It’s a competitive world. No doubt about that.

In the world of business, technology has influenced competitiveness since the beginning of time.

And every now and then, somebody invents something that blows the game wide open and forces companies to rethink their approach.

Today, the obvious example is the internet. The internet has been – and will continue to be – a game-changer.

For a small business (or a big one, come to think of it), one of the biggest changes is data.

The amount of data that businesses can now tap-into to help them better understand and engage with their customers is massive.

But it doesn’t have to be complicated.

As long as you engage with customers on the internet in some way – through a website, social media platform or anything else – you should be able to collect data.

Data doesn’t have to be ‘big.’ If you’ve only got the time and resources to do small-scale stuff, do small. It’s a start.

And once you start to develop a data-driven mindset, you’ll probably start investing more time and resource into it – and hopefully get even bigger insights to help your business.



First things first. You need to get set-up so you can start capturing data.

If you have a website, connect it to Google Analytics. It’s free, and easy to configure (if you’re not confident, find someone to set it up and show you the basics).

If you have a Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn account, you can usually find analytics somewhere in your ‘settings.’

Or you can use a social media tool. Some offer free basic packages, while others offer more premium-priced packages capable of really sophisticated insights.

If you do any pay-per-click advertising (Facebook ads, Twitter ads, LinkedIn sponsored content, Google Adwords etc) you can harvest data from these too (again, look in the ‘settings’ or ‘reporting’ sections).

All these tools should give you varying insights into the people you’re engaging with online.



Now the following tips are basic-level stuff. Something to get you thinking about using data to help your business if you’re not already doing it.

1. demographics

Use your website, social media and pay-per-click analytics to learn about your customers’ (and potential customers’) location, gender, age-group, influence and interests.

How could this help my business?

You should get a better feel for whose showing an interest in your product or service, which can lead to all kinds of insights.

Let’s say your target market is the under-25s, but most of the people looking at your site are 35+. You’ve either discovered an opportunity (a new customer group to go after) or a weakness (your product or marketing isn’t connecting with the right people and needs tweaking).

2. behaviour

You can learn a lot by looking at the online behaviour-patterns of your customers.

Use Google Analytics to see which pages your web visitors are landing on, and how they move through the site – clicking on links and visiting different pages.

Use your social media and PPC analytics to learn how people are engaging with your tweets, posts and ads.

What sort of content do they engage with the most (topics, messages, writing styles, links, images, video etc). Which times / days of the week are they most active? What devices do they prefer (e.g. mobile, tablet, desktop)?

How could this help my business?

Well. It can tell you if your website is set-up properly.

If too many visitors are bailing out before ‘conversion’ – e.g. leaving before they get to the check-out page, or wandering off to look at other content on your site instead of requesting a product demo – then your site needs tweaking.

Behaviour patterns can also help you target and engage potential customers.

For example, if your social media analytics suggest more people engage with your tweets in the evenings, then post your best content in the evenings. Simple stuff.

3. sentiment

Knowing how customers feel about your brand, product or industry can be helpful.

It’s crude and time-consuming, but you could manually look through mentions and replies to your content on Twitter, Facebook and other social platforms for insights.

However, if you’ve got the budget, you might want to use a monitoring tool (sometimes called a ‘listening’ tool). There are plenty to choose from.

Typically, they’ll let you search for content on Twitter and other platforms using various phrases and key words, and will often categorise content into positive, negative or neutral. And identify content posted by influential users (people with big followings and lots of clout).

How could this help my business?

It could help you understand how people feel about your business – or the product or service it provides.

It could give you insight into what your potential customers want – their problems, needs and fears.

Or it could help you find and reach out to people who might be interested in your business. For example, if someone tweets they’re looking for office-space – and you’re in the real estate game – you could tweet them a message and try to engage them.

So there you go. Analytics can get a lot more complicated and impactful than this.

But if you’re new to the game, these simple tips could help you learn more about your customers – and get you started on the path to more data-led decision-making.