Big Data to Determine My Smart Business Goals


Businesses that set smart, very specific goals know exactly what they’re working toward and have an easier time meeting those goals. If your business goal is too generic, such as “make more money,” then the path to that goal becomes obscured. Smart goals are well defined, specific and attainable. People who set goals succeed about 10 times more than those who do not, so goal-setting shouldn’t be overlooked.


There are many methods for creating goals for your business. Big data is one way to figure out which goals are the best to pursue. Grow your business in a very strategic way by studying data about your business and the industry you’re in, and then aligning your goals accordingly. Here are six ways to set smart goals using big data:


1. Choose the Right Data

People today are overwhelmed with data. There is information on industry specifics, internal data, sales data, online analytics of website traffic and so on. Figuring out which data works best for setting goals isn’t an easy task, even for the most seasoned business owners. Data overload is a problem for many people, who don’t know where to start.


Don’t be afraid to combine more than one type of data to get the full picture of your target audience. For example, a survey of current customers compared to general data about your target audience allows you to see exactly who your typical customer is and create marketing goals accordingly. Combining data from different and nontraditional sources allows your business to get creative and stand out from the competition.


2. Predict Outcomes

Get the IT department involved to create data models that analyze big data to predict what outcomes might be if your business takes one action over another. So, if your goal is to increase sales of a specific product by 25 percent per quarter, then you can use the model to try out different sales scenarios and marketing methods to see what works best. Predicting outcomes also allows you to test ideas that seem crazy before implementing them. Crazy ideas sometimes become the most successful ones.


Gaining an advantage over the competition is simply a matter of forming a hypothesis of what works best with the target audience, running methods through the model and analyzing the data to see if those methods should be implemented. At the same time, use common sense and business experience as you analyze the data. Computer models aren’t fail-proof, and sometimes they predict the outcome incorrectly. Consider them a source of information but not a final way to set goals.


3. Reduce Indirect Spending

Cash flow and management makes a difference between success and failure. Indirect spending are those things you aren’t even aware of, such as buying too much paper for a department that rarely uses it, wasteful energy use or added travel expenses for unnecessary trips. Cutting indirect spending saves companies about 25 percent in expenses.


Cut spending by first analyzing data and figuring out where even small amounts add up. Sort through data and figure out how much spending goes to energy, travel and office supplies. Watch for patterns that indicate overspending and cut these costs accordingly.


4. Personalize Promotions

Big data provides information that explains customer habits. For online companies, even what items a buyer looked at are factored into the equation. It is easy to see which items attracted attention and which ones converted into a sale. This allows companies to personalize promotions.


One example is a business that sells clothing. A large amount of site visitors looked at a specific shirt, but few bought it. Management notices on heat maps that when consumers looked at the price, they bounced away to a different shirt instead. A smart choice here is to set a goal to sell a certain number of those shirts. One way to achieve that, since data indicates people don’t like the price point, is to offer a discount on the shirt. Since data shows who looked at it, you can also push out an email to those customers registered in your system.


5. Improve Customer Experience

Improving customer experience helps with retention. A happy customer is more likely to do business with you in the future and tell family and friends about you. About 86 percent of consumers state they’d pay more for a good customer experience. One of your smart goals should focus on improving the UX of your website or sales process.


Big data allows improvement in frontline methods. Consider a business such as an online flower shop. Customer demand increases during holidays such as Valentine’s Day. Digging into the statistics allows such a business to predict demand and increase service through their network of florists and distribution centers. This results in same-day delivery and provides an overall better experience to customers.


6. Align Team Members

Although your company has big, smart goals as a whole, each department has individual goals as well. Department heads analyze big data and determine what the team does well and what needs improvement. Data also aligns the entire team by showing which goals are attained and which ones need work.


Team leaders should also give each employee specific goals, but those goals should be attainable. Unattainable goals impact team members negatively, so make sure goals make sense for the team but are also achievable. Teams should be aware of the company’s overall goals and strive to create smaller ones that align with them.


Big Data and Goals

Big data and goal-setting go hand in hand. Take the time to study how well current processes work and make adjustments as needed. Goal-setting isn’t something to look at once a year and then forget. Look at goals every month, study the data about what methods move the company toward achieving them and make adjustments as needed. With all the tools at business owners’ disposal today, success isn’t a question but a given. What areas will your business succeed in this year?



Lexie Lu is a designer and writer. She loves researching trends in the web and graphic design industry. She writes weekly on Design Roast and can be followed on Twitter @lexieludesigner.

