Big Data Can be Helpful for Small Businesses Too

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big data

Innovative ways to gather and analyze big data has been a driving force behind business technology in recent years. The phrase has gained some negative press when companies like Facebook collect and use data in an illegal or shady way, but when done right, knowing how to use big data can be a game changer for businesses. Not just big business either. You may not realize it, but your small business likely already has mountains of data waiting to be aggregated and analyzed.

What is “Big Data?”

The idea of “big data” is gathering a lot of information on your business and it’s target customers. Then, you can use this data to look for trends, find flaws, identify gaps in your services, and so much more to run your business better. For example, one popular way to use big data is with your CRM. If you collected all of the data on the path your leads take before they convert to customers, you could develop a stream-lined process that could greatly increase the likelihood of closing the sale. Maybe you find that customers that are reached out to within a week of an initial sales meeting convert at a much higher rate than those contacted two weeks after, or maybe you find that customers who see a sale person in-person spend 25% more than those contacted over the phone. Looking for and finding trends like this can be a game changer.

Where Do I Get this Data?

The good news is – you likely have already collected a lot of data you can begin to analyze. Your CRM, ordering platform (if that applies), Google Analytics account, email service, etc. already hold a lot of data waiting to be examined.

By diving deeper into the platforms your business already uses, you can pull reports and start identifying trends in no-time. Many of these services likely already have report features built in. If not, reaching out to the provider to request bulk exports of your data is another option. Once you decide on the KPIs you are looking for, use a program like Excel to help you analyze and display this data in a meaningful way.

Identify Problems

With the help of big data, finding flaws in your sales process or on your website just got a whole lot easier. Look for things like common stages where leads tend to drop off and focus on fixing that stage of the process. On your website or in other marketing efforts, look for landing pages or ads that have worse success rates than others and stop sending traffic there until you can improve them. In a perfect world, customers would tell you “oh I liked your ad but then I got to the landing page and format was just unreadable, that’s why I left your website and didn’t convert.” That doesn’t happen though, so use big data to find those problems you likely never even realized existed.

Optimize Work Flows

A stream-lined work flow is essential to lead nurturing. You may not realize it, but even if you don’t have a formal plan in place, you likely already use a work flow. Even just having a normal way you follow up with inquiries from potential customers is a work flow.

Use your CRM of email marketing tool (if you use one) to find those points where leads tend to fall off. Use the data to also find those extra touch points that seem to increase the likelihood of a conversion. Seek out these trends and incorporate them into a standard workflow you can use every time!

Big Data for Small Businesses

You don’t have to be a huge company to be able to gather and leverage data. Understanding the behavior of your potential customers and taking advantage of the trends you see will put you head and shoulders above your competition. Your small business may not always stay small, so paying attention big data now will help you scale and run your business in a much more efficient way.

What’s New in Construction in 2018

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What’s New in Construction in 2018

Technology, urbanization, and convenience are the name of the game for construction in 2018. Read on to find out which business tech will become invaluable this year and where we will be seeing the most growth.

Public Transportation Is on the Rise

In 2018, you will find more and more projects coming up that are either to literally build public transportation infrastructure, or to create developments that are public transport centric. With most of the population now living in urban areas, the days of driving everywhere are gone. Housing, especially on the condo and apartment side of things, is in huge demand near transportation stops. Businesses seek out locations that their workforce can easily get to, and giants like Amazon even select what city their headquarters will be located in based on the quality of their public transportation. Expect to see the network of public transportation grow this year, along with everything around it.

Cloud Computing

Construction has always been an industry with a scattered workforce, and now technology makes it easier to communicate and cooperate with those in the office, at home, and on the job. Cloud technology and features such as remote desktop make it possible to access email, project management software, and more from any device. The construction industry has been one of the strongest sectors to embrace cloud computing, and that will only grow in 2018.

Use of Drones

Aside from just a popular toy, drones have a huge range of uses. The reason you see them on a lot of construction sites these days range from mapping job sites, to monitoring progress, to providing clients with project updates. Drones are really in their element at a job-site – where just a few years ago you had to send a photographer up a crane or cherry-picker just to get an aerial shot. Drones become cheaper and their features become more useful each year.

