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Data Collection: The Complete Guide

Data Collection is one of those things that gets a bad rep in the world. Maybe for good reason. There have been 38 big data breaches in the year 2020 already. It’s likely there’ll be a few more before 2020 comes to an end. As our world continues to rely on digital systems, data’s role will become more significant.

However, data collection isn’t all negative. Developers use this data to roll out updates and new features to the platforms we love the most. Besides, without some form of data collection, services like Netflix just wouldn’t be possible. It’s also worthy to note that you can monetize your data or the data you collect from someone else.

In this comprehensive guide, you’ll learn everything there is to know about data collection.

Table of Contents

Data Collection Definition
Qualitative & Quantitative Data
Data Collection Strategies and Methods
How to Make Money With Data

The Basic Data Collection Definition
What is data collection? Put simply, it is the process of gathering information through observations or measurements. No matter who or what is collecting the information, the goal is usually the same. The data serves to better accommodate customers, solve problems, and predict events. Now there are several different types of data.

Primary Data Collection

Data that is referred to as “primary”, is raw data collected from a source. Primary data collection is done by you! It’s first-hand or first-party information gathering directly from a source. If you own a business, this is the data you’re collecting from your customers. Common mediums for acquiring first-party data include: surveys, applications, landing pages, you get the point.

You probably value this information and you should! This information is pivotal in understanding your audience and instrumental in your ability to provide services. The more you know about your customer, the better you’re able to make their experience. This is a big reason why Amazon is so successful; they use data (especially primary) to provide the best possible experience for their customers. As you’ve probably already guessed, if there is first-party data, there are also second and third-party data.

Secondary Data

Second-party data is simply data collected by someone other than the end-user. Secondary data collection, like third-party, involves perspective. The data itself is primary data, you are just sourcing it from someone else. Therefore, you can be sure there’s some accuracy. You’ll find secondary data in books, journals, reports, websites, newspapers, etc. In some cases, second-party data could be more effective and efficient than its counterparts.

The benefits of secondary data collection include low cost, comparison applications, and it could save you time. Secondary data may suffer from issues with relevancy, but free is a price that cannot be beaten. Also, you’re not in control of the data collection procedure. You cannot set variables or control the methods or strategies at all. Nevertheless, secondary data has its applications.

Third-Party Data

Defining third-party data is not fun! I’ll keep it as simple as possible. Third-party data is information collected from multiple sources by an outside agency or company that has no connection to the users it’s collecting from. Easy enough right? So then, what’s it’s purpose? Third-party collection supplements your primary data. Therefore, It serves to complete user-profiles and expand your audience. Third-party data is especially powerful for marketing.

There are many types of data collection. However, if done tastefully, you can realize some serious ROI with third-party data. For one, you can expand and enhance your targeted audience. After all, the more you know about your audience, the better you’re able to service it. However, this data is going to come at a premium. The benefits of combining third-party data with primary data far outreach the costs!

Not to undermine the importance of the other types of data, but primary data can be broken down further. First-party data is commonly described as either qualitative or quantitative.

Qualitative Primary Data
Often referred to as “categorical data”, qualitative data is descriptive. It’s not numerical and relies on observations. Qualitative data is subjective. Thus, it’s harder to measure. However, it still has a purpose. Much of your qualitative data will come from reviews, interviews, surveys, focus groups, etc. It’s the feedback that’s absent in quantitative data.

Qualitative data supplements its counterpart. For example, a restaurant’s revenue could be higher in the summer rather than the winter. Qualitative data could help the owner realize that their summer smoothie is loved by customers, thus increasing revenue. Although some businesses will benefit more from quantitative data collection, it’s counter-part should not be overlooked.

For more on Qualitative Data: An introduction to qualitative research

Quantitative Primary Data
Being the direct opposite of qualitative data, quantitative data is all the numbers, statistics, graphs, etc. This data is objective and easily measured. You’re able to collect loads of it and strategically organize and present the data. In fact, analytics hinge on quantitative data. If you want to notice patterns, create tests, or make predictions, quantitative data will be pivotal.

Naturally, quantitative data will be utilized more than its subjective sibling. Conclusions can easily be drawn from the large amount of this data that can be collected. There are many different methods you can use to collect it, which by the way, can be replicated for more information. However, Quantitative data can be vague. Which is why it is used in tandem with qualitative data to create a complete picture.

For more on Quantitative Data: Quantitative Data: Definition, Types, Analysis and Examples

Data Collection Strategies and Methods

After you figure out what data you want to collect and create your plan, it’s time to determine how you’ll collect the data. You have probably used at least one of the methods you’re about to see. There are some things to consider before choosing your data collection method. Picking the right method will ensure the collection is accurate, cost-effective, and useful for you.

ObservationsCollecting data purely from what’s witnessed. Although observations can be subjective, some things can only be understood with the eyes.
InterviewsGetting testimonies by personally asking people questions or having conversations.
SurveysQuestionnaires that can collect multiple types of data. Versatile as they can come in many forms (online, paper, email, etc.).
Focus GroupsCollecting data from a group of individuals. Depending on how the session is structured, focus groups are like an enriched combination of interviews and surveys.
Online TrackersBusinesses with websites can utilize online trackers (like cookies) to create user profiles and learn more about visitors.

