A recent survey from online marketing company Constant Contact found that almost 80% of small businesses are incorporating data reporting and analytics to glean insight and guide their marketing decisions.

The study, made up of members of the Constant Contact Small Biz Council, targeted the perceptions small business owners have regarding big data, if and how it could help a business, and what factors prevent them from tapping into its potential.

Asking questions such as “Do you use data of any kind,” “What types of data are SMBs using,” and “Why don’t you use data to inform business decisions,” Constant Contact uncovered some interesting trends.

While about 80% use  data, it tends to be what is considered small data such as email marketing reports (83%), website analytics (64%), and social media analytics (53%). Less than half use tools such as sales trends, current customer data, and sales receipt analysis.

The primary difference between big data and small data rests not in the information itself, but in its volume, variety, and velocity and the methodologies needed for analysis and interpretation.

Surprisingly, while two-thirds of the respondents expressed a desire to learn more about using big data to drive business, believing it plays a significant role in finding new customers and giving them a business advantage (about 75% think this), six in ten said they do not use big data, citing not knowing how to start using it as the key impediment to implementing any such strategy.

According to the Senior Vice-president of Sales and Marketing at Constant Contact, Christopher M. Lister, “…Data insights can…be quite helpful but because small businesses lack the necessary volume to generate those insights, the responsibility lies with big companies serving them to make that kind of data available and easy to use.”

Furthermore, “…reporting and analytics is promising, as the better they know their customers the better they can target their marketing and vie with bigger competitors…”

When asked about how marketing data was used for the upcoming holiday season, 66% of those responding said they used the information to determine what products and services to market, and 52% indicated it helped them understand where to direct their marketing efforts.

In a final note, when asked how 2014 revenue performance will compare to that of 2013, 63% indicated they anticipated revenue to increase over last year.


As the Holiday Season Approaches, Small Businesses Report Putting Small Data to Good Use,” Constant Contact. November 10, 2014.

“Small Data and Small Business,” Constant Contact. October 2014.

Gutierrez, Daniel. “Big Data vs. Small Data – Is there a Difference?” March 24, 2014.