Budget Strategies for Maximizing Big Data

Budget Strategies for Maximizing Big Data
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This story appears in the June 2016 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Big data doesn't necessarily come with a big pricetag. Luckily, expert Scott Martineau, cofounder of Infusionsoft — an Arizona-based Software as a Service (SaaS) provider offering CRM -- can offer his tips for using big data on a small budget.

Got an operational problem?

Big Data will solve it! Marketing ills? Ask Big Data! Those two words have become a catchall -- but data-crunching services tend to chase after enterprise-level businesses, making them out of reach for most small businesses. (Google Analytics Premium, for example, starts at $150,000 a year.) Don’t worry: Martineau says that with a strategic approach to Big Data, anyone can afford it. 

So, where do I start?

Identify your single biggest opportunity for improvement. Then within that category, focus on tracking and improving one key metric -- something where experimenting with a little time and money can move the needle. The three I recommend: How much traffic and leads did I generate this month? What percentage of leads converted into customers? What percentage of my customers are not satisfied enough to refer me to others? Pick one and follow it for a couple of weeks to a quarter.

OK, but how will I follow it?

A few vendors will automatically gather this information and tell you what is working and what isn’t. These include Wicked Reports ($99/month), ClicData ($75/month) and Graphly ($49/month). Another one, SumAll ($99/month), connects to your social media accounts and provides insights.

That’s still expensive. What about a free option? 

The free version of Google Analytics offers a wealth of reports that can help you evaluate what’s happening on your website. It won’t provide you with the granular, minute-by-minute insights and support these other services do, but it’s a good place to start. 

Will Big Data ever be widely accessible?

In the not-too-distant future, small businesses will leverage Big Data without even knowing it. Accounting software, CRM and marketing automation software will automatically serve predictive analytics, insights and more. These solutions will help you know which questions to ask and give you the answers you seek without having to concern yourself with complex technicalities.  

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