How The Democratisation Of Data Is Helping Small Business

August 12, 2013

Note: This is a guest post by Luke Ryan. Learn more about Luke at the end of the post.

You may have noticed a lot of attention being directed towards big data recently. Rightfully so, but there is another story quietly gathering momentum in the shadow of big data. That story is the democratisation of data. Of particular interest for small business is how this new found ability to easily access, collect and analyse data is creating new opportunities for everyone to gather information about markets and customers.

An emerging narrative, thanks to an explosion of online data services, is that market research is no longer limited to big business and big budgets. The emergence of affordable web-based data collection and analysis services has leveled the playing field for businesses of all sizes.

New technology is emerging

Marketers from businesses of all sizes are just a few clicks away from building their own online surveys using tools like Survey Monkey and Survey Gizmo. They can then upload that data file into a tool like DataCracker to find hidden insights from their data. All of this can be achieved without the pre-requisite of a background in statistics or data analysis. Advanced insights created from segmentation, predictive modeling and text analytics can be produced and shared in PDF or web-based reports with little effort and little cost.

The recent proliferation of smartphone ownership combined with consumer’s growing willingness to share data online has also played its part in democratizing data. Most businesses are now just an opt-in away from being able to start collecting meaningful data from their customers or potential customers.

Not so along ago market research was limited to companies who could afford to employ professional research services to run focus groups and execute surveys. They would then need that data crunched by experts familiar with overly complex statistical programs to create long-winded reports. Today you can collect that data yourself and create your own reports for less than $100 per project.

How useful is it to collect and analyse data as a business owner?

With so much information at our fingertips ignoring this data available to us is letting an opportunity for real insights into your business pass by. Creating a simple survey and using email to facilitate responses can produce valuable insights for small business. Testing new ideas or product variations. Collecting feedback on existing products and services. Segmenting different customers and prospects into lists based on tailored marketing messages. Using predictive modeling to create customer profiles. These are just a few of the examples of how survey data can begin to have an impact on your business.

Like many other industries that the Internet has disrupted market research is also not immune to change. The emergence of democratised data is a fun time for small business. There is now an opportunity to gather data in real-time and implement insights quickly. Not so long ago this type of research took either a lot of money or a lot of time. So whilst big data may continue to get the headlines small business should take notice of the democratisation of data that is taking right under our noses.

About the Author:

Luke Ryan is the Chief Marketing Officer for DataCracker a new web-based software that allows anyone to find the hidden insights from their survey data. He writes more about market research, surveys and productivity on the DataCracker blog.


6 Ways to Spice Up Boring Email Marketing Campaigns

February 7, 2012

Spice Up Your Email CampaignNote: This is a guest post by Lior Levin. See Lior’s bio at the end of the article.

For a marketer, email is possibly the most powerful medium ever created. In addition to be instantaneous and simple, it’s a personal medium that can be tailored to every person, it’s opt-in, meaning that you’re reaching an already-engaged audience and, best of all, the cost of sending each email is effectively zero.

However, the problem with email marketing is that it’s very much like a relationship, difficult to keep the excitement and enthusiasm up for a long period of time. This is true for both the marketer and the recipient.

So how can you help keep that spark alive when sending email after email? A lot of it comes down to simple creativity. However, there are several things you can do to revitalize a dull campaign and re-engage both yourself and your audience with your email marketing.

Here are just a few that you can consider:

1. Take a Survey

If an email campaign is a relationship, then every great relationship starts with communication. You need to take a moment and listen to your subscribers.

Take time out from your regular email campaign to have your readers fill out a short survey and learn what they want out of your emails. You might learn that there are whole directions you haven’t explored or that there are topics of interest you haven’t talked about yet.

Aside from that, getting your readers engaged and making them feel as they have a voice in the newsletter makes them more likely to stay and more likely to pay attention to what you send out.

2. Hold a Contest

People love contests and they get excited about the prospect of winning something. Whether it’s a contest for a large prize, a coupon to a certain percentage of subscribers or something else altogether, contests are a great way to generate buzz and interest in your email campaign.

Contests work especially well if you couple them with promotion elsewhere, offline and on, and can be even more effective if you reward your readers for attracting new subscribers.

