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Big Data, Schmig Data – Start Small

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big-dataBig Data is a hot topic nowadays for companies of all sizes. But for small businesses in particular, starting small may be the wisest move you can make. 

As others have noted, the explosion of unobstructed data accessibility and affordable digital tools for collecting and organizing information has revolutionized the way we do business on a daily basis. But small businesses seem to be lagging behind, at least in my experience with clients.

Take a quick look at some of these findings from a Q4 survey on the topic. They mirror what I’ve seen from clients to this point: an increased interest in big data, a recognition of its value, and overall trepidation towards the financial and time commitment (perceived, at least) associated with the entire process. But maybe we’re getting ahead of ourselves a bit. First things first – it’s about how you use data, not how big that data is.

Real-life example time. A client of ours owns a small niche gym tailored to elite athletes, specializing in training throwers (discus, shotput, javelin). This client has hundreds of mostly instructional YouTube videos and over half a million views. That platform is his number one source of online traffic and it’s responsible for a large percentage of his sales. When we began working with this client, it was clear that he was well aware of his view numbers and which videos were his most popular. But what he didn’t know about was the free insights provided by YouTube for every single one of his videos.

Here’s the button we used to analyze the client’s entire YouTube library:


And here’s what the output view looks like:


The results of this analysis? We discovered that two very distinct groups were viewing the videos: 45-54yo men and 12-17yo boys. Framed within this client’s brand offerings, it was clear that both parents of elite athletes and the athletes themselves were engaging with the videos. Armed with this new info, we segmented the client’s video engagement efforts to target each group a little differently.

None of this is considered Big Data by general standards. And that’s perfectly fine with me. Starting somewhere, digging a little deeper using existing tools, and putting your learnings into immediate action is an absolute win. You don’t have to wait for Big anything to analyze, learn, and progress.


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Growth obsessed startup co-founder (MusicBox) and strategist-for-hire.

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