If you’re trying to grow your small business, it’s time to get over any fears you may have about the words Big Data.


No longer is it just being used by big companies, as small business owners are steadily harnessing the power of data to scale up.


“It’s a new age and it’s a way to keep up with your competitors. You need to know everything you can about your customers,” says Olivia Kitevski, manager of the Big Data Toronto 2019 conference.


The conference, held June 12 to 13 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, was a chance for businesses to discover the latest in data-driven marketing solutions, with close to 100 vendors from North America, Europe and Asia exhibiting the latest in technology solutions for business owners.


Data and AI explained


At the simplest level, small businesses can use a data-marketing solution to collect customer email addresses and log the exact purchase made by each customer. Once in the database, the system can be set up to send an automated email to the same customer when the product they purchased is back in stock.


The more advanced marketing solutions will use computer algorithms (the basis of Artificial Intelligence) to detect more complex patterns in your customers’ purchasing behaviour. For example, the algorithm might be able to tell you that the same 200 people that bought Product A also bought Product F. The two products may be completely unrelated, but the marketing solution is able to tune in to that purchasing pattern.


“That becomes important when the data becomes too big for you to personally look at and see patterns,” says Kitevski.


Using data to understand customer behaviours


The technology also factors in how customers have interacted with your previous marketing campaigns, specifically what product links they’ve clicked on. Coupled with the data you’ve collected on previous purchases, the AI will be able to determine what subject lines in your next email marketing campaign will resonate most with an individual customer.


In the past, business owners would have to divide customers into two or three large groups, often based on broad demographic information, and manually send an email.


Kitevski says a data-driven marketing solution can be a huge money saver for business in the long term.


“Instead of hiring a team of marketers to send emails manually, the technology does this automatically,” she says.


The future of customer service


Another way for business to cut costs is using a chatbot. This AI solution can answer online enquiries from customers, replying to messages as if it was a real employee.


“This is another way for small businesses to reduce costs, specifically HR costs. Instead of paying someone to respond to questions from customers, the chatbot does it for you,” Kitevski says.


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