Labor Shortage Increases Calls for Automation

The labor shortage in construction has unfortunately continued into 2018. As we know too well, a desperate need is the fastest way to get new tech onto the market. Automation was a buzzword in 2017, and 2018 is when the talks get a little more serious. The lack of workforce in the construction industry is driving companies to look elsewhere for “man-power,” and it looks like automation just might be the answer.

Construction in 2018

The construction industry has to have the ability to both respond to today’s wants, and plan for the needs of the future. Keeping an eye on where the demand is headed, and what tech you need to be competitive, will put your company in a good place for years to come.

Small Business Technology Trends for 2018

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Small Business Technology Trends for 2018

Out with the old, in with the new! We have seen a ton of new trends in business tech in recent years, and 2018 will only be a year of more and more changes. Seemingly distant technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning are finally making their way down to the small business sector, as well as more powerful tools for workplace convenience and mobility. Keep an eye on these small business technology trends for 2018.

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence is no longer characterized by science fiction robots and vindictive computers come to life. Today, artificial intelligence is increasingly used in business for both its computing abilities and convenience in freeing up time for its human counterparts. In 2018, artificial intelligence will finally be affordable enough for the little guys to take advantage of. From chat bots to computer learning software, AI for business is a technology you will want to keep your eyes on.

Cloud Computing

If you are not already utilizing cloud computing in one form or another, your business isn’t just stuck in 2017, it’s stuck in 1995. Most of the leading project management software, CRMs, and even file storing services are cloud based. The reason the cloud is so huge in business is its convenience and reliability. You can access a cloud based program from any device and automatically save and backup your information on an ongoing basis.

Cloud based desktops are a huge trend for 2018, as they take cloud computing to a whole new level of convenience. With a cloud based desktop, you can log into your desktop with all of your files from any device. With mobility and working from home at an all-time high, the prevalence of cloud computing will only continue to rise.

More Automation

Automation, automation, automation – this trend isn’t going anywhere any time soon. From marketing to the machine shop, small businesses need now more than ever to hop on the automation train or get left in the dust. You don’t need to worry about automation coming for anyone’s jobs just yet, but it will certainly make menial tasks more bearable and wide scale operations more possible.

More Powerful CRMs

Client relationship managers (CRMs) will be more than a notetaking and follow-up reminder system in 2018. CRMs are growing to include both automation and artificial intelligence. The new wave of CRMs can send your follow-up emails for you automatically and even analyze your leads to recommend which are the most likely to convert. Combine this with being based in the cloud and you’ve got the sales person’s new best friend.

Service Providers Over In-House

With all of these new small business technology trends for 2018, the use of service providers over in-house teams is increasing in popularity. Hiring a service provider for your technology needs allows you to keep up with the fast changing landscape, and means that you don’t have to do constant re-training and new hiring to be able to use the next big tech trend. Service providers are specialists in what they do, and only charge you to use the service you need. Using a service provider over an in-house team allows you to more nimbly shift with trends in technology.

Small Business Technology Trends for 2018

What technology do you think will finally reach the small business sector in 2018? Are we in for a year of AI’s and automation, or just another year of the same old tech everyone is already using? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Tech Trends: Bots for Business

Bots for Business

Have you heard the new buzz in the tech world about bots for business? You may not be completely familiar with what they are and what their value is, but whether you knew it or not, you have likely already interacted with one. Business bots have been around for years, but with the growth in artificial intelligence, they are becoming more sophisticated and more widely used at a fast-growing rate. They have become a game-changer in saving companies time and money.

What Are Business Bots?

Business bots are essentially a basic form of artificial intelligence software. They can be programmed to respond to questions in certain ways and to take a specific action based on a request. They must be customized by developers to make decisions based on certain questions and follow certain thought trees. The use of a copy writer is also needed when building a bot so that they can be programmed to respond in helpful, personal ways. The last thing you want is a robotic bot, right?

One of the most common use of business bots is the customer service chat bot. Many businesses now have a chat function on their website and chat bots are a popular way to handle simple requests. For example, if a user asks for an order status on tracking number X, the bot can be programmed to pull that data and give it to the user; no human necessary. If the situation escalates or gets too complicated for the bot, it can seamlessly be transferred to a human representative.

