Successful businesses know that data should form the foundation of every business strategy. It can provide vital information about what the business is doing well, where it can improve, and even which parts of the business are suffering from inefficiency. In many cases, businesses can gather data that they can use to increase their sales by appealing to their core customer base. On the other hand, it takes a lot of work to gather that data, and no manager has time to waste on information that they will not be able to use. That means that all businesses should focus on tracking the most important types of data.
Customers are the most valuable resource that a small business can have, so it is important to understand them and how they interact with the business. Most businesses can benefit from recording how their customers first heard about the business, and the factors that made them decide to purchase a product from the business. Managers can also track how much each customer tends to spend, how often they make purchases, and a variety of other pieces of information.
Businesses can then use that information to optimize their relationship with the customers. They can direct their sales efforts towards those who will be most receptive to them, and focus on the areas that build the strongest relationships with those customers. The easiest way to do this is to install some CRM software, which can help to both gather the information and put it to good use. A human touch will still be necessary to get the best results, but letting the computer handle a large part of the work will save a huge amount of time and money that can be spend on other resources.
Managers should also make a point of tracking all of their marketing programs. The most basic method is to track their cost and the time during which the program was active, but greater rewards will come from examining the matter in greater detail. Surveys and other techniques make it possible to figure out which campaigns were the most effective, even when several of them were running at the same time.
Managers that have that information can use it to figure out where to focus their marketing efforts. Programs that have brought about good results should receive more attention and funding in the future, while failed projects can be abandoned to save money. Doing so will maximize the efficiency of the marketing program and can even lead to greater sales in the long term.
The Internet is vital to modern businesses, so managers should also pay close attention to how their website is working. The oldest and most primitive form of web analytics is to count the number of visitors that visit a site. Both the number of unique hits and the total number of visits can provide useful information. More advanced methods include tracking where people are located when they connect to the site, or determining which other site linked them to the page.
This information can often be used as a tool to support other goals. For example, comparing the number of hits that a site receives before, after, and during a marketing campaign can help to measure the campaign’s success. It can also provide insight into the type of people that are visiting the site, which can be used to guide new marketing programs or even to design new products that will appeal to those people.
Basic bookkeeping includes tracking the total number of sales for the business. Managers should also make a point of tracking when those sales occur with as much precision as possible. That will allow them to make sure that they can handle demand during the most active periods of time, and that they are not overstaffed during the times when demand is low. Managers that are willing to experiment can also attempt different sales methods at different times or places, and compare that to the number of sales during that period to see if the techniques are successful. Sales are ultimately a tool to measure the success of the business, so there are few situations where information on them is not an asset.