Big data is a big thing nowadays. Big data here represents the number of posts to social media sites, the use of digital pictures and videos, purchase transaction records, sensors used to gather climate information and cell phone GPS signals to name a few. For the business owner, big data is an opportunity to find insights, to make your business more agile and to answer questions that were previously considered beyond reach.
Well it been found that owners and/or marketers who leverage data make better business decisions, increase customer engagement and produce higher return on investment (ROI). How high? Well:
- A recent study  shows that an incremental 241% ROI can be generated by applying data to business decisions.
- 91% of chief marketing officers (CMOs) believe that successful brands make data-driven decisions.
- However, only 11% of marketers use data to make business decisions today.
You might be thinking how unethical this is – sifting through the buying patterns of customers and prospects. This might rub some moral bone in your body the wrong way. But understand that your customers want you to do this. They want you to anticipate their buying signals. They really do.
There was a recent study by Accenture  that profiled over 2,000 consumers across the United States and United Kingdom. In this study, it was found that most people are willing to have trusted retailers use some of their personal data in order to present personalized and targeted products, services, recommendations and offers.
In fact, according to the study:
- Despite the fact that 86 percent of those surveyed say they are concerned about websites tracking their online shopping behavior, 85 percent are aware that such tracking goes on – but they understand that tracking enables companies to present offers and content that matches their interests.
- Nearly half of all respondents – 49 percent – are receptive to their favorite stores or brands using their tracking data to inform their future purchases and make them aware of product availability.
- When asked to make a choice, 64 percent of total respondents say it is more important that companies present them with relevant offers against only 36 percent who say companies should stop tracking their website activity.
- At the same time, however, 88 percent strongly agree that companies should give them the flexibility to control how their personal information is used to tailor their shopping experience.
Your customers want relevant offers. And I think – and this is just me – that you should be giving it to them.
6 Data Tracking Services to Crunch Big Data
But small businesses have shied away from big data thinking it was too expensive. And unlike a Xerox, which collects “terabytes of data daily ” they may feel they don’t have the resources to crunch the numbers. But the field is changing and many small businesses are now able to capitalize.
Below are 6 data tracking services any business owner can use to get the most out of big data:
A platform for predictive modelling where companies post their data and statisticians from all over the world compete to produce the best models. At the end of a competition, the competition host pays prize money in exchange for the intellectual property behind the winning model. It’s a crowdsourcing approach and it turns data science into a sport.
Helps online retailers know which of their customers are most valuable and suggests actions to keep them. Custora determines where the repeat customers are coming from and also recommends specific incentives the retailer can use to reclaim lost customers. The Custora software analyzes order logs and distinguishes between customers that simply haven’t ordered anything for a while and customers who have left the site.
RJ Metrics 
Provides tools for database analysis, enabling its customers to extract data from their business and transform it into a more suitable format for analysis, providing them with the means to turn it into beautiful, actionable charts.
Size Up 
The Sizeup tool is provided on the Small Business Administration (SBA) website , and also here at Small Business Trends (see Benchmark Tool ). This shows all small businesses across the United States and can help decide where to locate your new business. For instance, you can search for where restaurants are located and see where there may be an opportunity to locate a new one.
Sells payments, analytics and marketing tools to local merchants. Unlike Square, it shows things like what percentage of customers are new versus repeating, and how much each group tends to spend. Swipely can even tie in social media deals and weather reports into past sales so retailers can get an entire picture of what might have caused a surge or drop at any given time.
A Web based, real-time e-commerce analytics tool that allows store owners to identify patterns in their data and better serve customers.
Data  Photo via Shutterstock