Data collection tools have changed the way market research is done. They have turned data collection and analysis into a smart process that improves the business outcomes. Gone are the times when organizations used to make strategies based on assumptions, instincts, and possibilities. Today, they cannot afford to make a mistake or miss a chance and let the competitor win. Business leaders and analysts rely on data to drive growth and revenue. 

Data collection tools help to understand employees and customers better by collecting their feedback, opinion, and choices. They can help to improve their experience by meeting their expectations from your products and services. To achieve this, it is necessary that the data is rich enough to be able to extract meaningful insights from it.

Types of data collection tools

The success of market research depends on the accuracy of the data collected. However, it doesn’t end here. It is important to analyze this data such that the management executives can make sense out of it. 

There are multiple data collection tools available in the market. Choosing the right one depends on your requirements. Some of the most commonly used data collection methods are

  • Interviews

Interviews are a data collection method by which one person asks a series of questions to another who is part of the target audience. The one-to-one interview can be conducted in-person or over the phone call. The answers are recorded and analyzed to understand their behavior, choices, and experiences. An interview gives high quality of data as the respondent is less likely to give false responses when facing someone directly. The limitation of this mode of collecting data is that it is not feasible for large scale data collection. Also, it is time-consuming to interview many people on a one-to-one basis. Interviews are most appropriate when the subject is complex or sensitive.

  • Observation

Observation is a data collection technique in which the target audience is given the problem statement and their responses are noted with minimum interference of any moderator. While the respondent is busy thinking about answering the questions, their body language, mannerisms, facial expressions, voice tone, etc are noted. These non-verbal signs are an important input for making decisions. The best thing about this method is that it requires less preparation on the researchers part. The downside is that the respondents might get conscious of themselves if somebody is constantly observing them. It might even make them feel uncomfortable.

  • Surveys 

Surveys are a list of questions designed in such a way that they touch upon various features of products and services. Based on the data collected, various analytical algorithms are run and reports are generated. Surveys are conducted through online data collection tools by which the survey questions can be distributed through email, website, mobile app, QR code or social media platforms. These data-gathering tools have the ability to generate various reports such as Trend Analysis, Data Segmentation, Correlation Analysis, Conjoint Analysis, etc. Often in large enterprises, multiple teams use the reports and so, need to be shared with many people. This creates a need to export the reports in commonly used formats such as .xls, .doc or .pdf. Moreover, the survey data can be used further by integrating third-party apps with the survey builder tool. This multiplies the usability of the data collected and improves ROI.

Survey builder software comes with a lot of flexibility as the user can select from a variety of question types and add logic to customize the flow of survey based on the answers given by respondents. The respondents can answer based on their convenience. In case a respondent has started the survey but hasn’t finished, the survey administrator can send scheduled reminders and increase the response rate. Surveys can reach a vast audience simultaneously and collect a lot of data in lesser time as compared to other methods. 

  • Usage Data

With the growing use of technology, data is collected at various points from manufacture to delivery. This data can be used to improve business outcomes. Historical records, application usage data, sales reports, GPS location coordinates, etc are some of the examples from which useful data can be gathered. Such data collection methods can be used when you want to optimize existing systems instead of creating new ones.

  • Focus Groups

Focus groups are a group of people who come from various fields of life. They are subjected to a group discussion in the presence of a moderator. As people come from different backgrounds, it leads to exploring various angles of thoughts. It is believed that diversity in thoughts leads to innovation. Focus groups help stakeholders to validate the facts on the spot and collect a diverse set of data. This method of data collection suffers from the risk of the presence of an over-influential person in the group. The moderator must be capable of managing the discussion and balancing the dynamics of the group. Focus groups are apt for beta testing of newly launched products.

Data collection tools must be selected based on low barriers to entry, ability to scale and advanced features beyond basic data collection.