Data Collection: Strategies to Identify and Collect Quality Data for Marketing

With the Internet of Things surrounding every bit of our lives, not a single activity of ours in the digital universe goes without leaving its imprints. And the interesting part is it’s growing as you read this post. 

It also moves me into thinking about how you and I are collectively building this universe every second bit by bit (quite literally) by communicating, working and sharing our lives online. As per a study by EMC, the digital universe doubling in its size every two years and by 2020, this universe will reach 44 trillion gigabytes. That sort of scale opens up a lot of opportunities for making improvements in every area of life.

But it is also worth noting that more data doesn’t necessarily mean it’s useful. In fact, as Seth Godin puts it, the more data we have, the less we know. So, how does one arrive at just the right amount of data? What, in fact, is the right amount of data? How to collect that sort of data?

In this post, we will take you through some of these challenges and discuss how to set the basics right for meaningful insights and collect data through various sources. 

First things first, the most crucial step of a successful data collection strategy begins with some introspection. As a marketer, you need to know:

i) Do I understand what I want to achieve through data? – This question should inform you about the ultimate end goal i.e. drive more purchases/revenue, increase user retention, improve customer lifetime value, etc.

ii) Do I know what information I need to reach those goals? – To identify the information, map what all actions a user must take in his journey to take you to those goals. Basis of this knowledge, identify the important events which lead the user from one step to the next step and finally to the end goal.  

What is good data?

Dilbert’s boss can do away with breaking bad in his comic world. But if you care about your marketing money, stay away from his ways.

It is to be noted that data that is good for one’s business might not help other businesses in the same industry. In fact, there’s no straight and simple definition of good data. However, there are certain fundamentals that ensure

  • Relevance: If it doesn’t fit the purpose, it’s not fit to be collected. Keep what matters and get rid of the fluff.
  • Validation: Good data should answer these questions for you: Does my data confirm my hypothesis in a logical manner? Does it give me enough confidence to make critical decisions? 
  • Compliance: Consent and transparency are the words here. In the wake of GDPR and CCPA, marketers must ensure that their data sources are compliant with local data regulations. Since there’s a risk of facing a Regulatory Agency against your business – take this seriously.
  • Updated: Change is constant and it shows in data too. Outdated data often misleads. Take into account the recency whenever analyzing.
  • Methodology: It’s a fact – marketers are exposed to too many metrics. And it’s quite easy to get lost in the definitions. It should be easy to understand how each of your metrics are being captured and whether they fit the context. 

Honestly, it is very hard to arrive at good data at once. Data collection should rather be considered a process wherein you deal with one issue at a time and use your learnings to refine it further. Surely there’ll be many things which will be new to you, but that’s what the essence of data is – learning something new every time

How to collect data?

Once you have determined what good data means to you, it’s time to build a data repository to refer to for further actions. But it’s more than just placing your pixels in the right place. The following are a couple of factors you must account in to effectively collect data. You can use these pointers to bring marketing, engineering and product teams on the same page and move towards a unified goal. 

i) Define success and prepare a plan: This is the most critical part of the data collection process. It starts with defining your business objective and key questions associated with achieving the end goal. For example, you might want to know what type of articles are most popular among the age group of 18-34 or what type of products do users buy the most on my website, etc. 

ii) Create a tracking plan for your data: Without having a clear direction as to what to record and where to store data, you will feel baffled. To make things easier for everyone in marketing and the developer team, make sure to have a clear plan defining all the events to be captured and the purpose of capturing them. Take a good look at the customer conversion funnel for this step. 

iii) Automate what you can: The customer journey is not a linear path. And it only makes capturing and storing data all the more difficult. Even if you have the continuous support from your engineering and developer team to deploy your tracking strategy, it quickly becomes very complex to handle the bulk of data. Thanks to the existence of marketing automation platforms, marketers can bring robustness to their data collection plan and focus more on the insights. 

iv) Consistency: Data often gets ruined because of inconsistencies in the naming conventions. Prevent this at all costs to create consistency in your data. For example, the following events could be considered the same:

Pagetype

pagetype

Page Type

Page_Type

Page-type

And these issues can further result in inconsistency in reporting, confusion, and wastage of time. Set up guidelines for naming conventions at the very beginning of your data capturing strategy.

v) Decentralize your data: Customers being present on multiple channels, it makes sense to bring data from all touchpoints to one place. This allows disjointed data to communicate with each other and deliver interesting insights about customers. 

vi) Error margin: Data isn’t always right. Many a time, the data that you see on your dashboard is sampled and based on the error margin. The lesser the size of sampling or margin of error in your data, the better it is.

