Opinion piece by Simon Carbery and Nicholine Hayward.

If you have the right tools and you know where to look, the internet is a mine of useful information about your market, your customers, your reputation and your future. From search engines to social media, there’s a wealth of intelligence out there.

Now, at last, the internet and the priceless data it provides is being put to work to deliver meaningful and measurable performance improvements across a wide range of business activities… 

1. It can help you get better results from your marketing campaigns

Tapping into online data can take your marketing to a whole new level of performance, with more intuitive segmenting, more resonant creative executions and a more streamlined fulfilment path.   

Ask your team: Do we segment and profile our audience according to what they want rather than who they are? Do we do it on an ongoing basis, to keep pace with market dynamics and trends? And do we test our creative work online before rolling out our big campaigns?

2. It can give you better PR 

When a story hits, the world rushes to the web to find out what’s going on. Whether you’ve got good news or bad, you can harness the power of blogging, social media and search engines to your advantage, to get your message across, control your brand integrity and pre-empt, manage and monitor what the web’s saying about you.

Ask your team: What is the web saying about us? And what are we saying about ourselves?
3. It can help to drive your Product and R&D strategy 

The internet provides a wealth of data to tell you what people really want, how many of them want it and the exact worlds they’re using to look. You can tap into the largest, most honest and unselfconscious focus group in the world to identify new markets, new product development opportunities and new naming conventions.

Ask your team: How do we know if people really want our products? And is there something they want that we don’t sell?   

4. It can help you develop effective competitive strategies

Whatever you need to know about your competitors, you don’t need to go to Spymaster – the internet will tell you. You can find out who your competitors are, how they’re positioning themselves, what kind of service they’re offering and more, to benchmark your own performance, stay one step ahead, and win mind and market share.

Ask your team: Is our competition online the same as it is offline? Who poses the greatest threat and why? And how can we use that inside intelligence to our advantage?  
5. It can help you attract and keep more and better people

You can harness the internet to raise your company’s profile in the recruitment market and attract a higher quantity and quality of applicants. As one of a website’s most important audiences is the company’s own staff, you need to optimise your web presence to inform and reassure existing staff, enhancing both productivity and retention.

Ask your team: What are candidates finding when they check us out online? And how can we give a better service to current as well as prospective staff?

Simon Carbery and Nicholine Hayward are directors of brand and business consultancy

Hayward Carbery.