Analyzing the Data
Now that you’ve collected the data, all there’s left to do is examine it, as data is useless if you do not give it meaning. Some of the uses for data collection were mentioned briefly in beginning, but here’s a small list to remind you:

Better accommodate customers or audience
Solve problems
predict outcomes
Make calculated decisions
The more you sort, categorize, classify and define your data, the more useful it will be. Be aware of the difference between the quantity and quality of the data collect. For some applications, a smaller sampling size could provide more accurate. Therefore, the more you specify and tailor your data collection procedure, the better your results will be.

Data Collection Services
You may already be collecting huge amounts of data, which can be daunting. For some, loads of raw data is completely useless. A DMP (data management platform) will compile and transform the data into clear, useable information. So, what exactly is a DMP? DMPs are platforms that collect first, second, and third-party data from sources. These centralized software platforms organize and arrange data for marketers, ad agencies, publishers, and other businesses. The best DMPs are flexible and robust. The more types and amounts of data that a DMP can store and connect—the better the platform. In no particular order, here are some of the best DMPs:

How to Make Money With Data

Finally, the part you’ve probably skipped to (if you didn’t—kudos). There are many ways you can make money with data. If you own a business, you could use everything you’ve learned here to improve your ad campaigns, thus making it more effective. Or maybe you’ve created a platform, and you’re looking for other ways to make money with it. There are also ways you can make money with your personal data.

SSP Quick Definition
Related to DMPs, SSPs (supply-side-platform) are mainly for publishers. They’re commonly used by publishers looking to increase or maximize their ad revenue. Whether it is an app or website or some other digital space, SSPs allow publishers to sell their virtual real estate. The best part about them is that they’re almost completely automated. All that needs to be done is the installation of the software. Here are some common SSPs:

Google AdMob
Google Ad Manager
Microsoft Advertising
Make Money With Personal Data
This is probably the most popular way to make money with data. You’re trading personal information, opinions, or analytical data for money. Surveys, which usually don’t offer the most money, are very common. But we’re in 2020! Data has become more important and sought after, thus there are way more opportunities to make money with data than just surveys. Here are a few opportunities:

1. BIGtoken
BIGtoken is an app that allows people to earn money from their data. They compensate their users for surveys, check-ins, and a variety of other actions. BIGtoken pays out at the end of their 90-day BIG season. You’ll earn points for every action and objective you complete. The conversion scale is currently: one point equals one cent. You need a minimum of 1,000 points to cash out at the end of the season ($10). You can redeem 50% of your earnings every season, and leftover points get carried over to the next season. Although the conversion scale seems suspect, compared to similar platforms, reaching the required point value is very achievable. In fact, BIGtoken gives you 50 points just for completing their initial tutorial. You’ll quickly notice the amount of actions you’re able to complete for points. Over time, you will ultimately realize BIGtoken is no scam!

Sign up for BIGtoken today, and join the team: EasyEarners13!

2. Delphia
Delphia is a super unique investing platform. They use the data collected from their users to drive their investment strategies. It costs $9.99 per month until you have $100,000 invested with Delphia. However, for a limited time, you can receive a discounted price when you connect certain apps to earn “data points”. Additionally, earning data points will give you a piece of the data dividend released every week. Delphia releases $500 every week to their community; the number of data points you have will determine how much you make.

Your data already influences investment companies and hedge funds. If you want to leverage your data in your investment strategy, check out Delphia.

3. ATM
ATM is similar to BIGtoken. Besides being a platform that pays you based on data, ATM is a new and growing company. However, how you earn money is different between the two platforms. Admittedly, ATM’s system is quite clever. Users can earn data dividends through “Data Dating” and by using the “Data Messenger”. Data Dating will take the user through a gauntlet of companies looking to connect with you. Then, ATM will display the information THEY used to connect you. From there, you can choose to accept the offer and data dividend or decline it. Unlike other companies, ATM doesn’t release your information to the companies. Meaning, you won’t receive pesky emails, texts, or calls unless you choose to when interacting with a company in the data messenger.

ATM is one of the great new ways to earn money by leveraging your data. As the company grows, more partners will be added to their already impressive amount of brand partnerships. Which means more money for the users! In fact, ATM is promising “Colony Data Dividends” once their users number one million or more. Meaning, you’ll earn passive income from your data. Download their app to take advantage of this growing opportunity.

4. Google Opinion Rewards
Last but not least, there is Google’s stab at surveys. There are hundreds of survey platforms out there. So why choose Google? For one, this platform is as straight-forward as it gets. For example, there’s no currency system. Each opinion, survey, or review you complete has clear value. Additionally, the minimum payout balance is set to a nominal $2. Most importantly, it’s Google. If we’re going to be giving up our data (it’s optional to provide location data), it’s best to do it with a trustworthy company. Lastly, you can cash out via Paypal or Google Play credit. Head to your app store to start earning!

Data is becoming more pivotal in this world. Especially as we transition to industry 4.0. Big data is like gold for companies like Amazon and Google. Just think, 5G connectivity is just another way to support this emerging, data-driven world. Hopefully, you’ve learned a little bit about data collection by reading this article. If you want a step-by-step guide to collecting data, check out Scribbr’s guide. Otherwise, be aware of the data you’re putting out there. More importantly, know the ways you can profit from it! Comment below something you found interesting 🙂



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