreasing marketing costs, and overall cost efficiency.
Use Google Analytics
In order to achieve these results and optimize analytics and data, personalization is the goal. Being able to create an accurate customer profile is the first initial step to utilizing predictive and behavioral analytics. There are many ways to build a customer profile in which the first would be to use Google Analytics. Google Analytics is a freemium service in which a company can use to monitor the traffic on its company website. It can give insight as to how many visitors are on the website or a specific web page on the site, and it can even show how users are directed to your website. If your company is not already taking advantage of social media analytics, then we highly recommend installing programs or plugins to collect customer data because the data from virtual or online interactions with your brand are endless.
Customer Rewards Programs
We also recommend customer reward programs because they encourage customers to return again. With rewards programs, a business can collect valuable customer information such as their spending habits, and this can actually help a business determine a customer’s annual income. This allows businesses to come up with a creative and effective pricing strategy that best suits their customers and keeps them returning for more business. As obsessive as it may sound, the more you know about your customers, then the brand’s outreach will be more effective in gaining more awareness and overall growth. As Jeff Bezos says, “If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell six friends. If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000.” The power of the internet is “make it or break it” for businesses large and small, but instead of being ruled out by customers, we can get to know them and learn to understand them. The more we get to know customers, the more they will feel their unique needs and wants are being met, and the more they will share their experience via the internet or social media.
In knowing our customers on a deeply personal level, businesses can begin to use their data to predict future trends in their own business or in their competition. For example, a business can analyze past data to identify patterns in customers or make future financial projections based on their financial data and the economy. Another example would be a retail company and based on the data they have collected they can predict future fashion trends through identifying customer behavioral patterns. They can do this by recording and collecting all of their in-store transactions to see what is being purchased, the cost of the items purchased, what is not being purchased, and the cost of those items.
Regardless of what industry a business is involved in, the data collected from their customers, users, or even services can all be utilized to benefit a business and help it grow. Predictive and behavioral analytics are used all the time by large corporations but rarely do small businesses do the same because of the lack of resources and money. Of all the options listed above, the most cost-efficient way to collect data and interpret these analytics is through third-party data providers and direct communication with customers through surveys or mass emailing.
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