10 Best Data Collection Tools with Data Gathering Strategies

10 Best Data Collection Tools with Data Gathering Strategies

Customer data ·

In today's fast-paced, data-driven world, making business decisions based on gut feelings or guesswork can be compared to flying blind. As IBM's staggering estimates reveal, poor-quality data exacts a hefty toll on the US economy, amounting to a staggering $3.1 trillion annually. If you're wondering whether this epidemic has affected your own business, chances are it has. The key to overcoming this challenge lies in gathering and analyzing reliable data to gain valuable insights, empowering you to make informed decisions that drive success.

Whether you're conducting market research, analyzing consumer behavior, or seeking to optimize your internal business operations, the cornerstone of effective decision-making is grounded in data. However, acquiring reliable and accurate data is not a simple task. It requires a well-planned data collection strategy and the right tools to collect, manage, and analyze the information that matters most to your business objectives.

In this blog post, we will explore the vital importance of data-driven decision-making and dive into the first crucial step: acquiring reliable data. We'll uncover the various data collection strategies and software solutions available to your businesses today, enabling you to unlock the full potential of your data and pave the way for success.

So, if you're ready to revolutionize your decision-making process, read on and discover how you can harness the power of data collection strategies and software to gain the competitive edge in today's dynamic business landscape.

What is data collection: A definition

Data collection is the systematic process of gathering, recording, and organizing information of interest for the purpose of analysis and decision-making.It's the procedure through which information of specific interest is systematically obtained, measured, and analyzed.

In the world of marketing, data is the backbone of success, and it's a thriving industry. Every day, a staggering amount of data is generated—2.5 quintillion bytes to be exact. Companies have the incredible opportunity to harness this vast amount of data to gain insights on their market, better understand their customers, improve product development, and even predict the outcomes of your future strategic actions. The methods employed can vary significantly based on the unique needs and reasons why your company is collecting data. Understanding these specific requirements is crucial in order to gather relevant and actionable insights. 

Why do we need data collection?

Data collection offers a wealth of benefits to businesses and organizations. By gathering and analyzing data, they gain a comprehensive understanding of consumer needs, enabling them to improve service delivery and enhance customer satisfaction. Managers can extract valuable insights from the data, which serve as a foundation for creating effective business strategies, mitigating risks, retaining and expanding the user base, and ultimately driving profitability. The power of data collection lies in its ability to provide actionable information that empowers organizations to make informed decisions and stay ahead in a competitive marketplace. Here are three main reasons why data is pivotal for an organization:

Make informed decisions based on quality data.

As organizations collect more data, they are equipped with a stronger foundation upon which to justify and validate the strategies they implement. High-quality and accurate data serves as a guiding light, illuminating the path towards successful business decisions while minimizing the potential for costly mistakes

Data, when collected and analyzed meticulously, provides organizations with a comprehensive understanding of their operations, customers, market dynamics, and competitive landscape. It enables them to gain valuable insights into consumer behavior, market trends, and emerging opportunities. Armed with this knowledge, decision-makers can make informed choices that align with their business goals and maximize their chances of success.

By thoroughly understanding the market landscape and potential challenges, organizations can proactively address potential pitfalls and anticipate market fluctuations. This risk-aware decision-making minimizes the chances of making ill-informed choices that could result in financial loss, reputational damage, or missed opportunities.

The availability of quality data also enables organizations to continuously monitor and evaluate the outcomes of their decisions. By measuring and analyzing key performance indicators (KPIs) and comparing them against predefined benchmarks, organizations can assess the effectiveness of their strategies and make necessary adjustments. This iterative process of data-driven decision-making ensures that organizations remain agile and responsive in a rapidly changing business landscape.

Identify problems in the organization.

The business climate is ever-changing, and the society you interact with evolves. Even the most well-run organizations must continually adapt to the ever-changing business climate and evolving societal needs. One of the key benefits of data collection is its ability to help identify and uncover problems within an organization, enabling swift action to resolve them.

Data serves as a powerful diagnostic tool, providing insights into various aspects of the organization's operations, processes, and performance. By systematically collecting and analyzing data, organizations gain a comprehensive understanding of their internal workings, enabling them to identify areas where improvement is needed. Identifying problems early is crucial as it allows organizations to take swift action before they escalate and have a significant negative impact. 

Data collection also enables organizations to compare their performance against predefined benchmarks or industry standards. This benchmarking process helps in identifying performance gaps and areas where the organization is falling behind its competitors, thus offering opportunities to gain competitive advantage.

Drive change.

