Data is King
Best Practices in Online Data Collection
User Data is Gold to Marketers
Consumer information is a valuable resource and online marketing tool. With tight marketing budgets and a high level of competition always a concern, the decisions you make and where you invest your marketing dollars are now more important than ever. Companies can no longer afford to make ill-advised decisions and throw money away on strategies that are not based on online data collection for marketing. Our friends at Forrester have some ideas.
High quality, detailed consumer data is gold. The more you know about your customers—their habits, likes and dislikes—the better you will be able to serve their needs and create a more personalized online experience when they engage with your brand on your website or through social networking. The end result of this situation – more customers and more revenue for your organization.
However, where you get that data from and how you collect it is just as important as the insights the data provides. Consumers are increasingly conscious of how companies collect user data and marketing data and what they use it for.
Therefore, how you go about online data collection is something you need to give some thought to. “No matter what industry or niche you’re in, one of the things that can make or break you is how you handle data collection,” says Jason Peck in 5 Best Practices for Small Business Data Collection. The last thing you want to do is erode the trust you have built with your customers, and shady online data collection can certainly hurt your relationship with them.
Consumers Care About Online Data Collection
A Forrester Study indicated consumers care a lot about companies collecting data, and how it is collected can impact their outlook about the company.
The study surveyed 37,000 US and Canadian adults and found that:
- More than 70% were concerned about their credit card and social security/insurance numbers.
- Older adults are more concerned about behavioral online data collection, with 47% citing it as a concern.
- Young people were also more accepting of online data collection in exchange for a discount.
The study also reveals user data that consumers were less worried about being collected:
- Only 19% were concerned about their online reviews.
- Just over one-third were concerned about information from social networking profiles.
- Only 40% were concerned about sharing transaction history data.
One of the big takeaways is that the type of marketing data you collect from consumers matters. Therefore, it is necessary to craft online data collection practices to align with the acceptance level of the users.
“Consumers are becoming far more aware of how data collection can go awry and are voting with their pocketbooks. You can collect and use this data broadly and hope you don’t run afoul of an angry consumer with a lot of Twitter followers ready to destroy your brand with your own behavior. You can exploit young people’s willingness to part with data — they have so much less to protect, after all. Or you can adjust your policies based on this rising level of awareness. It’s up to you,” says Josh Bernoff in Turns Out Consumers Really Do Care About the Data You’re Collecting.
The results of this survey are a clear indicator that you need to create a good relationship with your user base in order for them to trust you and allow you to collect data from them.
5 Ways to Collect Marketing Data
There are many ways you can collect data about your users. Here are 5 of the most effective ways to gain the right permissions and collect data from your users:
- Online surveys and polls.
- Customer feedback.
- User profile data.
- Social analytics.
- Website analytics.
Eight Best Practices in Online Data Collection
Collecting data the right way is paramount to getting the data you need and building trust with your user base. Here are some best practices for online data collection:
#1 – Get users’ permission to collect data
Requesting permission to collect data online is a must. Regardless of the method you use and the information you request, you need to get permission from your users. Failure to get permission could result in a loss of trust, it could impact your brand’s reputation, and you could even face legal issues.
#2 – Be clear with what is being exchanged for access
When requesting data from users in exchange for access to your website or app, be very clear what the information you will collect in exchange for access. An increasingly popular method to request data is to give users the option to provide line by line consent. This allows them to choose the data points they are willing to share. It also gives them the option to opt out of sharing data they do not want to share.
#3- Build a relationship before asking for data
In life, there are certain questions you just don’t ask strangers or people you just met. Would you ask a new business acquaintance a personal question? Probably not. Why? Because you have not developed a deep enough relationship with them.
The same principle holds true when asking your users for data. Before you request detailed and personal information, you first need to develop a trusting relationship. Make sure the data you request is appropriate, given the type of relationship you have with your users.
#4 – Be transparent
#5 – Follow your data policy
Having a data collection policy and disclosing it to your users is one thing, but you also have to practice what you preach. Make sure you are in alignment with what your policy claims, or you could run into legal and ethical issues. Make sure everyone in your organization who deals with the user data collected follows the usage guidelines.
#6 – Don’t ask for too many data points at once
Don’t get greedy and ask for too much too fast. Make your request for data quick and painless by only asking for the information that you need for your specific marketing purposes. People may become suspicious of you if you ask for too much data.
#7 – Don’t ask for irrelevant or controversial information
When you do request data, you need to make sure the data you are collecting is on point and relevant to the reason for the transaction. For example, if you ran a sports news website, you wouldn’t ask a user for their pet’s name or driver’s license number when they were accessing your website. However, you might ask them about their favorite sport, sports team or athletes. Make all data requests relevant to the situation.
#8 – Play by the rules
You need to play by the rules when collecting data online, just like you need to play by the other rules when running your business. Make sure your data collection processes are acceptable under all local, provincial and federal information collection and privacy laws. Learn more about the rules and regulations on The Office Of The Privacy Commission Of Canada website. They outline important information about consumer data collection, permissions and privacy.
3 Tips to Simplify Marketing Data Collection
#1 – Have a consistent process: It’s important to have a consistent, repeatable and scalable data collection process in place that allows you to easily interpret and use it for marketing strategies and key decision making.
#2 – Store data securely: No one wants to experience a data breach, especially if you are collecting sensitive information from your customers and business partners. Invest in high quality and secure data storage to safely store customer data.
#3 – Evaluate and refine: It’s important to take a step back from time to time to evaluate your online data collection practices. What type of data are you collecting? Are you getting the insights you need? What data is valuable? Is there data you don’t need to collect? How can you make collection more efficient and relevant to business practices?
Collecting high quality and relevant data about your customers can be considered gold in the eyes of marketers. Successful and engaging marketing campaigns are built on the insights found in user data. However, with consumers becoming increasingly concerned about how and what information is being collected, marketers need to follow online data collection best practices to ensure they do not risk losing the trust of users, negatively impacting their brand or becoming subject to liability litigation.
Are you Collecting Data from your prospects and customers? Do you have advice or findings to share with others? Please leave a comment below and join the conversation. If all of this befuddles you, belittles your being, begging and befoddering your brain, belying your intellect…not to worry, PTC Computer Solutions is an expert on this stuff and is here to help. It’s what we do. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or go to our website at www.ptccomputersolutions.com for more information. We are always at the ready.
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By David W. B. Parker
PTC Computer Solutions