How They Are Being Used

The most common use for bots are to manage business’s chat function. As mentioned before, this is often in the form of customer service, but can be sales bots as well. They can easily be programmed to perform basic transactions and answer questions about products.

Two other great applications for bots in business are for IT and internal departments like HR. IT companies are using bots to answer technical questions, and in some cases, actually fix technical issues too. For internal use, like in an HR department, bots can be used to answer questions like “how many vacation days do I have?” or to process paystub copy requests. Bots are not only capable of answering questions, but can be functional too. They do a great job at handling simple requests to save the human employees the time spent on menial (but necessary) tasks.

Why Bots for Business are Getting So Popular

The benefits of business bots are probably becoming pretty obvious: they are great at saving companies time and money. They can handle simple tasks that soak up the time of personnel, and eliminate the chance for human error in these tasks. Although humans usually still need to be present when situations escalate or surpass the bot’s programming, they can still be very helpful in handling lower level inquiries.

As the technology continues to be developed, bots for business are becoming cheaper and easier to program as well. They are much more accessible for every-day companies to afford and set up. For most companies, the benefits they offer weighed against their cost is a no-brainer.

Bots for Business

Bots are becoming common in businesses of all sizes and in all industries. Any business that handles monotonous tasks or customer inquiries would benefit from the use of a bot – so pretty much everyone. Every year, technology in the business community works to stream-line processes and make the lives of humans easier, and bots for business are a big step toward that goal.

What Are Online Ads that Seem to Follow You?

Online Ads that Seem to Follow You

Have you ever visited a website or been online shopping for a specific item, and now, all of a sudden, you are seeing ads from that website everywhere? If it’s an item you are not interested in or have already purchased, they might seem a little annoying. If you are still considering the purchase though, through a business’s eyes, these ads that follow you online are a marketing dream.

What Are Online Ads that Seem to Follow You?

Ads that “follow” you across different websites are called re-targeting, or re-marketing, ads. This analogy should help explain why they are so powerful: imagine if someone visited your brick and mortar clothing store. They browsed for a while and liked the clothes, but didn’t make a purchase. Normally they would leave and likely never think about your store again. But what if you had a way of subtly putting your clothes in front of them throughout their day? Maybe someone walked by wearing the clothes they were just looking at, or they saw a billboard for your brand featuring what they had just tried on, and now offering a 20% off coupon on these items! If this was you as a consumer, wouldn’t you be pretty close to returning to the store and making a purchase now?

This is essentially what re-marketing is, but in a digital version. With Google’s re-marketing ads you can track who has visited your site, what pages they viewed, and even if they took actions like added items to their cart.

How Re-Marketing Works

For most types of re-marketing, you must set up lists, or “audiences,” in Google Analytics to gather the information of those who visit your website. The most basic audience type is to gather everyone who visits any page of your website to re-market to. On top of a general audience you can also start to build more targeted audiences based on their behavior; such as which web pages they visited and what items they viewed.

These audiences can then be used to either show ads to across Google’s display network or to target them in Google Searches. For display network ads, these are those ads you have probably seen with an image and a little bit of text. For search ads, by using re-targeting here, your ads will be shown at the top of their search results if users in your audience make a google search related to your website.
Re-marketing ads are a powerful way to stay at the top of the mind of shoppers. The transaction process often takes multiple visits to your website over a span of days or weeks before a purchase is made. Don’t let customers move onto a competitor and forget all about you; stay on their radar with re-marketing.

Types of Re-Marketing Ads

Standard Re-Marketing

Standard re-marketing is when you build an audience based on visitors to your website and re-market to them with ads on websites in the Google display network.

Search Re-Marketing

Search re-marketing takes users in your audience, and if they make a Google search for one of your keywords, you will get preference to show up at the top of their search results.

Video Re-Marketing

Video re-marketing takes those who have viewed your content on YouTube and re-markets to them either with YouTube videos, banner ads in the Google search network, or with search ads.

Email List Re-Marketing

Email list re-marketing is great if you already have an established list of past customers or contacts. You can upload that list into Google and specifically target them with either banner ads on Google’s display network or with search ads based on their email address.

Re-Marketing

If you have taken notice of re-marketing ads, that means your potential customers have too. Consider this type of digital advertising for your website. Staying on a customer’s radar will ensure that they stick with you throughout their entire shopping process.