Data is one of the most useful resources in modern business. Companies use data to formulate strategy, drive product development and build forecasts. They make use of data to tailor advertising and ensure that their target audience is being reached. Consumer data is considered to be especially important in driving the activities of public-facing companies. In an ever more networked society, the data people create is becoming far more indicative of an actual lived experience than ever before.
Companies collect data from consumers in a number of ways. This article looks into 5 of the most common ways in which companies look to harvest data from consumers in order to inform their activities.
By far the simplest and most transparent way of acquiring consumer data is by asking for it up front. Consumers can be incentivized to submit their own data through the weaponization of special offers and perks. Many retail businesses harvest consumer data simply by asking for it when a consumer makes a purchase. This method of data collection is somewhat flawed – only those consumers who want to give away data will do so, which means that analytics results may end up being skewed artificially towards representing one kind of consumer.
Companies are increasingly in the habit of developing bespoke applications aimed at keeping consumers interested in products, offering them new services and developing a relationship with them. Apps are also very good tools for data gathering. Consumer activity while using an app can be extremely representative of their spending and browsing habits. Head over to www.makeitsimple.co.uk to see how a good app consultancy like Make IT Simple can help to develop software that maximizes the amount of useful consumer data that a company can harvest from mobile users.
- Data Companies
Plenty of companies exist with the sole purpose of harvesting and then selling important consumer information. These companies offer vast and varied datasets at a price. Some data companies have found themselves in hot water over dubious and opaque data collection practices over the years. Companies need to be careful when purchasing large amounts of data – it might be out of date or otherwise useless.
- Social Media
A great deal of consumer information is freely available to companies on social media. Public data on social media can be automatically sifted through and analyzed using special software. More complex information produced on social media – such as location – can also be harvested by companies, although there are plenty of transparency issues surrounding this that should make a company think twice before mindlessly over-surveilling consumers.
- Email Tracking
Email tracking technology allows companies to monitor when emails that they send are opened by recipients. In certain cases, this technology allows companies to monitor where, as well as when, these emails are opened. This creates very useful data about the effectiveness of email marketing and also tracks how many consumers are ‘actively’ reading marketing material at certain times. According to a recent article in WIRED, a huge portion of commercial emails are tracked in this way.