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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.