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Big Data for the Little Guy – How to Get More Qualified Sales Leads

Big Data for the Little Guy – A Flash Drives Case Study on How to Get More Qualified Sales Leads

The founders of CustomBulkUSB.com have backgrounds with start-up companies as well as with major corporations in the USA, Asia, Europe and Latin America — ranging from mom & pop and tech start-ups to household names such names as Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, IBM and McKesson Corporation.    Those experiences have shaped the CustomBulkUSB.com vision and its use of big data for driving sales growth for small and mid sized companies.

Here are some great insights from us on how to use big data to get big sales as a little guy:

  • Understand how to use FREE Google Trends.
  • Link lessons learned from Google Trends to your marketing and sales growth strategy.
  • Analyze your own website visitor data with FREE Google Analytics and link to Google Trends
  • Use Google Trends and Google Analytics data to grow your online and offline sales
  • If using SEO & Google Adwords, lower advertising costs and increase sales conversion rates by analyzing Google Trends and Google Analytics data.

Here’s a case study on how CustomBulkUSBcom has applied these methods to grow sales, reduce cost per acquisition and increase conversion rates and average sales per customer.

First, suspend all your judgments about how current and prospective customers search for your products or services for a moment.  Instead, think from the view point of the market.  We call this the Voice of the Customer (VOC).  Better yet, in today’s mobile digital era it might be better to call it the “Search of the Customer”  (SOC) — since customers voice their interest through their searches online.

We Waste Time and Money Trying to “Sell” People vs. Finding Those Who Have “Sold Themselves”

We believe that keywords are replacing large and costly marketing teams and sales forces.  Rather than spending so much time, money and effort trying to “sell” someone, why not find those who have already “sold themselves” on your product or service?  The VOC or SOC in the form of keywords tell us when prospective buyers are ready to purchase. And that is the key to current online sales and increasingly offline sales as people send buy signals through their mobile phones everywhere they go.  In the coming months and years the Internet will be embedded in virtually everything we touch.  This “Internet of Things” trend is fast upon us and we see it already with NFC (near field communications) and Wi-Fi enabled products ranging from flash drives to Google Glass to wearables such as smartwatches and activity tracking devices for health and fitness.

Another school of thought is that people will buy things based on recommendations from friends.  While this “social commerce” is true in some cases, we have found that understanding keyword searches vs social media recommendations to be more effective in converting prospects into sales.  So how do we use this big data to drive big sales?

1.  Start with Google Trends:  Intercept, Don’t Interrupt

Let’s look at a very specific example.  CustomBulkUSB wanted to find a way to “intercept prospects” when they were ready to buy flash drives vs. “interrupting prospects” with traditional advertising methods that try to drive A-I-D-A (attention, interest, desire, action).  In other words, what if we could simply be in front of prospective clients at a time when they were ready to take action?

So we began by understanding when, where and how people search online for flash drives.  A key way in which we assessed this was by using the Google Trends Interest Index. Here’s how we did it:

  • First, we went to http://www.google.com/trends/
  • Then, using the search box at the top of the site, we entered up to the maximum of five keywords, each separated by a comma.
  • We repeated this process countless times to identify high volume, “buy signal” relevant key words.  (This is where you will have to draw upon your own institutional wisdom and website data, the Google Keyword Tool and competitive intelligence.)
  • Finally, we had to be creative and open.  This meant using the “top” and “rising” queries shown at the bottom of the page to understand how prospects were really thinking about flash drives vs. using only our pre-conceived notions.  Additionally, by look at different trends by geography and time, we saw important patterns that provided us with keen insights into the behavior of prospects.

Below is a trend chart of flash drive interest by keywords across the globe from 2008 to 2014.  Click on chart to enlarge.

big data for little guy small biz usb drives for sales








2.  Use Google Trends Insights to Inform Your Marketing and Sales Strategy

By looking at this Google Trends data we were able to make changes to our marketing and sales strategies that proved to be very effective.  For example, we understood how to identify people that are browsers, not buyers.  Additionally, we were able to determine which countries and states use which terms the most to describe flash drives — pen drive, thumb drive, usb drive, usb, etc.  More importantly we were able to associate sales volume and search terms with seasonality indicators to better forecast our sales.  All of these examples, helped us to better target our limited marketing and sales dollars and efforts to get the biggest bang for the buck.


3.  Couple Google Trends with Google Analytics to Better Understand Website Visitors

If you do not have Google Analytics tracking on your website pages, get it done today.  I guarantee you that your competitors are using this information to beat you in the marketplace.  We took our monthly sales data, Google Analytics data and webform quotes data to develop a formula to understand how customers buy based on keywords, location and time of day.  This has helped us to quantify our intuition and increase our organizational learning.  We share this information with everyone in the company so that they understand the impact of processes upstream and downstream of them (marketing, sales, operations and distribution can better work together).


 90% of local shoppers look online first.  82% contact a business after they search.  – TPM/comScore


4.  Grow Online and Offline Sales – the Mobile On the Go Customer

While we expected to see an increase in mobile website visitors, we were surprised to see how fast this was changing.  By using the data analysis approach outlined above we discovered some very different behaviors in our desktop vs. mobile device (iPhone, iPad, Android cell phone and tablet) visitors.  Bounce rates, average site duration, pages viewed per session, page load times, etc. were all different depending on which system you used to access our website.  This led to us change our website to a responsive theme, meaning that the website  appearance “responds”  differently depending on if you are viewing it from a desktop PC vs a mobile phone.  We continue to make refinements based on additional lessons we are learning.  Bottom line:  we are using lessons learned from online to improve offline marketing and sales strategies.  The initial results are positive but once again, we remain humble and continue to learn.


5.  Improve SEO and Adwords Effectiveness and Increase Sales Conversions, Lower Acquisition Costs

Steps 1 to 4 above had helped us to improve or search engine optimization (SEO) and PPC (Adwords) strategies and tactics.  We now know which keywords have the greatest conversion rates and which keywords have the highest traffic volume.  This directly informs our online content marketing strategies, to include mobile and social media marketing.  As a result, we can create more engaging and relevant content that prospective customers find useful.  Additionally, we know which Adwords drive the best webform quote requests that lead to sales.  This allows us to reduce our overall cost of customer acquisition, permitting us to invest in new product ideas and services.

Simply put, Big Data isn’t just for the Big Guys.  Start-ups, mom and pop shops and countless small and medium sized enterprises can access free, online big data sources to help improve marketing and sales strategies and grow revenues and profits.

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