Website Backup

If your blog utilizes a market place for customers, it could be a target for hackers. While you may think hackers have bigger fish to fry, there is no reason you should overlook the security and recovery potential of your blog, as hackers aren’t the only danger. Servers can crash, content can be deleted and your readership can be lost. Be proactive in protecting your content. Here’s how.


Backup Your Content

Blog backup works differently depending on the platform you use. For the majority of popular blog services there is an export option. Export options typically save your content as an .xml file which can be stored on your hard drive. If, for some reason your blog service crashes and content is lost or if you simply change blog services, use the import option to migrate your blog.


Another option is a cloud backup system, which is in case of complete disaster. Just because you’ve exported your blog as a .xml file, doesn’t mean your computer can’t be wiped, broken or stolen. A cloud storage service keeps your content safe with state-of-the-art security and lets you access your saved files from anywhere in the world.


Secure Your Content

Your content is legally your possession. Copyright laws protect your content from being stolen or plagiarized, but only if you enforce it. There are a host of online plagiarism checkers; with theses services you can check entire URLs for plagiarism, and you can even put a badge on your blog that warns people that the site is protected. If these services let you search URLs for source material, then how do you identify the sites you should search?


Google Alerts lets you enter key phrases, sentences and even paragraphs, and when another site uses your entered material on their site, Google will send you an email alert. Once you’ve identified the site, you must determine if their use of your content devalues your own site. If some pages on your blog are private, for instance, and a user has taken material off a page you only allow paying or private members to see, then it has likely devalued your site.


Protect Your Customers

Hackers aren’t after your created content, they’re after personal information, and if you host a market place on your blog for wears or services, you may be a target. First — and the most important aspect of security — is your password and point of access to your blog. A randomly generated password is only the tip of the iceberg. It’s recommended to use a two-factor authentication service. When you sign in with your user name and password, the site will redirect you and ask for a number code which is then texted, emailed or updated on the authenticator app. This is a one-time-use code, and is timed as well.


Even if a hacker gets his hands on your username and password, he won’t get past this extra step. Another area of potential concern is the plugin options. Many plugins will be accredited and secured by your blog service, however, there are a host of third parties that make plugins as well. If you use a third-party plugin, make sure they are trustworthy, as third-party plugins and widgets can be used to gain access to personal and private information.

Big Data and Marketing


As marketers, we hear the words “big data” a lot. In blogs and articles, marketing leaders say things like “big data can help you better target your ideal demographic” and “noticing trends in big data can give you a better understanding of how consumers think.”


At first glance, data just seems like a bunch of numbers that don’t mean anything. With some digging and hard work though, data becomes very valuable because of the tools it provides businesses.


Where Do You Get “Big Data”


The very first place to look for data is your personal website. Of course, you’re probably already doing that, but how much data are you missing? Google analytics and similar analytics software throw a lot of data at you, and prominently displays the easiest and most popular numbers right off the bat. By simply accessing your software, you’ll see basic data concerning your website’s traffic, like how many visitors and page views you’ve received. It’s a great start, but doesn’t give a lot of insight into your site.


Delving deeper into your website’s analytics is the first step to going down the big data rabbit hole. To get your feet wet, go to the behavior tab and slowly go through each option below. Hitting behavior flow gives you a nice visual representation of how visitors travel through your website and where you are gaining and losing consumers. Finding trends in this data can lead to focusing better on getting visitors to go where you want them to be.


Google also provides other big data sources outside of analytics software. Google Adwords, even if you don’t use it for PPC, can give you valuable keyword big data. It’s not perfect, as proved by Rand Fishkin at Moz, but it can give you a good idea how people search for information on Google. Google compiles all of their search information and let’s you know what type of keywords are very popular and competitive. Plus, it doesn’t cost a cent to set up for your business.


Another simple starter tool is Google Trends. This lets you see what people are searching in comparison to timelines. Being able to do so lets you find out when people are searching something and when a topic is really hot. This is extremely useful for planning out content around times its topic is getting searched. Also, if  your business relies on being on top of what’s trending at any given moment, you can find what is getting the most attention online.


These are just a few resources everybody has access to so you can start using big data. As you become more skilled and experienced in it, you can pursue more detailed


Finding Trends in Data


The reason marketers look at big data is to find trends in consumer behaviors. When looking at your own site’s data, you can find trends of where visitors are landing, leaving, what pages they visit, and with a little digging, you can even find out their demographics and type of device they used to visit your site. By cross analyzing these types of data, you can begin to find trends. For example, how do people accessing your site on a mobile device roam your website differ from people on traditional computers?


