How can SMEs take advantage of the opportunities presented by Prospect Analytics and the rise of 'big data' when many SMEs aren't online at all?
How can SMEs take advantage of the opportunities presented by Prospect Analytics and the rise of ‘big data’ when many SMEs aren’t online at all?
Missing the Boat
It’s unsurprising that smaller businesses are less literate in online marketing and web analytics practices than their larger counterparts with big brands to proliferate. But the size of the gap in digital knowledge and practice between large firms and SMEs is surprisingly vast. Smaller firms are still guilty of not recognizing the web as a priority for their business to sell more and understand their prospects and customers day to day.Statistics from the US, Canada and the UK show 85% of consumers are searching for local businesses online*, but a large number - around 25% - are not showing up at all in search results.
This missing search presence means many prospects are completely lost to these businesses and will never get the chance to engage with their offerings.
Another shocking statistic from the same research states that approximately 63% of small businesses do not have a website. Without the most basic and powerful tool for online selling and marketing, small and medium sized businesses are missing out on thieving prospects from larger, web-savvy competitors.
Want data, Need data
‘Big data’, in the form of the information given over by your web visitors either explicitly or implicitly as they move around your website, has become one of the key reasons a quality website and online implementation of analytics tools is so vital for SMEs today.
One Harris Interactive survey** found that the majority of SMEs do not have a clear understanding of ‘big data’, some defining it as the growth in transaction data, while for others it describes technologies for managing the large amount of data businesses now have to store and deal with, usually using online platforms.However, 76% of the 154 firms surveyed do see 'big data' as an opportunity.
So despite the confusion, SMEs know that they should be doing something with data they could collect on the web.
Invest for Results
For SMEs, deciding to invest in their online presence and web analytics tech is the only way such firms, with limited people and resources, take advantage of the big data trend. The digital footprint left by every visitor to your website is a valuable source of big data, able to improve understanding of prospects and push up sales by telling a small firm what to do online and when to do it - to optimize responses from browsing web visitors.This investment can be relatively small for SMEs yet pay huge dividends.
Broad analytics tools like Google Analytics are free, with widely available training, and should be the first step when an SME starts trying to understand the big data they collect. However, if companies want to get the most out of big data from their prospects and customers online, Prospect Analytics is the next step in deep behavior understanding, identity profiling and choosing interventions for best results.It's also the people in your business who will make the real difference:
train one person to use web analytics tools and understand and interpret the collected data, and your small business will begin to allocate resources more efficiently very quickly. Data from your firm’s website can pinpoint problems such as uninspiring marketing messages, ineffective product campaigns, and help you target an audience most likely to buy. Well worth the investment.
Small businesses need all the help they can get to attract inbound enquiries and make the most effective business decisions today. The web can no longer be ignored as a source of information and marketing to engage potential prospects, especially as more and more of the big players embrace sophisticated web analytics with big budgets.
*Search Engine Land’s Local Consumer Review Survey 2012, **Harris Interactive survey