How SMBs Can Use Data to Become More Efficient Marketers

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Trustworthiness is something small business owners expect from the local marketing firms they work with. But without data to back up their performance claims, many vendors struggle to maintain a positive reputation. According to a survey by Microsoft and Latitude White, fewer than 20% of SMBs trust the SEO and PPC firms they work with. When hyperlocal vendors provide merchants with data—along with the technology to interpret that data—they not only justify their value and prove ROI, they also enable merchants to become more efficient marketers.

“SMBs don’t need data at scale, they need relevant, actionable data to measure the effectiveness of each of their marketing efforts,” says Charity Huff, co-founder of the media analytics and technology firm Tru Measure.

Here are six ways that small and mid-size businesses should be using data to improve their marketing efforts.

1. Answering the big picture questions. “Once small and mid-sized businesses start looking at their data, they quickly become overwhelmed and paralyzed. They don’t have the luxury of having a team analyzing the fire hose of data that’s coming in. Instead of doing a deep dive on the data, smaller businesses should first focus on getting the questions they have answered. It could be something as simple as, ‘how effective are my promotions?’ to a much more complex problem, ‘where and why are my customers leaving our checkout process?'” (Rene Reinsberg, GoDaddy)

2. Efficiently allocating marketing budgets. “Tie your creative message across all your different ad campaigns to create a cohesive brand for your business; just like the big guys do. The more frequently potential customers see your brand and message, across several different devices, sites or platforms, the more effective your overall ad budget will be. Measure the effectiveness of each message, by where and who it was distributed to in order to more efficiently allocate your future marketing budget.” (Charity Huff, Tru Measure)

3. Incorporating time and location into push notifications. “A growing trend in customer engagement is through push notifications. This allows for a more customized and streamlined interaction between a business and a customer. Data-driven messages incorporate time, location, customer profile and past performance in order to increase engagement. This kind of automation leads to a dramatic boost in engagement. Push notifications sent by a human see 18% engagement, whereas push notifications sent contextually by AI have 69% engagement.” (Ido Mart, flok)

4. Identifying sales trends on an hour-by-hour basis. “Hourly analytics reports can help small business owners identify which employees are making the most sales and which items are most popular at different hours of the day. Business owners can use these types of reports to create flash promotions during sales lulls, help reduce waste of over-producing perishable goods, or plan promotional sales to move excess merchandise. Along with providing this hourly reporting, cloud-based POS systems also allow merchants to view reports from afar, regardless of their location.” (Andrew Gorrin, ShopKeep)

5. Relying on technology to interpret data. “The fact of the matter is that local business owners don’t have the time or the resources to interpret data. They should enlist technology that makes sense of it and actions that data to drive revenue. The technology should identify their best customers and send timely, targeted messages to drive first time purchases, predict who will buy from them and send them emails inciting a purchase, and report those results back to the business. Local business owners and marketers should not have to mine, interpret or action data—their technologies should.” (Stuart Wall, Signpost)

6. Automatically requesting online reviews. “A surefire way to increase a business’ online reputation is by asking current customers to review their most recent experiences. This can be accomplished by sending an email, text or message to all customers requesting a review, or by running an AI that sends review requests to the right people at the right time. The results are convincing. Online review request sent by a human have 2.1% engagement. Online review request sent contextually by AI have 11% engagement.” (Ido Mart, flok)

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.

Interviews have been edited for length and clarity.

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.