Looking at other sources, you can learn to predict future trends and capitalize on them (also known as predictive analytics.) Google Trends is an easy to use tool to visualize this data and predict when people will talk about certain subjects. For example, if you look up “Big Data,” you’ll see that as a topic, it’s growing pretty steadily. You’ll also notice that for the past few years, interest in this topic is a lot lower in August and December, so it might not be great to cover these topics during these months. You can also predict that around March and September, interest sky rockets, meaning it’s a great time to write about it and capitalize on it.  Also, searching for big data is very popular in India and Singapore, so if your target market includes those areas, it might be a good idea to cover this topic.


Even general trends can help you plan and capitalize on when something is going to get global attention again, meaning you’ll be able to get a nice boost in website traffic on these topics.


Using Trends To Grow Your Business


The whole reason to use big data and find trends is to use them to grow your business. Industry leaders are already using big data to take their marketing and business to the next level.  Finding tons of trends in data doesn’t mean a thing unless you apply them to your marketing efforts.


With the help of big data, you’ll be able to better plan and predict what marketing tactics will and won’t work for your business. Looking at trends, you can better plan content for months that it receives more attention, and you can better focus content to your target markets. You can also avoid putting up content during poor performance months so your efforts aren’t wasted.


You can also use big data to improve on our existing content and website. By finding trends in how people travel through your site, you can capitalize on popular pages and make them better to get more customers. You can also analyze what makes those pages great and recreate them with other pages.


As you gather more data, you have the opportunity to find more trends and continue to grow. Just as marketing is always evolving, finding trends in data can always grow and guide you to improve your efforts.


Do you have any questions about big data? How often do you actively look for trends in your available data? Have a success story about using big data that you want to share? Post a comment below and add to the conversation.

Database Marketing


If you just come up with a great new product or service, your next move is to effectively spread the word about it. However effective direct marketing may be, is it the best method for your particular sales campaign? You may want to consider a database marketing campaign in order to cut through the incredible an ever-increasing amount of noise in the modern business landscape.


What exactly is a database marketing campaign?


A database marketing campaign is a form of direct marketing that includes consumer mailing lists as the basis for contact instead of other methods of list building. With the right software, these lists can be targeted very precisely and organized in different ways for different campaigns. They can also be automated so that the manpower of the company is not lost when communicating with them. However, each email can be personalized based on the demographic of the niche as well as the personal information of the potential customer.

A database marketing campaign will usually include much more information per listing than the average direct marketing campaign. Instead of just a list of names and emails, each unit will consist of information that can be used to automate a personalized email such as name, address, job title, information requests, purchase histories and many other legally obtainable information about the potential customer.


How can database marketing be used?


Companies in many different industries will make use of database marketing in order to refine and hone their outreach techniques. The larger the firm, the more useful that the database usually can be. It works especially well for industries with no-nonsense clients like finance. Companies such as American Express, Pitney Bowes and Experian use database marketing quite often in order to segment their customer base and market to them in a personalized way.

Using workflow software and CRM tools in conjunction with a database marketing strategy can also be used to establish processes that can help identify and test demographics of who will respond to a certain product. In many cases, different databases are partnered against each other in order to see the age or type of person who engages most readily with a certain type of advertisement. In many cases, these tests will be conducted in small, Midwestern towns in the United States and then utilized over the entire nation and world.

Database marketing is also effective when customers have already expressed interest in company products. This is a type of permission marketing that can be very effective when utilized within a digital database. Now that a company knows which customers are actually looking for updates on a product, they can step up their marketing to those people specifically without wasting that increased vigor on other customers who are not as likely to make a purchase.


How can my company develop a database marketing campaign?


The first thing that your company needs is data. The more data that you have, the better. Fortunately for many small and medium-size businesses, there is more data that is more readily available on social media than ever before. As a matter of fact, people are giving their needs and wants away. All that a company has to do is to engage these people on social media sites and organize the information that they are given.

Data can also be collected through transactions on existing customers if a business is already selling. Although this is a very effective technique for the companies who already have a customer base, there is absolutely no shame in obtaining lists of data from third-party sources. As a matter of fact, many businesses will sell their customer lists to competitors, such as Borders bookstores did to Barnes & Noble.

A company can also collect data from a process that is known as “real-time business intelligence.” Real-time business intelligence is a fancy name for interacting with customers face-to-face. This is the most effective type of data to get, as a company will be able to put names with faces and demographics.

In order to take advantage of all of this data, it must be properly organized. The software network and the types of analytics that are used make a huge difference in the effectiveness of the database marketing program.



