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Let me explain: Why your data, as a small to medium business, is vital for your survival right now

Guaranteed, many people do not want to talk about data. It can be confusing, and it can definitely be boring. So here’s my challenge. I want two minutes of your time to bring you some knowledge that could be a complete game-changer for your future.

It’s not a surprise that social media has become the foundation of how we, as businesses, both represent our aesthetic and communicate with our audiences and customers. Whether or not you take the time to realise it, social proof and the way you are seen online is an essential part of your presence, reputation and engagement. Simply put, whether you get this right or wrong can be vital for the future of your business.

So, what’s going to happen in a few years time when you are unable to reach anyone through your social media channels organically, because the Facebooks, Instagrams and YouTubes of the world have compressed your feed’s visibility, to the point that the necessity to spend money on posts will become the norm? Well, that day is fast approaching and if you’re not already adapting your strategy, you’re being left behind.

Data Analysis

So here’s something to consider, before moving forward.

There’s one thing that has worked since humans first started trading, which will also work 1000 years from now: writing down your purchasers information, and paying close attention.

I’m not talking about reaching for your nearest ink-quill and parchment, but I am talking about owning your own ability to communicate with the people who have expressed interest in trading with you. It’s strange when you think about it. Not only is this painfully obvious for the development of any trading relationship, but today there are some fantastic tools that make this even easier. These tools are incredibly powerful for recording, organising and measuring the information and history of your customers and clients, yet SO MANY small to medium businesses are not doing this one simple thing.

My two minutes are nearly up, so let me tell you that if you don’t have one yet, you need a list of your clients: a simple database or even better, a Customer Relationship Manager (CRM). This is just a fancy way of describing a database that measures things about a client’s history and their affinity to purchase from you, while recording their information in one place.

There are three main reasons why I believe this is vital.

Firstly, the day will come when you won’t be able to get your message out for free to your followers just by using social platforms and without the need to pay for advertising spend. If you have your clients and customers’ direct contact information, your destiny sits firmly in your own hands, and not in the hands of external platforms.

Secondly, when you have well-organised and tagged lists of users, you can leverage the insane power of algorithmic learning, from platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Google or Spotify. By using these tools, you will be able to make more effective decisions, with regards to how you target your audience. No longer will you be confined to interest-targeting, but instead take some time to learn about Lookalike Audiences. These find users who most similarly match any source audience you can provide (for example, your previous purchasers in a particular location). It’s easy to see that even basic data collection today can put you leaps and bounds ahead of your competition in the future, as long as your data is clean and accurate.

Thirdly, you’ll be able to diagnose problems. When it comes to having a roadmap of how your business is operating, not much can beat a well organised CRM system. You’ll be able to see where sales are weak and where they’re strong, allowing you to double down on what’s working, and change things that aren’t. Without knowing the facts from real data, you’re simply driving blind.

It’s a big subject and there’s tonnes more to discuss, but please trust me on one thing. Focus on your data. Record direct contact information properly and neatly. It will pay dividends in the very near and long term future of your business.

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