Big Data Is Creepy – But Not For Small Businesses

475201001Ever made a one-off purchase? We all have – a random gift for a friend or a product we'll only need once in a blue moon. Despite this limited need, you're subjected to a seemingly never-ending deluge of ads targeted to that purchase.

When they were new, targeted ads were interesting. But now, they border on creepy: Firms are grasping at straws in an attempt to build a lasting connection with customers, and they come across as intrusive. Worse, your customers feel as though you're only interested in their money, defining them only by their purchases.

Here's how small businesses should use the benefits of big data marketing to deliver an experience that's helpful, but not overbearing, and one that improves the way your business runs. 

Service

Big corporations simply don't have the ability to drive a wholly customer-centric approach – the scale is just too big. But local, small businesses have this luxury.

Use big data marketing to engage with your customers, track their purchases, request feedback and build a relationship with them. As a small business owner, you have the chance to alter schedules and deliver a one-on-one service experience, and you don't need an incredible boost in resources to do it.

Take big data marketing into your own hands and deal with issues personally. If someone writes a negative review or submits an inquiry, take the time (no matter what time of day) to personally address it. When your customers see that they're not just a number or a dollar sign to you, they're far more likely to support your business.

Personalization

Customers today want a customized experience. As you accumulate more information about a given customer, you should be using it to develop in-depth buyer profiles. What do they like? What other products or services do you offer that pair well with previous purchases? Who are they buying for? How much guidance do they need in the consumer decision-making process?

Personalized consumer experiences aren't a one-and-done exercise. You should be consistently tweaking and digging deeper into who your customers are and what they want. The more you learn, the more ideal relationships you’re able to create.

Communication

Tap into your customers' conversations where they're having them – on social media, most likely – and join in. Ask for their feedback on products, give them interesting ideas to think about and play fun games to keep conversations moving. As long as you're using the information your customers give you, they'll keep this information coming.

Reporting

Seizing the opportunity of big data marketing isn't as complicated as you may think. Countless reporting tools exist to accumulate all of your buyer information and distill it down into actionable signals. You don't need to worry about wasting valuable effort and hours of staff time wading through an overload of metrics.

Sabotage

The small business market is cutthroat – that's nothing new. But if you're not using big data to monitor your reputation and what folks are saying about you, you're going to miss a ton of opportunities to bring down saboteurs. What if you have a horrible rating on Yelp! because one of your competitors is planting fake negative reviews? You need to use big data marketing to get a general consensus of what customers are really saying about you, gauge it against your most scathingly negative reviews and find out who's behind the blasting. If it's a legitimate customer who's upset with your service, you have the ability to use a personal touch to rectify it; if it's a competitor, you have the chance to reverse the damage.

Customers today crave personal attention, and you have to give it to them. In the world of big data marketing, you have a wealth of information at your disposal. You can choose to ignore it or to seize it. If you ignore it, rest assured that it'll fester and your customer relationships are going to suffer as a result.

Start Today Tip: If you aren't keeping an eye on your customer reviews, stop what you're doing and head over to one of the most popular review sites (Yelp! is a good start). Don't look at the negative reviews as evidence of your failure – see them instead as clear-cut places to focus your efforts. If all of your one-star reviews mention that your salespeople are too pushy or your customer service team is unhelpful, you know exactly where to start improving.

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Posted By Author Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist

Mike is the CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist at Square 2. He is passionate about helping people turn their ordinary businesses into businesses people talk about. For more than 25 years, Mike has been working hand-in-hand with CEOs and marketing and sales executives to help them create strategic revenue growth plans, compelling marketing strategies and remarkable sales processes that shorten the sales cycle and increase close rates.

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