Big Data Marketing

Tim Cook recently voiced strong opinions on privacy issues at a cyber security summit in Silicon Valley. With big data fueling personalized marketing strategies, brands are paying close attention to the latest developments in online security and legislation. Providing data sharing and analysis is done openly and with the full understanding of the public, data driven marketing can offer a valuable service to both marketers and their audiences.

The relationship between consumer data and privacy is notoriously complex; the summit at which Tim Cook attended preceded the signing of a new order that will make it easier for the government to share sensitive information about potential cyber threats with the public sector. Cook said “We believe customers have a right to privacy and the vast majority of customers don’t want people knowing everything about them.’ Cook highlights a sensitive issue; consumers don’t want to be watched or to be pestered with overzealous social media presence and frequent emails.

Conducting market research in a trustworthy and transparent way enables brands to maintain a continuous presence as opposed to an invasive ‘always on’ approach. In this sense data driven marketing can be less invasive than attempts to cultivate on-going conversations with consumers through more traditional marketing practices. Generic ‘feedback’ and testimonials are being increasingly overlooked in favour of more meaningful ‘real time’ responses to brands, their products and their activity on social media platforms. Online panels offer a great opportunity for brands to execute a more targeted approach for more valuable data.

According to a recent study, organisations that take the lead in implementing data-driven marketing report better levels of customer engagement than those that don’t. Working within global markets has created a stronger sense of competition than ever before. Tapping into consumer intelligence offers an exciting opportunity to develop more useful marketing strategies and the benefits appear to outweigh the challenge of striking the delicate balance between offering better customer service and respecting consumer privacy. Marketers who have embraced data-driven marketing to the fullest extent have enjoyed demonstrable results. The travel industry is a leading example – 67 per cent of travel executives claimed that data driven marketing has helped to improve customer engagement and satisfaction. Similarly, the retail industry is enjoying great results – over 55 per cent of retail executives claim to have enjoyed a competitive advantage in customer loyalty and acquisition.

Consumers can experience real benefits from the tailored service that data driven marketing facilitates. From pre-filling online supermarket shopping baskets and saving preferred travel routes to recommending music and films – understanding data can enable consumers to enjoy an efficient, personalized shopping experience.

See our top tips below for an introduction to some of the key considerations for implementing or executing a data driven marketing strategy:

  • In order to extract the best possible value from your data it is important to ensure you are using the most relevant and efficient market research tools. Over 68.2 per cent of marketers are analyzing customers through data and 30 per cent of marketers use analytics tools – choosing reliable tools is a great way of leveraging your data for maximum benefit
  • Keep things simple. Introducing numerous tools and technology to your marketing strategy can complicate things and distract from the true objectives and lead to mistakes. 51.8 per cent of marketers interviewed indicated that building reports presented a serious issue. Introduce clear objectives and create a simple reporting format for rich, meaningful results.
  • This is new territory; don’t be afraid to follow a good example. Monitor competitor activity and thought leadership. Like all areas of the industry, data-driven marketing is constantly evolving and staying on top of the latest developments will help to keep your strategy relevant.
  • Over 33 per cent of marketers in a recent study claimed that they don’t have staff with the right skills to properly leverage the data. Be prepared to build both your strategy and your team. Get the right process and the right people in place, a skilled and numerate team who understand the challenges of interpreting data will be in a far better position to grow as the industry evolves.

Author bio

Morten Strand is the chief executive of Cint, a global provider of market research tools for obtaining market insight from survey respondents. With a global reach of more than 10 million people in 57 countries – all recruited through 500 different panel owners like publishers, local media outlets, market research agencies and non-profits – Cint’s exchange platform OpinionHUB is a fully transparent insights marketplace, bringing together questions and answers from all around the world.

Market Research


The practice of customer loyalty marketing has become commonplace for many brands. However, by not pushing boundaries it is true to say that apathy can develop among people who feel increasingly less loyal to favored brands. As competition becomes ever more fierce in the battle to win over these customers, it can send them fleeing for cover from the deluge of loyalty tactics. To overcome this, brands have to think smart and focus more on delivering the customer touch points that matter most to their target group, something which first has to be identified.

Why does market research work?


Market research can be an extremely effective tool in finding this out, so that any loyalty tactics are hitting the right note from the outset. Gaining a real understanding of what is important to customers, what keeps them coming back for more and how to engage and retain them in the future, is imperative in an age where consumers can be swayed very easily.

And it is understanding this consumer journey, from decision-making to actual purchasing, that is driving market research today. And what better example of this than the recently announced Impact 2015 event to be held in March next year, run by the Market Research Association (MRS), which is themed “Understanding Consumer Behavior in a Changing World”.