But even if you can’t do anything grandiose, a simple contest is a great way to renew subscriber interest and improve your metrics. Just be careful to follow all relevant laws.

3. Reward Your Subscribers

Sometimes reviving a dull relationship is as simple as saying “Thank you”.

Offer a special deal to your readers just for being on your list. Give them something that makes them feel important and like they are your most valuable customers just because they are on the list.

This reward doesn’t have to be something large, just something unique that is only available to subscribers. Whether it’s a small percentage off, early access to new merchandise or a free download, anything that makes your subscribers feel as if you’re catering to just them will help keep their interest and their loyalty.

4. Segment Your Audience

Ideally, the more information you have about your audience the better. In addition to their name, email and other contact info, you ideally should know at least some about their interests, especially if you’re in a business that has a variety of products catering to many different types of customers.

However, even if you don’t have that information, you can still target your subscribers by publishing themed emails aimed at one or two specific segments. The idea is to talk directly to a part of your audience and engage them deeply. Though your other subscribers will likely ignore the email, you will come back and reach out to them another day.

All in all, segmenting your audience and reaching out to them is a great way to make your emails more relevant, interesting and useful.

5. Revamp Your Template

Revamping your site’s template is a long, difficult process that involves changing out multiple parts and, possibly, confusing a much larger audience. With your mailing list, you can make changes a great deal easier and, with the smaller audience and lack of search engine visibility, the risks are less.

So, if your campaign seems stale, it may be time to revamp your email template. Not only is this a chance to add new visual appeal, but you can also add new features such as a fast fact, a relevant quote or a promotion.

In short, if you’ve been using your old email template for a while and would like the chance to bring in some new content, a new template might be just what you need.

6. Test, Test and Re-Test

Of course, if you’re going to do any of the above changes, you want to test them as thoroughly as possible.

Most email service providers offer an easy way to split A/B testing where you send out slightly different emails to various groups and see which are the most effective. This allows you test one variable at a time, such as a new subject line or a tweak in the template.

However, even if you can’t do A/B testing, you can achieve the same result by changing the emails you send out between mailings. Basically, by making small changes every mailing and closely tracking results, you can hone in on things that improve your response.

In the end, the only thing that is required to keep the interest and spark in your email campaigns is a willingness to try new things and to engage with your audience. If you can do those two things, there likely won’t be a single boring week for your newsletter.

It does mean, however, that you have to be vigilant with your campaign and, even if things seem to be going well, you have to be willing to take a risk.

With email, if your campaign isn’t moving forward, it’s stagnating and a stagnating campaign is a dying one.

About the Author:

This guest post is written by Lior Levin, a marketing consultant for a company that offers a to do list application for businesses and individuals, and who also consults for a company that convert psd to html format.


It’s All About the Landing Page

September 12, 2011

Surprising results from eConsultancy’s recent survey on the use of QR Codes showed that:

  • 64% of consumers don’t know what QR Codes are
  • Of the consumers that know what QR codes are, only 11% have used them
  • Of those that have used QR codes, 20% think they don’t really offer any advantages and don’t expect to use them in future

Yikes!

The survey goes on to point out that marketers have to be innovative and think outside the box when it comes to using QR Codes:

“Don’t rely on QR codes alone. To avoid excluding people without smartphones or those without a reader app, then provide other ways for them to respond to ads, or find out more about products. ” – eConsultancy

But the not so surprising result from the survey was that when using QR codes, it really comes down to the Landing Page.

How Good is Your Landing Page?

It’s typical, really. You scan the QR code and the landing page you then see is a) not formatted for mobile devices; b) not interesting enough; or c) doesn’t exist. Next time you see a QR code you won’t even try to scan the thing because you have already been disappointed once.

Landing pages can determine the success not only of a QR code campaign, but of any campaign that takes the user to your website. Email marketing, online surveys, PPC and more. That might explain why, according to MarketingSherpa, the number of people that work full time in Landing Page Optimization projects has grown steadily over the past couple years.

So where do you go from here? Check out this blog post from Marketing Experiments, “36 articles and resources to help you complete your next LPO project“, is a great starting point.

After all, remember that it’s all about the landing page!


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