Photo: Kurt Stevens

Increase Your Profits by Doing These 5 Things with Data

April, 2016

With all of the buzz around “big data”, many local business owners are contemplating two things: 1) How important is data analytics to my business? Or 2) How do I organize and measure data efficiently to increase my bottom line?

We did our research and asked the experts to participate in our Lunch and Learn panel: Marty Beach Associate Director of User Experience at Anthology Marketing Group, Neal Kido, Founder and CEO of AkamaiSEO, and Michael Tam, President and CEO of Martin & MacArthur.SBLL420_1

Lucky for us, the guys didn’t disappoint.

Moderated by Jamie Kawamoto, Marketing Communications Director of Hawaiian Telcom, guests at Wednesday’s Lunch and Learn got a slew of actionable tips and recommended tools any business owner can start using right away.

Here’s a byte-sized portion of what you missed:

The panel’s verdict to question 1? Very. All three agreed that no matter how big or small you are, data is the key to understanding how your business should be interacting with your customers.

“It sounds pretty common sense, and it is, but you need a clearly defined goal where you can measure whether or not you’re obtaining that goal,” says Beach. “Analyzing your data can give you all sorts of insights that you normally know, that you would just be ‘guesstimating’ or having a gut instinct on. It really helps us to understand the why,” Beach says.

Further proving that there’s a reason why they say, “Numbers don’t lie.”

“Why you want to do something and how it fits within the structure of an organization is different than how somebody outside that organization views it. So for you to communicate with them, it needs to not be filtered through your internal rationale. By analyzing your data, it gives you more of an understanding of your users and so you’re approaching things in a more user-centric approach,” says Beach.

To help us get started with question 2, Beach broke it down to 5 things:

  1. Test
  2. Measure
  3. Monitor
  4. Analyze
  5. Optimize

“You keep going through that cycle until you start producing the exact results you’re expecting.”

Test

Renowned for their fine koa wood furniture and products, Martin & MacArthur’s President and CEO, Michael Tam used his own company as a case study example.

“8-10 years ago, we really didn’t have any lifestyle of personal life accessories, the watches, the rings, etc. We tested the waters and tried a couple of things starting with the watches. We put that on the website and we watched with social media what kind of reaction we got. We saw that there were some real hot buttons with these lifestyle accessories that just caused a shift. We started with 2-3 different styles of watches and put more and more of those out because it seemed like people were insatiable with these products. We looked at how many people were looking for us because of koa wood watches as opposed to rocking chairs or sofas or desks, because that’s all what they were looking for us for, 10 years ago,” Tam explains.

Where is the company now?

“What we found is 90% of the search came from these personal accessories. Only 10% was coming from furniture at this time. We were able to then adjust our product mix and product development based on what people were telling us.”

Measure

SBLL420_2Kido highlighted the convenience and versatility of Google Analytics through his live tutorial of the program.

“It’s free and pretty simple to use. But the real power in Analytics is the ability to really segment many different ways and get in detail on different sets of data,” he says.

What if you wanted to spy on your competition? There’s a tool for that, too.

“In terms of wanting to know what your competition is doing in terms of paid search, there’s a tool called Spyfoo. It’ll tell you exactly what they spent, what their ads are, what ads work best,” says Kido.

Monitor

According to Kido, there are 3 key things to monitor: page views, bounce rate, and average session duration.

“You want to make sure that you have users on there as long as possible, that they’re viewing a healthy amount of pages and that the bounce rate is low. I try to keep the bounce rate under 60%.”

When the discussion took a turn towards email marketing, Tam advised to monitor the open rates of your emails. Beach suggested using Campaign Monitor or MailChimp. The capabilities of these programs includes allowing users to determine effective times for email blasts.

Analyze

“You have a lot of touchpoints you’re trying to reach your users at. That is your world of big data. When you start looking at individual campaigns and initiatives. Looking at them holistically, and then analyzing, that is where the power comes in,” says Beach.

“Looking across the board, then you get that broad understanding of, ok, here’s what I’ve invested in, and here’s that return on investment, which one is working best? You want to find what’s working best and replicate that, duplicate that.”

Kido provides his own case study on a real estate company’s website he worked on.

“(When they came to me) their search traffic accounted for I think it was 10% of total traffic, which is pretty minor,” he says. “Obviously the major thing we saw is we got to get search ramped up because everyone’s using search engines and it’s kind of a trend.”

After creating a specific Search Engine Optimization program for them, search traffic went from 10% to 65%, placing the company as #2 in Hawaii real estate, two years later.

“That’s kind of what we do, we look at their stats and figure out where we need to improve,” says Kido. “We improve that and we can get more budget the next year because we look at the analytics and say hey, this is where the money’s coming from, we need (to invest) more.”

Optimize

Basically, never settle for less.

“You should continue testing user experience, making sure the page loads fast, that you have low bounce rates, that you have longer time on site, make sure that the customer is finding what they want,” says Kido.

So if you have a bounce rate of 50%?

“You want to try to get it to 30% and see how far you can go. It comes down to user testing, there are always going to be changes.”

User experience should be at its best, especially if your business generates most of its revenue online.
“If you have customers calling and saying hey, I can’t find this on your site, your site’s no good. That’s an indicator that your site’s missing content,” says Kido.

“One of my clients, they’re in the tour industry and people were using Facebook to ask customer service questions and that’s not what we had wanted Facebook for. We had Facebook so that they could share their experience.”

Final thoughts: Social media is not a community bulletin board for ads

“You really want people to engage. If you’re just putting ads there, they’re not going to interact. Use social media to add personality to your brand,” Tam says. “It’s like a game we play with our customers. What do you think about this? It gets them involved in the process. It’s about opening dialogue in the community and making them feel like they’re a part of the development team.”

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Lunch and Learn is a series of focused mini-seminars with moderated panel discussions on a range of topics relevant to small business professionals. Panelists are drawn from CEO contacts and other top-level draws. Topics include: marketing, sales, human resources, customer service, social media and more.

Small Biz Lunch & Learn: Big Data for Small Businesses took place on Thursday, April 20, 2016 at the YWCA of Oahu’s Elizabeth Fuller Hall. To view a gallery from the event, please see below.

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