Mind Your Metrics: 4 Must-Track Analytics for Small Businesses

How tracking key data will help you understand your customer base.
Pierre Debois
Understanding site traffic helps you decide what type of content is driving users to your site. (Photo: Pierre Debois)

The first rule of business is to know your customer. That axiom has been at the heart of the recent big data movement. Huge corporations have been making big investments into this area, seeking broad­s-pectrum consumer insights on everything from overall site traffic to form abandonment rate.

But with new tools from tech giants and startup companies, small business owners don’t need a dedicated team of statisticians to understand their customer base. Now, all you need are the right resources, a little know-­how, and time to invest in order to set yourself on the path to understanding who your customers are and what engages them.

Pierre Debois

In order to monitor social media, DeBois recommends starting with free tools like Twitter Analytics and Facebook Insights. (Photo: Pierre Debois)

While taking a deep dive into sales and conversion data may seem like an overwhelming proposition upfront, it’ll pay off big in the end by allowing you to make smarter investments, improve customer service and grow your company. The key is to start small with manageable data sets that are vital to your business’s growth and profitability: sales, site performance, social media and competition.


Cold hard cash: It’s the original customer insight. And with the availability of easy-­to-­use accounting tools like QuickBooks and Xero, it’s never been easier to track your sales, expenses and inventory.

You can access a wealth of data about your customers and your business through reports that examine sales trends and fluctuations, gauge the effectiveness of a promotion, and compare profits with expenses.

Plus, with new integrated POS systems, you can take an even closer look at your customers’ demographics and habits by analyzing data from credit card sales.

Site performance

According to Pierre DeBois, founder and chief digital strategist at Zimana, the true value of analytics is in “monitoring metrics that describe the persona of site visitors.”

A goldmine of information about your online audience is available for free through Google Analytics.

With this multi­-faceted tool, you can see how people are finding your site, how long they engage with your site, whether they’re viewing your site on desktop or mobile devices, and a myriad of other useful metrics. Data on the main dashboard is the place to start –this can help you gauge how well your website is performing, what’s working and what needs more attention.

Social media

Thorough social media analytics go far beyond likes and followers. While those metrics are important, they’re a small part of a much larger picture that looks at how your customers are getting to your website.

To best use social media as a funnel to your website, DeBois recommended starting with free tools like Twitter Analytics and Facebook Insights. This way, you can gauge audience engagement first, “then use Google Analytics to learn how much of the social media platform is contributing to site goals,” he said.

Keeping an eye on this referral traffic gives you insight into which platform is best performing, which need some work, and what type of content is driving users to your site.


The truth is that your competitors are, in all likelihood, already knee deep in their big data. But don’t despair. Take a peek behind the curtain and see what’s working for them while formulating your own strategy.

One of many competitive analysis tools you can start with is RivalIQ, which offers a free 7-­day trial. With it, you can see how your competitors’ digital marketing efforts are performing in areas like SEO, SEM and social – giving you invaluable insight and the ability to skip a few steps ahead of your competition.

With a few good analytics tools and an eye on measurable goals, the opportunity to set yourself apart with data is at your fingertips – and now’s the time to get started.

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