Data Collection: 6 Effective Methods on How to Collect Data with Examples

/ July 7, 2021 | 9 Mins Read

Data Collection: 6 Effective Methods on How to Collect Data with Examples

Data can make you understand your users better and it also enhances user experience. Looking to store and use customer data for profit? Here are the best ways to do so.

Do you know why leading companies have gained the top position in the market? It is because they put a lot of time and effort into collecting the data to help improve their productivity, effectiveness, and ultimately, their business growth. It is the essential way to get success in the present market.

The data collection method gathers information from different sources to find answers to specific questions and problems. Data enables you to make wise decisions, detect problems, discover trends and patterns, and understand the customers. 

One of the best examples of how data can enable your overall relationship with customers is a tool named Screaming Frog. This tool can also help you scan your website to know the cracks in the user experience your website provides.

Read on: Data-Based Marketing: Top Use Cases and Tips for Adoption

Another great example is the Heatmap method. Data gathered from a heatmap tool will help your people navigate your web pages better. If you’re call-to-action is being neglected, for example, you’ll know to make some design changes.

Why is Customer Data Collection Important?

Whether your business is product-based or service-based, data plays an important role. Collecting complete and accurate data is essential for the success of any project or initiative especially when there are huge data repositories available online partly because the need for data for people is massive. 

  • If you want to make informed decisions about what you want your business to look like in the future and then build strategies for getting there then the only way to do it is through measuring, collecting, and analyzing the data.

  • Collected data can be stored and analyzed to give important insights about your existing and potential customers and get good leverage over your competitors.

Here's a data collection plan example, tools like Majestic help you see which backlinks your competitors have earned, and provide you with information on how you can earn such links as well. It can also help you see which keywords your competitors are ranking on for you to target them.

  • Data tells you what you are doing well, so you can replicate your successes. Here's another data collection plan example, you can find the best trending topics for your content with the help of content creation tools like Buzzsumo and keyword finder tools like keyword.io.  Having said that, data also tells you what you are not doing well to find solutions to your problems and make adjustments.

Therefore having a proper data collection plan is important to stay a step ahead of your competitors. Now that you have known the importance of customer data collection and data collection plan examples here we present you with different types of data collection methods.

Top 6 Types of Data Collection Methods

One common question is faced by every business person, how to collect the data? What are the different types of data collection methods? Depending on the discipline, the nature of the information being sought, and the objective, the methods of collecting data will vary. Here are the top 6 customer data collection methods:

1. Interview

Source: https://images.app.goo.gl/dJ4fNZ5Z8zkWTsLX6 

The interview method is the easiest answer to the question of how to collect the data in the first place.

The interview method is a direct method of data collection. It is simply a question-and-answer process. The interviewer asks the questions and collects the data from the responses of the interviewee. It is one of the main quantitative data collection methods.

It is done face-to-face or via video conferencing tools. The interviewer can use various tools like VisionsLive, Kernwert, Sony ICD ux560, and more.

Advantages

  • Interview methods help in accurate screening as there are fewer chances of getting incorrect details like gender, age, or religion in an interview.
  • The interviewer can record real-time emotions, quality, voice, etc., for future reference.
  • Interviewers can ask follow-up questions and collect additional information to understand individual qualities, attitudes, motivations, etc.

 Disadvantages

  • Conducting interviews can be costly as this method requires a team to perform the interview.
  • The quality of the data gathered depends on the interviewing skills of the interviewer.
  • It is a time-consuming and lengthy method. Its processes like transcription, organizaton, and reporting can be laborious.

2. Surveys And Questionnaires 

Source: https://images.app.goo.gl/Cud6QoVRtwn6sWsF8 

Another of the best types of quantitative data collection methods is through surveys and questionnaires

In this method, a list of questions is distributed. The question list contains both open- and closed-ended questions. In the past decade, the use of online surveys has increased rapidly.

Online survey tools are widely used by marketers, scientists, and researchers. If you are wondering how to collect and store the survey data, here are some of the top online survey tools: Google Forms, SoGoSurvey, Survey Monkey, Typeform, CrowdSignal, and Survey Planet. Online service can easily be done on websites or social media platforms. 

