Conquer CTV
Digital’s Data-Driven Precision With a Data Empowered Global Footprint Learn More

What Are the Methods of Data Collection?

Data is one of the most valuable resources today’s businesses have. The more information you have about your customers, the better you can understand their interests, wants and needs. This enhanced understanding helps you meet and exceed your customers’ expectations and allows you to create messaging and products that appeal to them.

How do you collect this data? One of the most crucial tools for collecting — as well as organizing, analyzing and activating data — is the data management platform, or DMP. Your DMP can help facilitate all these steps and provide you with the tools you need to make the most of your data. There are various data-gathering methods you can use with the help of your DMP. Let’s take a look at some of the most common data collection methods.


Primary Data Collection Definition

The term “primary data” refers to data you collect yourself, rather than data you gather after another party initially recorded it. Primary data is information obtained directly from the source. You will be the first party to use this exact set of data.

When it comes to data businesses collect about their customers, primary data is also typically first-party data. First-party data is the information you gather directly from your audience. It could include data you gathered from online properties, data in your customer relationship management system or non-online data you collect from your customers through surveys and various other sources.

First-party data differs from second-party and third-party data. Second-party data is the first-party data of another company. You can purchase second-party data directly from the organization that collected it or buy it in a private marketplace. Third-party data is information a company has pulled together from numerous sources. You can buy and sell this kind of data on a data exchange, and it typically contains a large number of data points.

Start Collecting Data Today

Because first-party data comes directly from your audience, you can have high confidence in its accuracy, as well as its relevance to your business.

Second-party data has many of the same positive attributes as first-party data. It comes directly from the source, so you can be confident in its accuracy, but it also gives you insights you couldn’t get with your first-party data. Third-party data offers much more scale than any other type of data, which is its primary benefit.

Different types of data can be useful in different scenarios. It can also be helpful to use different types of data together. First-party data will typically be the foundation of your dataset. If your first-party data is limited, though, you may want to supplement it with second-party or third-party data. Adding these other types of data can increase the scale of your audience or help you reach new audiences.

In this article, we’ll focus on primary data. Because it’s the kind of data you gather yourself, you need a strategy for how to collect it.

Quantitative vs. Qualitative Data

You can divide primary data into two categories: quantitative and qualitative.

Quantitative data comes in the form of numbers, quantities and values. It describes things in concrete and easily measurable terms. Examples include the number of customers who bought a given product, the rating a customer gave a product out of five stars and the amount of time a visitor spent on your website.

Because quantitative data is numeric and measurable, it lends itself well to analytics. When you analyze quantitative data, you may uncover insights that can help you better understand your audience. Because this kind of data deals with numbers, it is very objective and has a reputation for reliability.

Start Collecting Data Today

Qualitative data is descriptive, rather than numeric. It is less concrete and less easily measurable than quantitative data. This data may contain descriptive phrases and opinions. Examples include an online review a customer writes about a product, an answer to an open-ended survey question about what type of videos a customer likes to watch online and the conversation a customer had with a customer service representative.

Qualitative data helps explains the “why” behind the information quantitative data reveals. For this reason, it is useful for supplementing quantitative data, which will form the foundation of your data strategy. Because quantitative data is so foundational, this article will focus on collection methods for quantitative primary data.

How to Collect Data in 5 Steps

There are many different techniques for collecting different types of quantitative data, but there’s a fundamental process you’ll typically follow, no matter which method of data collection you’re using. This process consists of the following five steps.

1. Determine What Information You Want to Collect

The first thing you need to do is choose what details you want to collect. You’ll need to decide what topics the information will cover, who you want to collect it from and how much data you need. Your goals — what you hope to accomplish using your data — will determine your answers to these questions. As an example, you may decide to collect data about which type of articles are most popular on your website among visitors who are between the ages of 18 and 34. You might also choose to gather information about the average age of all of the customers who bought a product from your company within the last month.

Start Collecting Data Today

2. Set a Timeframe for Data Collection

Next, you can start formulating your plan for how you’ll collect your data. In the early stages of your planning process, you should establish a timeframe for your data collection. You may want to gather some types of data continuously. When it comes to transactional data and website visitor data, for example, you may want to set up a method for tracking that data over the long term. If you’re tracking data for a specific campaign, however, you’ll track it over a defined period. In these instances, you’ll have a schedule for when you’ll start and end your data collection.

