Taking the first step into consumer analytics can be daunting. After all, big data is a big deal and big business. Clients want to know how to start a consumer analytics initiative and they want to know some basics in getting up and running. So let’s break it down…

Oversimplified, big data allows us the opportunity and ability to take massive amounts of consumer data and begin to tell a story from it – a story about consumers. Thanks to the story that analytics can tell, marketers can examine the data to identify consumer behavior patterns and make behavioral predictions.

Certainly the more we know about our consumers the better relationships we can form with them. These predictions will allow us to better identify a consumer’s needs and wants, allowing us to correct any necessary issues in the consumer journey and predict future buying behaviors or acceptance levels. These implications can be huge for today’s business environment.

Consumer analytics are not just for big companies anymore. Smaller brands are taking advantage of the information too. How? By looking at smaller samples. Targeted Facebook ads are a great example. Think about it, for those of us that have a Facebook profile, we allow Facebook to collect a lot of personal information – what we like, what we dislike, what our primary interests are, what the interests of our friends are, what movies we see, what music we listen to, what we buy on Amazon, and on and on and on. This collection of data is incredible!  It allows Facebook to look in to our lives, and predict what we will buy and when will buy it. This type of personalized data, allows small businesses to hyper-target it’s best customer segments with incredible accuracy.

Here are five basic steps to begin your consumer analytics plan:

1. Define the scope of your project and identify all relevant KPI’s.
State your goals. Define what success looks like.

2. Identify and segment your consumer base.
Who are they?
Where are they?
What do they think about you?
What are their motivators?

3. Identify which questions you want to answer with the initiative.
What specific business questions do want answered? Be focused and start small.

4. Align the tools and metrics you have available to you with your strategic objectives.
Which metrics are most meaningful to customers?
What tools will be used to collect insights?

5. Measure consumer attitudes and perceptions.
Consumer attitudes affect their actions, understanding them helps with forecasting.

Data is changing the landscape for technology and businesses of all sizes. By knowing your consumer intimately, you are able to take the first critical step in planning an effective analytics initiative.