The words “data” and “analytics” are enough to make some people cringe. Data has a reputation for being complex and time-consuming, something that only appeals to the computer-savvy geek types. Because of this reputation, many businesses avoid analyzing performance altogether.

Successful businesses are constantly trying to figure out what they can do better. It’s not enough to come up with an idea and bring that idea to life. Even the best ideas will need some tweaking.

This is where reporting and analytics comes in. Tools focused on these areas give real data that can be used to measure company performance and provide helpful insight. Instead of having the illusion the company is doing well in a certain aspect, data can validate or disprove this. This way, important decisions are based on facts instead of assumptions.

Investing in performance reporting is closely tied to business success. Businesses that extensively use customer analytics have profit, sales, and return on investment (ROI) above that of competitors. They’re more likely to retain customers and have higher customer loyalty.

With this information in mind, it’s unfortunate more businesses aren’t using the wealth of data available to them. It’s never too late to start! We’ll go through why businesses should be analyzing performance and some tips for doing this successfully.

How Businesses Benefit from Performance Reporting

There are many ways businesses can use data analytics to measure overall performance:

Benefit # 1: Measure Successes or Failures

Want to know whether that new event location worked? Are you curious if a new event price brought more satisfied attendees than the previous price?

To answer questions like this, look at the data. With analytics, businesses have the facts when deciding whether something failed or succeeded and how to proceed.

Benefit # 2: Understand Customers and Their Needs

Good businesses know their customers and what their customers want. Data allows businesses to really understand customers instead of just guessing. Insights related to customer purchasing behavior, social media engagement, mobile device use, etc., are all important for figuring out a customer base.

Benefit # 3: Capture Trends

No one wants to be the last person to get the memo about a new trend. Keeping an eye on analytics frequently helps businesses catch trends early on and react to them, before competitors do. This way they can stay ahead of the competition.

Benefit # 4: Improve Efficiency and Reduce Costs

Data can give insight into ways businesses can maximize profit by reducing costs, increasing efficiency, and looking for opportunities to increase ROI.

Tips for Optimizing the Use of Reporting & Analytics

Tip #1: Use Collected Data

Too often customer data is collected and never actually utilized. It just sits there, taking up space without providing anything in return. The first step to creating a successful reporting strategy is obvious: use the data.

Take advantage of data collected on a frequent basis. Make sure data is up to date and pay particular attention after big changes, for example, after introducing a new event or marketing technique.

Tip #2: Choose the Right Tools

There are a wide variety of reporting and analytics tools out there. Choosing the best tool will depend on the focus. Focus on tools to gather data that will help your business grow, instead of casting such a wide net it becomes impossible to reel in.

For example, if a focus is growing website traffic to event pages, use a tool like Google Analytics to understand where site visitors are going.

Good analytics tools allow business leaders to go from knowing something to implementing a change based on what they learn. Make sure the tools you use give actionable information and not just an array of data without a clear picture. This ensures you’ll get the most out of time and money spent on analytics.

Tip #3: Leverage Multiple Channels

The beauty of the information age is there is so much data available from many different channels. Capture data from multiple sources to get the most from analytics. Business success doesn’t involve just one area, it comes from many working together.

Looking at multiple sources gives the whole picture, instead of just a piece in the puzzle. For example, if you want to understand if a marketing campaign was successful, this can mean using insights from social media, website traffic, paid marketing, customer transaction behavior, etc.

Tip #4: Look at ALL Data

It can be tempting to focus on the “good” data that shows success and avoid data that may result in a conclusion you don’t like. Avoid “cherry-picking” data this way.

Understand you won’t find everything works perfectly all the time, so brace yourself for some hard truths and surprises before approaching the data. It’s often the results you don’t expect that end up providing the most constructive insights.

Tip #5: Start Small

Analytics sounds like a huge feat to many. You don’t need to go out and hire an analytics master to benefit from data analytics. The key is to start small and use tools that perform the grunt work for you.

Some analytics is better than no analytics, so start by focusing on the most important channels and expand from there.

Hopefully, with these tips, analytics and reporting won’t feel so burdensome. Remember, the most successful businesses constantly use data to grow, so hop on the analytics train and see where it can take your business!