An effective business comes down to effective decision-making but what drives those decisions? For a lot of startups, it is guesswork, replication of competitors or sometimes even ego.

But the right answer is that all decision-making should be informed by data and nothing else. In the absence of data, it’s just guesswork, which means trial and error over and over. Often until cash flow and motivation is all but depleted.

Successful businesses understand that data is key to making the right decisions at the right times. For fortune 500 companies, they accumulate as much data as they can. Even before knowing what it could be used for. Because at the end of the day, information is power and data is information/knowledge in its most purist form.

So how do you start to collect data and use it to drive your business’s decision-making process? Collecting data and using it to create a complete picture of your business’s performance is not as hard or even expensive as you might think. In fact, it can be done for free with the right time commitment to its development.

For the purpose of this post, I am just going to suggest services for understanding the customer, not the internal performance of a business.

Just 3 free services can give you all the information you need to start:

Hotjar records every visit to your website and allows you to play them back in video form. This provides incredible insights into the needs of your customers, and the failings of your website. The key benefit is that this is a simple method of collecting data because it involves no numbers or graphs, it’s just observation by watching one or more videos. In addition to this core feature, there are other amazing features to explore. Google Analytics can be as complicated and in-depth as you want it to be. But as a business looking to get the key data, you want to have a report sent to your inbox weekly with the number of visits to your website, their source (i.e. Google, Facebook), their time on your website and what page they left from.

Finally, Survey Monkey is a service that allows you to collect feedback from customers to identify your weaknesses and monitor customer satisfaction. In practice, you may like this survey to be automatically sent every time a customer pays for your product or service for example.

Now, of course, there is a setup process for all 3 services that does require adding 1 or 2 lines of code to your website. You can ask your developer for access to your website if it is built on a Content Management System, or you can get someone to set up these services for you. If you would us to take care of everything for you, please get in touch with us.

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