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How to collect data without scaring your prospects

Frederic-Charles Petit, CEO and founder of Toluna, explains how to collect valuable data without chasing away your prospects

Across the globe, consumers are torn about data sharing and privacy. They want to benefit from the improved offers and services that sharing their data can deliver – but they want to protect their privacy and have concerns about whose hands their data might fall into. Meanwhile, businesses place a high priority on their ability to harness data for better decision-making. They understand the more they know about their clients the better they can target them, ultimately increasing theirs as a result. 

The clear disparity between client concerns and business needs must be addressed if companies are to adopt a successful big data strategy. These five tips will help businesses ensure they get it right:

Prioritise quality over quantity

In their eagerness to jump on the big data bandwagon, businesses often end up drowning in vast volumes of data they can’t use. One way to reassure clients about your data collection practises is to only collect information that is relevant to the business and from which you can gain value. Overlaying smaller volumes of first-party data with third-party data can help to build an incremental understanding of the client to inform business decisions.

Understand the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’

Getting closer to the decision-making process should be a key goal in any big data strategy, and understanding why clients make the choices they do is vital. As well as using quantitative data to find out what clients are doing, businesses should gather qualitative information, or attitudinal data to help them understand why. Post-purchase surveys, discussion groups, and feedback forms are all ways that businesses can answer the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’ and achieve a greater level of insight.

Employ a value exchange

Individuals are usually prepared to share their data with businesses if they feel they are getting good value in return. This may mean supplying exclusive reports, whitepapers, or research results in exchange for corporate e-mail addresses and contact details, or offering access to a limited or trial version of a product or service.

Be transparent about data collection

The same rules apply to B2B marketing as to B2C – customers are more likely to trust businesses that are transparent about their data strategies, and are therefore more likely to transact with them. Businesses should have a clear privacy policy that explains what they are tracking – from website visits and social media activity, to responses to particular email offers or promotions. They should also outline how data will be used and why they need it – offering clients a blueprint of the tracking process as well as the option to opt out of data collection.

Explore real-time intelligence

Real-time intelligence is increasingly important to businesses looking to improve marketing agility and responsiveness. Understanding and reacting to client’s actions in real-time helps to build a deeper relationship and increase engagement. Keeping up with the pace at which data from individual interaction builds, can be challenging, but there are plenty of solutions available to businesses – including third-party smartphone tracking – to help them stay close to their clients.   

While discussions around big data have been ongoing for years, it is now becoming more than just a concept, and all businesses have the ability to implement effective data strategies enabling them to better understand their clients and drive marketing decisions. Being selective about their data collection methods, supplementing quantative data with qualitative, providing clients with a value exchange, maintaining full transparency, and embracing real-time intelligence, allows businesses to balance client concerns and organisational needs, while adopting a profitable big data strategy.