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Data and metrics are critical drivers of a business’s overall success. The more data streams you have, the better you can understand your customers, their needs, what works and what doesn’t.

But collecting data doesn’t necessarily give you all this information. You still have to interpret it and use it to take actionable steps toward bettering your business. To help you do that, eight members of Young Entrepreneur Council offer their best tips for turning data into action items for your business.

1. Ensure Your Data Is Accurate

As a first step, gather good data. Often, companies have incomplete or raw data that is inaccurate due to issues like typos or data aging. You need to make sure your data is correct, accurate and complete. Second, you need to understand who these people are and what they like. You need to be reaching the right ones with the right message. You want to build out a 360-degree view of users to improve your segmentation. It’s always better to send fewer messages that are well-targeted, rather than many poorly targeted messages. With a spray-and-pray approach, you burn out your audience. – Kevin Marcus, Versium Analytics, Inc.

2. Experiment

Great marketing requires data analysis. I use data to know which marketing avenues are the most effective. If I get 40 billboards, they will each have a different phone number so that I know which board was most effective. I do the same with digital marketing and experiential marketing. Make sure you know what is working so you can supersize that and drop the rest. – Sheila Nazarian, Nazarian Plastic Surgery

3. Correctly Configure Data Sets

Before collecting data, you need to set up the data sets correctly. Ask the questions first, then set up systems to collect data that answer those questions. For example, let’s say you want to know how visitors found your site and purchased your class. Your query needs to address those two data sets. The data will then show you those exact results. From there, you have the information to create actionable steps to increase traffic to your site (in this example). Most people collect data and then try to make sense of it. Make sense of what you want to collect, then set up queries to collect that data. – Jared Weitz, United Capital Source Inc.

4. Make Data Benchmarks

One way that we use data is to create benchmarks for future campaigns. For example, we ran a survey for our users last year and this year we pushed to beat the number of responses we got last year. Using data in this simple way helps us understand how engaged our audience is and whether we’re really growing. We can identify areas of stagnation in our marketing efforts. If it makes sense, use information like the number of users in your email list, how many downloads your product got, how many forms people filled and more as benchmarks for the future. Over time and with analysis, you should see where your efforts need to change and how to improve your work in the years to come. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

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5. Add A ‘Why’

What businesses need is to turn data into insights for decision-making. First, identify what kind of data is most relevant to your business. That will vary depending on your industry and goals. Some examples include customer demographics, purchase history, website click-through rates and social media engagement. Once you have identified and collected the right data, the next step is to add a “why” to the data to make it actionable. For example, if you’re a retailer, data may tell you most of your customers buy products in the $10-15 range. However, when you add in the “why”—because people are more likely to purchase items they perceive as good deals—you can take steps to highlight products in that price range. You may also decide to offer discounts on products in that range. – Tonika Bruce, Lead Nicely, Inc.

6. Create Audience Segments

The best way to turn customer data into actionable steps for your business is to create audience segments. Essentially, segments are targeted profiles that define the needs, goals and pain points of your visitors. These customer profiles can help you create relevant blog posts, offers, and events for your visitors.For instance, marketing firms create unique content for people interested in small business social media tips. Similarly, they would also publish blog posts focused on email marketing since that’s another common topic in the industry.I suggest using information obtained from contact forms, on-site behavior and past purchases to learn about your audience and create accurate, value-packed segments. – Chris Christoff, MonsterInsights

7. Understand What The Data Trends Mean

The key to making data actionable is understanding what the numbers and trends mean. Taken by themselves, numbers can be confusing or even misleading. For example, many businesses experienced steep declines in revenue during the height of the pandemic in 2020 to 2021. So a chart showing a downward trend would have to be interpreted in that context. However, it could even be seen as a positive if the decline was slight compared to competitors in your industry. That example also points to the need to look at your internal data relative to wider conditions that you can’t control. You always need to ask the right questions about data so you can interpret it in a useful way. Data by itself seldom tells a complete story. – Kalin Kassabov, ProTexting

8. Design An Action Plan

Data is a critical aspect of any business. It helps us make decisions, find insights and improve our processes. However, it can be difficult to turn data into actionable steps for your business. The data you collect should be relevant to your company’s goals and should help you make decisions about where to focus your efforts. You’ll want to create an action plan that will lead you closer to achieving those goals. Your action plan should consist of specific steps that will take you from one stage of the process to another in a linear fashion. It’s important that these steps are measurable so that they can be easily tracked and measured throughout the process. – Kristin Kimberly Marquet, Marquet Media, LLC

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