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Big data is a huge driving force in the business world to determine what, where, when and to whom to sell. Though big data resists being defined, it is commonly considered any data that is too massive to utilize with an excel spreadsheet.

According to IBM, the world now generates 2.5 quintillion bytes of data each year. For scale, you could cover every square inch of Earth with 2.5 quintillion mini marshmallows and still have enough to give one to every man, woman and child for a snack. There are truckloads of useful information for every business, but how do you sift through it all?

Keep reading for useful ways to learn from big data without going broke.

Learn about your site visitors.

Quantcast has a free tool to collect information from your visitors as they enter your site. It can give you demographic information like the number of unique visitors to your site; how often they come; their gender, age, income, education and ethnicity; by what device they access your site; which cities they visit from; and what topics they would find interesting.

Retarget your audience.

Rocketfuel offers a service to apply cookies to your visitors so that you might seek them out again for advertising purposes. As someone who has already voluntarily visited your page, they are already more likely to purchase your goods and services. The key is to remind them of what you have to offer without bombarding them with constant ads.

Keep up with your connections.

Business has always been about whom you know rather than what you know, so put your social network to work. Newsle allows you to enter your most valuable contacts from LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter and creates a customized newsletter for you to see how they are interacting with the internet.

See that your potential client has written a blog post so you can comment. See that your competitor tweeted a thought-provoking question and retweet it. The best way to keep up with your business contacts is by meaningfully interacting with them, and this creates a shortcut to do just that!

Explore trends.

Take advantage of Google by searching keywords for your business and seeing what comes up in “related searches” to create unique, well-tailored content. Use the “saved search” function on Twitter to see how people are talking about your brand. Take advantage of for a free look at how people are interacting with your brand online and your competitors.

Many businesses understand the power of big data, but most think you need expensive software or an in-house data scientist and business intelligence team to derive meaning from any of it. The truth is most companies can get insightful looks without paying a dime.

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