Online marketers today have a wealth of tools that provide them with data about their e-commerce business. And that's the problem: Incoming data from Google Analytics, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Ebay, PayPal, Shopify, etc., can be tremendous -- but also overwhelming. What does it all mean? What metrics are most important? How can this data be used to move a business forward?
Following is a list of key tips for harnessing the power of data and making it a catalyst for more efficient, effective marketing -- and business management -- than ever.
Don't think big data can't help small businesses
Great business intelligence isn't only for the big guys. Online businesses of all sizes and types can benefit from the enlightenment that today's data can provide. The key is this: Use data to its greatest potential to achieve deep insights into how your marketing activity affects customer activity, sales trends, and other correlations. Then, let that information influence your next marketing move.
Keep it simple
Don't be overwhelmed by using too many analytics tools or trying to view too many data in different dashboards at one time, or worst of all, trying to compile data from a number of different silos into a giant spreadsheet yourself. You don't need to become an expert analyst to make the metrics work in your favor. Stick to a handful of tools that you feel comfortable with -- in terms of the way they look visually, report information, and navigate. You can then expand your use of data tools as you become more adept.
Identify no more than 5 important metrics
Begin by asking yourself, "What are the mission-critical things that matter most to my business right now?" It could be inventory numbers, sales trends, payment data, social engagement, or channel evaluation. It will be different for every business. Then, track those important metrics you've identified for a set period of time, glean insight as best you can, and decide what to track next.
Investigate new tools that bring all your data together
There are a few ground-breaking tools out there now that can bring input from a variety of sources into a singular view. The best of them allows users to visualize and compare data from a number of data silos you already have going (and probably view regularly). Just make sure the tool you choose lets you draw insights from the comparisons, like ROI on social media activity, for example. Anything less will be just another overlay of information to confuse you.
Use insights from data to drive your next marketing effort
All this data, all this insight, amounts to nothing but food for thought if you don't put it into action. Strive to reach the point where a brief but highly insightful glance at your metrics helps you refine -- and then refine again -- your future marketing and business moves. Did one of your tweets take off? Build on that subject and style to glean additional social impact. Is a sales trend in one product line gaining momentum? Plan product introductions to maximize this movement. Is one Instagram photo more popular than all the others? Use it as a template to build a truly sought-after account.
All in all, using today's data to boost your online business is just good business practice. Viewing the right data for your business in the way you find most constructive can help you adjust your management moves according to the actions of your potential and current customers, all in real-time. Make that the way you behave day to day, and you'll surely be on the path to e-commerce success.
Catherine Gluckstein is president of SumAll.
On Twitter? Follow Catherine at @SumAll. Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.
"Big data exabyte terabyte" image via Shutterstock.