Whether your goal is to save money, improve a product, or employ smarter marketing, today’s savvy business owners need deep analysis of how their consumers are behaving online.

Businesses must identify target audiences, build social channels, listen to social conversations, and know where potential clients are investing their online efforts.

Today’s consumers live in an always-on, always-connected world, and their attention spans are fleeting. They can move from one topic to the next in a matter of seconds. From weather concerns to financial trends and political affairs, search queries give valuable insight into what matters most to people at a specific moment. And given the proliferation of mobile devices, consumers are searching in a way that provides valuable insights into discovery and research. If you can address your consumers’ needs through quick response, you put your business at a significant advantage.

Resist the temptation to focus only on what happens on your website. Instead, prioritize what happens around your customer’s journey. If you focus your attention on every action, purchase, and sign-up, you can start to understand how your business functions.

Knowing you’re succeeding is one thing; knowing why is even better. Most analytics tells us what’s happening, but it’s more important to know who’s doing it, how they found us, what their profile is, and what they’re purchasing.

Where can you find the signals for improving your business?

One strategy is to follow what your customers and prospects are posting and discussing on social media. Make lists of relevant topics, ideas and trends. Follow popular industry blogs and pay attention to the posts that generate the most feedback and comments. All industry, company, and executive mentions should be captured and monitored to ensure a positive brand image. Sign up for Google Alerts to be notified of specific topics. Over time, relevant insights will begin to emerge, and you’ll adapt your business operations accordingly. Armed with this data, you can begin to shape your customers’ opinions and influence their purchasing behavior in ways never before imagined.

The next-generation Web is all about the data and analyzing it to produce more efficient and actionable results. Until that’s a reality, you have to use what’s available, when it’s available.