3. Determine Your Data Collection Method

At this step, you will choose the data collection method that will make up the core of your data-gathering strategy. To select the right collection method, you’ll need to consider the type of information you want to collect, the timeframe over which you’ll obtain it and the other aspects you determined. We’ll go over various methods you can use in the next section of this article.

4. Collect the Data

Once you have finalized your plan, you can implement your data collection strategy and start collecting data. You can store and organize your data in your DMP. Be sure to stick to your plan and check on its progress regularly. It may be useful to create a schedule for when you will check in with how your data collection is proceeding, especially if you are collecting data continuously. You may want to make updates to your plan as conditions change and you get new information.

5. Analyze the Data and Implement Your Findings

Once you’ve collected all of your data, it’s time to analyze it and organize your findings. The analysis phase is crucial because it turns raw data into valuable insights that you can use to enhance your marketing strategies, products and business decisions. You can use the analytics tools built into our DMP to help with this step. Once you’ve uncovered the patterns and insights in your data, you can implement the findings to improve your business.

7 Ways to Collect Data

So, how do you go about collecting the data you need to meet your goals? There are various methods of collecting primary, quantitative data. Some involve directly asking customers for information, some involve monitoring your interactions with customers and others involve observing customers’ behaviors. The right one to use depends on your goals and the type of data you’re collecting. Here are some of the most common types of data collection used today.

1. Surveys

Surveys are one way in which you can directly ask customers for information. You can use them to collect either quantitative or qualitative data or both. A survey consists of a list of queries respondents can answer in just one or two words and often gives participants a list of responses to choose from. You can conduct surveys online, over email, over the phone or in person. One of the easiest methods is to create an online survey you host on your website or with a third party. You can then share a link to that survey on social media, over email and in pop-ups on your site.

Start Collecting Data Today

2. Online Tracking

Your business’ website, and your app if you have one, are excellent tools for collecting customer data. When someone visits your website, they create as many as 40 data points. Accessing this data allows you to see how many people visited your site, how long they were on it, what they clicked on and more. Your website hosting provider may collect this kind of information, and you can also use analytics software. You can also place pixels on your site, which enables it to place and read cookies to help track user behavior. Lotame can help you with this online data collection process.

3. Transactional Data Tracking

Whether you sell goods in-store, online or both, your transactional data can give you valuable insights about your customers and your business. You may store transactional records in a customer relationship management system. That data may come from your web store, a third party you contract with for e-commerce or your in-store point-of-sale system. This information can give you insights about how many products you sell, what types of products are most popular, how often people typically purchase from you and more.

4. Online Marketing Analytics

You can also collect valuable data through your marketing campaigns, whether you run them on search, webpages, email or elsewhere. You can even import information from offline marketing campaigns that you run. The software you use to place your ads will likely give you data about who clicked on your ads, what times they clicked, what device they used and more. Lotame Insights can also help you gather data about your campaigns. If you track the performance of offline ads by, for example, asking customers how they heard about your brand, you can import that data into your DMP.

5. Social Media Monitoring

Social media is another excellent source of customer data. You can look through your follower list to see who follows you and what characteristics they have in common to enhance your understanding of who your target audience should be. You can also monitor mentions of your brand on social media by regularly searching your brand’s name, setting up alerts or using third-party social media monitoring software. Many social media sites will also provide you with analytics about how your posts perform. Third-party tools may be able to offer you even more in-depth insights.

6. Collecting Subscription and Registration Data

Offering customers something in return for providing information about themselves can help you gather valuable customer data. You can do this by requiring some basic information from customers or site visitors who want to sign up for your email list, rewards program or another similar program. One benefit of this method is that the leads you get are likely to convert because they have actively demonstrated an interest in your brand. When creating the forms used to collect this information, it’s essential to find the right balance in the amount of data you ask for. Asking for too much can discourage people from participating, while not asking for enough means your data won’t be as useful as it could be.

