Data is integral to what we do here at Croud; without effective data management technology and the expertise to analyse our findings, we simply wouldn’t have a business model. But it’s not just us – SMEs in very different sectors all across Britain believe in the importance of gathering data and the need to use it effectively.
In our recent Going Global report, we interviewed some of the most successful SME exporters, as featured on The Sunday Times Lloyds SME Export Track 100, to discuss how they felt a data-driven approach worked for their business, and whether or not these insights have had a positive impact on success overseas.
Data: what’s the big deal?
78% of the SMEs we spoke to believe that data is an important factor in gaining a competitive advantage at home and abroad. That’s a significant percentage, made even more persuasive by the fact that among these successful SMEs, there’s a core number of ‘data expert’ organisations who expect a 20% annual growth rate over the next five years – 19% higher than those companies not currently using data.
Data, clearly, is revealing insights that companies who aren’t pursuing this avenue of analysis simply don’t have access to. And in the wake of the uncertainty surrounding British brands after Brexit, this reassurance allows SMEs to move with confidence in a changing international market.
Leveraging data for success
This qualitative analysis doesn’t just tell business owners about the trends and predictions for your market at home and abroad: it can also shed light on whether there’s an audience for your product or service in the first place.
Take Joseph Joseph, one of the industry’s leading houseware manufacturers. While they export to a variety of different markets internationally, audience data quickly revealed that not all markets are equal, and that households abroad can – and do – function very differently to the UK. Specifically, they discovered that their popular potato masher sold poorly in Japan, simply because mashed potato isn’t part of the Japanese diet. By leveraging their customer data and partnering it with in-depth, local expertise, this allowed Joseph Joseph to personalise each product range for international markets with tremendous success.
Our interviewees echo this point, with UNiDAYS CTO Andrew Bullock emphasising the importance of local data:
“You can’t assume one geographic region is similar to another. Models are very useful, but ultimately you need as much data as possible, specific to each country.”
There are undeniable challenges involved in this approach – namely, working with suppliers and retailers using technology which is either lagging behind or incompatible with your operations – but the results can’t be argued with. Investing in better targeting, better experts and a comprehensive data analysis model are key drivers in international success for British SMEs.
The data-driven future
Almost 60% of SMEs predict that using data to improve customer targeting will be a top opportunity in the next three to five years, and with key technologies advancing at a fast pace, now is the time for SMEs to invest in digital marketing, particularly when going global.
It might seem an expensive manoeuvre for companies with a limited marketing budget, but with customer and market data among the leading drivers for making successful business decisions, it’s becoming more and more important that businesses spend smart in this area.
Do you consider yourself a ‘data expert’ business, or feel like there’s more you could do to gain a competitive edge internationally? Download the full Going Global report for a deep-dive into how utilising your data can lead to success in markets old and new, or contact us to find out more.