How to ethically collect customer data
July 29, 2022
Author : John Gallagher
how to ethically collect customer data photo by UX Indonesia

6 Ways to (Ethically) Collect Customer Data

Have you ever been surfing the web or scrolling through your Instagram timeline, when an advertisement popped up that seemed to know everything about you? We’ve all been there. It’s almost like digital advertisers can read your mind; in reality, they’ve only collected your data and utilized retargeting marketing.

This style of marketing isn’t anything new. In fact, 64% of customers expect customized interactions based on their previous engagements with a company.

Data collection is the process of gathering information about a specific subject or person. As a business or marketing professional, it’s your job to ensure that all customer data is collected legally and ethically, keeping all consumers well aware of the strategies you use to gather and leverage information. When companies do not follow ethical data collection practices, they can easily shatter trust with the customers that once depended on them. 

As a consumer, you may think that customer data is limited to your personal information, like your age and location. In reality, the term customer data includes a much wider range of data points, with figures that can reflect how you behave on the internet, and on specific web pages. Depending on the organization, companies might collect information on the web pages you visit, how long you stay on them, the products you consider and purchase, even the discounts you use.

Let’s take a closer look at why companies might collect data on their customers, and how they can fulfill these processes while maintaining transparency with those same customers.

Why is collecting user data important?

Knowing your customer by name is great, but most companies need more than that. With access to in-depth consumer data, you’ll be able to build out marketing campaigns, strategic content and company strategies that help you meet your customers’ needs.

Marketing professionals need insight into how individuals interact with a website: what customers like, what they don’t and why.You’ll need to know the reasons why customers choose your brand; if customers opt for a competitor’s product or service, you’ll also want to know why. These invaluable insights are crucial components that help drive growth and real results.

With that in mind, here are some of the best ways to ethically collect customer data:

1. Social media platforms

Every social media platform has a suite of analytics that provide insight into your followers’ behaviors. Every like, comment, click and mention contributes to a customer’s experience, as is saved as data for your analysis. These same insights also help companies associate social platforms with any success they’re seeing, and provide opportunities to deliver content straight to individual customers.

2. Email performance

Most marketing professionals send emails to their audience through an email marketing platform. This platform will typically have analytics tools you can utilize, to help you understand how individuals interact with your email marketing campaigns. You’ll be able to see when an email was opened, clicked or marked as spam. Perhaps more importantly, you’ll be able to track which emails contributed to the most website traffic — and the most phone calls, opt-ins, newsletter sign-ups, purchases or other conversions you’re tracking.

You can use this data to create more segmented email campaigns. For example, you might create an email campaign specifically for customers who have not purchased from you in the last 90 days. Conversely, you might create an email campaign for new customers, or for customers who visited your website from one of your emails, but did not purchase.

3. Web forms

Let’s say you have a form on your website, one you’d like website visitors to fill out in order to receive a newsletter or a promo.

Instead of just asking for an email address, you can add a few more fields to learn just a little more about your website visitors. For example, you might ask how many individuals work at their company, or you might ask how they heard about your brand. The answers to these and other questions can give you even more actionable information, data you can use to better tailor your customers’ digital experience.

It’s important that you keep web forms tasteful and appropriately brief. While you might want to add nine fields to a particular form, to ask all sorts of questions of your customers, you will likely see fewer customers submit the form as a result. If you really want to ask a particular question, but you recognize that it might result in fewer form submissions, you can always mark the question Optional. That way, customers can still submit the form without answering your question, and you’ll still likely generate some responses.

4. Surveys

Surveys are questionnaires that help you gather data on current and prospective customers. They are utilized to understand the customer experience so you can effectively make meaningful changes to the customer journey.

Let’s say you host an event. After the event, you’d want to send a survey to all event participants, to gather insight on how well the event went from their perspective. When you ask the right questions and target the right audience with your surveys, data received is often meaningful and provides the direction you need to make changes.

5. Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a go-to analytics tool businesses utilize to gather insights on their webpage performance. This free analytics tool helps organizations track website visitors, time spent on individual landing pages, and even the traffic sources that your website’s visitors come from.

Armed with these insights, your company can prioritize the most beneficial marketing channels and brainstorm new ideas for web content. Some of the analytics and data to keep an eye on within Google Analytics are users and new users, average session duration, bounce rate and website visitors month-over-month..

6. UTM tracking

UTMS works hand in hand with Google Analytics and other website analytics tracking tools. These are links you build specifically for tracking a customer’s journey to your website, or to an individual web page. You can easily attach a UTM to your social media content, email marketing and paid advertising assets, to track how many online users interact with your content after viewing it.

Attaching a UTM to your marketing content provides an easy way to track marketing efforts and observe how individuals interact with your brand online. These links look similar to standard website links, but contain extra code like a source, medium, content and campaign, so you can get more granular with your tracking.

Take your digital marketing to the next level

If you’re in the marketing field, chances are you’re already collecting digital data in some way. Learning to ethically collect and source data is an integral part of marketing. It allows you to make strategic decisions and develop content that makes sense for your branding initiatives.

Whether you’re new to the digital marketing field or want to sharpen your skillset, we’re here to help. There’s so much more you can do to target, nurture and convert digital customers.

Our Digital Marketing Bootcamp teaches organizations how to streamline their data collection efforts. We’ll teach you the ins and outs of data collecting so you can accelerate your digital efforts behind new strengths. Connect with our Admissions team today to identify how our Digital Marketing Bootcamp can help eliminate the gap between your organization and the growth you know you can achieve.

Speak to an Advisor