7. In-Store Traffic Monitoring

If you have a brick-and-mortar store, you can also gather insights from monitoring the foot traffic there. The most straightforward way to do this is with a traffic counter on the door to help you keep track of how many people come into your store throughout the day. This data will reveal what your busiest days and hours are. It may also help give you an idea about what is drawing customers to your store at certain times. You can also install security systems with motion sensors that will help you track customers’ movement patterns throughout your shop. The sensor can provide you with data about which of your store’s departments are most popular.

4 Uses of Data Collection

Collecting data is valuable because you can use it to make informed decisions. The more relevant, high-quality data you have, the more likely you are to make good choices when it comes to marketing, sales, customer service, product development and many other areas of your business. Some specific uses of customer data include the following.

Start Collecting Data Today

1. Improving Your Understanding of Your Audience

It can be difficult or impossible to get to know every one of your customers personally, especially if you run a large business or an online business. The better you understand your customers, though, the easier it will be for you to meet their expectations. Data collection enables you to improve your understanding of who your audience is and disseminate that information throughout your organization. Through the primary data collection methods described above, you can learn about who your customers are, what they’re interested in and what they want from you as a company.

2. Identifying Areas for Improvement or Expansion

Collecting and analyzing data helps you see where your company is doing well and where there is room for improvement. It can also reveal opportunities for expanding your business.

Looking at transactional data, for example, can show you which of your products are the most popular and which ones do not sell as well. This information might lead you to focus more on your bestsellers, and develop other similar products. You could also look at customer complaints about a product to see which aspects are causing problems.

Data is also useful for identifying opportunities for expansion. For example, say you run an e-commerce business and are considering opening a brick-and-mortar store. If you look at your customer data, you can see where your customers are and launch your first store in an area with a high concentration of existing customers. You could then expand to other similar areas.

3. Predicting Future Patterns

Analyzing the data you collect can help you predict future trends, enabling you to prepare for them. As you look at the data for your new website, for instance, you may discover videos are consistently increasing in popularity, as opposed to articles. This observation would lead you to put more resources into your videos. You might also be able to predict more temporary patterns and react to them accordingly. If you run a clothing store, you might discover pastel colors are popular during spring and summer, while people gravitate toward darker shades in the fall and winter. Once you realize this, you can introduce the right colors to your stores at the right times to boost your sales.

You can even make predictions on the level of the individual customer. Say you sell business software. Your data might show companies with a particular job title often have questions for tech support when it comes time to update their software. Knowing this in advance allows you to offer support proactively, making for an excellent customer experience.

4. Better Personalizing Your Content and Messaging

When you know more about your customers or site visitors, you can tailor the messaging you send them to their interests and preferences. This personalization applies to marketers designing ads, publishers choosing which ads to run and content creators deciding what format to use for their content.

Using data collection in marketing can help you craft ads that target a given audience. For example, say you’re a marketer looking to advertise a new brand of cereal. If your customer data shows most people who eat the cereal are in their 50s and 60s, you can use actors in those age ranges in your ads. If you’re a publisher, you likely have information about what topics your site visitors prefer to read about. You can group your audience based on the characteristics they share and then show visitors with those characteristics content about topics popular with that group.

You can even go further with personalization by adjusting your site’s experience to the individual’s experience. You can use cookies to determine when someone is revisiting your site or have them log in to confirm their identity and access their personalized user experience.

The Lotame Difference

Collecting high-quality data is foundational for your business’ success. Lotame can help you gather the information you need, as well as organize, analyze and activate it. Lotame’s real-time data management technologies, global data marketplaces, and award-winning customer service make our unstacked data solutions the clear choice for publishers, marketers, and agencies looking for a flexible, scalable and cost-effective alternative to the walled-off products from the large MarTech stack companies.

With our unstacked data solutions, we can be more flexible and responsive to our clients, enabling improved customer service and support. We focus on making data collection simple and streamlined for our clients so they can get as much benefit from their data as possible.

To learn more about how we can help your company collect, organize and activate your data, contact us today.

Find new customers, increase customer engagement, and grow revenue with first-, second-, and third-party data. Learn how Lotame Panorama can help you in today’s cookie-challenge web.