Is a big data gig the sexiest job of the year? Well it is if your Harvard Biz. But, for most small to medium sized brands big data is not even on their radar screen, nor should it be!
Most are barely able to keep up with technology demands just standing up a web site, Google Analytics, social media accounts and an email list provider, let alone deploying algorithmic data sets that make newly minted MBAs swoon over.
Yes, new forms of data are reshaping our world: Google trends, Facebook likes, Twitter ReTweets, hashtag usage, sentiment analysis are all providing rich information that can be used to help even smaller brands understand and measure data in meaningful ways.
But, don’t fall in love with data without some forethought to your technology infrastructure. In our experience, most small businesses under $30M in revenue per annum don’t need to worry about big data or even think about it until their technology platform infrastructure is in place.
Key metrics your business should be measuring:
- Where is web traffic being generated how is it converting to leads or revenue?
- How fast is content being created and shared across the social web?
- Who is engaging with your brand and where?
It’s not data that drives most small businesses, it’s technical infrastructure that enables downstream data analysis. Start small like EF Shumacher espoused in his book (“Small is Beautiful”) as your building a digital footprint and know going in technology is evolving at a blistering pace and there’s always a fixed cost for deploying it.
1.0 Baseline Technology Infrastructure shoiuld have these common elements: .com Domain, Hosting Platform, WordPress Install, Google Analytics, Social Platforms, SEO Plugin & awareness of basic SEO requirements, functioning Contact Us form, clear menus and User Interface with critical information above the fold so it’s clearly visible to the visitor.
- Your web site’s load times are one of the most critical variables that drive SEO/Google rankings; pick a hosting provider carefully and a dedicated server (as below) may be a viable and economical option, with pricing $100-150. per month. This may be money well spent.
- WordPress powers 20% of the web for good reason: it’s extensible, has a built in Content Management System, has a vast pool of developers who are proficient with the platform, over 10K+ plus plug-ins that extend the functionality and it’s SEO friendly. Joomla is a great platform but in our experience doesn’t scale well for sites over 150 pages; Drupal is more powerful than WordPress; but, developer support is harder to source.
2.0 Advanced Tech: Responsive Mobile-friendly Customized Web Site, Content Syndication Automation, Dedicated Server via RackSpace, ingrated Customer Relationship Marketing Platforms: SalesForce, Infusionsoft, HubSpot, Newsletter Managment: Vertical Response, Constant Contact, GetResponse, MailChimp and Aweber.
More advanced “real time” Analytics Vendors: LeadLander, KissMetrics, Clicky and ChartBeat; Social Platforms: Tweetdeck, HootSuite, SocialOomph, Buffer, Sprout Social, Swayy and Nimble, hybrid social CRM platform. Social Brand Monitoring (ranging from basic to sophisticated); Google Analytics and Alerts, Bit.Ly, Social Mentions, Facebook Insights, BrandWatch, Radian6 (part of SalesForce), Twitonomy (probably one of the best analytics services for leveraging Twitter).
- All Social Platforms have some form of brand monitoring functionality: Google Analytics integration, keyword and/or hashtag monitoring.
- Ancillary Services/Apps we use and Recommend: DropBox (the best utilitarian cloud app on the market), ShareThis, YouTube for video hosting, TweetBot (mobile Twitter client), WishPond (social contests), Skype and Join.Me for collaboration.
- Tremendous overlap with content syndication, social monitoring and social “enabling” platform functionality and these platforms are updating features and functions rapidly. Our advice: pick one platform that addresses 75% of your needed features and then build out from there.
- Social platforms are not free - all have burdened costs for platform and profile creation, app integration and ongoing content marketing on the platform.
Technology is just means to an end, enabling your business to stand up a viable digital footprint. Yes, it’s a prerequisite for downstream deeper analysis. But, engaging your target market with great content, human insight and intellect drives brand awareness and revenue.
This is a stellar Infographic of the Bewildering Array and Ever Change Tech Landscape via Scott Brinker/Chief Martec