How to Put Data to Work for Your Small Business

by Ellen Williams, Constant Contact

You can use data from different areas of your business to see what's working and what's not. Here are three key areas you'll want to study and tips for putting your new found information to use. 

Using Data to Improve Your Business
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Whether you’re using data already, or are just now looking to start, here’s a roundup of some of the key places you should be looking for metrics—and how to put those insights to work for your business:

The data: sales receipts

Sales receipts provide specific data about your customers’ purchase behaviors, including how often they visit your store, how frequently they purchase a particular product, and what exact product or service they prefer. Analyze these over the months and years to come, and you may just stumble upon some truly fascinating insights.

Put it to use: Tailor seasonal promotions

Based on the purchase behavior information you gathered from your sales receipts, you could consider running a few targeted seasonal promotions to capitalize on the behaviors you’ve observed. For example, if people year after year tend to buy similar products during a particular month, then consider running a promotion to further incentivize that specific product during that time of year.

The data: email marketing metrics

There is a ton of information right at your fingertips when it comes to your email marketing. Important email metrics include:

  • Opens: Opens allow you to view the percentage of contacts that opened your email, as well as a specific list of everyone who opened each message.
  • Click-through rate:  This metric shows you how people are actually engaging with the content in your email. You can view which contacts clicked your links, then target them with follow-up emails. 
  • Bounce rate: Emails can bounce for a number of reasons, including invalid email addresses, a full inbox, or out of office statuses. Keeping an eye on your bounces will help you to remove any addresses with ongoing issues and maintain high deliverability rates.
  • Spam: If an individual on your email list reports your email as unwanted or unsolicited, it will be marked as spam. Practice permission-based email marketing to keep this rate low.
  • Opt-out: This occurs when one of your contacts no longer wants to receive your emails and unsubscribes from your list. A few opt-outs are normal from time to time, but pay attention to this number to make sure your emails are not turning people away often.

Put it to use: Adjust email marketing content

After analyzing these metrics you can adjust your emails in the future to offer your readers exactly what they like and want. Play around with this and see what works and what doesn’t. Your email marketing should be an evolution and something that constantly adapts and changes based on your customers behaviors. For example, if you find that the shorter emails you’ve sent get the best click-through rate, then continue to work on cutting down the length of your emails.

The data: social media marketing insights

Most social media networks—including Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest—offer analytics to their users. These metrics give you an understanding of what content your audience likes best and when fans are online and engaging with your brand.

Put it to use: Find the best time and content to post on social media

Take notice of the type of content that gets the most engagement and what time of day people are most likely to engage. Then, modify your posts to incorporate those findings. For instance, if you find that Facebook content posted on Tuesday afternoons that includes images get the most engagement, then continue to post important messages during that time of day and remember to add an image!

Editor's note: Not using email marketing yet? Or not happy with your provider? uses and recommends Constant Contact. Try it free today.

Business Know-How may receive a commission if you make a purchase.

Ellen Williams, Constant Contact Regional Development Director, New York and Southern Connecticut

Ellen has over 20 years of technology and marketing experience and has presented to over 4,000 small businesses, nonprofits, and associations. Her advice on best practices help organizations understand how to build great customer relationships that inevitable grow their businesses.  

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