  • Marketing automation platform: Marketing automation tools help you collect deeper level information about customer behavior across the conversion path. It is likely to tell you about the user actions on your ads/content, A/B testing results, keyword research and more. Netcore Smartech also allows you to combine data for both offline and online touchpoints. Let’s say you have a clothing brand with an offline and online presence. It can help you track customer behavior, purchase habits, and trends for both your brick and mortar store and e-commerce website and combine it to create a unified view of the customer journey.

9 ways to collect data for marketing

Now that you have read about the basics of collecting data, the question comes – how to go about collecting data? There are different ways to do so. And again it depends on the kind of data you need and its context. Here are a couple of popular ways to collect data used these days: 

  • Survey: Surveys are one of the most popular methods of data collection. Using surveys you can directly ask the customer for information. You can collect various types of quantitative and qualitative data ranging from demographics to contextual. Surveys can be conducted online, over email or phone, and in person.
  • Marketing automation platform: Marketing automation tools help you collect deeper level information about customer behavior across the conversion path. It is likely to tell you about the user actions on your ads/content, A/B testing results, keyword research and more. Netcore Smartech also allows you to combine data for both offline and online touchpoints. Let’s say you have a clothing brand with an offline and online presence. It can help you track customer behavior, purchase habits, and trends for both your brick and mortar store and e-commerce website and combine it to create a unified view of the customer journey. 
  • Website and app tracking: Your owned channels like website and app are crucial touchpoints to collect customer data. Online data tracking allows you to collect the data points a customer leaves on your website or app during every interaction and reports them back to you. Some of the data points you get are – how many times did the user viewed a certain page, how much time they spent on the page, where did they go after coming on a certain page, etc. While some of this data is collected by your hosting provider, online tracking software tends to provide advanced level data tracking and reporting features.
  • Social media: Social media is another important tool to understand the characteristics of your audience better. This becomes all the more crucial if you allow social login on your website. For example, companies like Spotify and Uber tend to record social data and use this to provide them contextual and personalized content and services. Other than this, social media also inform you about your brand’s mentions and helps you gauge brand perception at a larger scale. 
  • Conferences and exhibitions: Events and conferences tend to help companies build much closer relations with their customers. By collecting data from these sources, you can reach out to improve your lead generation, reach a newer audience, increase brand awareness and understand audience challenges. Data collection is often overlooked at these events but it is extremely valuable specifically for B2B companies. Talk to our experts at Netcore Smartech to understand how we can help you implement tracking to gather actionable data from events. 
  • Transactional data: in-store and online: Recording transactional data is a must for every business. In an online setup, this type of data informs you about products sold, customer purchases, and supplier side data. For offline businesses, it is an important source to know about customer footfall, customer movement patterns across the store (requires sensors), and POS (point of sales) data. Tracking this data can support both your inventory and marketing decisions. 
  • Subscription and signup data: Registration or subscription is the time when users formally shake hands with your business. This is a great opportunity to get to know your customers and collect valuable information about them to optimize your communication with them. A good example of this technique is how B2B businesses collect audience data by offering them something of value i.e. case study, whitepaper, research, infographics, etc. News media, e-commerce, OTTs, blogs also tend to collect this type of data to personalize content. The key at this stage is not to ask too much from the customers. At the same time, you need to maintain a balance to achieve your business goals. Keep it subtle for them and useful for yourself. 
  • Third-party sources: To understand this better, first we must know what third-party data mean. It is the type of data which is collected from outside sources in the data marketplace. These sources do not directly collect this data but rather aggregate from 1st party data sources and sell. Marketers tend to use this type of data to increase the scale of their targeting and reach a new audience. 
  • Customer Feedback: Customer feedback is crucial for nearly every function in an organization. Be it marketing, customer service, product, and engineering team, everyone benefits from collecting it. It provides important insights as to how customers feel about your product or service and overall experience of using it. It also informs marketers about their motivations. Customer feedback can be obtained from multiple channels – social, email, direct, or even chat tools. 

Recommended ReadUsing Data: Steps to Implement Personalized Marketing Strategy

It can be hard to know where to start data collection for marketing, especially if you don’t have a data science team, researchers or marketing analysts in your organization. However, following the advice mentioned in this post, you should be able to have a good start on this process. Do let us know if you want to know how we can help you in tracking your customer data for marketing. To schedule a demo, get in touch with us today!

Rohit Srivastav

Rohit Srivastav

Rohit leads the growth team at Netcore. He is deeply interested in everything that concerns martech, mobile marketing, and SaaS. His innate curiosity and ability to find order in chaos always brings him to the most passionate team of go-getters.