A Guide to Effective Data Gathering: Best Practices and Tools

The more data a business has on its customers, the more precisely it can target advertising and discounts to those customers. However, there are many ways to collect data, and not all of them are equal. Provided below are some of the best approaches to data collection which are being used by many businesses.


One of the easiest ways of tackling the task of data gathering on your customers is to hire someone else to do it. You simply need to set the sort of parameters you have in mind for your customer research and then leave its collection and reporting to that third-party company. The rate by which you can receive updates and refinements of data may depend upon the specific contract with that company; some might give you data daily, while others may give weekly or monthly reports.

Online Surveys

These questionnaires can give you qualitative and quantitative information from your customers. You might give these to people who went to a festival and wish to receive feedback. Online surveys are a great way to distribute to scale with little to no cost to set up. Partnering with a research firm may be a good investment if you want to focus on a specific demographic. The one trick in surveys is to be mindful of collection and subject biases.

Transactional Tracking

Every time a customer buys something from you, you can track that instance to target your marketing better and get a better grasp of what your average customer looks like. E-Commerce and POS platforms often let you collect data the moment it is made, meaning there is no break between collecting data and implementing it to assess your customer base better.

Interviews/Focus Groups

These approaches involve talking to one or more subjects to gather feedback on potential new products or features. This approach allows you to gain data in real-time and record people’s remarks and reactions to questions and scenarios you are considering. This method allows ample opportunity to gain insight into your subjects but can also run into biases if unchecked. Also, be mindful that these approaches are rather time-intensive.

Online Tracking

This sort of behavioral data requires pixels and cookies to track online activity as traffic comes and goes to inform you of what that traffic tends to come from or favor. You can expand tracking to all behavior on your website, such as what pages are visited most often, where users experience confusion and even the total duration that someone stays on a given page. 

This data can even be used to optimize your website’s design and usher traffic to its various destinations. Pixels and cookies require little to no upkeep to use. Note that you should always act within privacy standards to avoid any legal or ethical issues.

Social Media Analysis

Observing your company’s social media presence for engagement from followers is an easy way to track data concerning your audience’s interests and reasons for engaging. 

While most social media platforms already record analytics, third-party companies exist to give a more specific breakdown across multiple platforms at once. This sort of data can then be used to determine what issues your followers actually care about, such as diversity or sustainable production policies.


Forms are ideal for collecting demographic and contact information while also being cheap and easy to set up. Notably, forms can be used to gate off content and registrations for services like a webinar or a company e-mail newsletter. With forms, you can reach out to interested parties to either build upon your data for active customer demographics or to more directly guide efforts at remarketing or rebranding your company.

Wrapping Things Up

If you are interested in learning about your customer’s data, there are plenty of options. Consider requiring internet forms or online surveys that people need to fill out. Watch your social media and online traffic. Interviews and focus groups can give immediate customer insights. Track where your customers come and go after purchases or even outsource that work with another entity.

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