The Most Effective Data Collection Methods that Companies Are Using

by Paul Shepherd
| November 26, 2018
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Social networking has become a way of life and the number of devices that people use is ever-inflating, and this then proceeds to generate untapped sources of data that can assist businesses compete more effectively.

Big data has become a huge concept in 2018, yet many corporations still continue to be puzzled by how to gather, process and utilise it. In short, big data is a potent and advantageous tool for sales and marketing. It combines intelligence and analytics to steer massive company growth.

In this post I’ll not only share the most effective ways in which big data can be collected and analysed, but also why personalisation is vital and how to be mindful of data security.

*Approx 10 minute read

Who Is This Post For?

  • Local business owners small to large
  • Multi-unit brands such as franchise groups, dealer networks and national brands with a local presence.

Commonly Asked Questions that I will Address:

    • What is big data
    • What are the big data collection methods
    • What is transactional data
    • What are marketing analytics
    • What is the role of social media within big data collection
    • What is the role of loyalty cards within big data collection
    • What is the role of maps within big data collection
    • Why businesses have to utilise persoliasation
    • What are the big data security concerns

What is Big Data?

Big data is all the information collected through various technological sources and then processed in a way that traditional data mining and handling techniques are unable to analyse. Unstructured, time sensitive and very large data cannot be processed by standard databases and requires a more structured processing approach.

In order to understand how big data can be collected, we first need to understand the evolution of the various tools that generate big data in the modern world.


  • We went from house phones to smartphones that are mini computers providing information at our fingertips and making our lives smarter.
  • We were using bulky desktops for processing large amounts of data and now we store it on clouds in an infinite amount much cheaper.
  • Now self-driving cars are being developed that record every minute details about the environment it is driven in.

Internet of things (IoT)

IoT refers to a vast amount of physical devices around the world that are now connected to the internet, all simultaneously gathering and sharing data. As technologies got cheaper and wireless networks grew steadily, anything can be transformed into part of the IoT. This, in turn, increases digital intelligence to devices that would be otherwise inarticulate, enabling them to communicate without human participation, and joining the digital and physical worlds.

Big Data Collection Methods

Here are the various techniques and methods to help businesses collect data about their customers:

Transactional Data

Transactional data includes multiple variables, such as what, how much, how and when customers purchased as well as what promotions or coupons they used.

It’s essential to utilise a good Point of Sale (POS) software because then a business is able to automatically store this information in a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software. But beware – it is not pertinent to store customer payment details, nevertheless, businesses can set up a complete set of non-payment transactional data to be mined in the future.

Online Marketing Analytics

Every time a user browses a website, information is collected:

  • Google Analytics has the ability to provide a lot of demographic insight on each visitor. This information is useful is building marketing campaigns, as well as website performance analysis.
  • Heatmaps provide information on which sections of each website page generate the most ‘action’ (mouse clicks or interactions).
  • Social media analytics allows for customer demographic as well as behavioural analysis. And powerful Facebook marketing tools can help you market to audiences that mirror your current following.

Social Media

In today’s day and age, most of humanity are using social media in one form or another. Nearly every aspect of our lives is affected. Social media is used in many ways on a frequent basis: networking, procrastinating, gossiping, sharing, educating, games etc.

Did you know that 71 percent of internet users are social network users and by next year, it is estimated that there will be around 2.77 billion social media users around the globe? That equates to a LOT of social media data gathered!

Social Media


Loyalty Cards

The loyalty cards system is great as it rewards repeat customers and encourages more shopping.

There are so many businesses willing to give customers a discount simply in exchange for their personal information. This is because this data is valuable to them and they can predict many shopping habits and in turn develop customised marketing efforts targeting those customers.

Loyalty programs have the power to double overall sales by encouraging repeat shopping.


This one is a compelling source of satellite big data and it is used on a mass scale thanks to the rise of Google Maps and Google Earth. This information has the potential to provide businesses with customer location demographics and a detailed picture of the kind of people who live and work in certain areas.

Make it Personal

Make it Personal

Collecting all this data is only the first step. The processing and analysis are really where the value can be derived from.

The message is clear: customers want more personalised marketing. When offered a product or a service that is timely and relevant, it is perceived as valuable, hence prompting people to willingly entrust personal data.

When the customer perceives that the marketing message is attentive to their specific life situation, the flow on effect is astounding. Businesses experience a great sales surge, purchase frequency as well as customer satisfaction.

Established brands such as Google, Apple and Amazon collect vast amounts of purchase and social customer data, process it to get the insights to then in turn target customers with a customised buying experience.

However, with all this data collection it is important to know not to overstep the privacy boundaries.

Big Data and Privacy Worries

Whenever any customer intelligence is being gathered, there will always be privacy concerns. This is mainly because vast majority of customers are not aware that the data they are providing is being collected, analysed, and the used to deliver a customised buying experience. For instance, whenever a new app is downloaded onto an iPhone,  a pop up will prompt the user to agree to the privacy policy and terms and conditions. More often than not, people willy-nilly agree without actually reading the T’s and C’s.

So getting the data is pretty easy, however, a common pitfall of data collection are data breaches.

Data breaches can be costly.

The Ponemon Institute carries out yearly research into the overall data breach cost in Australia.

Results illustrate that the average total cost to affected Australian companies is still $2.51 million each.

Figures like these are great t incentive as well as a reminder for businesses to invest carefully into data security systems in order to prevent breaches.


Through the great advancements of technology and Internet of Things (IoT), it is now easier than ever to collect, process and analyse the data.

Big data collection tools such as transactional data, analytics, social media, maps and loyalty cards are all ways in which data can be collected.

It’s all about personalisation – businesses must be able to analyse the data collected and then use it to customize their marketing efforts to target specific customers and in turn, have highly effective campaigns.

To discuss which data collection methods can benefit your business model as well as specific solutions I have developed for Franchise groups and multi-unit organisations, contact me today for a confidential discussion.