Advantages 

  • It is the easiest way of customer data collection. An online survey with hundreds of respondents can be conducted easily.
  • All the online surveys are easily accessible and can be accessed through most of the online channels like web, mobile, email, and more. 
  • It costs relatively low compared to other data collection methods.
  • It is easy to analyze and make projections with different types of data visualization with the collected data.
  • Various types of data can be collected, such as attitudes, opinions, values, and more.

Disadvantages

  • There is a high risk of survey fraud. Responses may not be valid. 
  • Many questions may be left unanswered, and participants may not complete the survey.
  • Participants may have different interpretations of the questions.
  • This method cannot wholly capture genuine emotions and feelings.

3. Focus Groups

Focus Groups

Source: https://images.app.goo.gl/DJLrdCeLsdKamzwJ6 

Another of the top types of data collection method is through focus groups. A focus group involves a discussion on a particular topic with a group of deliberately selected participants. The answers from the participants influence each other during the discussion. A Moderator leads the Focus Group.

There are various software tools used for online focus groups. These are easy to use and have a rich set of features and ensure lower cost. You can use tools such as FocusVision, LiveMinds, and Recollective.

Advantages

  • It is a simple and easy method to know the reaction of customers to your products, brands, or marketing campaigns.
  • The moderator aims for a better understanding of the emotions of the respondents and therefore asks questions to them.
  • The moderator can capture non-verbal responses, too, for example, body language or facial expressions.
  • This method provides brainstorming opportunities, and participants can bring out new ideas.

Disadvantages

  • Focus groups are much costlier compared to data collection methods.
  • There is a high risk of Moderator Bias.
  • You may not get honest answers on sensitive topics.
  • The aggressive members can dominate the discussion. Thus, diminishing the value of collected data.

4. Observation

Observation

Source: https://images.app.goo.gl/7oTyyAdKDSVRRJ166 

In the Observation method, a person observes the events, people, and interactions around a topic to obtain a detailed description of them. Observation happens in the natural environment of the participant. 

For example, Ethnographic research is done by observation method. The observer can note down what they observe or record the event by using a video camera.

Advantages

  • Observation is a simple method of data collection. It does not require the technical skills of the researcher.
  • Observers can collect a detailed description of behaviors, intentions, and events with the help of this method.
  • It has greater data accuracy and quality. The observer can check the behavior of the participants directly in their natural environment.
  • This method does not depend on the willingness of the people to report. The data is collected only by observing the people.

Disadvantages

  • Observers cannot gather data related to attitudes and opinions by observing.
  • It is time-consuming as the observer has to wait for a particular event to happen.
  • The subjective opinions and biases of the observer can be a hurdle to making valid conclusions.
  • Observers cannot study past situations.
  • It is an expensive method. This method needs effort, plenty of time, and requires high investment.

5. Records And Documents

This method of data collection involves obtaining and analyzing data from existing documents. The data already exists in the form of internal and external data. There is no additional effort to be made to collect it.

Internal data such as emails, sales reports, records of customer feedback, activity logs, purchase orders, etc., and external data from websites such as Data.gov and World Bank Open Data are used in this data collection method.

Advantages

  • Since the data already exists, and no additional effort is needed.
  • There is no need to invest any time and effort in searching and motivating respondents to participate.
  • This method allows you to track progress. It helps you understand the events that happened and the track changes of the specific period.

Disadvantages

  • Information may be outdated or inapplicable.
  • The process of assessing documents and records is time-consuming.
  • It may be considered as an incomplete data collection method because the researcher has less control over the results.
  • Some documents may not be available publicly.

6. Mobile data collection

The last of the quantitative data collection methods of this list through smartphones.

Mobile data collection is a method of assembling qualitative and quantitative information with the help of a mobile device. This method is seen rapidly spreading in use.

Depending on the circumstances, you need to choose your mobile data collection tools. There are various tools available in the market, such as Teamscope, Open Data Kit, KoboToolbox, etc.