Driving change within an organization is a pivotal aspect of business growth and remaining competitive in a rapidly evolving landscape. Leveraging data to drive change helps organizations make informed decisions, challenge the status quo, and embrace new measures that propel them forward.

Data serves as a reliable and objective source of evidence, offering tangible insights into the current state of affairs and potential opportunities for improvement. By collecting and analyzing data, organizations can gather factual evidence and present it in a compelling manner. This evidence-based approach enhances credibility and instills confidence in decision-makers, making it easier to garner support and consensus for driving change.

In summary, data plays a pivotal role in driving change within organizations. By leveraging concrete data to support arguments and proposals, decision-makers can effectively persuade stakeholders and overcome resistance. Data provides the evidence needed to challenge the status quo, embrace new measures, and propel the organization forward. By adopting a data-driven approach to change, organizations can navigate the complexities of the business landscape, remain competitive, and foster a culture of innovation and growth.

Main data collection methods

Organizations can take different approaches when collecting data. These can be broadly categorized into primary and secondary methods. These two data collection methods serve distinct purposes, offering unique benefits and considerations. They also allow you to collect different types of data. In this section, we will explore these approaches in detail, highlighting their characteristics, advantages, and applications. 

Primary data collection

First-party data collection involves going straight to the source, with individuals or organizations gathering data for their own specific purposes. This type of data is collected by the entity that intends to use it, allowing for personalized insights and tailored decision-making. For instance, a company may collect first-party data to gain a deeper understanding of its customers, enabling the development of more personalized products and services. Similarly, organizations can assess current community trends through first-party data to plan effective outreach programs and initiatives. 

The utilization of first-party data empowers companies to have direct control over the data collection process, ensuring relevance and accuracy in addressing their specific needs and objectives. Methods used here include:


When conducting data collection through interviews, you directly engage with the target audience by posing questions and seeking their perspectives. Interviews can take place in various formats, including in-person, phone, video-conferencing, or email interactions. Depending on the research objectives, interviews can be conducted on an individual basis or as part of focus groups involving multiple participants, with even six or more individuals being interviewed simultaneously. In focus group settings, a skilled moderator plays a crucial role in steering the discussion, ensuring it stays on track, and eliciting valuable insights from the respondents. Through interviews, you can gather in-depth and firsthand information, fostering meaningful exchanges that offer valuable data for analysis and interpretation.


Surveys are a versatile and cost-effective method for gathering opinions and feedback from respondents, enabling organizations to make informed decisions. With surveys, the goals can be broad, allowing for a wide range of topics to be explored. They provide an economical way of collecting data, as the cost per respondent is relatively low compared to other data collection methods. By surveying a larger number of individuals, the data gathered has a better chance of accurately reflecting the characteristics of the general population. Surveys can be carried out online, via phone, or by paper surveys.

Surveys represent a good way to collect data on your existing customers to improve their experience with the product and increase retention. Forms can be used to collect data during the onboarding process so that you can implement personalized campaigns and product recommendations.


Polls are conducted to gauge the perception of different demographics about a particular brand, project, or socially relevant issue. It can be a business looking to weigh the popularity of different product lines amongst their consumers, get them to vote on new products, or a political campaign assessing the popularity of their candidate. 

Polls can reach a broad audience and are easier to respond to since the choices are already provided. There are fewer chances of input errors, resulting in more accuracy when capturing the opinion of the respondents. 

However, the results are heavily reliant on the selected sample population. In addition, people's actual behavior in real life tends to differ from how they respond in polls. For instance, a Berkeley Haas study analyzing 1,400 polls from 11 election cycles showed that polls are 95% confident but only 60% accurate.

Online Tracking 

User data collection from internet browsing activities encompasses various types of information gathered through browsers and devices. Data points include the user's IP address and extends to the websites visited, including the duration spent on each page and the specific links clicked. The collection of this information relies on various techniques such as cookies, tracking pixels, browser fingerprinting, and HTTP referrers. 

First-party online tracking occurs when a website tracks the activities of its own visitors. The data collected through first-party tracking is typically outlined in the website's privacy policies and cookie notices. Users can usually find information about the types of data collected and the purposes for which it is used.

On the other hand, third-party tracking involves the collection of user data by entities that are different from the website being browsed. Third-party tracking is often employed for targeted advertising purposes. However, in recent years, major web browsers have taken significant steps to enhance data privacy by phasing out third-party data collection. These browsers have implemented measures to restrict or block the tracking capabilities of third-party entities, making first-party collection a must. Click here if you want to learn more on why and how to collect first-party customer data.

