These days everyone is talking about big data and how important it is for your business. Now don’t get me wrong, I am a numbers geek and love data, but by itself it isn’t enough.

Big Data is just the beginning

Data measures performance. You can tell if your social media programs are working by looking at the number of fans, followers and friends as well as the number of comments, retweets and shares. You can evaluate your website by looking at total traffic, page views, downloads and completed contact forms or purchases.

It is an objective look at what has happened. It is useful to project what will happen in the future if you keep doing what you have been doing. What it won’t do is tell you what to do next.

Analysis turns data into information

If you have looked at a Google Analytics Report you know there are a lot of numbers. Don’t be overwhelmed. Start by selecting a few key metrics to to study. Look for patterns and connections. It is great that your traffic is growing but are you getting more pages views and leads as well? If your web traffic is growing but page views are falling, it might indicate that you aren’t attracting the right people to your site. Take a look at your traffic sources and see which drive the best traffic.

When we looked at the data, we discovered Twitter to be a good source of general traffic. These people come to our website and look at one blog post. LinkedIn on the other hand, tends to drive more people who are really interested in what we are doing as a business. These more serious visitors tend to spend more time on our site. The analysis made it obvious where we should be spending more of our social media time.

Another reason page views may not be rising as quickly as you would like is visitors don’t know where to go next. This data point should drive you to look at your navigation. Is it logical? Do you have specific calls to action in your side bar and links between related blog posts and informative landing pages? Start the process by looking at your most popular pages. These should also contain links to the next piece of information you want someone to see when they come to your website.

Using data takes work

It is easy to track the numbers and fool yourself into thinking you are doing all you can. But you are wasting your time if you aren’t looking at how the data points fit together and using the information to make good decisions about your marketing.

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