7 Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Next Data Collection Project

Market research, consumer insights and customer satisfaction are all necessary evils in the business world, but very few companies are experts at it. Couple the challenges of collecting data with the lack of resources to hire a project manager to administer the initiative and your next data collection project can continue to collect dust. NAC teamed up with some of our best data collectors for a few best practices to help you get started with launching this labor intensive task. 

1. First, lay the groundwork for data collection by answering the tough questions. Why are you collecting the data? What kind of information do you hope to gain? Who are the stakeholders? Who are your key audiences? What’s the best way to reach them — in person, via phone or text?  Keep in mind that “take rates” are a direct result of your outreach method.  Be sure to drill down and fine-tune your goals to ensure your project brings the results you need.

2. Determine the right channels. Do you want to create a survey, host a focus group or conduct interviews? Are you looking for measurable, quantitative data, or would it be more beneficial to gather qualitative research? Each one has benefits and drawbacks. The old adage, quality over quantity holds true, but is a higher quantity take rate crucial to your margin of error?

For example, online surveys are cost-effective, flexible and provide reliable results, but they may get buried in users’ spam folders. Focus groups are more time-consuming and not easy to conduct remotely, but participants’ responses may provide more in-depth data than a survey.

3. Think about timing. Do you want to automate ongoing data collection through sales systems, do periodic collections or simply push out a one-off project? Your project manager can not only help determine the best vehicle and timing for data collection, but can also develop the questions and manage every step of the collection process itself.

4. Don’t just think about timing, but respect your respondents time. We get it, it’s not always as simple as cranking out a five-question survey questionnaire, especially when internal departments are demanding deeper insights. But the truth is, some data is better than no data. Extremely long surveys increase abandon rates and cause many individuals to continually put it off. We don’t suggest cutting corners when it takes you away from your objectives.

5. Ensure the best response. For any data collection project, the higher the response rate, the more viable your data becomes. Extensive outreach where automation is not involved is a MUST. One phone call is not always enough. Sometimes a second, third and even a fourth call is what it takes to get our busy society to buckle down to get ’er done.

Sometimes, it’s essential to establish a multi-faceted outreach strategy: phone, email, social media and text automation. Be sure to provide as many access points as possible to eliminate any barriers for your respondents — taking into consideration age, disabilities and socioeconomics.  

6. Thank them. It’s so easy to get what you want and move on. But keep in mind, you may need them again. By sending a thank-you letter or even a small token of appreciation, you have a higher chance of them stepping up to assist on your future surveys.

7. Finally, once you’ve collected the data, determine the “what” and “how” of measurement. What do the numbers tell you? And how do they translate into action steps? Look for key takeaways and expound on them. Once you have collected all your data, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer amount you will have to sift through.

These tips should help you make the most out of your next data collection initiative. NAC’s project managers are here to support you every step of the way, so don’t hesitate to give us a shout!