Social media analytics 

Social media allows brands to discover more about their customers by directly interacting with them. Most social platforms have built-in analytics that allow you to collect data on the users who follow and engage with your content. These provide basic data about your account performance and audience demographics. 

But to get the most out of your social media data, it’s important to get a unified view of your different social channels. That is why there are analytic tools to collect data across your different social media channels. The analytics can include demographics and interests, comparing characteristics of groups of their target audiences, and their motivations based on the engagement witnessed on the site.

Secondary data collection

Second-party data collection, also known as "data obtained from external sources," involves the utilization of data sets that are collected by individuals or organizations different from those who intend to use it. This approach relies on existing records or reports published by others to gather the information they need for their analysis. This can include extracting data from a wide range of sources such as financial statements, business magazines, newspapers, sales reports, and other publicly available data sets. 

Second-party data offers a readily accessible pool of information for companies, eliminating the need for data collection from scratch. Instead, the focus is primarily on the analysis and interpretation of the data obtained from these external sources. 

This type of data collection allows companies to leverage existing data to gain insights, identify patterns, and draw conclusions without the need for extensive primary data collection efforts.

How to design an effective data collection strategy

The processes employed for data collection play a crucial role in ensuring accurate and reliable information. To create a successful data collection strategy, several key considerations should be taken into account. Here's how you can ensure that you design an effective data collection strategy:

Be transparent - and make it clear

The safety of private data is critical. Consumers want assurance that the personal information they give you is appropriately handled. Don't just gloss over the privacy policy or 'skip details' when explaining how a respondent's data will be managed and deployed. 

To ensure proper data handling, organizations must adhere to relevant data handling regulations based on their geographical location. For instance, if operating in Europe, organizations should familiarize themselves with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The GDPR imposes strict requirements on the collection, processing, and storage of personal data of individuals within the European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA). It emphasizes principles such as data minimization, purpose limitation, and individuals' rights to access, rectify, and erase their personal information.

In addition to regulation compliance, it is essential to clearly communicate the data handling policy to respondents. This includes explaining the purpose behind collecting their data and how it will be utilized. Transparency is key in building trust with respondents. By providing a clear understanding of why their data is being requested and how it will be used, organizations can foster a sense of confidence and encourage respondents to provide accurate information.

Implement a value exchange whenever possible.

Creating a win-win situation in data collection can greatly increase the willingness of respondents to participate. By demonstrating how the data collected will benefit both the company and customers, organizations can foster a sense of mutual benefit that increases the engagement.

For instance, when seeking customer opinions on a product or service, it is essential to communicate how their feedback will be utilized to deliver more personalized solutions. By highlighting that their input will directly contribute to improving products or creating new solutions tailored to their needs, organizations show customers that their opinions hold value and are an integral part of the development process. This not only encourages customers to provide honest and detailed responses but also establishes a sense of collaboration and partnership between the organization and the customer.

The same logic is applied when collecting data for customer experience purposes. When the customers are made aware of the benefits that a customized experience can bring them, they will be more willing to share their information. 

To increase the ability to collect data it is also possible to offer discounts, exclusive offers, or rewards in exchange for information provided by the respondents. This approach demonstrates that the organization values the customer's time and input, further enhancing the win-win dynamic. Such incentives not only encourage participation but also help to build a long-term relationship between the customer and the business, fostering loyalty and continued engagement.

Allow room for future changes.

The data companies need evolves over time. Your data collection strategy should be flexible to incorporate future changes in company policies, customer demand, and collection technologies. A simple pop-up survey from today may be ineffective a year from now. You may need to include double opt-in for the forms as time passes. Methods like cookies, previously modified on a whim, now require express consent from website users before collecting their browsing information in line with data privacy laws. Whenever there is a change, their consent should be sought again. Don't be rigid with the systems you use to collect and manage the data. Invest in technologies that allow you to adapt to changing times and trends.

Best data collection tools in 2023

Which tools should you use for your data collection? It all depends on your specific needs and the data collection strategy you will implement. The top picks this year include:

1. Layerise

Kicking us off is a platform uniquely designed for consumer brands. Layerise lets you collect customer data and gives you analytic tools that you can use for tailored customer experience and hyper-targeted marketing. Use Layerise to create personalized campaigns, obtain product reviews, and provide digital user manuals and superior customer support. On the customer's side, it provides a smooth onboarding experience, including a product Assistant that can be downloaded into any device the customer chooses. They can also register the products they buy, access their warranties, and you can also use their data to give them unique experiences based on their purchase history and brand loyalty. Leverage the data collected to get actionable insights to scale your business, address customer pain points, and create new markets.