Advantages

  • Collecting data through the use of a mobile phone can speed up the data collection process.
  • The data can be collected at substantially lower costs than traditional means.
  • It can be easily combined with other data. For example, textual data captured via mobile phone can be combined with data in other formats such as photographic images, audio, and video.

Disadvantages

  • The Mobile data collection method is not suitable for lengthy or complex questions.
  • Smartphones have limited hard drive space. Different apps, pictures, videos, and music may take up too much space and cause problems.

Data collection tips

Below are some of the best data collection tips to simplify your data collection, manage your data, and analyze it:

  1. Outline a clear and specific strategy for collecting, excluding, organizing, and managing data.
  2. Find out which types of data you need.
  3. You should clearly define objectives regarding what you hope to gain from your data analysis.  Data collection plan example - objective to know product feedback, objective to know the customer's taste, etc. You need to continuously assess your strategy and cleanse your data while setting new goals moving forward.
  4. Include various platforms to collect the data that relates to your business.
  5. Translate data into visual formats like infographics, pie charts, and graphs for enhanced readability and understanding. As visuals help people better understand than reading text or even listening to an audio.

After learning about some of the best data collection tips it's now let's move on to the next topic. 

Use a Data Management System

In the present world, Data is increasingly considered a corporate asset. Data is used to make effective business decisions, optimize business operations, improve marketing campaigns, and reduce costs to increase revenue and profits. 

So it becomes necessary to analyze the data correctly for a proper outcome, therefore a data management system is necessary. One of the ways to ensure storing, analyzing, and managing data precisely is through data cleansing. You can read more about data cleansing here

Here are the benefits of using a data management system:

  1. It will make the process of analyzing big data more manageable. 
  2. It enables you to be more selective while collecting data.
  3. It offers a platform to store and organize the data more efficiently.
  4. It helps you to track and analyze data more efficiently.

How to leverage user data in the best way?

There are various ways data can influence the success of your business. The main five ways to make the best use of your user’s data are:   

  1. You can know the needs or interests of the specific user from your user’s data and deliver accordingly.
  2. You can inform and improve your decision-making from the data collected.
  3. You can use the data to revamp and refine operations.
  4. Data-driven insights can help you find opportunities by predicting future trends.
  5. You can use the data to create new streams of revenue.

How to protect your user’s data?

Intruders and hackers are commonly seen attacking the company's data to get various illegal benefits from it. Hence, it has become necessary to take different actions to protect your user's data. To protect your users' data, you can try the following methods for implementing these three things.

  1. Make data theft more difficult

You can use a firewall and a VPN to protect the collected data. Take Backup of your data regularly to avoid ransomware attacks.  Build a cybersecurity culture in your organization by educating all your employees on security risks and issues. You have well-documented security policies.

  1. Secure your website or application

Releasing a bugged website or application which has a security flaw can cause disastrous attacks. Applying applicable development practices can decrease the risk of having such vulnerabilities.  Anti-malware protection is essential for the security of your devices. All code pushed to production must be reviewed and tested. 

  1. Limit the impact of unauthorized data access 

Do not store plain text passwords. Also, make sure to grant access only to necessary information and resources to the employees for fulfilling their duty. You should also be able to detect If someone is stealing your data. 

Keep an eye on your network traffic and also set up automatic alerts. Any data you collect should be completely encrypted. Your cloud storage provider will have an option to encrypt all the data automatically. Check that it is turned on. If you have your database, use a Key Management Service to secure all your data.

Conclusion:

Collecting high-quality data is foundational for the success of your business. You can choose from various types of data collection methods to gain in-depth information. Today, every business is a data-driven business

The data you collect will make a way to improve your business decision-making, operations, and revenue streams, therefore it is imperative to ensure that you have a proper data strategy in place. 

In Collaboration with: Jenny Harrison

This post was submitted by a TNS experts. Check out our Contributor page for details about how you can share your ideas on digital marketing, SEO, social media, growth hacking and content marketing with our audience.

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