Data analytics brings together a broad array of disciplines such as statistics and Artificial Intelligence (AI). The colossal importance of data analytics is in its ability to help entrepreneurs to make empirically informed decisions. If, as a business, you’re to be competitive then you can’t ignore the use of data analytics. Most big brands have invested and are still investing heavily in data analytics so you can’t afford not to. I do have a clear appreciation that as a small business you might not have the resources to be at the same level with big brands in how they are using data analytics. Most data analytics tools are quite expensive and out of the reach of most small businesses. So in this article I shall discuss some data analytics tools that you can use as a business. Their use ranges from free to moderately low costs (costs that can mostly be to do with data purchases, paid ads for social media or getting premium services where applicable).

Google Analytics

My assumption is that as a business you must have a website; in fact, it’s imperative! So if you have a website then you’re all set to use a free data analytics platform called Google Analytics. It basically a freemium service i.e. the basic features are free but you would have to pay if you want to tap into more advanced features. What I’ve noticed however is that just the free part of the service can be enough to cater for all your pertinent data analytics. If you actually don’t have a website as a business then this free feature must be an incentive for you to have one. The Google Analytics platform helps you to acquire and/or infer trends and insights that’ll be valuable in making empirical business decisions. Remember that in conducting business a website is the landing page for prospective customers that would have been directed there by the many ways of marketing you would be using. So Google Analytics helps you assess and evaluate your website, your customer or prospective customers’ behaviours plus much more. Google Analytics doesn’t just do this for websites only but even for your social media accounts. Google Analytics gives you insights into sources of traffic to your site, bounce rate, page loading speeds, amongst many others.

Built-In Analytics On Social Media Platforms

It’s now commonplace for businesses to have social media accounts for their businesses. This is no longer a matter of choice since effective digital marketing is now through the use of social media. On these social media platforms e.g. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are built-in data analytics tools. On Instagram, you just tap on Insights (provided you’ve made your profile a business profile). When you promote tweets in Twitter or boost posts in Facebook you can see insights on the actual posts. If you’re doing paid ads on Facebook you just go to Ads Manager to see detailed insights. There are those that are just basic and can be accessed for your organic social media marketing campaigns. By ‘organic’ I mean campaigns where you just post your content for free just like a normal post. Then there are paid ads or boosting of posts depending on which platform you’re using. When you move from organic posts to paid ones the details offered by the built-in data analytics become more broad and comprehensive.

Microsoft Excel Spreadsheets

I’ve mostly seen people using Microsoft Excel for just the basic functions but there’s more. I know that spreadsheets appeal more to handling statistical data. Still, they come in handy for arranging and analysing data so as to draw insights from it. The production of detailed pivot tables, graphs, dashboards and so on are some of the features ingrained in spreadsheets. There are even more advanced uses of spreadsheets, for instance, the use of SQLs (standard query languages). You would, of course, have to acquire more than just basic knowledge to leverage the vast functionality of Microsoft Excel. Short computer courses can help you with learning some new tricks in using spreadsheets as a data analytics tool.

Custom-Written Software

You could also pursue this avenue if you want. There are many gifted people out there with software development expertise. As a business, you might have a mental picture of the insights you want to extract from certain data sets. So if some of the platforms I’ve discussed can’t provide you with what you’re looking for then you can try to get software exclusively developed for your business needs.

Free BI Software

By BI I’m referring to Business Intelligence software. BI software is used for the analysis of business data to aid in effective decision-making. You must also bear in mind that free software obviously has certain limitations like possible lack of integration, compatibility or applicability to your specific data sets. Some examples are Qlik View, Microsoft Power BI and Heap Analytics, amongst many others. Bear in mind that most of these free BI software work based on cloud computing tech so internet connectivity would be imperative.

So these are just some of the data analytics small businesses can use. I deliberately chose tools that require little to no money knowing fully well small businesses tend to have financial constraints. In the event that your business grows I would encourage you to invest more in data analytics. Locally I know not many businesses even consider let alone know about data analytics. Thus you can leverage on that by using data analytics to scale past and higher than your competitors.