Data is one of the vital assets that your business can have. The more information you possess about an area (your customers, competitors, etc.), the better you can understand and affect it.
How to collect this data?
Each future-oriented company uses some business data collection methods to analyze decisions, improve results, and gain competitive advantages.
Today’s online landscape provides a variety of data gathering tools and techniques that are powerful, innovative, cost-effective or free.
On this page:
- List of the best methods and tools for online data collection in business and marketing research.
- Infographic in PDF.
Data can help you estimate the effectiveness of every decision. Thus, you can maximize resources, optimize workflows, and make your businesses more profitable.
To build and maintain a successful company, you need to gain and understand data about your customers’ behavior, competitor’s strengths, market trends, etc.
Now, let’s look at some of the most effective online ways to gather the data.
1. Online Surveys
Businesses of all sizes conduct online survey research to obtain and act on customer feedback.
An online survey is a questionnaire that people can fill in over the Internet.
Respondents can receive online surveys via different media channels such as email, social media, embedded over a website, etc.
The respondent’s answers are stored in statistical software tools for further data analytics.
Today online surveys are one of the most popular and effective ways to collect data for marketing and business research.
The key reason for their popularity is that online surveys are low cost, convenient, time-saving, easy to use, and ready to be analyzed at any time.
Moreover, with today’s powerful online survey tools, you can view the results in real-time, create different types of graphs for reporting, and share your results with anyone.
2. Competitive Intelligence Tools
If you want to win at your market and industry one of the crucial things you need is data intelligence on your competition.
Competitive intelligence tools are quite powerful data collection methods. They are a gold mine for insights and research on competitors.
They allow you to gather, analyze, and understand data about your competitive market that includes competitors, products, technologies, customers, and trends.
In our post “25 Best Free Online Competitor Analysis Tools” you can find a great range of online tools you can use freely to spy your competitors, spot new market trends, and find out what’s working within your niche.
And if you need more techniques and instruments for competitive research, you can check our posts:
- How To Do Competitive Market Research and Analysis? The Guide
- 50 Best Web Competitive Intelligence Tools and Techniques
3. Social Media Monitoring/Listening Tools
Social Media is one of the biggest sources of data available today.
The key to maximizing the power of social media is collecting data on what your audience says about your brand, your competitors, and the market in general.
With more than three billion people using social media networks, it might seem like an overwhelming task.
That’s where social media monitoring/listening tools come to play. They show you what people think of your company and help you manage online conversations relevant to your brand.
The business benefits of being able to monitor and listen in on customers’ advice, thoughts, complaints, and recommendations are infinite.
4. The Data From Your Website Analytics
There’s a huge amount of valuable data accessible to you through your website analytics platform.
If you aren’t using it, you are missing critical information about your visitors and customers.
Examples of data that you can gather from your website include: visitor’s location, patterns of visitor behavior, keywords used by visitors to find your site and business, visitor’s activities in the site, most popular content, etc.
The most popular platform for insights into your website statistics is Google Analytics. It is a free and quite powerful tool that provides tones of data. Other good tools are Clicky, Leadfeeder, Mint, KISSmetrics, Albacross.
Also, there are web crawlers, that can help you extract data from any website, including yours.
5. Open Data Sources
When it comes to free online data collection methods for your business, open data is a tremendous solution.
What is open data?
Open data are large datasets that are free and available to anyone with an internet connection.
Governments, independent organizations, some businesses and agencies are those who build open data for free and easy access.
Open data can be many types – from public data collected and provided by government agencies to economic trend roundups from financial organizations and banks.
Open data can give a big boost to your business. It makes you rethink the way you understand and engage with the world. It opens great business opportunities, such as giving you ideas for new products and raising your business productivity.
Open Data also makes you aware of global problems and universal issues.
Some of the most popular sources of open data are:
- Data.gov – here you can find a ton of databases, including information related to consumers, education, manufacturing, public safety, and much more. For example, one of the databases, the Consumer Complaint Database shows you what the biggest complaints are about a particular product or service.
- World Bank Open Data offer free and open access to global development data. Datasets provide population demographics and a vast number of economic indicators from across the world.
- Google Finance is a very easy way to gather financial data as real-time stock quotes and charts, financial news, investments, currency conversions, etc.
- Amazon Public Data Sets is a registry that aims to help people discover and share datasets that are available via AWS resources. Here you can find large datasets relating to biology, economics, chemistry, and physiology, etc.
- HubSpot offers a large and very valuable free repository of marketing data.
- Healthdata.gov provides online high-value health data accessible to entrepreneurs, researchers, and policymakers.