Not only can effective market research help in finding out what will resonate with target markets, but the act itself can actually boost brand loyalty. Some of our own research showed that 62 per cent of survey respondents feel more loyal to a brand that has asked their opinion in the first place.

How does it relate to loyalty marketing?


Market research is increasingly being used both before and after loyalty marketing to monitor the effectiveness. This is not only to find out what kinds of promotions will most appeal to target customers, but also to gauge post-promotion and whether it will be well-received. It can help brands get the most value and ROI on the marketing budgets available. For instance, it can be hugely beneficial when it comes to understanding the difference between perceived and real value of consumer offers and how to leverage them.

Don’t forget about research panels


By investing in research panels, brands can establish what their customers perceive as high value, which may in fact differ greatly from its real cost. For example, if a hotel was to offer free rooms at quieter times to its valued customers, the perceived value to the customer could be far greater than actual value. For the hotel, giving away a room in a lower occupancy period is insignificant in terms of cost. This can really help brands to work smart in a competitive arena and really maximize their budgets.

Market research is valuable in uncovering the behavioral characteristics that best reflect the opinions of their target market. If a consumer would not consider buying a certain make of car due to the servicing facilities nearby presenting a perceived cost, they may become more likely to buy if they were offered a free collect and return service. What all this means is that brands can tailor their approach to the priorities of the consumer, as long as they know what those priorities are!

In short, without investing in sufficient research to gather insights into their customer base, brands can find their investment in loyalty marketing wasted.


Author bio

Bo Mattsson is the chief executive of Cint, a global provider of market research tools and survey sampling solutions for obtaining market insight from engaged online panels via its OpinionHUB global exchange platform. Bo founded Cint in 1998 when he decided to apply his experience of trading online to the market research industry. He then took over as CEO in 2003 to revamp the core technology behind the market research tools into an exchange-based offering for transparent respondent access. For further information, please visit

Big Data and Inbound Marketing


Big data is a term that’s been bandied about for some years now and can no longer be considered a technology buzzword. Many have tried to define, then redefine and re-label it, mostly in an attempt to try to harness the term to apply it to their job. This has led to it being declared dead in some reports, but it’s really only the term that this has been applied to.



Data is extremely valuable to businesses and these days, consumers create an awful lot of it. This is due in part to social media, but also to the connected world, online shopping and more. The sheer amount of data generated can be overwhelming – so how do we make sense of it all?


Big data requires businesses to use software and to some extent hardware to make sense of it in real time. In order for it to be useful, it has to be processed in order to find patterns and predict certain outcomes. With regard to inbound marketing, this information can then be used to better target potential and existing customers with tailored marketing campaigns.


For example, say you’ve just run a campaign for a special promotion. It all goes well and you see a nice spike in traffic to your site as a result. You can see from your analytics program that a good proportion of the traffic has come from Facebook, so you can then re-imagine your campaign to further target these leads.


Marketing Automation Software


The above example is an extremely simplified one though. With marketing automation software, you can make further sense of the data in a more thorough and efficient manner. The volume of data that you’re looking at often means that this is a necessity these days, rather than a choice.


Marketing automation software makes sense of the data and arranges it into easily understood metrics that you can take action on. So you may be able to see that certain social media posts have boosted traffic or gained lots of engagement. The software can take the data and create meaning when it comes to lead nurturing and do it all without much intervention to you. This could mean that it will send a few automated but personalised emails to those that have been qualified as warm leads containing information which may convert them to a sale. There is a variety of platforms available, Search Engine Land has recently published a guide which may help you choose the right platform for your business.


Think Amazon. When you make a purchase, often within a day or so you will receive an email with offers that are targeted depending on your previous purchase. This is big data and marketing automation in action and it doesn’t just have to be applied to sales, it can be used at any point in the sales funnel.


It can also be integrated with other software systems such as your CRM in order for sales teams to gain a unique perspective of the customer.


Big data is powerful. Not only does it give you access to unprecedented amounts of information about your customers, it drives decisions within businesses and converts leads. The biggest issue most companies have with data is finding the correct people to interpret its trends and patterns in order to produce actionable insights.


Marketing automation software is without doubt a gift from the gods, but it still requires some human intervention which should be able to produce results. However, these days we’re all gaining more and more digital skills year-on-year, so it’s highly likely that we’ll continue to see data being used increasingly effectively for some time yet.


Coupled with inbound marketing, there is less irritation to the consumer (sales pitches that they don’t want) and more opportunity for business to target the right customers – those who will buy.


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