There is not bigger buzzword in the marketing atmosphere today than Big Data.

But when most of us hear “big data”, we think big budgets. Don’t let that association scare you off. Because there are plenty of ways to take advantage of the data trend without investing millions of dollars.

Firstly, what are we talking about when we say “big data”?

Big data refers to using the information at our disposal to make more informed business decisions. Over the last decade or so, our ability to collect and use data has exploded. More information is available for more people, and some really smart people have figured out how to organize and analyze that data to improve business processes and results.

Here are five ways your company can take advantage of big data on a small budget:

  1. Google Analytics – installing and utilizing a free tool like Google Analytics allows you to track all of your web activity and spot trends that you can use to make decisions about your website. You can learn more about who is visiting your site, how they are finding you, what they are looking for, and how they engage once on your site. Effective, data-centric marketers use website analytics to spot trends and make changes that will improve the usability and effectiveness of their site.
  2. Remarketing – Companies like Google, Retargeter, and AdRoll all offer services that allow you to advertise to those most likely to turn into customers, the people who are already interacting with you online. Placing a simple tracking pixel on your site, and targeting those people that visit with ads, helps you advertise more effectively. And you can customize the messaging of each ad based on what the person is looking for or looking at on your site.
  3. Lookalike Audiences – Facebook now offers a great big data marketing tool in its ad platform. Lookalike audiences allows you to upload a list of your customers (assuming you know their email address) and it will identify other users on Facebook who “look like” those customers. You can then target only those people with advertising, people you know are a lot like your customers.
  4. Email Marketing – Implement an email marketing program where you collect information about your subscribers that allows you to segment your lists. Instead of delivering the same email at the same time to your entire list, you can use what you know about their interests, habits, demographics and geographic location to send them customized and personalized messages. This is a proven strategy to increase the effectiveness of your emails.
  5. Surveys and Focus Groups – Listen to your customers. They will tell you things you never knew. Basic surveys – whether they are done online, in person, over the phone, or through the mail – can help you further define who your customers are, what they like, who they buy from, and how you can help them better. Use that research to craft better messaging, improve your products and services, and find more people like them in the marketplace.