A Short Guide to Data Collection Techniques

Learn more about data collection techniques and which would work best for you.

data collection techniques featured image

Published 29 Jul 2022

What are Data Collection Techniques?

Data collection techniques refer to methods used to collect and analyze different forms of data. Standard data collection techniques include going through documents related to a topic, as well as conducting interviews and observations.

Kinds of Data

Generally, data collection can yield two kinds of data: qualitative and quantitative. Qualitative data refers to data that describes characteristics, qualities, and other non-quantifiable traits of a certain subject. This includes personal opinions, descriptions of a certain place, event, or behavior, or the quality of a certain item. Qualitative data is often hard to measure with numbers, and so they are analyzed based on their qualities or patterns. On the other hand, quantitative data refers to quantifiable or countable data such as statistics, the number of respondents or test subjects, and those under certain standards of measurements such as temperature.

Both quantitative and qualitative data have similar data collection techniques, as they often work together to help create a more in-depth analysis of data.

7 Data Collection Techniques

7 Data Collection Techniques

Data Collection Techniques

There are many ways to collect data depending on the data needed and the tasks at hand. Here are seven of the most common data collection techniques in business analytics as said by Harvard Business School.

Observations

The easiest and most direct data collection technique is observation. The most common form of observation in the context of data collection involves simply watching the behaviors or actions of a subject in a specific setting to understand them and record what was observed. In today’s online world, an example of the act of observation can include watching people interact with products, websites, and services in real-time.

Interviews and Focus Groups

Another direct data collection technique is conducting interviews and focus groups. A focus group is a kind of interview-like conversation that happens in a group of six to twelve people who share a common interest, characteristic, or need. The group will have a facilitator present them questions to discuss together. The aim of having an interview and a focus group discussion is to gain more information and depth on different topics, perceptions, beliefs, and attitudes in an environment where they all come together.

Transactional Tracking

Transactional tracking is a data collection technique that relies on one’s purchases to derive data from. With each purchase made by a customer, researchers and sellers can access data from their websites, a third-party service provider, or from their e-commerce in-store point of sale system. From there, they can track different forms and amounts of data, allowing them to create better marketing plans and products, and target their ideal customers. Tracking customers’ transactions is also a good way to know and understand them better, as their purchases can say a lot about them.

Social Media Monitoring

Social media monitoring is a data collection technique similar to transactional tracking. However, instead of a customer’s transaction history, this kind of technique focuses on tracking one’s social media history and footprint. Many platforms and businesses use this to track one’s engagement with different posts online to better understand what products and services they would be interested in, as well as what they consider as important to them. From this, businesses can better target their customers with more fitting advertisements and more relevant products.

Online Tracking

Another data collection technique similar to transaction tracking and social media monitoring is online tracking. Unlike the other internet-based data collection techniques, online tracking is more general and can be done on sites other than e-commerce or social media ones through the use of cookies. Through online tracking, data can be collected from marketing campaigns run through search engine results, webpage advertisements, email campaigns, and other places where one’s brand can be showcased. As long as it is online, it can be tracked.

To successfully carry out online tracking as a data collection technique, one would need to have specific software to help them analyze the numbers and behaviors of their customers online. Some things this kind of software dedicated to online tracking can tell are the number of times a certain link is clicked, the device used by customers, ads clicked, location, and more.

Surveys

Surveys are one of the most well-known methods for data collection. They are done with questionnaires and can be conducted physically and digitally to collect both quantitative and qualitative data. These questionnaires are often inexpensive to create and answer, thus making surveys a very accessible option for both researchers and their correspondents.

Commonly, surveys are used to collect responses about an event or item. The responses collected can then be used as a basis for improvement, decision-making matrices, or further studies.

Forms

Similar to surveys, forms try to gather data through a set of questions. However, unlike surveys, forms can be more general. Often, forms are used to gather qualitative data from a subject or a group of subjects, particularly their demographic data or contact details. Forms are also used to get in touch with one’s potential clients and get to know them better.

roselin manawis safetyculture content specialist

SafetyCulture Content Specialist

Roselin Manawis

Roselin Manawis is a content writer and researcher for SafetyCulture. She has experience in news writing and content marketing across different fields of discipline. Her background in Communication Arts enables her to leverage multimedia and improve the quality of her work. She also contributed as a research assistant for an international study and as a co-author for two books in 2020. With her informative articles, she aims to ignite digital transformation in workplaces around the world.

Roselin Manawis is a content writer and researcher for SafetyCulture. She has experience in news writing and content marketing across different fields of discipline. Her background in Communication Arts enables her to leverage multimedia and improve the quality of her work. She also contributed as a research assistant for an international study and as a co-author for two books in 2020. With her informative articles, she aims to ignite digital transformation in workplaces around the world.