Data collection is pivotal not just for organizations and businesses but also for personal use. The right data, when used properly, helps a brand boost its reputation by enabling it to make the right decisions in areas such as financial decisions, selecting a market segment, discovering the right marketing mix, etc. By adopting reliable data capture services and data collection methods and analysis, you can ensure that you are equipped with the right information to make crucial decisions.
A process of collecting and categorizing relevant information, data collection is used in multiple aspects of our lives. When you plan your travel, you collect as much data as you can about the new city or the country where you are going. In a business setting, the methods and processes of data collection are more formal and bring about better outcomes.
Common Methods of Data Collection
There are various methods of data collection and the one you use depends on your research goals and the tools available for analysis. Let’s understand the most common methods used:
Interviews are a dependable method for collecting qualitative data and offer a range of advantages over other methods of data collection. You can conduct an interview over the phone or in person. The in-person method of conducting interviews is considered to be ideal as you can easily read the facial expressions and body language of people and relate them to the responses they are providing.
The three main types of interviews include structured interviews, semi-structured interviews, and unstructured interviews.
A structured interview can be considered to be a questionnaire that’s provided verbally. There’s hardly any deviation from the questions that are created in the beginning. In a semi-structured interview, a general guideline is provided but the interviewer has the freedom to explore different areas depending on the responses received. An unstructured interview includes a clear response but the interviewer should be able to use discretion in terms of the questions being asked, the areas to explore, and the areas to ignore.
Conducting interviews at scale can be an expensive process and it can be tough to coordinate schedules with the person that is being interviewed. Also, the method is time-consuming compared to other methods.
Closed-ended surveys include a process of using structured questions that come with a predefined series of answers to select from. Closed-ended questions can also be clubbed with open-ended questions within the same survey. This allows you to collect qualitative and quantitative data from the same respondent.
Closed-ended surveys are inexpensive and can be sent out to multiple people. The surveys can be answered anonymously and it is also easy to analyze the data received as most of the work is done by the survey software. However, the response rate of closed-ended questions is lower and you can’t ask clarifying questions in a majority of cases.
When it comes to understanding the characteristics, sentiments, or motivations behind a stance, open-ended survey questions are used. These help you capture data that is not possible via closed-ended surveys. Though open-ended surveys can provide deep insights, it’s important to not rely on the surveys too much. Having too many or too complex open-ended questions results in exhaustion and also boosts the likelihood of your respondents providing you with incomplete data or abandoning your survey.
In the digital world of today, you are equipped with multiple analytics tools to help you track and understand your user behavior. These tools play a key role in data capture services. You can collect a huge amount of data if you have an app or a website. For instance, with the help of Google Analytics, you can view the most popular pages, the number of people that are visiting them, the path they are following before converting, and lots more. Such insights can help you optimize various aspects of your sales funnels and improve your results with time.
Online analytics tools help you understand the way users interact with your website or app and create hypotheses and tests to improve your results. However, you cannot have a meaningful interaction with your users. The data you receive is limited and does not help you understand the reasoning behind certain things.
Focus groups are like interviews but provide the benefit of a group. A focus group consists of 3 to 10 people and a moderator/observer. It is a perfect choice when you want to recreate a particular situation or test various scenarios to see the reactions of people. To obtain optimum results, participants need to fit a particular psychographic profile or demographic.
Focus groups are economical compared to hosting individual interviews but expensive compared to other methods. The information you receive is reliable and insightful. Specialized teachers are required to moderate the group.
Reported Data Collection
This method of online data collection is used when you can’t make use of primary data. You can use information that has already been collected from primary sources and made accessible to the public. In certain cases, the information is free to use and in other cases, you might have to pay to receive access. This process of data collection is faster compared to in-person interviews and you can use multiple sources together to receive a bigger picture. However, it can be tough to get access to data that is directly related to the problem you’re trying to solve.
Observational Data Collection
It is a passive method of data collection. Here the researcher can observe as a neutral party or as a participant in the activities being carried out. As a result, it is possible to introduce biases into the research which can affect the data quality. Also, the perception and attitudes of a participant in terms of what is being observed can be tilted in one direction and make it tough to stay objective.
The observational method of data collection is widely accepted and can be applied in multiple situations. However, it can be tough to stay objective and certain things might go unobserved by the researcher.
The data collection method you use highly depends on your customer base, business goals, and the resources available. There is no one method better than the other. You need to choose the one that is best fitted for your specific situation and can help you get the results you are seeking.
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