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Types of Data Every Business Should Collect

With flexible cloud storage, businesses can collect more data than ever. Data collection and analytics can help businesses track their performance and adjust their strategies based on what worked in the past and what didn’t.

Companies that adopt data-driven decisionmaking have output and productivity that is 5-6% higher than their competitors.

But which data should you collect?

Communication Records

There are different regulations that require you to keep your emails, social media correspondence, text messages, and mobile calls. These legal requirements vary by states and industries, so you need to know which email compliance regulations are relevant to your business and follow them. These regulations prevent exposure of sensitive data, not only about your customers and business partners, but also about your own business.

Unfortunately, emails can quickly add up and overwhelm your servers. Although digital storage is fairly flexible, it’s not without limits. But there are some solutions that can help you. Using an email archiving solution is a great way to ensure compliance while also keeping your email storage clutter-free.

Besides compliance, if you keep track of your business correspondence, you can easily analyze valuable information that can help you streamline communication in the future.

Sales Data

The sales department is arguably one of the most important ones, as it is essential for generating profit. That’s why making sure that your sales team is working as efficiently as possible is crucial.

And if you want your sales team to succeed in the future, you have to analyze your past wins and failures and learn from the experience. Collect as much sales data as you can, including profitability, revenue, distribution channels, customer personas, price points, etc.

This data can help you understand what your strengths and weaknesses are, and adjust your strategy accordingly.

Take a look at the example of US retail giant Walmart and its technology arm Walmart Labs. They collect 2.5 petabytes of unstructured customer data every hour, analyzing millions of products and customers. Their analytics system analyzes almost 100 million keywords every day in order to optimize for each keyword.

Thanks to their smart use of big data and constant efforts to improve online customer experience, they reported a 37% increase in online sales in the last fiscal year.

Source

Not many businesses have as many resources as Walmart, but an important lesson to learn from their example is that data collection and analytics does show results, so try to incorporate these principles into your strategy to the best of your ability.

Marketing Data

Sales data you collect will not only be valuable to your sales team but also your marketing team. For example, information about customer personas can stir marketing campaigns towards a demographic that wasn’t previously targeted.

But marketing departments also contain a sea of valuable data themselves. From marketing ROI and conversion rates to website traffic, social media traffic, and audience engagement, marketing teams are sitting on a gold mine of useful information. All these insights can help you predict future trends and craft a more effective marketing strategy. 

Predictive analytics is slowly but surely finding its place in marketing. It’s becoming increasingly popular, so much so that 34% of businesses now rely on this approach to improve their data-driven marketing.

Source

Accounting Records

Research by SHRM shows that the most common areas for data analysis are accounting and finance (71%) and human resources (54%). These departments sometimes even work on the same data, for example when it comes to payroll.

Another important thing your accounting department can analyze is cash flow. Cash flow is king. In order for your business to operate successfully, having revenue isn’t enough. You also need to have a realistic estimate of your income as well as your expenses in order to prevent loss.

Part of your revenue will inevitably be spent on the production of your products, suppliers, shipping, payroll, etc. Keeping tight accounting records and analyzing your data will help you ensure that you’re not spending too much on any of these aspects and that once everything is paid for, you’re still left with enough profit.

HR Analytics

As mentioned before, HR analytics is one of the two most popular skills when it comes to data analysis positions. Human resources can provide loads of useful information regarding how much it costs to recruit and train employees, how productive every individual employee is, how satisfied or dissatisfied employees are, etc. All this data can reveal the areas that need improvement.

No business can thrive if its employees are unhappy and unappreciated. If they’re not satisfied, they will be unmotivated and their productivity will suffer. Making sure that your training is optimized and efficient will save you from wasting valuable resources. That’s why it’s crucial to collect this information. It will reveal the problem as soon as it occurs and enable you to act quickly.

Keep in mind that none of this data exists in a bubble. If you want to achieve the best results, you need to make sure that your departments are constantly collaborating, and that information is flowing transparently across your company.

Your sales team can’t work without marketing, accounting can’t work without sales data, and HR won’t be efficient if they don’t keep track of communication. The more data you collect and share between departments, the more informed your decision-making will be.

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Elaine Bennett is a digital marketing specialist focused on helping startups and small businesses grow. Besides that, she's a regular contributor for Bizzmark Blog and writes hands-on articles about business and marketing, as it allows her to reach even more entrepreneurs and help them on their business journey.

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