- The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is an organization of 189 countries. It is a great source for data collection on international financial statistics, regional economic reports, foreign exchange rates, debt rates, commodity prices, and investments.
Do you have a chatbot on your website? If not, here are some reasons to get one.
People today, especially Millennials and the younger generation, find it easy to solve issues by communicating with a chatbot.
A chatbot is a software program that imitates human conversation (or a chat) with users over websites, mobile apps, phones, etc. It is a digital assistant that communicates with people.
It is a new marketing channel that offers a genuine personal experience between brands and users.
Chatbots are changing the business and marketing world. But they are not only great at chatting with humans.
They are also one of the most modern and revolutionary data collection methods and techniques that help you gather user data, such as the user’s name, email, customer preferences, etc.
This data can be very helpful for profiling your target audience, for re-targeting, and even for creating brand positioning strategies.
In addition, by looking at data collected by a chatbot, you can get ideas about which products are not clearly understood by customers. Also, you can detect trends and personalize messages.
7. SEO Analysis Tools
Search engine optimization (SEO) tools are more important today than ever before.
SEO tools can provide you with data about a website’s keywords, ranking, backlink analysis, SEO audits, the number of site visits, traffic sources, visitor location demographics, and much much more.
Practically, with SEO tools, you can gain such data for any website you want – a competitor’s website, your website, a site you like, and etc.
SEO tools also can show you data about particular keywords you want to rank for. The data includes metrics such as keyword difficulty, monthly search, cost per click, etc.
SEO tools offer a lot of valuable data and when used properly, can provide remarkable results.
With them, you can improve your website rankings in search engines, attract more visitors to your website, get more customers, outperform the competition, and significantly improve the efficiency of your overall digital marketing efforts.
8. Registration And Subscription Data
Today, getting people to subscribe to your blog or website is an essential marketing technique.
Why? Because subscribers are more likely to convert into your paying customers.
Subscription means customers provide you with information about themselves (such as names, phone numbers, e-mails, etc.). In return, you offer them something valuable such as free e-books, free whitepapers, coupons, promotions, etc.
This way, you can also build an email list. This is a list of names and email addresses of people who gave you permission to send them regularly information about your business such as news, updates, blog posts, and promotions.
You can build your subscriber and email list inside a special marketing software and thus create a huge database of customer information.
The growing subscriber base is very important today for your business success.
The subscription data can show you many insights such as whether or not your promotions working at getting subscribers, the number of subscriptions by date, if the subscriber makes a purchase on your store, on what page the customers subscribed from, and much more.
This is one of the most powerful online business data collection methods today, despite many marketers underestimate the value of data collected this way.
9. Cookies And Other Web Tracking Technologies
Cookies are so popular now and they are one of the greatest business data collection methods and techniques.
A cookie is a mini file that collects some type of user information when the user accesses certain websites.
It allows you to monitor websites in terms of how long users spend on the website, when they visit, which links are clicked, and other types of information about user’ activities.
Through cookies, you can gain valuable insights on how consumers behave online, how the visitor found you, what products and services they research and purchase, and etc.
These types of data are a great source for improving advertising efforts, online customer experience, and digital marketing campaigns.
If you need more information this is a great digital marketing guide to web cookies.
10. Online Focus Groups
Thanks to recent advances in the digital world and technology, conducting online focus groups has been a growing trend in market and business research.
In an online focus group, a large group of pre-screened individuals logs in to a secure site or web conference where they are interviewed via webcam. The discussion is led by a person called a moderator.
The goal is gaining valuable insight for a company through spoken feedback and comments of consumers.
Used to gather qualitative data (see qualitative vs quantitative data), online focus groups allow you to collect information on anything from products and services to customer’s beliefs, perceptions, and opinions.
One of the greatest benefits of online focus groups is that participants don’t have to travel to a specific location to take part.
Another benefit is that online focus groups are often much cheaper than traditional focus groups.
Also, the research is much faster to conduct and allows you to get closer to technology-savvy individuals as well as to reach a much bigger audience. Customers from all over the world can take part in the same discussion.
Finally, respondents are more willing to provide their views over the Web rather than face-to-face or over the phone.
Successful businesses have always relied on some form of data collection methods to help them make decisions and grow.
The rapidly evolving online technology in the market research industry makes it easy for you to gather a vast number and types of data to make the most informed decisions.
Almost every modern business software tool can collect and deliver an enormous amount of data for your business to use.
All that data represent great potential for your company if you can learn to access it and use it to improve and develop your business.
What are the most modern and powerful data gathering methods and tools today? Share your thoughts with us.