2. SurveySparrow

Second, on our list is the SurveySparrow mobile data collection app. You can use it to carry out chat-like surveys, whose design you control. Conversational forms make the data collection process smooth and interactive, and the tool offers 3rd-party integration with webhooks and Zapier. The logic feature allows you to build "brainstorming forms" to engage your visitors with a live agent. Different templates are available for you to create surveys quickly. You also set the rules for when the forms will pop up on your website, e.g., per average session duration or when the user reaches a specific percentage scroll rate. You can segment your audiences for more refined targeting and survey different channels, including web links and email surveys.

Survey Sparrow

3. TeamScope

The app is specifically built for individuals or organizations conducting clinical research. It's also an asset for businesses handling sensitive data. The data collection app removes the mess involved with dealing with paper forms while ensuring the safety of the information provided. For instance, staff can use TeamScope to collect data in the field, like health promotion officers undertaking public awareness campaigns or paramedics responding to emergencies. Data stored is encrypted, and the systems comply with GDPR and Good Clinical Practice (ICH-GCP). Data visualization options make it easy to obtain insights.


4. Jotform

Here, you have a platform built for users to create customized surveys and questionnaires. The platform comes with prebuilt templates, ranging from order forms and event registration forms to everyday job applications. Jotform also features payment forms - including invoice and subscription templates, which have been integrated with payment processing platforms such as PayPal and Square for businesses to receive funds through the Jotform app. You also get to create presentation reports based on the data collected.


5. Fulcrum

The primary data collection here is by users within an organization. For instance, agriculture, energy, and construction businesses collect data daily, which needs to be instantly shared with multiple stakeholders. Fulcrum has been optimized for such use cases, enabling staff to send back geo-tagged data from their monitoring zones. It supports street, satellite, hybrid, and terrain base maps courtesy of its Google Maps integration and custom map layers from Esri and OpenStreetMap. Organizations can create custom forms for the information that they need to collect.


6. Magpi

Businesses in niches like the health and environmental sectors use the Magpi data recording app to carry out low-cost surveys quickly. Users can enter offline data, including signatures, photos, and barcodes, and tag their location. It also comes with Interactive Voice Response (IVR). Through IVR, users input data by voice or pressing the corresponding key on their phone - like how customer service hotlines work.


7. Forms on Fire

With over 750 advanced integrations, audit trails, and intuitive activity dashboards, Forms on Fire has to feature on this year's list of top data collection tools. Integrations with popular systems like Zapier, Microsoft, Twilio, Amazon, Box, Google, and Dropbox allow you to send and receive data from your favorite platforms smoothly. The cloud-powered digital tool gives users easy ways to collect data with aesthetically pleasing form designs. It's a blank canvas to whip up any form - including designing with everyday tools like Word and Excel. The "no-code cloud software" lets you drag and drop elements that you will find suitable for your forms. The tool comes with GPS, connectors, and workflow features. You can also set it to send out alerts and real-time notifications.

Forms on Fire

8. Zonka Feedback

Want to know if customers are satisfied with your products or services? That's the primary purpose of Zonka Feedback. The app allows you to create and customize evaluation and survey forms to gauge customer satisfaction - and you can collect the data at the point of sale. You can also set up actionable tasks depending on the feedback received. For instance, you can set up an automated apology email for customers who are unhappy about their purchases or an email offering them a discount on future purchases.


9. Zoho

Zoho offers a simple experience for both the administrator and the end user. Any non-specialist can integrate apps into the data collection tool without coding. Create forms with custom themes and then publish them through multiple platforms. You can share the forms online through social media or embed them on web pages. Monitor your workflow through centralized logs, and configure email alerts. Track the performance of the forms with UTM tracking and form analytics. You can customize form layouts to suit your organization and objectives and collect data from employees and customers. End-users don't have to sign up on Zoho. They open the link and fill out the form.


10. FastField

Organizations handling large quantities of data find FastField easy to use, especially with the data visualization features. These include instant charts, graphs, and similar reports you can quickly comprehend. You get to customize and brand templates to meet your business needs and smoothly export reports and PDFs or Word documents to send to the relevant stakeholders. FastField comes with Zapier integration and has a friendly UI, including tutorials guiding you through the form creation process.


Collect and secure your data.

Every step in the data collection journey is essential to ensure you wind up with reliable and accurate data that you can use for your objectives. Platforms like Layerise enable you to achieve this with intuitive interfaces that are friendly to the end user. You get to securely manage 1st party customer data and remain compliant with GDPR and CCPA regulations. All this while gaining consumer insights to scale your company. Book a demo here to get started.